What Is a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

A carbon monoxide detector, commonly known as a CO detector, is an electronic device that detects the presence of the carbon monoxide gas in the air. It is a colorless and odorless compound produced by incomplete combustion, and increased coverage can result in carbon monoxide poisoning and death.

Since it is colorless, tasteless and odorless. As a result, detection in a home environment is impossible without a warning device. A toxic gas, it attaches to the blood stream faster than oxygen, resulting in less oxygen reaching the various organs in a person’s body.

The detectors are manufactured to measure carbon monoxide levels over time. Most are set with an alarm which triggers when an abnormal amount of CO accumulates in the area.

A detector is sometimes confused with smoke detectors, but they serve a completely different function. Smoke detectors alert individuals to the presence of a smoldering fire, whereas an alarm and detector will warn people of the invisible danger of carbon monoxide build-up caused by a malfunctioning device. In the home, sources include space and water heaters, blocked chimneys, open flames, or a car left running inside a garage.

The devices are widely available online and in hardware stores. They are typically battery operated or AC powered, although most include a battery backup in the event of a power failure. As new technology progresses, many detectors and alarm based systems have seen increased battery lifetimes of up to seven years, more than tripling the lifespan since detectors were first introduced onto the market.