Friday, October 8, 2010

A Safety Device That Works, But Is Less Inspired Solo Act: Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector!

The Good: It works, Seems to have good battery life
The Bad: Less inspired than dual model for about the same price
The Basics: Truly a fine carbon monoxide detector, the Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector has been made obsolete by the superior dual smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.

In New York State, where I live, a state law recently declared that every home had to have a carbon monoxide detector. I'm not sure exactly what crisis of carbon monoxide deaths inspired this edict, but out here in the rural areas, it seems pretty pointless. It seems even more pointless for people like me who drive low emissions hybrid vehicles which make a carbon monoxide-related death virtually impossible. Yet, the law is the law and now a lot of people are scrambling for a carbon monoxide detector. The Kidde Carbon Monoxide detector is good, but it does not hold a candle to the Kidde Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detector. Given the low chance of death from carbon monoxide in the average home, that represents a far better value than this model.

The Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector is a 4 3/4" tall by 3 1/2" wide box which is a single unit. The detector is a solid plastic box which weighs less than a pound. The back has two mounting holes where the unit hangs on a nail. One hole allows the unit to be hung vertically, the other horizontally. The manual comes with a very clear guide as to where the Carbon Monoxide detector ought to be mounted and Kidde recommends either in the center/highest point of a room on any given floor or on the wall as close to the ceiling as possible. The instructions are very clear to not put the unit in the corners. I had mine in clear airflow areas, until it was replaced by the dual unit. The Carbon Monoxide detector comes with two mounting nails.

The Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector uses 3 AA batteries and, rather nicely, the unit comes with three batteries and the guide inside the battery chamber even advises the order in which the batteries ought to be put in. My unit worked for over two years with the same set of batteries (and monthly tests) and never showed wear, so I don't actually know what the “low battery” alarm to this sounds like. This unit is simple to use: put the batteries in, slide it onto the mounting nails and every now and then, test it to make sure it works.

To test it, there is a button in the lower right corner of the detector. Pressing it sets off a loud, classic, screeching alarm. The same button may be hit when the alarm is going off and it will be silenced. This button is a little small so if one has the unit mounted at a great height, the carbon monoxide detector will keep going off until one can get high enough to press the button.

This carbon monoxide detector emits an 85 decibel shriek when it goes off and I tested this by sticking it behind an old car once. It’s so loud that I cannot imagine the circumstances where one might not hear it.

So this works. Even so, with the relative lack of expense for the dual detector, I cannot recommend the carbon monoxide solo detector. After all, most people are much more likely to need the smoke detector than the carbon monoxide detector. As such, the carbon monoxide detector on its own seems pointless. As part of the dual unit, it is a nice bonus.


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© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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