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False Alarm Free

Comparing Carbon Monoxide Detector and Alarm Technologies

Are all carbon monoxide alarms the same?

False alarms are not just a nuisance; they are a life safety issue. The Gas Research Institute conducted a study that shows 70% of the people who experienced a false alarm will not respond to the next alarm. False alarms can cause people to ignore the CO alarm, or even turn it off, which could lead to serious injury or even death.

The best carbon monoxide alarms are “false-alarm” free, which means they will not react to common household gases and vapors, typically disinfectants, insecticides, air fresheners, cleaners, and polishing products.

The dangers of false alarms

The New York Times has reported on the risk of ignoring CO alarms, giving examples of some real life situations that turned deadly. In one case, a CO alarm had gone off, but it turned out to be a false alarm. The second time the alarm went off, the owner of the alarm, a doctor, simply unplugged the unit and went out to dinner while his four children and their babysitter stayed home. Tragically when he returned home, all five had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Only one technology has been shown to be false-alarm free by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the leading national laboratory for indoor air quality (9). Quantum’s patented biotechnology (sometimes referred to as biomimetic or BIO) sensor is the only false alarm free technology available today and was determined to be the most reliable of all technologies.  The LBNL carbon monoxide technology comparison summary paper shows how the BIO sensor or biotechnology by Quantum is the most reliable and the only technology tested false alarm free. The Gas Research Institute and Unified Engineering performed additional testing to compare the three CO alarm technologies available in today’s carbon monoxide detectors: biotechnology (BIO), electrochemical (EC), and metal oxide semiconductor (MOS). Only the biotechnology sensor based alarm manufactured by Quantum Group Inc. was found to be totally false-alarm free. 

These BIO sensors are included in the following products:

•Quantum Guardian® (all models)

•COSTAR® (all models) 

•Universal Security Inc. (USI) Model CD9000 


If you have ever had a false alarm with your current carbon monoxide detector, it’s time to switch to a false-alarm free biotechnology CO alarm for the safety of your family.




Consumer Needs

Biotechnology Solid State Infrared Sensors

The only technology   tested false alarm free to common household gases, vapors from common household products

Operational in wide                   ranges of temperature and humidity Excellent selectivity- Did not false alarm in tests performed by LBNL for common household products

Fail safe during the product life, 6 years

Low powered



·Slightly higher price

Over 30 million sensors sold so far

As other technologies get outdated and fail, consumers will buy this type of sensor more and more


Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS)

Well established and understood technology

Designing a product for a new specification is simple

Ease of digitization

Large power consumption

Relatively poor selectivity – susceptible to certain house-hold reducing gases such as ethylene

Poor response at low temperature and low humidity

Power requirements will require companies to phase out this type of sensor in the future

Electrochemical Sensors

Very sensitive technology

Relatively fast response to the presence of carbon monoxide

Relatively well established technology

Low power consumption Ease of digitization

Poor selectivity – highly susceptible to common household products

Degradation of catalyst performance may be a long-term problem – sensitivity drift over time

Fail unsafe mechanism

Poor response at high temperature and low humidity

False alarm to common household vapor and gases

As the sensor gets exposed to more and more carbon monoxide over time, it becomes less sensitive to it and may not detect it as well. Consumers should move away from this technology