Did you know that carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America? This toxic odorless, tasteless and invisible gas is caused by fuels not burning completely, such as gasoline, wood, propane, and heating oil. At home, they can come from water heaters, ovens, ranges, fireplaces, and many more sources.
Carbon monoxide is hard to detect without using a specialized device. Carbon monoxide detectors create an alarm when they sense a certain amount of toxic gas in the air over time. Difficult to detect and treat once the damage has been done, every homeowner should consider installing this detector in their home. It comes in different designs and features. Choosing the right one for your home is essential if you want to fully protect your family from the dangers that the gas can bring.
Below are the best carbon monoxide detectors available on the market today. Let’s learn about their best features and what set them apart from the rest.
Top 9 Carbon Monoxide Detectors Of 2020 Reviewed
1. First Alert SCO501CN-3ST Smoke and Carbon Monoxide DetectorBattery-Operated Carbon Monoxide Detector
Featuring a photoelectric smoke sensor designed to reduce ‘false alarms’, the First Alert SCO501CN-3ST is another quality detector that’s ideal for home and office use.
This wireless-enabled battery-operated smoke/CO detector interconnects with other First Alert devices to create a wireless safety network in your home. It’s very easy to install. Just put two AA batteries and mount it on the wall or ceiling. When the battery has gone low and needs to be replaced, the device will create a chirping sound and signal a low battery light.
A notable feature of First Alert SCO501CN-3ST is the electrochemical sensor. This is especially useful for detecting carbon monoxide leaks from multiple sources such as blocked chimneys, faulty fuel-burning appliances, and generators. In addition to the electrochemical sensor, the device has a photoelectric sensor designed to detect smoke but minimize false alarms (e.g. shower steam, barbecues, cooking smoke). When there’s an emergency, the detector sends a voice alarm, mentioning the threat and its location.
- Voice location feature
- Easy to install
- Works with other First Alert devices for better monitoring
- Lasts for only up to 7 years
- Needs replacing of batteries regularly
2. First Alert CO710 Carbon Monoxide AlarmCarbon Monoxide Detector For Bedroom
With its easy-to-read backlit digital LED display that shows both CO levels and temperature, the First Alert CO710 Carbon Monoxide Alarm makes an ideal sensor for a bedroom or nursery.
Even though this detector is battery-powered, you don’t have to worry about buying a new set of batteries regularly. The device makes use of a lithium batteries that can last up to 10 years.
It uses an electrochemical sensor which is considered the most accurate carbon monoxide detection technology today. The stylish monitor can be placed on top of your table or your dresser or mounted on the wall. The good news is you don’t have to hardwire it or install it near an electrical outlet. CO levels are displayed during testing and the highest concentration of CO is also provided every 24 hours. If the device detects high levels of carbon monoxide, it will beep and the backlit will glow even more.
This product comes with a 10-year warranty. And because it uses a lithium battery, once it drains, you can no longer use the unit. Nonetheless, it still makes a huge investment considering the price and length of use.
- Stylish design
- Can sit on a table or be mounted
- 10-year battery life
- The battery can’t be replaced
3. Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide AlarmCarbon Monoxide Detector For Home Use
A thorough and interactive device, the Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm literally talks to you and alerts you when something’s going on.
It tests air quality at least 400 times per day. Second, it’s easy to understand. Whether there’s a high level of CO in the living room or a burnt toast in the kitchen, Nest Protect alerts you through clear spoken messages. You will hear it straight from the device. Plus, you will get an alert on your phone. It works with almost all cellular devices, sending you notifications whenever something happens.
Another thing worth mentioning about this device is that it self-checks. This means you won’t have to spend more time thinking about whether it’s still working or not. And it also tells you when there’s something wrong with its system or when the battery is running low. What’s more, this high-tech smoke/CO detector can communicate with other smart devices in your home for better security and efficiency.
Of course, all these features come with a price. Nest Protect is one of the most expensive smoke/CO detectors in the market but thousands of homeowners swear by its reliability and usefulness.
- Highly interactive – provides spoken messages
- Battery lasts up to 10 years
- Sends alerts straight to your smartphone
4. Kidde KN-COPP-3 Nighthawk Plug-In Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Battery BackupHardwired Carbon Monoxide Detector
One of the best-sellers on Amazon, the Kidde KN-COPP-3 Nighthawk CO Detector features a digital display that shows you the exact amount of carbon monoxide floating around your home.
Kidde is among the largest manufacturers of fire safety systems in the world. They have been in the industry for over 90 years, creating quality products for your peace of mind.
Because it’s focused on detecting nothing but CO, the Kidde KN-COPP-3 offers comprehensive features to ensure that your family is fully protected from the dangers brought by carbon monoxide. First, it has a digital display that lets you know the level of carbon monoxide in your home. Plus, it keeps data of all the CO readings to inform you of what the highest CO level traced since it was last reset or unplugged. In the event that the amount of CO in your home has gone incessantly high, the device creates 4 quick beeps, stopping after five seconds before repeating.
