Can a Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Carbon Dioxide? (2023)

Can a Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Carbon Dioxide? (1)

A carbon monoxide detector cannot detect carbon dioxide. In general, a carbon monoxide detector uses an electrochemical sensor that outputs electric current proportional to the amount of carbon monoxide the chemicals are exposed to. A carbon dioxide detector uses a non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) sensor that measures light in a sample of air. The amount of light that passes through the sample is inversely proportional to the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

Let's Compare Carbon Monoxide vs Carbon Dioxide

An important distinction we must make with customers is the difference between Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

Many people believe the two gases to be the same thing because of the many properties that they have in common. The names and abbreviations are similar, and they are often are confused because both are advertised as “silent killers,” which indeed they are.

You can't smell or see them, but these gases are both extremely dangerous; and understanding their disparities is crucial.

Where Does CO2 Come From?

CO2 is a gas that is produced naturally on the planet and is almost never created by humans, except when it is produced by the body as a result of cellular metabolism. It is most commonly formed from fermentation, burning fossil fuels, human respiration and the decomposition of organic matter.

For example, CO2 levels at your weekly meeting in the conference room will rise significantly when the door closes and people begin talking and respirating, and when your fruits and vegetables begin to decompose when your garbage can.

Liquid and solid carbon dioxide, known as dry ice, are widely used as refrigerants in the food and beverage industry.

Where does Carbon Monoxide Come from?

On the other hand, CO is exclusively man made and does not appear naturally in our atmosphere like CO2. It is one of six major pollutants regulated in the United States and in many other places around the world. The amounts of CO around the world can change depending on the country and time of year. For example, in Africa more CO is emitted when there are more agricultural burnings for farming, because fires produce a large amount of carbon monoxide.

(Video) Carbon Monoxide warning signs inside your home

In other parts of the world like the US and Eastern China, the highest CO concentrations occur around urban areas as a result of vehicle emissions and industrial factories. CO occurs most often during the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gasoline.

Both CO2 and CO can be found in your home, workplace, and even other places you visit daily, and knowing where concentrations and leakages can occur is very important to overall health and safety. Knowing the dangers and warning sign of gas poisoning can lead to precautionary measure and even safe lives.

Can you Detect CO with a CO2 Detector?

The answer is no. CO2 detectors often use infrared sensors to detect levels of gas, while CO sensors main use electrochemical sensors.

Another element to consider is how flammable CO2 and CO can be under the right circumstances.

CO can be a flammable gas in higher dense concentrations, and devices to measure carbon monoxide in these concentrations are normally explosion proof.

The good news is that CO2 is a non-flammable, inert gas with no explosive properties.

Negative Health Effects Associated with Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide

Another commonplacemisinterpretation is that the concentration at which CO and CO2 are deadly isindistinguishable. However, nothing could befurtherfrom the truth. Wrong information can be just as deadly as the gases themselves.

OSHA lists danger levels for CO starting at 35 ppm, and for CO2 starting at 5,000 parts per million time weighted average.

Therefore, when sensing these gases, it is important to consider the respective hazardous concentrations in order to detect them properly.

(Video) WHAT CAN TRIGGER A CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM? \\ What causes co detector to go off?

One critical factor is understanding and educating yourself, your families, and your employees about the symptoms for both gases and how they are different in order to arm yourself in the event of an emergency.

Typical symptoms of CO2 exposure include decreased focus, cotton/dry mouth, disorientation, narrowed field of vision, increased heart rate, sweating, fatigue, muscle tremors, and shortness of breath.

CO exposure symptoms begin when CO begins to build up in your bloodstream. When there is too much carbon monoxide in the air, your body begins to replace the oxygen in your red blood cells with CO. Symptoms might include: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, confusion and blurred vision. CO poisoning can be extremely dangerous to those who are sleeping, because it is so subtle: some people might have brain damage or die before they even wake up.

What Should I do if I Suspect CO Poisoning?

If you believe you are starting to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning, the best course of action is to immediately go outside and get fresh air. On your way out the door, try to turn off non-electrical appliances and leave doors open as you go.

Remember that you cannot smell or see carbon monoxide, and that if you suspect poisoning to call 911.

What Should I do if I Suspect CO2 Poisoning?

While CO2 leaks are rare, it is possible for dangerous amount of CO2 to build up in confined spaces under the right circumstances. CO2 poisoning symptoms differ from that of CO2, making it easy to recognize. If you suspect you are experiencing the beginning symptoms of CO2 poisoning, leave the are or go outside.

