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Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Buying Carbon Monoxide Detectors

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Updated September 18, 2011

Unlike fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors measure the presence of carbon monoxide in the air and keep track of how long it is present. They trigger an alarm if carbon monoxide is present at low levels for a long time or at high levels for a short time. Most carbon monoxide detectors also save peak values in a memory for later retrieval. About's Guide to Chemistry, Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., provides an in-depth understanding of how carbon monoxide detectors work.

There are many more options when shopping for a carbon monoxide detector than when shopping for fire alarms. Carbon monoxide detector placement is more versatile than smoke detectors. There are several models that plug directly into home AC outlets. Some carbon monoxide detectors talk, while others have digital displays. The following are a sampling of the types of carbon monoxide detectors available.

  • Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors

    These units utilize both smoke and carbon monoxide detection technology. Unfortunately, fire alarms utilize two different types of sensors to detect smoke. These units rely on only one type of sensor. Learn more about fire alarms before making this type of purchase.

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  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors Only

    Whether hard-wired, battery-powered or plugged-in, these units just detect the presence of carbon monoxide in the area. Some also detect natural gas.

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