A quality smoke and carbon monoxide detector can be a lifesaver at critical moments. CO is an invisible gas that you can’t really smell in the air, but it’s located all around you and it’s an integral part of devices that work by burning fuel. Once it’s released due to a breakdown and spreads around your house, it might show its dangerous or even lethal side, considering that inhaling this toxic compound slowly leads to poisoning in most situations.

On the other hand, the smoke is rather visible –  and it’s the first sign that something is burning. Be it a forgotten iron, an overheated oven, or a bad installation, you may not be able to notice it if you’re visiting a friend or you sleep like a log. That’s the moment when smoke becomes seriously threatening and, if we notice it with a delay, we put our lives in danger.

Do you need more reasons to start thinking about installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? There’s no doubt that every home needs at least one device of this kind – and ideally, even more. Yet, there are countless manufacturers on the market at the moment – you need to think wisely and choose carefully when buying. Numerous models have proven to be inefficient, poor quality, and usually quite short-lived. In order not to make a mistake when protecting your life and the life of your loved ones, we bring you some tips on what you should pay attention to when buying these units.

Types of detectors

There are three basic groups of these devices on the market – one group is intended exclusively for the detection of smoke, the other group is intended for the detection of carbon monoxide only, while the third is a combined type that can detect both.

With smoke alarms, the ability to react to different types of flames and fires is a crucial perk. Within this group, there are ionization, photoelectric and dual-sensor types, each of which is characterized by certain specifications.

The ionization one is suitable for reacting to smaller particles in the air that emerge due to fast-burning fires. It’s advisable to install them far from the stove as at times they can react to burnt food. The photoelectric one is the opposite of the ionization type since it detects larger particles that occur in smoldering fires, but their disadvantage is a bad reaction to a fire that burns quickly. The dual-sensor type is a combination of the previously mentioned two technologies and thus provides the best overall safety and protection.

When it comes to carbon monoxide sensors, they are made exclusively for recognizing this gas in the air, which means that you can’t really count on them if you want to confirm the presence of other gases. Some of them are programmed to display the gas concentration in the room via a digital monitor, while some produce sound effects.

Combined alarms combine all the previously mentioned technologies to provide the highest level of protection. Among so many different models on the market, there are the conventional ones, but also those that, thanks to technological development, can be connected to wireless networks. This way, you can monitor the situation in your home when it comes to these threats through the installed application on your smartphone and avoids incidents while you’re away. Some manufacturers, such as X-sense emphasize the importance of battery life and battery quality when it comes to smoke and carbon monoxide detector, which is why their devices boast enviable duration.

How to choose the right model?

1. Pay attention to the power source

Some detectors will require a connection to your home’s wiring. In such cases, a professional installation is a must, and you also get spare batteries with them. Some models work exclusively with the help of batteries and their advantage is that they can continue to work even in the event of a power outage. If you opt for those with portable batteries, note that they require replacement once a year, but in case you choose a device with lithium batteries, you won’t have to change them periodically, as they last as long as the life of the device.

2. Consider whether it’s a smart device

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Smart detectors stand out for their numerous advantages over most traditional models. The biggest perk is the possibility of having an insight into the situation at home and being able to control it even when you aren’t around. These can be wired, contain batteries, or be connected to other similar devices you possess. You can receive all alerts through your smartphone and thus get peace of mind when you go somewhere, especially if you travel frequently.

On the other hand, such alarms are usually quite expensive and, through research,  the models of certain manufacturers have proven to be insufficiently effective. Therefore, be careful when deciding on a smart alarm and take all factors into account.

3. Make sure it has a UL label

All detectors should meet the Underwriters Laboratories Standard (UL standard). If the device is manufactured following these criteria, the UL mark will be visible on the label. Remember to pay attention to the date of manufacture at the time of purchase and keep in mind that CO alarms should be changed once in five years and smoke alarms once in ten years.

UL works daily to improve its standards and increase its users’ safety. This should give you security and convince you that you have purchased a verified alarm make that complies with the prescribed standards.

4. Pay attention to lifespan

The lifespan of such detectors isn’t quite easy to predict as it depends on various factors. These include model, place of installation, type, method of production, and many others. However, that shouldn’t prevent you from taking a look at the label when choosing the device, checking the date, and reading the manual that’ll tell you when it’s advisable to change the batteries or the whole unit. We’ve previously mentioned the approximate lifespan of individual models, while for combined models it’s usually between five and eight years.

The possibility of the presence of carbon monoxide and smoke announcing a fire in your home isn’t something to be ignored. To reduce the possibility of situations that can be fatal to your life and the lives of your family, you need to start thinking about installing a detector and make your life simpler and safer. Following the above-mentioned tips, you can choose the model that best suits the characteristics of your home with zero fuss –  and you certainly won’t go wrong.