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Before you buy a carbon monoxide detector, you’ll need to understand safe levels. These can vary from household to household, depending on the length of your exposure and the overall health of each person who lives there. Occupational Safety and Health Standards require workplaces to keep levels below 50 ppm, but many people won’t experience symptoms until at least 70 ppm. Heart patients may begin experiencing chest pains as levels rise within that range, though. Once carbon monoxide hits 70 ppm and keeps rising, occupants may notice an increase in headaches, fatigue and nausea. Levels between 150 and 200 ppm can cause unconsciousness and disorientation and eventually become fatal.Accuracy should be a top priority when you’re comparing carbon monoxide detectors. One way to measure accuracy is to check a unit’s sensitivity. The Kidde Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Detector can sense levels as low as 11 ppm but will only alert when the level gets dangerous. The First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm uses electrochemical sensors that can find both low and carbon monoxide levels.Before you start shopping, determine exactly what type of danger detection you need. The Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector in one. The unit combines both photoelectric and ionization sensors to monitor for fires. Those same sensors can also keep an eye out for signs of electrochemical carbon monoxide. Most other carbon monoxide detectors only handle CO detection, which means you’ll need separate smoke detectors.
However, if you’re in the market for a new smoke detector as well, consider the First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm, which connects to other First Alert alarms to provide you with full-house protection.With most CO detectors, you’ll only know once levels reach a certain threshold. However, both the Kidde Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Alarm and the Alert Plus Carbon Monoxide Alarm show your current levels on an LCD display. The Alert Plus Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector will begin issuing alerts within 60 to 90 minutes once you reach 50 ppm. If you hit 100 ppm, an alert will sound within 10 to 40 minutes, and 300 ppm sets off an alarm within three minutes.If you do see an alert, it can help to know which part of your house the problem area is. The First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm lets you know where the threat is so that you can take action to fix it.In addition to voice alerts to warn you of the danger, Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector has an LED that changes colors at varying levels. If you have low levels of smoke or carbon monoxide, you’ll get a yellow light while red light signals that you should exit the building immediately. The Alert Plus Carbon Monoxide Alarm also has a bright LED light.When an alarm goes off, it’s important to have an alert at a volume audible to your entire household. The National Fire Protection Association recommends volume levels of at least 75 decibels. Both the Kidde Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Alarm and First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm include alarms that are 85 decibels.Another benefit of the Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector is that it connects to a smartphone app. This means you can log in and check your home’s levels even when you’re away.One bonus feature on the Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector is that if you do need to exit, the alarm lights up the area to help you find your way out in the dark. It can also be linked up to the smart bulbs you have in your home to provide a visual alert when it’s time to evacuate.You have two choices in how your carbon monoxide detector is powered. The Kidde Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Alarm is a plug-in detector that runs off your home’s electricity. It also has a battery backup for those power outages. The First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm and Alert Plus Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector are both battery-powered, so you’ll need to make sure you keep the batteries changed. The Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector is available in both wired and battery-powered versions.