How to select a Fixed vs. Portable Gas Detector?

portable co2 detector fixed co2 detector

Use of Carbon Dioxide throughout the industry

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a unique, multifaceted gas that is absolutely critical throughout a variety of popular industries and applications. Take, for instance, the restaurant or beverage industries, as carbon dioxide plays a role in dispensed soda or draught beer. Carbon Dioxide also can be found in some not so well known applications like wastewater treatment, incubation, and even fire suppression.

However, while CO2 is extremely useful, the gas used throughout these applications is hazardous and requires proper gas monitoring devices to be installed or utilized by those who work around stored or produced Carbon Dioxide to eliminate potential injuries from occurring. 

Every day, CO2Meter receives dozens of customer inquiries in regard to CO2 safety devices. One of the first questions our technical sales team tries to determine is whether a fixed CO2 detector or a portable CO2 detector is really best for the customer's overall requirements, industry, and needs.

It is always important to remember, that regardless of your environment or application, CO2 is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas that can only be detected by using devices that are designed to accurately measure the precise concentration of the gas. 

According to The Occupational Safety Hazard Administration (OSHA), the initial alarm/warning for CO2 exposure is 5,000 ppm Time Weighted Average (essentially an average of all the readings over a rolling 8 hr. period).

CO2 concentrations higher than 5,000 ppm can lead to adverse health effects, injury, and even death.

Standard industrial practices are for anyone handling CO2, whether it be in the form of dry ice, cylinders, or in bulk distribution to always be aware of proper CO2 safety precautions to prevent injury. 

Every company has its own policies and procedures to help drive employee education, awareness, and performance.  Does yours?

There are two different types of gas detection monitoring devices available, fixed or wall mount CO2 detectors or portable/handheld CO2 detectors. 

Fixed/Wall-Mount CO2 Detectors

CO2Meter offers Fixed/Wall Mount CO2 Detectors that are designed to monitor and protect workers near stored or created carbon dioxide (CO2). Businesses that typically utilize fixed CO2 detectors include restaurants, breweries, beverage dispensing areas, cultivation facilities, industrial environments, and safety industries. What makes a Fixed/Wall Mount CO2 Detector unique  is that these devices are static, usually hard-wired, and installed directly near the CO2 source. 

An accurate and reliable Fixed/Wall Mount CO2 Detector, like the CM-7000 CO2 Multi-Sensor System will feature both audible and visual alarms and relays to trigger third party systems like a shut-off valve, exhaust system, or fire panel.

More importantly, these fixed/wall-mount detectors should have alarm levels that meet OSHA and fire code regulations and include properly mounted signage to indicate potential hazard spaces.

As a helpful reminder, CO2Meter recommends installing Fixed/Wall Mount CO2 Detectors sensing units at least 12 inches from floor level near the CO2 source and the display unit at eye level upon entry to the space or in a managers office.

For example, in breweries, a main CO2 source point would be the draught beer cooler or "keg cooler". The sensing unit would be inside the keg cooler near the source itself at 12 inches from the floor, and the main display unit would be installed at eye level outside of the keg cooler.  Horn strobes should be mounted to alert individuals inside the cooler and those outside prior to entering the room if local CO2 exposure limits are elevated.

Portable/Handheld CO2 Detectors

In addition to Fixed/Wall Mount CO2 Detectors, CO2Meter also offers Portable/Handheld CO2 Detectors for those individuals who would work in and around hazardous areas and are looking for a portable, "on-the-go" detector.

Individuals who utilize Portable/Handheld CO2 Detectors typically stand by these devices due to their ability to alert individuals immediately upon entering an unsafe area. Applications that use Portable/Handheld CO2 Detectors include breweries, gas distribution, cultivation facilities, draft technicians, gas creation sites, and safety environments.

When you look at purchasing a Portable/Handheld CO2 Detector, the majority of these devices will provide the user with precise CO2 readings, audible/visual/vibrating alarms, data logging capabilities, protective IP54 housing, and rechargeable batteries for long term use. 

It is important to always remember with Portable or Handheld CO2 Detectors that the user places these at their belt level as CO2 is heavier than air and will settle at the floor first, where keeping the device below head height is critical. 

Applications

 Restaurants and Food

Restaurants & Food

Any restaurant serving dispensed carbonated beverages is at risk. Every soda you drink or beer you pour contains a low percentage of beverage grade carbon dioxide that is mixed into the drink at specific levels.

While CO2 creates that sensational fizz all customers know and enjoy employees who work in and around the systems need to be protected. Many parts of the CO2 system can leak causing dangerous levels of CO2.

