It’s not optional: every home needs one of the best carbon monoxide detectors. Or, depending on the size of your home, maybe a couple, or even a few detectors to ensure you sleep soundly. Luckily, carbon monoxide detectors are becoming better and better at what they do, and even top-of-the-line models are well within most budgets. After all, this isn’t something you want to cheap out on. Here’s a compilation of our favorite carbon monoxide detectors.
— Best Overall: Google Nest Protect
— Best Portable: Cheffort Handheld Carbon Monoxide Detector
— Best 10-Year: Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector
— Best 2-in-1: Siterwell WiFi Carbon Monoxide and Fire Detector
— Best Budget: X-Sense Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital LCD Display
How We Picked the Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors
We’ll try to refrain from any sort of gallows humor when it comes to discussing what makes a good or bad carbon monoxide detector. These devices are built to some pretty strict standards, so you can more or less depend on them working when you need them to. But here are some things that separate a good carbon monoxide detector from one of the best.
Installation: Setting up your new carbon monoxide detector for the first time shouldn’t require you to ring up a contractor. If you know how to use a screwdriver, you can install a carbon monoxide detector. Some of the best devices will even be able to be installed using a simple adhesive mount.
Interface: Most devices have a button on them that will quickly check the carbon monoxide levels and give you instant insight. Real-time results are delivered by a loud beep or a colored light. Some offer even more insight via various smart applications. No matter how your carbon monoxide detector fills you in on the situation, it shouldn’t be difficult to parse.
Build Quality: A carbon monoxide detector isn’t something you want to hide in a corner somewhere. They should be installed at least five feet off the ground to work effectively. Because of this, they shouldn’t look like they were built in 1976. Muted and flashy aesthetics are both welcome here, so long as they don’t look cheap.
Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Google Nest Protect
Why It Made The Cut: The coolest, smartest, and safest way to keep a close eye on your home’s carbon monoxide levels.
— Dimensions: 5.3 inches L x 5.3 inches W x 1.5 inches H
— Weight: 1 pound
— Gorgeous and innovative LED lighting
— Provides voice alerts
— Fantastic app
For those looking to totally deck out their smart homes, Google Nest Protect is the go-to smart carbon monoxide detector for a myriad of reasons.
Looks are relative, but there’s no denying just how gorgeous the Google Nest Protect looks. Mounting it on a wall that sees a lot of traffic won’t be a sacrifice made in the name of safety. It’s the kind of carbon monoxide detector that you want to show off. Google Nest Protect doesn’t simply beep, it provides voice alerts such as “There is smoke in the kitchen.” It pinpoints problematic situations like smoke or gas leaks while highlighting where they are. This detector sends real-time alerts to your phone, and even lets you know when the battery is running low. Even if you decide to mount it on the ceiling, you can silence the device using your phone so you don’t have to reach for a step ladder if it’s a false alarm. The battery is long-lasting, and it claims to go strong for years, but naturally, it will require more battery refreshes than typical carbon monoxide detectors. Also, there’s that premium price tag. Grabbing one for your home may be well within your budget, but grabbing three or four can quickly become an investment. Still, there’s no other device that blends form and functions quite as well.
Best Portable: Cheffort Handheld Carbon Monoxide Detector
Why It Made The Cut: Whether you use it at home or in the wild, the Cheffort Handheld Carbon Monoxide Detector is a fantastic portable device.
— Dimensions: 8.43 inches L x 5.98 inches W x 1.61 inches H
— Weight: 4.6 ounces
— Durable build
— Bright LCD screen
— Measures temperature and carbon monoxide
— Batteries not included
Carbon monoxide fears can be encountered just about anywhere, not just the inside of your home. The Cheffort Handheld Carbon Monoxide Detector is a fantastic portable option, to use in boats, RVs, or anywhere.
This handheld device fits in just about any travel case and packs a serious amount of carbon monoxide detecting prowess in a small space. You can set it to detect once or continuously, and it will even shut off automatically after 10 minutes to preserve battery life. A big bright LCD screen allows for ease of use in low-light or outright dark environments, with readouts that you don’t need a chemistry degree to understand. It’s incredibly accurate and quick, and measures not only carbon monoxide but temperature and C02 levels as well. The Cheffort is also incredibly durable, making it perfect for professionals who work near problem areas like gas furnaces and parking lots. Sadly, it doesn’t include batteries, and you can’t expect anywhere near the usual longevity of a carbon monoxide detector when it comes to battery life. The portability is a fair trade-off though.
Best 10-Year: Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector
Why It Made The Cut: Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector is a true set-it-and-forget-it device, and operates for years on a single battery.
— Dimensions: 2.75 inches L x 4.5 inches W x 1.5 inches H
— Weight: 8.64 ounces
— Installs easily
— LED light alerts
— Pricey for its features
A carbon monoxide detector is a device you want to set up and then not think about for years. Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector gives you a decade of peace of mind, once you install it.
This carbon monoxide detector easily qualifies as one of the best because of its longevity. It’s UL certified to last for an entire decade before you need to replace the battery. Like any great safety device, it also comes with a 10-year limited warranty, should you find the battery faltering even a little bit. As far as installation goes, Kidde installs quickly and easily using three simple screw ports. Operating this device is also straightforward, with three LED buttons that allow you to do real-time tests on the fly. There’s even an alert light if your device is faulty, which provides another layer of safety and protection. In case you forget the 10-year mark, the device will also beep when the battery is low. The 85-decibel alarm will get your attention, even if you’re in deep sleep. That said, its design is rather muted, and it’s not as inexpensive as it looks. What you’re paying for here is fewer frills, and more battery life, so it may be worth the extra dough.