Importance of Gas Detection

Carbon monoxide is a combustible gas, however, presents dangers other than explosions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds employers to take precautions to protect workers from carbon monoxide at the workplace.

Especially in colder climates, it is important to monitor levels of CO in the winter months. Casualties result every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, typically while using fuel-burning equipment and tools in confined spaces that lack proper ventilation. When windows and doors are shut to keep out cold air, carbon monoxide can easily build up to dangerous concentrations, especially in those industries that generate a lot of carbon monoxide- auto shops, ice rinks, mining and so on.

One way to analyze the gas is to use gas sensors or devices that detect Can a Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Carbon Dioxide? (2)dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. GasLab provides the SAN-30 for personal protection.The SAN-30 is a wearable, rechargeable personal carbon monoxide safety monitor that measures air CO levels in real time. It features a large LCD screen that displays CO, temperature, %RH and battery life. You can easily calibrate the SAN-30 using ambient air, and the battery can last 12+ hours before it needs to be recharged. This is a great method of monitoring combustible gases such as CO, as the device can clip right on your clothes.

(Video) Understanding Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors | Ask This Old House

Another reliable method of sensing CO is the GasLab Plus Carbon Monoxide Can a Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Carbon Dioxide? (3)Detector. This gas analyzer is a handheld device with electrochemical sensing technology, data logging, large back-lit LCD screen, audible alarm and much more.

In many confined spaces there is a direct relationship between low concentrations of oxygen and elevated concentrations of CO2. However, not only is carbon dioxide released from the body during respiration, the gas in solid and liquid form is also used in several industries as a refrigerant, and it is especially associated with the beer, wine and cannabis industries. An excess of CO2 means the depletion of oxygen, which can mean the air in the room can quickly become hazardous to breathe in. Nonetheless, if you wait until an oxygen deficiency alarm sounds and the deficiency is due to an excess of CO2, it can mean that levels of CO2 have already reached dangerous levels.

To quote Occupational Health and Safety: “Besides displacing the oxygen in fresh air, high concentrations of CO2may exacerbate or worsen the symptoms related to oxygen deficiency and interfere with successful resuscitation. Even moderately elevated concentrations associated with poorly ventilated indoor spaces can produce physiological symptoms.”

To combat this and alert you in a timely manner when levels ofcarbon dioxide reach high concentrations, GasLab offers the GasLab Plus Multi-Gas Detector. This device is not only great for those industries that work with the different forms of CO2, but also any enclosed workplace where ventilation can be poor.

GasLab offers CO2 Storage Storage Safety Alarmsto protect customers and Can a Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Carbon Dioxide? (4)employees around bulk carbon dioxide systems, such as restaurants bars, brewers, or anywhere carbon dioxide is stored. This gas analyzer includes a wired CO2 monitor and remote display, and meets all local fire codes, as well as OSHA and NIOSH standards.

What is the Proper Height for a CO2 or CO Sensor?

CO is a lighter gas than air, so when choosing a proper safety device;these need to be placed towards the ceiling in order to properly detect harmful CO levels.

On the flipside,CO2 gas is in heavier than air and gravitates toward the floor, so CO2Monitors such as the RAD-0102-6 shouldalways be placed 18 in. above the floor - to detect increased levels and to ensure safety!

No matter if you work in any of the industries mentioned above, leaks and over exposure to these gases can occuraround you any day at any time.

Being able toprevent potential injuries from occurring is the best preventive first step you can take.

(Video) Does your Carbon Monoxide Detector REALLY work?

Don’t Wait to Protect Yourself

Don’t wait until it’s too late. It’s never too early to start taking precautions when it comes to CO and CO2. The old idiom “better safe than sorry” rings true in many aspects of life but is especially true when it comes to gas detection. Proper forethought can indeed save lives.

For more information on CO2 and CO Safety Monitors speak to an expert today by calling(386) 872-7668or by



Can a Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Carbon Dioxide? ›

WILL A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR MEASURE CARBON DIOXIDE? We are often asked if a carbon monoxide detector will measure carbon dioxide levels, and vice versa. Unfortunately, the answer is NO.

Can carbon monoxide detectors detect low levels of carbon monoxide? ›

Do Low Level Carbon Monoxide Detectors Detect Low Levels? Yes, they do. They detect and alarm at lower carbon monoxide levels than a typical CO alarm. A typical CO detector alarms at 70 ppm after 60 minutes.