One area of potential hazard is the syrup pumps that drive the mixture of CO2, water, and syrup - these should be vented to the exterior of the building but often are not. Empty syrup bags or leaks in the pumps can drive CO2 levels above 5,000 ppm within a few moments!

In order to properly protect employees and customers, facilities should install CO2 monitors that can be placed in an area that is most likely to experience a CO2 incident and ensure rapid detection to mitigate any hazards from occurring. Additionally, those who work in and around hazardous gas in the restaurant industry also utilize portable gas detectors such as the  SAN-10 Personal 5% CO2 Safety Monitor and Data Logger for "on-the-go" monitoring, or the CO2 Leak Detector to detect potential CO2 leaks.

Breweries   

Breweries & Wineries

In the process of alcohol fermentation in brewing and winemaking, large amounts of CO2 are generated. A byproduct of yeast consuming sugar and turning it into alcohol is CO2.

It is important to ensure that during purging or cleaning of tanks that precautions are taken to ensure employee safety. OSHA and the Brewers Association offer proper procedures for confined space entry that should be followed as well as having "Lockout - Tag-out" procedures in place. Every brewery or winery should have these practices in place and train on them constantly.

Aside from the importance of fermentation and brite tank areas, another concern area in breweries are the walk-in draft coolers. Coolers are designed to be airtight to keep cold air in. However, the cooler can then trap CO2 leaks from loose tavern heads or splits hoses releasing deadly levels of CO2.

Without proper fixed/wall mount co2 detectors or portable handheld co2 detectors, an employee could easily be overcome by CO2 gas in the walk-in cooler, grain silo, or mash tun areas. 

Agriculture

In regards to agriculture applications, many inquiries stem from the use of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the grow rooms or cultivation facilities. Studies have shown that facilities that enrich their growing environments with CO2 see a 20%-30% increase in plant yields.

These growers are essentially accelerating the photosynthetic process by utilizing CO2. However, like the walk-in draft coolers, these grow rooms are nearly airtight to ensure gas (and other elements) are not wasted.

These confined spaces can trap the gas and create elevated concentrations that are hazardous. Notifying occupants in the rooms and those about to enter the rooms of a hazard is critical to safety protocols. Fixed/Wall Mount CO2 Detectors such as the CO2 Multi-Sensor System (CM-7000) should always be installed and in place to prevent potential injury from occurring in the grow space. 

 

Fire Suppression

When you think of CO2 and Fire Suppression you likely think of fire extinguishers. Your typical home or office fire extinguisher vaporizes CO2 under enormous pressure to create the "fog" you see.

That CO2 "fog" displaces the oxygen around the fire eliminating one of the three components that the fire needs (Oxygen, fuel, and spark).  By displacing the fires oxygen source with CO2 the fire can't "breath".

Large facilities with equipment that could be damaged by using a typical water sprinkler system also utilize CO2 as a fire suppressant but on a much larger scale. Dozens of CO2 cylinders under more than 300 psi are released simultaneously to "flood" a space with CO2 and eliminate oxygen. 

These systems need to be maintained and tested for effectiveness regularly including providing full reporting and analysis to local fire officials for validation.

CO2Meter has designed and manufactured the only* device that can help fire suppression testers meet the NFPA12 standard for testing.

This device is in the category of Portable/Handheld CO2 Detectors, the 100% Carbon Dioxide Data Logger. This device is designed to precisely measure the carbon dioxide (CO2) gas concentration through a sampling method.  The data logger will record the CO2 concentration throughout the entire test (sometimes tests last nearly 2 hrs.) providing the operator the ability to retrieve and analyze the data to provide inspectors with a complete report about the systems operational effectiveness.

What's next?

Ultimately, the first thing that you need to do to ensure your safety and the safety of others is to be mindful that hazards can and will occur.  Secondly, its important to be notified of a leak before it gets out of hand, by utilizing the proper detection system like a CO2 Fixed Wall Mount Detector, or Portable Gas Safety Monitor.

Many industries decide to use both Fixed/Wall Mount CO2 Detectors, as well as Portable/Handheld CO2 detectors in order to ensure maximum prevention from CO2 exposure and ultimate safety precautions for employees.

By ensuring your workers are properly educated and have the proper CO2 monitors available, you can mitigate any potential risks or hazards from occurring in your facility.

Always remember, no matter where you work, live, or play, you should always be aware of the levels of atmospheric CO2 around you and understand the safety procedures to prevent injury from occurring. 

For more information on choosing the proper gas detection device per your application or industry, speak to an expert today - Sales@CO2Meter.com 


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