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The Importance of Carbon Monoxide Meters

The Importance of Carbon Monoxide Meters

What is a carbon monoxide meter?

Carbon monoxide meters are portable, handheld measurement devices used to monitor levels of carbon monoxide emissions in an environment. These devices may also be equipped for detecting other types of gas including carbon dioxide.

Why are carbon monoxide meters important?

Meters used for detecting gas emissions such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, are required through health and safety regulations for closed environments such as offices and factories. Gas-based appliances and pipelines can produce toxic levels of gas which can lead to gas poisoning or potential explosions if placed in contact with a spark or fire. Gas cookers can easily be left on and gas pipelines may rupture over time, therefore it is important that gas emissions are constantly monitored to ensure a safe workplace or home environment.

Spark from a Lighter

How does a carbon monoxide meter work?

Carbon monoxide meters measure air pollution or gas concentration through a chemical sensor, the sensor measures concentration in ‘part’ denominations, usually PPM (parts per million).

What is the difference between a carbon monoxide meter and a radiation detector?

Whilst both devices monitor air pollution or contamination, carbon monoxide meters are used to measure concentrations of air pollution in PPM (parts per million). In contrast, radiation detectors measure irradiance (intensity) in an environment as mW/cm2 (milliwatts per square centimetre).

What are the most common applications of carbon monoxide meters and radiation detectors?

Professional kitchens

Restaurant kitchens are exceptionally busy environments that often rely on gas cookers and stoves during cooking. In such a fast-paced workplace it may be quite common for appliances to be left on accidentally; carbon monoxide meters can ensure that emissions from ovens and stoves are kept at minimal levels for health and safety of chefs and kitchen staff.

Gas Stove

In addition to ovens, microwaves may be used for preparing and heating food. Radiation detectors can ensure that microwaves are releasing safe amounts of radiation to prevent sickness.

Science laboratories

Science laboratories of all kinds from schools to professional lab testing are usually fitted with internal gas mains for operating gas appliances such as Bunsen burners. Carbon monoxide meters can easily detect dangerous levels of gas emissions within the environment as well as alert lab technicians and teachers to its presence.

Bunsen Burner

Gas board

One of the more common applications requiring carbon monoxide meters, gas boards and professional gas technicians require access to portable gas detectors and measurement devices to quickly monitor changes in gas emissions. These devices are often used to check the source for burst gas mains and pipelines.

Gas Pipelines


Carbon monoxide meters can be used around the home as an alternative to fitted carbon monoxide sensors, handheld carbon monoxide meters also allow the user to have a clear indicator of gas emission levels to hand when checking appliances such as gas cookers, boilers, fires and heaters.


Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide meters are used in automotive manufacturing factories as a means of checking carbon dioxide and monoxide emissions produced by cars and other vehicles. In recent times, changes to EU regulations on vehicle CO2 emissions has mean that vehicle manufacturers have moved to comply with new EU environmental targets to ensure a vehicle is as eco-friendly as possible.

Car Exhaust


Carbon monoxide meters are frequently used by office health and safety inspectors for checking carbon monoxide emissions from gas heaters and cookers.

Chemical plants

Chemical plants and factories that require that have large furnaces require carbon monoxide gas meters for monitoring and ensuring gas emissions released into the environment after burning cause minimal damage to the environment.

Fumes from a Chemical Plant

The importance of using a certified carbon monoxide meter

There are many types of carbon monoxide meters available, however it is crucial that your meter has been tested and comes with all the necessary safety approvals and assurances. Cheap carbon monoxide meters are often produced on mass away from the country in which they are to be sold. As a result, many of these meters lack the requirements and safety standards expected through European regulation.

Although manufactured in Canada, Reed carbon dioxide meters come complete with CE approvals, this certification mark indicates that these products conform to health, safety and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area.

What to look for when buying a carbon monoxide meter

With so many meters to choose from, it is important to pinpoint the main criteria you need when buying a carbon monoxide meter. We have included this brief list of things you should consider prior to purchasing:

Sensor type

The type of sensor your carbon monoxide meter uses can affect its suitability in certain environments. Reed carbon monoxide meters come with a stabilised electrochemical sensor, with some models such as the R9400 offering a thermistor for measuring temperature.


Before making a purchase, it is often useful to check the product features list for other features you may not have considered important. For example, the R9400 has an adjustable alarm limit which provides an audible beep frequency as CO levels increase, as well as a self-test sequence on start up to ensure the device is operating correctly.

Operating temperature

Often overlooked, the operating temperature may matter to you depending on your environment. If you operate a furnace then results may become distorted if temperatures are too high for the meter. In this instance, you may want to consider a carbon monoxide meter with temperature sensor.

Battery life

As carbon monoxide meters are portable in contrast to the typical, carbon monoxide sensors fitted into homes and offices, you need to take battery life into consideration. Battery life can vary from brand to brand and model to model. If you are a gas technician who regularly uses your meter throughout the day to check pipelines and workplaces, then you are likely to need a carbon monoxide meter with a much larger battery life than someone who uses this recreationally in the home to check their gas cooker.


As discussed, approvals are a crucial part of the selection process. If you are a professional then you will be required by law to use a carbon monoxide detector that is approved to your country’s health and safety standards for testing devices.


Cost is always a factor that everyone returns to before making a purchase, however, it is important that you reflect on the features you want in relation to what you are willing to pay. Professional carbon monoxide meters with safety approvals, audible alerts and extensive features are always going to cost more than meters that have been constructed from cheap materials and software.


  • Carbon monoxide meters are used to measure CO emissions in a given environment.
  • Carbon monoxide meters measure emissions using an electrochemical sensor that measures concentration in ‘part’ denominations (PPM – parts per million).
  • Common uses of carbon monoxide meters include: the checking of gas pipelines, cookers, boilers, heaters, vehicle emissions and furnaces.
  • Carbon monoxide meters must have the appropriate approval mark (CE for European Economic Area) to ensure they are fit for purpose by law when used professionally.
  • Things to consider when buying a carbon monoxide meter include: Sensor type, operating temperature, battery life, approvals, cost and software.
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