Can carbon dioxide be detected? ›

Carbon dioxide is measured using gas sensors that are specifically designed to measure carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. Some common applications for a CO₂ detector are monitoring indoor air quality, landfill, process control and controlled environment horticulture.

Is CO2 the same as carbon dioxide? ›

What Is Carbon Dioxide? Carbon Dioxide (CO₂) is a chemical compound consisting of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. It is a colourless and odourless gas at room temperature and is present in the Earth's atmosphere at a low concentration.

How can you tell the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide? ›

The major difference between Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) is in the number of oxygen atoms they carry though both contain carbon and oxygen atoms. While both have the same number of carbon atoms, i.e., one carbon atom, carbon dioxide has 2 carbon atoms while carbon monoxide has one oxygen atom.

Will carbon monoxide detect low oxygen levels? ›

CO detectors DO NOT measure low oxygen, but CO levels. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, flammable gas that is slightly less dense than air. When a CO detector is mounted on a heater or generator it will shut the devise off when CO reaches a certain level BELOW the threshold.

What level of carbon monoxide do detectors detect? ›

If detected over the course of a few hours, carbon monoxide at 70 ppm will trigger an alarm. At the other end of the spectrum, dangerous concentrations above 400 ppm will do the same after just a few minutes.

How do you test for carbon dioxide in an alarm? ›

The following procedure is the proper way to do a carbon monoxide alarm test - Press and hold the Test Button on the front of the alarm until the alarm sounds. Be sure you hold the button down long enough; it can take up to 20 seconds for the alarm to respond to the test.

How do I check my CO2 levels in my home? ›

The most accurate and certain way to detect the level of co2 in your home is by using a NDIR detector (non-dispersive infrared or electrochemical technology).

How do you test for carbon dioxide in a room? ›

A CO2 meter lets you easily and inexpensively measure CO2 levels in specific areas of your building. But, because the outdoor CO2 concentration is included in the amount of CO2 indoors, you must measure outdoor CO2 levels when assessing indoor concentrations. Outdoor CO2 levels are typically around 380 to 500 ppm.

Do I need a carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide detector? ›

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that every home should have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm.

Why isn't carbon monoxide called carbon dioxide? ›

Chemical Differences

However, carbon monoxide features a molecule consisting of one carbon atom bonded to one oxygen atom in a triple covalent bond. Carbon dioxide features a carbon atom bonded with two oxygen atoms with a regular covalent bond to form a molecule.

Is carbon dioxide or monoxide worse? ›

Carbon monoxide is a far more dangerous gas. Also referred to as the “Silent Killer,” carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating gas, so the early signs of poisoning are difficult to detect.

Do carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide smell the same? ›

Carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are quite similar. They're both odorless, colorless gasses with similar names, which is why they're so often confused with one another.

How can you tell if carbon dioxide is present? ›

The most effective way to test for CO2 is to bubble the gas through “ lime water”, a diluted solution of calcium hydroxide. When we bubble carbon dioxide through the solution, it forms a solid precipitate of calcium carbonate- chalk or limestone.

What causes carbon dioxide in a house? ›

Carbon dioxide is a pollutant found in indoor and outdoor air. Indoors, CO2 is mainly produced through the respiration (breathing) of occupants, but can also come from: cigarette smoking. unvented or poorly vented fuel-burning appliances.

How accurate are carbon monoxide detectors? ›

Most carbon monoxide detectors aren't all that sensitive.

A typical Kidde CO detector that you buy from a big box store only goes off when it detects CO concentrations of 40 PPM over 10 straight hours. And that's the lowest concentration that will sound the alarm!

Should a carbon monoxide detector read zero? ›

0-9 ppm CO: no health risk; normal CO levels in air. 10-29 ppm CO: problems over long-term exposure; chronic problems such as headaches, nausea. 30-35 ppm CO: flu-like symptoms begin to develop, especially among the young and the elderly.

What are two warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning? ›

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you.

What is a safe CO2 reading? ›

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) recommends an 8- hour TWA Threshold Limit Value (TLV) of 5,000 ppm and a Ceiling exposure limit (not to be exceeded) of 30,000 ppm for a 10-minute period. A value of 40,000 is considered immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH value).

What is a safe CO level in a house? ›

[NIOSH REL] The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established a recommended exposure limit (REL) for carbon monoxide of 35 ppm (40 mg/m(3)) as an 8-hour TWA and 200 ppm (229 mg/m(3)) as a ceiling [NIOSH 1992].