Best 2-in-1: Siterwell WiFi Carbon Monoxide and Fire Detector
Why It Made The Cut: Siterwell WiFi does double duty in keeping your home safe, with voice alerts and an integrated app.
— Dimensions: 6.18 inches L x 6.22 inches W x 2.32 inches H
— Weight: 12.3 ounces
— Continuously checks air quality and battery life
— Reduces false positives
— User-friendly app
— Needs to be mounted high
Not all home safety smart devices are as expensive as Google Nest Protect, including the Siterwell WiFi Carbon Monoxide and Fire Detector. As the name suggests, it does double duty in defending against contaminants in your home.
Once this detector is mounted, it will not only continuously check carbon monoxide levels and smoke, but it will also keep you posted on battery life. Even if you set up the device in the kitchen, it will be able to differentiate between harmful smoke and cooking fumes from a searing steak, so you don’t have to reach for a ladder every time it goes off when you’re cooking dinner. Like Google Nest Protect, the device comes with a full-blown app (available on App Store and Google Play) that sends alerts to your phone. This device is also made to get your attention, with loud and informative voice alerts like “Warning! Carbon monoxide! Evacuate!” or “Smoke Alarm! Fire!” That’s the kind of urgency that won’t give you a moment to second guess the situation. Siterwell 2-in-1 also lets you check levels on the fly. That said, to get the most of the device, you need to mount it high, which will make manual checking a bit of a chore. However, considering it comes with an integrated app, you may not have to worry about it until it comes time to change the battery.
Best Budget: X-Sense Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital LCD Display
Why It Made The Cut: X-Sense Carbon Monoxide Alarm is incredibly affordable but certainly doesn’t look cheap.
— Dimensions: 2.5 inches L x 5.3 inches W x 0.6 inches H
— Weight: 3.2 ounces
— Intuitive LED lights and LCD screen
— High accuracy
Inexpensive devices are usually built cheaper, and look garish to boot. The X-Sense Carbon Monoxide Alarm is an outlier and manages to be both gorgeous and cheap.
Among its flashier features is the bright blue LCD screen. It provides quick insight into your home’s carbon monoxide levels with a single button push and displays them on an easy-to-read screen. Intuitive LED lights provide even more insight. It flashes red, green, or yellow to indicate an alarm, power, or a fault in the device. No-fuss, no muss stuff. This device mounts quickly using screw ports, but also comes with a wall adhesive so you don’t even need to break out the power tools to get it up and running. The X-Sense even runs up to five years on a single battery so you don’t have to worry about replacing its power source for quite some time. It is worth noting that whether it detects high carbon monoxide levels or you’re doing a quick test, this device is incredibly loud. Whether or not you decide this is a feature or a bug depends on how vigilant you want to be with the carbon monoxide levels in your home. Still, it can get pretty grating during simple tests.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Location, Location, Location
No matter how well a carbon monoxide detector is built, if you don’t install it correctly, it won’t do a very good job in keeping you in tune to the contaminants in your house. In order to make the most out of your detector, experts recommend installing it at least five feet off the ground. You also want to avoid planting it in high-moisture areas like a bathroom because it can hinder the effectiveness of your carbon monoxide detector.
One Carbon Monoxide Detector May Not Be Enough
Depending on the size of your house, you may want to consider getting more than one detector. Ideally, you want one detector for every room in your house, but the International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends getting one for every room in your house including the basement and garage. You can never be too careful when it comes to deadly contaminants in the air, considering that carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. Our best overall carbon-monoxide detector, the Google Nest Protect, is great if you only need one detector in your home, but buying multiple devices can soon put a damper on many budgets. If you want to go hog wild and get a carbon monoxide detector for every room in your house, we recommend an affordable offering like the X-Sense Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital LCD Display.
Q: How much do carbon monoxide detectors cost?
Carbon monoxide detectors run anywhere from $20 to a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the features within them. Our budget pick X-Sense Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital LCD Display runs closer to the lower end, while Google Nest Protect is one of the more expensive offerings.
Q: What causes a carbon monoxide alarm to go off?
If an alarm goes off, it could be because the levels of carbon monoxide are dangerous or deadly in your home. However, devices can also falter after their expiration dates and can be triggered by excessive moisture or even steam.
Q: What happens if your carbon monoxide detector beeps?
Continuous beeps that don’t stop mean that there is carbon monoxide present and you should vacate the area immediately and call 911. Chirps that beep in intervals mean that a device has a low battery or requires replacement.
Q: Do carbon monoxide detectors give false alarms?
Yes, carbon monoxide detectors can occasionally give false alarms, especially if the batteries are expired.
Q: How do you check for carbon monoxide without a detector?
A few ways to check for levels of carbon monoxide are if you find brownish or yellow stains around appliances, have a pilot light that frequently goes out, or the air smells stale. In the event that you think there is a leak, vacate the premises and call 911 immediately.
Q: How long does it take to show signs of carbon-monoxide poisoning?
Signs can show in as little as two hours depending on the carbon-monoxide concentration in the air. Even small amounts of continued exposure can have negative neurological effects on the body.
Final Thoughts on Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors aren’t optional, and they are as essential to a safe and happy home as a fire alarm or air fryer. Okay, they’re more important than air fryers. Our best overall pick is the Google Nest Protect, which packs quite a bit of safety and innovation into a simple device. That said, expect to pay quite a bit more than you’d typically pay for a detector. The best budget pick, the X-Sense Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital LCD Display, may surprise you with its gorgeous display and build quality and runs just as great as models twice the price.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.