Types of Carbon Monoxide Detectors

You may be wondering "which carbon monoxide detector should I buy?" - after all there are so many to choose from.

Here you will find a description of the main types of detectors and the ones we recommend you should purchase for your home.

The Main Types of CO Detectors

Digital Read-out Detectors

These are the ones we Recommend for Home Use

The great thing about these detectors is that they have a display panel which lets you see the current, and previous, Carbon Monoxide concentration in parts per million. If you notice lower levels than would normally trigger the alarm, being maintained over a long period of time, then that warns you that something is going wrong with at least one of your appliances and therefore enables you to take action and get the problem fixed before it becomes serious.


Recommended for Professional Installation Only

These are connected directly to your building's power supply, and they come with battery backup. They can be positioned correctly, however due to the requirement of being directly connected to the power supply, we do not recommend you install them unless the work is done by a qualified electrician or licensed installer. These can also come with digital read-outs.

AC Plug-in

These are detectors that allow you to plug them into the electricity outlets in your home. The idea for these is the convenience of not having to remember to replace the batteries, however many of them come with the option to include batteries as a back up for power outages. We do not recommend this type of detector for most homes because the detector should be placed at about eye level on a wall - most power outlets are too close to the floor.

Combined Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Just as the name implies, these are detectors that have both smoke and carbon monoxide sensors. We do not recommend these because the best positioning of each type of detector is in different places. Smoke alarms are generally best placed on the ceiling, while the best position for a CO detector is on the wall. See Getting the Height Right for more information.


These can connect, either via cables or wireless, with other alarms and monitors - including ones for smoke, carbon monoxide, and burglar alarms. The advantage of this type of monitor is that they can relay emergency alarms from other parts of the building. Their main application is in commercial premises such as office buildings.

Portable / Hand Held Detectors

These are not necessary for the home environment. Their main application is in commercial or governmental safety inspection roles.