It’s a permanently installed sensor and needs to be hard-wired. Thus, you may need to call a professional electrician to set it up for you. Good thing it has a backup battery so in case there’s a power interruption, it will still work.
- Has a backup battery
- No home automation capabilities
- Single sensor (only detects CO)
- Must be hard-wired
5. Sensorcon Carbon Monoxide Detector & CO MeterIndustrial Carbon Monoxide Detector
Tough, portable, waterproof, rugged and designed for heavy-duty use, the Sensorcon Carbon Monoxide Detector & CO Meter goes beyond what homeowners need.
Sensorcon detectors are designed for industrial use. If you’re in search of a carbon monoxide detector that is specifically made for monitoring building construction or industrial work, this is the best product for you. It’s certified intrinsically safe to be used in explosive hazardous environments.
Alongside the LCD display and beep, it has vibration features to alert you when the CO level from where you are has reached critical levels. It’s more suitable for industrial and commercial uses, but by all means, it can be used in homes. It’s lightweight and portable, which means you can bring it practically anywhere – inside your car, in the basement, or in your garage.
What most consumers love about Sensorcon is that it provides extremely sensitive PPM readings. It’s a pricey device but definitely worth the price.
- Portable and heavy-duty
- Highly accurate
- Certified intrinsically safe
- Very pricey
6. First Alert GLOCO-500Carbon Monoxide Detector For Kids Room
Having the ability to measure temperature, humidity, and carbon monoxide levels at the same time, First Alert GLOCO-500 Onelink is a must-have in every nursery.
This WiFi-enabled device does more than track the amount of carbon monoxide in your home. It also warns you if it’s too cold or too warm and sends notifications to your Apple device which you can view through an app. This setup is ideal for checking the conditions in your baby’s room without disturbing your sleeping child.
The LED ring on the monitor indicates whether the condition is just right (white), too cold (blue), or too hot (amber). If the ring turns red, it means there’s a presence of carbon monoxide in the room.
Another interesting thing about the device is that it’s easy to set up. Just place it on the table, plug it in, and download the app from your phone. The unit comes with a backup battery to continue working even when the power goes out.
- LED ring on monitor changes based on the room temp
- Compatible with Apple devices
- Easy to set up
- No digital display
- Requires WiFi connection
7. Kidde 21010170 P3010K-CO Worry-Free Kitchen Photoelectric Smoke and Carbon Monoxide AlarmBest Photoelectric Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Kidde gives you an alarm system that detects both photoelectric smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) within the house. The two sensors work in tandem to provide reliable operation that won’t be triggered when you’re cooking — no more fake fire nuisance alarms.
Let us break this baby down with you. Photoelectric smoke is monitored and detected using photoelectric sensors. This is because photoelectric smoke is associated with the flashing particles of fire from open fires. While for CO, electrochemical sensors are normally employed to check for critical levels of it within the area. When blended together like is the case with the Kidde 21010170 P3010K-CO Alarm System, you get a complete protection system.
What about if a fire breaks out when the power’s out? A competently designed device ought to cater for any circumstance, blackouts included. The Kidde’s got you covered. It has a backup lithium battery that will last the entirety of the device’s lifetime — a whopping ten years. Built to last, why not get yours today?
- Requires no maintenance on your part
- Easy to install
- Good quality
- Some models have been reported buggy
- Not reliable in dusty environments
- Inbuilt battery means you can’t reboot a false al
8. Safe-T-Alert Flush MountCarbon Monoxide Detector For Rvs
Carbon monoxide is everywhere, even inside your vehicle. The Safe-T-Alert Flush Mount is meant for RVs, trucks, fifth wheels, folding campers and mobile homes.
If you’re always on the road or love to camp, you should consider buying a specialized detector for your RV. This device is pretty basic, without digital display or smart technology. However, it accurately detects CO leaks inside your vehicle and alerts you through an alarm.
It has unique features, such as the “Alarm Mute” button which silences the detector when the RV is ventilated, and a “rapid recovery sensor” that silences when muted or reactivates when the CO levels have become dangerously high. It’s hardwired which means you don’t have to worry about having to replace the batteries, especially when you’re always at a far-flung place. Even more interesting, this device also detects gas propane leak – another odorless poisonous gas that results from burning fuel.
- Hardwired to 12-volt electrical source
- Dual function – monitors CO and propane leaks
- No digital display
9. Universal Security Instruments MCND401B M SeriesCarbon Monoxide Detector For Apartments
Universal Security Instruments MCND401B M Series provides a dual-sensing alarm to detect the presence of carbon monoxide and natural gas in your home.