What does 3 mean on a carbon monoxide detector? ›

Three beeps mean there is a malfunction with your carbon monoxide alarm. If you're hearing three beeps every fifteen minutes, there is a malfunction with your alarm. You should contact the manufacturer and get your alarm checked immediately. You need to always have a working carbon monoxide alarm for your safety.

What level of CO2 will set off alarm? ›

They are NOT required to warn of low-levels of CO. The UL standard requires detectors to alarm within 90 minutes when exposed to 100 ppm; 35 minutes when exposed to 200 ppm and 15 minutes when exposed to 400 ppm. Some detectors are more sensitive and will, when exposed for many hours, detect or alarm at lower levels.

What sensor detects carbon dioxide? ›

NDIR sensors are spectroscopic sensors to detect CO2 in a gaseous environment by its characteristic absorption. The key components are an infrared source, a light tube, an interference (wavelength) filter, and an infrared detector.

What are the symptoms of too much CO2 in home? ›

Occupants may experience health effects in buildings where CO2 is elevated, but the symptoms are usually due to the other contaminants in the air that also build up as a result of insufficient ventilation. At high levels, the carbon dioxide itself can cause headache, dizziness, nausea and other symptoms.

What are two ways to test for carbon dioxide? ›

Lighted splint held in a test tubePop sound heardHydrogen is present
Gas bubbled through limewaterLimewater turns milky or cloudy whiteCarbon dioxide is present
Damp litmus paper held in a test tubePaper turns whiteChlorine is present
1 more row

What is the easiest way to test for CO2? ›

The most effective way to test for CO2 is to bubble the gas through "limewater", a diluted solution of calcium hydroxide (slaked lime). When you bubble carbon dioxide through the solution, it forms a solid precipitate of calcium carbonate – chalk or limestone. Calcium carbonate is insoluble in water.

Where should you place a CO2 detector? ›

A detector should be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door and there should be one near or over any attached garage. Each detector should be replaced every five to six years. CO detectors do not serve as smoke detectors and vice versa.

Are carbon monoxide detectors only needed if no gas? ›

Even if you don't have any gas appliances on your property, it's still a good idea to have carbon monoxide detectors. You don't want to take any chances – carbon monoxide can creep up from any fuel-burning devices.

What is the difference between a CO detector and a carbon monoxide detector? ›

As Mike discusses, the main difference between the two is that carbon monoxide detectors alert you to dangerous levels of CO in the home, while carbon monoxide monitors allow you to monitor any level of carbon monoxide. Much like a fire alarm, the detector only alerts you when CO has reached a dangerous level.

Can carbon monoxide become dioxide? ›

Carbon monoxide has a typical "lifespan" of several months in Earth's atmosphere. The gas eventually reacts with oxygen (O2) to form carbon dioxide (CO2). Natural sources of carbon monoxide in Earth's atmosphere include volcanoes and bushfires.

Does carbon dioxide make carbon monoxide? ›

In this reaction, solid carbon latches onto one of the oxygen atoms in carbon dioxide gas, reducing it to carbon monoxide. The conversion normally requires significant amounts of energy in the form of high heat — a temperature of at least 700 degrees Celsius, hot enough to melt aluminum at normal atmospheric pressure.

Can a house have too much carbon dioxide? ›

High CO2 levels, generally over 1000 ppm, indicate a potential problem with air circulation and fresh air in a room or building. In general, high CO2 levels indicate the need to examine the HVAC system. High carbon dioxide levels can cause poor air quality and can even extinguish pilot lights on gas-powered appliances.

Is carbon dioxide the most harmful gas? ›

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide—the most dangerous and prevalent greenhouse gas—are at the highest levels ever recorded. Greenhouse gas levels are so high primarily because humans have released them into the air by burning fossil fuels.

Why is carbon dioxide less harmful than carbon monoxide? ›

CO reacts with hemoglobin in our blood and produces a compound that prevents oxygen circulation in our blood. Whereas CO2 has no such property. Because carbon monoxide form a bond with hemoglobin in the blood, that is fatal.

What does carbon dioxide smell like? ›

At normal atmospheric temperatures and pressures, carbon dioxide is colorless, odorless and about 1.5 times as heavy as air.

Can you smell carbon dioxide fumes? ›

You wouldn't be able to see or smell it, but it can be very dangerous to your health and even fatal.

