What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because it is odorless, tasteless and colorless. It’s also toxic, since the gas can prevent your body from properly transporting oxygen. If inhaled in high concentrations, carbon monoxide poisoning can happen quickly; it can also occur slowly if toxic gas levels build up slowly over time.


What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

People who have been exposed to carbon monoxide experience a range of symptoms that may include headaches, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, burning eyes and loss of consciousness. An acute case can result in brain damage and death. Note that children, seniors and people who have pre-existing respiratory or heart conditions are often more sensitive to the effects of carbon monoxide.

What are carbon monoxide alarms?

Carbon monoxide detectors, also known as CO alarms, function similarly to smoke alarms. If carbon monoxide levels are present in your home, the detector will emit a sharp beeping sound to alert you to the danger. Like smoke alarms, it is important to change your CO detector batteries regularly; I like to schedule new batteries for Daylight Savings time change, since they make it easy to remember this twice-yearly swap.

What are possible sources of carbon monoxide in my home?

Carbon monoxide is a natural by-product of many home appliances. If you use charcoal, gasoline, kerosene, wood, propane, natural gas or heating oil to create energy or heat – hot water heaters, grills, furnaces, fireplaces, stoves, room heaters, etc. – then there is potential for carbon monoxide in your home. It’s important to have these products installed by a professional, since proper installation, ventilation and maintenance will reroute any carbon monoxide emissions out of your home to keep your family safe.


Where should I place carbon monoxide detectors in my home?

Since we are most vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning while we sleep, it is important to place alarms near your family’s bedrooms. If you only have one CO alarm, place it as close to everyone’s sleeping area as possible.

 

Ideally, you should have carbon monoxide detectors placed throughout your home, as you do smoke alarms. You should place a CO detector in each major area of your home: in the kitchen, in your living/dining room, in your bedrooms, and the office. If you have children or elderly family members living with you, provide extra protection near their rooms. If you live in a multi-story home, be sure to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level.

 

If your furnace is located in the basement, be sure to place a CO detector there, as well. Likewise, if you have a gas clothes dryer, put an alarm in the laundry room. Place one in the garage, if you park your cars there. Wherever you have a solid fuel-fired appliance – anything that could produce carbon monoxide – you should also have a CO alarm.

 

How do I install a carbon monoxide alarm?

Heat and smoke rise, which is why we place smoke alarms high on the wall or ceiling. Carbon monoxide, however, mixes with the air. For this reason, it is preferable to install CO alarms at knee level – the approximate height of a sleeping person’s nose and mouth.

If you have young children or pets that could tamper (play) with your detectors, you can move them up to chest height. Another option is to place them in a hard-to-reach area, where even curious hands and overzealous tails would have a hard time reaching. Bear in mind that a CO detector should never be blocked by furniture, curtains or other objects, as restricted airflow can affect its function.

A single-function carbon monoxide alarm is recommended, but if you are installing a dual smoke-CO detector, place it on the ceiling so it can detect smoke.

Our Top 5 Highest Rated Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Ring Alarm CO and Smoke Listener

Most Affordable Smart Carbon Monoxide Detector

1. Ring Alarm CO and Smoke Listener

Rating:

4

Cost:

$34.99

Description:

The Ring smoke alarm and carbon monoxide listener work together with existing traditional carbon monoxide detectors to provide maximum home safety and peace of mind with smart technology. The duo uses the Ring mobile app and Ring Alarm Security Kit to send maintenance and emergency notifications to your smartphone.

Key Features

  • Receive automatic mobile alerts using the Ring app when existing carbon monoxide detectors sound their alarms
  • 24/7 professional monitoring for peace of mind when away from home
  • Seamless connection to any existing carbon monoxide or smoke detector that’s less than 10 years old, regardless of the brand
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Nighthawk Plug-in Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Best Easy-to-Install Carbon Monoxide Detector

2. Nighthawk Plug-in Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Rating:

4.5

Cost:

$32.42

Description:

This easy to install carbon monoxide alarm uses a digital display to clearly display the latest levels of carbon monoxide in the home. The Nighthawk can be powered by plugging into any wall outlet, extended using a 6-foot cord or mounted to avoid tampering. The alarm includes a backup battery to continue to detect during power outages.

Key Features

  • Digitally displays carbon monoxide levels to easily read level changes
  • Uses LED blinking light in the corner of the alarm to rest assure it’s working properly
  • 85-decibel alarm for a loud and clear sound if rising carbon monoxide levels are detected
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Nest Protect Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm

Top Certified Carbon Monoxide Detector

3. Nest Protect Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm

Rating:

4.5

Cost:

Description:

The Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide duo detector is designed to be easy to use. Easy-to-read light alerts and automatic mobile notifications using the Wi-Fi and the mobile Nest Protect app make for a controlled safe and smart home even when you’re away.

Key Features

  • Uses a multi-colored light ring that shines red during when detecting carbon monoxide
  • Includes a 10-year best-in-class electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor using electrodes to monitor electrical or fuel flows and detect carbon monoxide
  • Connects to the Nest Thermostat, which will automatically disable the furnace if carbon monoxide is detected to allow time for a safe evacuation
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Alert Plus Carbon Monoxide Detector

4. Alert Plus Carbon Monoxide Detector

Rating:

4.5

Cost:

$17.66

Description:

This energy saving and battery-operated carbon monoxide detector alerts using a louder than CO alarm standards at 85-decibel and flashing red LED light. The alarm includes an easy-to-read digital PPM display at all times to keep you aware of levels at all times.

Key Features

  • Flashes a bright LED light with a loud and clear 85-decibel alarm if rising carbon monoxide levels are detected
  • Battery powered with 3 AA batteries for affordable maintenance and continued protection during power outages
  • Alert times up to 90 minutes ahead of danger for levels at 50 PPM
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