7 Best Carbon Monoxide and Gas Alarms in 2019

The listing of these products is for informational purposes and individuals must use their own caution and judgment when using these resources. Functional levels and changes in judgment and reasoning are highly variable in people with dementia. Interventions must be individualized and continually assessed because those that are effective for some individuals may only work briefly and may not work at all for others.

Why Gas Alarm is Needed?

Natural gas, composed mainly of methane (a highly flammable chemical), is the main heating fuel used in American. Propane, a gas in a liquid form, is used mainly in rural areas and delivered to the home in tanks. Gas leaks – potentially causing a fire or an explosion, can occur from an improperly functioning cooking or heating appliance – or from the improper use of an appliance, like leaving the stove’s gas on.

As both natural gas and propane are odorless, the gas company adds a “rotten egg” smell (mercaptan) to make gas detection easier for most people. But most older adults, and especially those with dementia, lose their sense of smell and cannot detect the presence of gas in their environment.

Why a CO Detector is Needed?

CO is an odorless, colorless and lethal gas, created when any fuel is burned. If CO is not properly vented outdoors (where it disperses) – dangerous levels of CO can build up inside the home. Appliances used for heating and cooking are the main sources of CO – like gas ranges, space heaters, fireplaces, (or even a bird’s nest blocking a flue) and water heaters.

Installation

1. High on the wall or plug in
2. If you have natural gas, mount 12″ from the ceiling (using the 6′ power cord)
3. If you have propane gas, mount near the floor (using the direct plug-in feature)

2. Room(s) Installation

The manufacturer recommends at least one alarm by the sleeping area and for multilevel homes, one alarm per floor. Check the manufacturer’s instructions where not to locate alarms, (e.g., no alarms in the kitchen or garage) to reduce “nuisance” alarms.

Pros

  • Continuous electronic display – with updates every 15 seconds – of gas and carbon monoxide levels the unit is sensing.
  • 9V battery back up (comes with unit) for protection during a power outage
  • Plugs into a regular wall outlet (for propane gas detection) or high on the wall for natural gas detection) using the 6′ power cord
  • Loud, 85-decibel pulsing alarm
  • Different alarms for gas and CO along with an electronic text display; “GAS” or “CO”

Cons

False alarms can be triggered by:

  • Ordinary household chemicals found in paints, thinners, solvents. etc. You’ll need to temporarily relocate the alarm – for example, – when painting or stripping wood floors.
  • Ordinary aerosol products, air fresheners, perfumes and after shaves. Avoid using these products in the same room and in some households, even in an adjacent room or hallway.
  • Methane gas in diaper pails and even kitty litter- so don’t mount the alarm directly above or nearby these containers.

Caution

If the person with dementia is alone when the alarm goes off, they may not know what to do and become upset. Leave written instructions – in large lettering – following the manufacturer’s instructions. However, as there are slightly different instructions for what to do if the gas or CO alarm goes off (which could be confusing to the person), telling the person to simply leave the premises and call 911 from a neighbors phone may be the safest solution.

This unit is not a smoke alarm and will not sense smoke or fire.

You’ll need to make sure the battery is changed every six months and test the unit regularly to make sure it’s working.

If your home’s heating or hot water system runs on gas, oil or wood, then you need to have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm system in your home. You can’t see, smell or taste CO, that’s why it’s been called the “silent and invisible killer”.

According to a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses or heart disease are more at risk of CO poisoning than the general population. So if you’re a carer or have a loved one in their prime years, getting a CO detection system installed is important.

We decided to try out some of the best selling CO alarm systems just to see how they rank. Most importantly, we wanted to bring you tried and tested products, that are affordable and effective. Here are our top 7 recommendations.

1. Kidde KN-COB-B-LPM Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Price: Low

Power: Battery Only

Display: None

This Kidde CO alarm system uses 2 AA batteries and provides protection for your home if carbon monoxide levels increase by sounding an alarm. It’s a simple system and one of the most affordable on the market.

The unit uses a pattern of alarms that includes red and green led lights to warn you. It is easy to install and can be mounted on the wall or simply placed on a table top.

Status led lights

It has a green led light that flashes every 30 seconds to show that it is operating properly. The problem with many CO alarms is that you don’t know whether or not they’re working until it’s too late.

Most consumers will tell you that they installed a unit and forgot it for years and then one day, it goes off. This reminds them that the system truly works. But what if it’s not working?

With this unit, you can use the led lights as an indication.

Battery lockout system

The battery lockout panel is intelligently designed to stop you from closing the battery when it is incomplete. This is particularly useful for the elderly or anyone who may forget to insert all the batteries.

Test/Reset button

You can test the unit for proper operation and then reset it when you’re done. While testing, you’ll hear a loud alarm go off which you can reset when you’re done with the tests.

We tested some systems that don’t have this feature, and even though it might sound unimportant, it is really important that you test the unit from time to time to ensure that it is providing maximum protection.