Is there a smell to carbon dioxide? ›

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, does not have an odor. It is generally described as an "odorless" gas. Carbon dioxide is nontoxic and is constantly present in the Earth's atmosphere.

What kills carbon dioxide? ›

Afforestation, reforestation, and forestry management. Trees use photosynthesis to absorb carbon dioxide and store the carbon in wood and soils. Afforestation is the establishment of a forest in an area where there was previously no forest.

Do air purifiers remove CO2? ›

No. They do not remove carbon dioxide (CO2). Almost all air purifiers are designed to capture some combination of particles and toxic gasses, but CO2 can't be captured by the same filters that capture other gaseous air pollution. Only ventilation removes CO2.

Does AC remove carbon dioxide? ›

The researchers calculated air conditioning is responsible for the equivalent of 1,950 million tons of carbon dioxide released annually, or 3.94% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Of that figure, 531 million tons comes from energy expended to control the temperature and 599 million tons from removing humidity.

How do you test for small amounts of carbon monoxide? ›

The most common technology available in hospital laboratories for analyzing the blood is the multiple wavelength spectrophotometer, also known as a CO-oximeter. Venous or arterial blood may be used for testing. A fingertip pulse CO-oximeter can be used to measure heart rate and oxygen saturation, and COHgb levels.

Should my carbon monoxide detector read 0? ›

0-9 ppm CO: no health risk; normal CO levels in air. 10-29 ppm CO: problems over long-term exposure; chronic problems such as headaches, nausea. 30-35 ppm CO: flu-like symptoms begin to develop, especially among the young and the elderly.

What is the normal level of carbon monoxide in a house? ›

Average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). Levels near properly adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm and those near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30 ppm or higher.

What is the acceptable level of carbon monoxide in a home? ›

[NIOSH REL] The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established a recommended exposure limit (REL) for carbon monoxide of 35 ppm (40 mg/m(3)) as an 8-hour TWA and 200 ppm (229 mg/m(3)) as a ceiling [NIOSH 1992]. The NIOSH limit is based on the risk of cardiovascular effects.

Is a little carbon monoxide OK? ›

The brain and heart require large amounts of oxygen and quickly suffer from any oxygen shortage. This makes even small amounts of carbon monoxide dangerous. Physical, non-reversible damage can occur.

Can a little bit of carbon monoxide be bad? ›

Short term effects in experimental settings. Carbon monoxide exposure at varying levels leads to a range of different effects, from headaches and lethargy to coma, seizures, and death. There is no doubt that acute levels of CO lead to severe neurotoxicity with lasting effects.

Is a small amount of carbon monoxide okay? ›

Seek medical advice from your GP if you think you've been exposed to low levels of carbon monoxide. Go immediately to your local emergency department if you think you or someone with you has been exposed to carbon monoxide and the symptoms suggest high levels (see above).

What is a bad carbon monoxide number? ›

The OSHA PEL for CO is 50 parts per million (ppm). OSHA standards prohibit worker exposure to more than 50 parts of CO gas per million parts of air averaged during an 8-hour time period.

Where is the best place to put a carbon monoxide detector? ›

The International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. A detector should be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door and there should be one near or over any attached garage.

How do I know if my room is full of carbon monoxide? ›

What Are Signs of Carbon Monoxide in Your Home?
  1. Yellow or orange flames coming out of your gas appliances instead of the usual blue flame.
  2. Dark and sooty staining on or around gas appliances.
  3. Pilot lights that frequently blow out.
  4. Increased condensation on windows.
  5. Solid fuel fires burn much slower than usual.
Dec 16, 2021

What level of CO2 is harmful to humans? ›

5,000 ppm: this indicates unusual air conditions where high levels of other gases could also be present. Toxicity or oxygen deprivation could occur. This is the permissible exposure limit for daily workplace exposures. 40,000 ppm: this level is immediately harmful due to oxygen deprivation.


1. Did you ever wonder if your carbon monoxide detector can detect CO2 ?
(Jack Allen Walters, Jr.)
2. Testing UL Listed Carbon Monoxide Alarms vs. Defender Low Level Upgrade
(Home Performance)
3. What Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Do?
4. What Most Homeowners Don’t Know About Carbon Monoxide Detectors
(The DIY HVAC Guy)
5. How to test Carbon Monoxide Detector (Actual Test)
(Thomas Kim)
6. Where to Put CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR: What Causes CO Detector To Go Off
(The Air Of Authority)


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