How to Buy a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Your Guide to buying the best carbon monoxide detectors


A carbon monoxide detector is a crucial device for any home, as it is able to detect the presence of this dangerous gas before it reaches a toxic level. When selecting a carbon monoxide detector, there are a few factors to consider, such as the type of detector, the size and placement, and features, as well as other important safety considerations. This buying guide will help you make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing the right carbon monoxide detector for your home and family.

Key features

  1. Type of Carbon Monoxide Detector - There are two main types of carbon monoxide detectors available: plug-in, battery-operated, and hardwired detectors. Plug-in detectors are the least expensive and most convenient to install, while hardwired detectors require professional installation and are typically more expensive.
  2. Sensor Technology - Carbon monoxide detectors use either electrochemical sensors or semiconductor sensors. Electrochemical sensors have a longer lifespan (around 10 years) and are more accurate than semiconductor sensors. However, they are also more expensive.
  3. Alarm Feature - Most carbon monoxide detectors have an audible alarm, but some models also have a visual alarm with flashing LED lights. Additionally, some detectors also have a voice alarm for added safety.
  4. Power Source - Make sure to check the power source of your carbon monoxide detector. Plug-in models will need to be plugged into a wall outlet, while battery-operated models will need to be regularly changed.
  5. Maintenance Requirements - Some carbon monoxide detectors require regular maintenance, such as cleaning and battery changes, while others do not. Make sure to check the maintenance requirements before purchasing.

See the most popular carbon monoxide detectors on Amazon

Important considerations


  • Protection: Carbon monoxide detectors help to protect homes and families from potentially lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide gas.
  • Early Detection: Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to detect even small amounts of the gas and alert homeowners or occupants quickly so they can take appropriate action.
  • Cost Savings: Investing in a carbon monoxide detector can save a family money by giving them an early warning about a potentially costly problem.
  • Peace of Mind: Carbon monoxide detectors provide peace of mind by providing an extra layer of safety in the home.


  • Cost: Carbon monoxide detectors are typically more expensive than other smoke detectors.
  • Battery life: Carbon monoxide detectors have a shorter battery life compared to other smoke detectors.
  • Installation: Carbon monoxide detectors require more complicated installation processes than other smoke detectors.
  • Maintenance: Carbon monoxide detectors need to be inspected and maintained more frequently than other smoke detectors.

Best alternatives

  1. Smoke Detectors - Detect dangerous levels of smoke in the air, alerting you to potential fire dangers.
  2. Combined CO & Smoke Detector - Detects both smoke and carbon monoxide, allowing it to alert you to both fire and CO dangers in one device.
  3. Carbon Dioxide Detectors - Detects carbon dioxide, which is another dangerous gas that can cause health problems when present in the air.
  4. Radon Detectors - Detects radon gas, which is commonly found in underground areas and can cause serious health problems when present in the air.

Related tools, supplies, and accessories

  • Battery-powered detector - detects the presence of carbon monoxide in any environment, usually powered by batteries.
  • Plug-in detector - connects to an electrical outlet and can detect the presence of carbon monoxide.
  • Combination alarm - combines the features of plug-in and battery-powered detectors.
  • Digital display - a feature of some alarms that displays the level of carbon monoxide detected.
  • Backup battery - a feature of some alarms that provides power to the alarm during power outages.
  • Alarm reset button - a feature of some alarms that allows the alarm to be reset when it has been activated.
  • Test/silence button - a feature of some alarms that allows you to test the detector and/or silence the alarm.
  • Wireless monitor - a device that can be used to monitor the performance of a carbon monoxide detector from a remote location.

Common questions

  1. How do carbon monoxide detectors work? Carbon monoxide detectors work by monitoring the air for the presence of carbon monoxide gas. When carbon monoxide is detected, the detector will sound an alarm to alert occupants of the space of the hazardous gas.
  2. What type of power supply do carbon monoxide detectors require? Carbon monoxide detectors can run on either batteries or AC power, depending on the type. Batteries will need to be replaced regularly, while AC power requires hard-wiring into the home’s electrical system.
  3. What is the best location for my carbon monoxide detector? Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in central locations, such as hallways, near sleeping areas, and in any room that contains fuel-burning appliances.
  4. How often should I test my carbon monoxide detector? You should test your carbon monoxide detector monthly, and replace the batteries (if applicable) at least once a year.
  5. How can I tell when my carbon monoxide detector needs to be replaced? You should replace your carbon monoxide detector every 5-7 years, or according to the manufacturer's instructions.


In the United States, the very first carbon monoxide detectors were actually installed in the White House in 1996, after a health scare involving the then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. She had been suffering from headaches and fatigue and, after tests were conducted, it was discovered that the White House had an issue with carbon monoxide leakage. The detector was installed as a safety precaution and has been in use ever since. (Source: History of Carbon Monoxide Detectors)

Disclaimer: This buying guide was not created by humans, and it is possible that some of it's content is inaccurate or incomplete. We do not guarantee or take any liability for the accuracy of this buying guide. Additionally, the images on this page were generated by AI and may not accurately represent the product that is being discussed. We have tried to convey useful information, but it is our subjective opinion and should not be taken as complete or factual.