Compliant with Underwriters Laboratories (UL)

The product is UL compliant. Underwriters Laboratories is a global safety organization independent of any corporate interests, They have operated for over a century in creating safety solutions, testing and ranking products.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Test/Reset button

CONS

  • No digital display
  • No hardwire option

2. Kidde KN-COPP-B-LPM Battery Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm With Digital Display

Price: Low

Power: Battery Only

Display: Yes

The Kidde KN-COPP-B-LPM alarm is a popular CO detector that is a battery only model. It is used to continuously monitor carbon dioxide levels and because it is battery operated, even when there is a power outage it will still run just fine.

The product comes with an intuitive battery door that makes it easy to access the 3 AA batteries. It also has a safety feature that hinders closure of the housing when batteries are incomplete. The unit is easy to install and will alert you with a loud alarm if carbon monoxide levels are at high levels.

It can be mounted anywhere

One of the biggest advantages of its design is that it can be mounted wherever it is needed. Because it runs on batteries only, you don’t need a power outlet.

Electrochemical sensor

It has electrochemical sensors with high accuracy that can detect a wide range of gases in the air from as low as 11 and up to 999 parts per million (PPM).

Stores peak readings

This is an excellent feature so you can see the level of exposure over time. Carbon poisoning doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes several exposures over a long period of time before it becomes dangerous. Peak readings help you monitor your exposure

Alarm sounds at 70 PPM

The alarm sounds when it detects CO at 70 PPM for 1-4 hour period, 150 PPM for 10-15 minutes, and 400 PPM for 4-5 mins.

PROS

  • Works during power outages
  • Beeps when the battery is low
  • Battery lockout system
  • Test/Reset button

CONS

  • No hardwire option

3. Nighthawk AC Plug-in Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital Display KN-COPP-3

Price: Low

Power: Battery Only

Display: None

The Nighthawk carbon monoxide detector has a digital display that helps you see what the levels of CO is in your home. It can be mounted in several ways making it a versatile choice for different home layouts.

Nighthawk also comes with a 9-volt battery backup which provides constant monitoring and protection even when there is no power.

It has a peak level button

The unit has a button that shows CO peak levels that have been recorded by the system since you installed it or reset it. This is especially useful to give you an insight into what events transpired during the time when the levels were high.

Easy to install

It is easy to install (plug and use) with no fuss at all. This is a powerful CO alarm system made of sophisticated electronic components and sensors to protect you and your family. Plug it into a standard A/C power outlet and make sure to include the batteries as backup.

Sounds an 85 dB alarm when CO is detected

The unit has an 85 dB alarm that alerts you about elevated CO levels. It doesn’t just beep but rather sets off a real alarm to warn you about the carbon monoxide level.

Convenient mounting

You can place this conveniently anywhere in your home. The design makes it perfect for any room. You can change the position of the plug and rotate it so the alarm is vertical or horizontal. Also, it has a long 6-foot extension cord which ensures that most A/C outlets are within reach.

Pros

  • Versatile installation
  • Advanced technology
  • Digital display
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Not a dual smoke detector

4. First Alert CO605 Carbon Monoxide Plug-In Alarm

Price: Low

Power: Dual Power

Display: None (can be ordered)

First Alert CO605 is a CO alarm system that offers continuous monitoring through a backup battery. It will protect you from the deadly effects of carbon monoxide no matter your power situation.

It is outfitted with an electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor which is arguably one of the most accurate sensors in the industry. What this means for your home is that you’ll have fewer false alarms.

Easy to install

The unit is easy to install. Just like all the others on this list, it is a simple plug and use product. Nothing else is required of you just plug it into your standard AC outlet.

Continuous monitoring

For peace of mind, the CO alarm monitors your home continually so that even if you lose power, the backup battery will take over. If your battery is low you will hear a low battery signal alerting you that it’s time to replace the backup battery.

Front panel battery

Changing the battery on this system is easy especially for those who have mounted it on a wall. You don’t have to take it down to change your batteries, just open the front battery compartment and you’re all done!

Test/Reset button

First Alert is easy to operate and you can check if it’s working fine by doing a test run. During the test, just click on the silence button to reset it. If there’s ever a false alarm, you can use the same button to reset it

PROS

  • Electrochemical sensors
  • Loud 85-decibel alarm
  • Single test/silence button

CONS

  • Higher price with display

5. Universal Security Instruments MCND401 M Series Carbon Monoxide and Natural Gas Alarm

Price: Low

Power: Dual power

Display: Yes

The Universal Security Instruments CO alarm is by far the best in my opinion. It has all the features you need in a CO alarm and goes a step further in detecting natural gas. This is really cool because even though natural gas isn’t as dangerous when compared to CO, it is responsible for many accidents.

The unit comes with a dual sensing alarm which will provide protection against two deadly household threats: natural gas and CO. However, the digital display only shows the level of CO detected.

You can use this product and all others to create an early warning system for CO, smoke or natural gas. Install several units in different rooms in the home; including basements and attic so that you can be alerted from the source of the leak.

