Information about carbon monoxide detectors

What is carbon monoxide and how does it originate?

Carbon monoxide (also called CO) is a poisonous gas that you cannot smell or see. It is caused by incomplete combustion of carbon in, for example, natural gas, wood or petrol. Carbon monoxide is released in a boiler, geyser, car (exhaust gases), fireplace (wood) and even the barbecue. Carbon monoxide can be released even with modern boilers. Normally, the carbon monoxide is neatly drained through a drain pipe, however, due to an installation error or malfunction, carbon monoxide can be released into the house with all its consequences. Every year an average of 10 to 15 people die in the Netherlands from carbon monoxide poisoning. Several hundred people end up in the hospital. A carbon monoxide detector can warn you in time and thus save your life!

Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?

The carbon monoxide you breathe gets into your blood. There it takes the place of oxygen so that your blood can no longer carry oxygen through your body. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. With longer exposure, this is followed by unconsciousness and finally death from oxygen deficiency in the brain.

In which rooms to place?

A carbon monoxide detector should be installed in all rooms with a combustion appliance. After all, the carbon monoxide is created in this space. This is therefore the room where the boiler or geyser hangs and in the room where there is a gas stove or fireplace. Since you probably cannot hear the carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom when you sleep, you should also have a carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom or landing between several bedrooms. Carbon monoxide can certainly end up in your home through the upstairs or downstairs neighbors if you live in an apartment or flat. Also in (older) terraced houses where the attics are separated by single brick masonry, carbon monoxide can spread over several houses.

Where to attach carbon monoxide detector?

Carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air and would normally rise to the ceiling. However, research shows that the carbon monoxide can be carried along with the air flows in a room. According to the advice of the Netherlands Fire Service, you hang a carbon monoxide detector in the room where a combustion appliance is suspended from the ceiling and in a room without a combustion appliance, you hang the detector at breathing height. In the bedroom this is the height of your bed / pillow. Read here the exact distances for placing a carbon monoxide detector.

Where not to attach carbon monoxide detector?

Never mount a carbon monoxide detector behind objects such as curtains and cabinets or near air vents. It is better not to place a carbon monoxide detector in very small spaces. It is then better to place it in the adjacent room. In addition, a carbon monoxide detector should not be placed in a bathroom or place where the temperature can drop below 0. Finally, aerosol gases such as deo and hair spray can cause a malfunction, so keep this in mind when installing the detector.

Service life of carbon monoxide detector

The sensor of a carbon monoxide detector consists of a gel. This gel contains sulfuric acid as an electrolyte, among other things. If the sensor in the carbon monoxide detector is exposed to higher concentrations of carbon monoxide than would normally occur in a household, a chemical reaction will start and the detector will sound the alarm. This sensor is subject to wear and does not work properly after a certain period of time. This is an average of 5 - 7 years. Our carbon monoxide detector has a sensor with a lifespan of 7 years. The detector must then be replaced in its entirety. The date that the detector must be replaced is stated on a sticker on the detector.

Power supply
There are several power supplies for carbon monoxide detectors:
  • Interchangeable batteries, usually AA
  • Lithium-ion battery with a life of 7 years
  • Lithium-ion battery with a life of 10 years
  • A connection to the mains (230V) + backup battery for when the power shuts off

* Never use rechargeable batteries in carbon monoxide detectors. Due to their characteristic current delivery, it is possible that the detector does not give a “battery empty” signal, so that a non-functioning carbon monoxide detector is installed in the house.

Of all the above power supplies, there is not necessarily a best or worst option. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages. Whichever power supply you choose: all detectors must be completely replaced after 5-7 years (see chapter “service life of carbon monoxide detector”).

The disadvantage of exchangeable batteries is that you have to replace the batteries periodically. AA / AAA batteries last 1-1.5 years. The carbon monoxide detector indicates this itself by a specific sound signal. Often this is also at night around 4:00 am because the temperature in the house is then the lowest. The battery voltage that is already on the tight side at that time, becomes even less due to the cold at night. The advantage of exchangeable batteries is that you regularly have the detector in your hands and you are reminded to clean it once with a vacuum cleaner. In addition, this is also often the cheapest option.

The big advantage of carbon monoxide detectors with a built-in lithium-ion battery is that you do not have to replace the battery during its lifetime. At the end of its life, replace the smoke detector completely. The disadvantage is that these detectors are often slightly more expensive.

Finally, there are carbon monoxide detectors that can be connected to the mains. There is not necessarily an advantage with regard to power supply. A 230V detector also has a backup battery that must be replaced periodically. In addition, this type of detector is fairly expensive and these detectors also have a lifespan of 5-7 years. Calculation of various power supplies for 7-10 years:

  • Interchangeable battery AA / AAA: € 21.95 (detector) + € 4.20 (3 batteries p / y replaced for 7 years) = € 26.15
  • Fixed battery 7 years: only the detector: € 29.99
  • Fixed battery 10 years: only the detector: € 34.95
  • 230V + backup battery: only the detector: € 69.95
Maintenance of carbon monoxide detector
A carbon monoxide detector must be tested monthly to ensure that the detector actually works. Clean the detector monthly with a vacuum cleaner and soft cloth. After 7 years, replace the entire carbon monoxide detector.
With regard to housing, there is currently no legislation that makes the installation of a carbon monoxide detector mandatory. Nor does the obligation to install smoke detectors in existing homes as of 1 July 2022 have any consequences for any mandatory installation of carbon monoxide detectors. Anyway, do you need a law to prevent you and your family from dying from carbon monoxide poisoning?
Selection guide
As you may have already discovered, there are many different types of carbon monoxide detectors with different power supplies for sale, varying in price from € 21.95 to over € 100. In our webshop you will find only 1 carbon monoxide detector, the COA-26 from the brand Alecto. This is because we have already done the research for you. This detector is recommended by the consumer association and is also very affordable compared to other carbon monoxide detectors. Why would you look any further? You can order the carbon monoxide detector COA-26 here.
Read more? Check the website of the fire brigade and the consumer association.
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