This device need not be hardwired. Simply plug it in and it’s ready to work. This makes it an ideal CO sensor for apartments and rented spaces where you are less able to do hardwiring installations. However, in case the power goes out, it has a backup battery to continue operating. Universal Security Instruments features microprocessor intelligence that reduces nuisance alarms, a silent/test button, and end-of-service life warning. It’s able to record peak CO levels with one simple button.
The unit comes with a 5-year limited warranty but according to the manufacturer, it can last up to 7 years.
- Compact plug-in design
- Digital display
- Lacks advanced features
Choosing the Best Carbon Monoxide Detector – The Ultimate Buying Guide
Now that you have an idea of what the best carbon monoxide detectors are like, it is also important that you break down exactly what you want to look for from such a device. There are several factors that you need to consider to make the decision-making process easier.
Let’s Start with the Display!
While alarms in a form of a ‘beeping’ sound is an effective way to alert you when the CO level in your home has reached a dangerous level, having a digital display provides a constant readout of the CO levels so you can fix the issue even before it gets lethal. Some sensors even record the peak levels measured and alert you.
What is the Type of Alarm and Volume Level?
An effective carbon monoxide detector has an alarm loud enough to alert the entire household of an emergency. More advanced detectors even use spoken language to inform you about the threat and in what particular part of your home it happened. Check the decibel levels in the manufacturer’s manual to gauge which alarm volume is best for your house, taking into consideration how big your home area is. Take note that decibel levels are measured near the device. So if you’re away far from it, it becomes less audible.
Some models even have a voice alarm. This is especially useful especially in households with deep sleepers. While other units have pre-programmed voice command, there are units that allow you to program a set of commands.
Most carbon monoxide detectors are operated using a battery that needs to be replaced annually, at least. However, there are units that utilize lithium battery which takes many years (up to 10) before getting busted. Many models will chirp or beep when the battery has gone low while more advanced models even make use of a voice alert.
Some detectors are powered by plug-ins while others are hardwired into your home’s electrical circuitry. If you’re buying this type of detector, consider the unit which uses a battery as a backup source so it can continue to perform its job even when there’s a power outage.
Interconnectivity: Can You Connect the Detector to WiFi and Bluetooth?
While this is not always necessary, it’s a nice feature to have especially if you have a huge home where multiple CO sensors are a necessity. If this is your case, look for models that can be interconnected using WiFi or Bluetooth technologies. There are units that are compatible with other smart devices and can be controlled using your computer or mobile phone.
To ensure that your device is working efficiently, it has to have some sort of ‘test’ button which you can run once a month. This way, you know that your detector will actually alarm in the event of an emergency.
The majority of the best carbon monoxide detectors today have dual/multiple functions. In addition to detecting the presence of CO, they also detect smoke and/or natural gas. These devices can be convenient because you no longer need to install separate detectors. However, depending on the detection sensitivity, some dual-purpose detectors may be less efficient than single-purpose detectors as the contaminant properties may be different.
How long your CO detector will last is another important thing to consider. You won’t expect cheap detectors to last for a long time. It’s really worth investing on a good quality detector that you can count on for many years. Some models can last for as long as 10 years (but they are often the most expensive). If you’re after budget-friendly models, choose the one which has a lifespan of at least 5 years.
Look for detectors that have several years of warranty to ensure that you get the best performance from your device. Some units self-checks and has an end-of-life timer to alert you when it’s time for you to replace the device.
Like with any buying decision, the cost is an important consideration too. Carbon monoxide detectors vary in prices. Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $150. Basic plug-in detectors are the cheapest. You can get one between $20 and $50. Hard-wired detectors belong to the mid-range models, and they can cost you $50 to $100. More advanced detectors with plenty of additional features are obviously the most expensive and could cost up to $150.
Ensure that the product you’re buying complies with the federal safety and efficiency requirements. Do check the label to verify that you are buying a quality product that you can rely on for many years. The best carbon monoxide detectors are usually certified by an independent testing agency.
Installing carbon monoxide detectors in dwellings is a requirement in most states. Some states require hard-wired detectors with battery backups. The National Conference of State Legislatures is a great resource to determine which regulations apply to where you live.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious public health concern, sending thousands of people to the ER each year due to poisoning. Thus, installing CO detectors have become a requirement in most states. A carbon monoxide sensor is a specialized tool that alerts you when the CO level in your place of dwelling has reached peak levels.
More than a federal obligation, installing a CO detector is a necessity in securing the health and safety of your family. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas and unless you make use of a good quality sensor, you will never know if it’s already invading your home and poisoning your children and pets. Gladly, there are CO detectors that provide plenty of features to give you peace of mind. There are many choices, from the most basic types (single-purpose detectors) to multi-purpose detectors that have additional features like interconnectivity, LCD display, mobile phone notifications, and so much more.
Using the buying guide above, take time to compare products and streamline your search until you end up buying the best one. Remember to choose the unit which meets your needs and ensures full coverage for your home.