It also comes with a 9-volt battery backup and a compact design that makes it easy to install. The compact design of this alarm makes it perfect for any room in the house. You can also plug it into outlets that are hidden behind furniture and it will not affect any the position.

Continuous protection

With a backup battery, it ensures that you are always protected even when you lose power.

Microprocessor intelligence

It is built with a smart sensor and is ideal in eliminating false alarms. Because the unit also monitors natural gas, there will be more false alarms. Simply press the reset button to quiet non-hazardous alarms.

Digital display

It has a display that shows the level of carbon dioxide detected. This will help you keep track of the levels visually. The display is large and bright so that even those who have poor eye sights can see the digits clearly.

Fast and easy to install

There is no need to mount it on any additional surface. Simply plug it into an A/C outlet and start using the alarm.

PROS

  • Affordable price
  • Double protection
  • Digital Display
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to install

CONS

  • Could not really find any

6. AirRadio Natural Gas Detector Alarm with Methane Sensor I1

Price: Low

Power: Dual power

Display: Yes

While searching for the right product, we also wanted one that was visually appealing. Something that looks like a piece of artwork and we found this product. It does the job perfectly well and is a great addition to any home.

The AirRadio natural gas detector has a color code system that is a joy to watch. When everything is normal the color of the base is white. It changes to a fluorescent green color during self-test, red color when it detects gas and a light green color when there is an error. In this case, try resetting it.

The only downside is that it does not detect carbon monoxide. I know you’re wondering why it’s on this list, well in my defense it does have some truly amazing features.

Emits a 70db alarm

It comes with sensors that sound a 70db alarm when the natural gas concentration is more than 7% in the air. This will keep your home protected and reduce the risk of a gas explosion.

Energy saving

This alarm comes as an energy saving products. It has a super-power saving feature that uses only 0.3 watts – compared to other products you’re practically running on thin air.

High quality

It combines platinum gas-sensitive electrodes with a quick response system and powerful anti-interference functionality to deliver a world-class protection. AirRadio is also made of flame retardant materials making it able to withstand fire.

Small design

The unit is one of the smallest gas detectors in the market today. Because of its small size, you can plug into any corner of the home without obstructing movement.

PROS

  • Nice design
  • High-quality materials

CONS

  • No display
  • Does not detect CO

Note: This product is only recommended alongside a CO alarm system. Since it does not detect carbon monoxide, you will not be protected from the dangers of CO.

7. Kidde KN-COSM-IBA Hardwire Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Price: Low

Power: Battery Only

Display: None

This extremely popular alarm features a high 85dB horn, which makes it easy for the seniors to hear it, when something happens. Kiddie KN-COSM-IBA has sensitive smoke sensors, which can also detect smaller fires. This product meets the NFPA 72 standards and has 120 VAC power source. It features both the horn and visual red light alert together with voice warning. Another good thing about this product is that is not too small to install- the diameter is 5-3/4 inches which makes it easier to set up. This smart device can interconnect up to 24 Kidde devices and it comes with battery backup (all it needs is 2-AA type batteries).

Alarm Warnings

In case of the fire, the red LED will start to flash and it is the followed by three long alarm beeps as well as a loud verbal message :”Fire!Fire!”. This pattern is repeated until the smoke is cleared and there is no danger of anyone missing it in case they do not hear it the first time.

When there is a CO leak then the verbal message will say :”Warning- Carbon Monoxide!” and it is also continued until the CO leak is eliminated.

In case you have not changed the batteries it will display a red LED light which will begin to flash together with a voice message: “Low Battery!” and this warning will repeat itself every 15 minutes. Of course you can turn it off if you would like to.

PROS

  • Great price
  • Extremely well reviewed on Amazon by other users as well as by us

CONS

  • No digital display
  • No hardwire option

Conclusion

Before you buy one of these products, it’s a good idea to break down exactly what you’re looking for in a carbon monoxide detector. Are you buying it for an elderly person? Consider the display and sound.

Carbon Monoxide does not have a smell or taste, so they might not know immediately that they’ve been poisoned. So you may want to buy a unit with a test and reset button so frequent tests can be done.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and so much more. Most times, the symptoms will resemble the flu. Please contact your doctor immediately if you fear you have been poisoned.

Product Selection Criteria

Our goal is to teach you how to be a good consumer and to help you learn about specific products and unique product features that may enhance your safety and the safety and function of the person with dementia. The products shown in This Caring Home serve as examples only. Manufacturers continually change product specifications and the products represented may be different from those now on the market.

We realize this is not an all-inclusive list. Products featured in This Caring Home were chosen for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Affordability
  • Attractiveness
  • Availability
  • Color selection
  • Quality
  • Safety

We encourage you to discuss product selection with other caregivers and health care professionals.

How We Tested

As a result of our testing, we’re listing the pros and cons for using these products and including safety precautions for various products. These products were not tested by persons with dementia. We hope in the future to do case studies to learn more about what works and what doesn’t work in a larger variety of caregiving situations and home environments.