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What is a Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Data Logger?

4 gas monitor

A carbon dioxide data logger is a device designed to measure and record CO2 levels in a specific environment over time. These devices are commonly used in various applications, including indoor air quality monitoring, industrial processes, research, and even fire suppression studies. CO2 data loggers typically consist of sensors that can detect and measure the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air.

How does a CO2 data logger work?

A carbon dioxide data logger works by utilizing a gas sensor to measure the concentration of carbon dioxide in the surrounding environment. By using a non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) sensor at the devices core it can measure infrared light in a sample of air. This technology is often the most beneficial in measuring CO2 by detecting the presence of the gas based on the absorption of light at a specific wavelength. While there are many different types of CO2 sensors, the NDIR is the most common and precise when it comes to measurement in these devices.

For CO2 data loggers specifically, it operates more on automatic monitoring and recording of specific environmental conditions and parameters via the sensor component. From this measurement, the carbon dioxide logger then stores the resulting data in their internal memory. This data can be configured as either relatively simple single channel devices or more complex multi-channel versions.

While the sensor component and recording are essential in the device's operation, there are other basic steps involved in a CO2 data logger such as:

  1. Sampling Air: The data logger continuously or periodically samples the air in its environment. The air sample is exposed to the CO2 sensor, allowing it to measure the concentration of carbon dioxide present.

  2. Conversion to Concentration: The sensor converts the measured infrared light absorption into a concentration value, indicating the amount of CO2 in parts per million (ppm) or other units.

  3. Data Logging: The CO2 concentration data is logged and stored in the device's memory. The data logger records this information over time, creating a log or dataset that can be retrieved and analyzed later.

  4. Power Supply: CO2 data loggers are typically powered by batteries or external power sources. Some may also have low-power modes to extend battery life.

  5. User Settings and Alerts: Many CO2 data loggers allow users to set thresholds for CO2 concentrations. If the measured levels exceed these predefined limits, the data logger can trigger alarms or alerts to notify users.

  6. Data Retrieval: Users can retrieve the recorded data from the CO2 data logger for analysis. This can be done using various methods, such as connecting the logger to a computer via USB, using wireless communication, or through other data transfer mechanisms.

  7. Calibration: Periodic calibration is essential to ensure the accuracy of the CO2 measurements. Calibration involves comparing the sensor's readings to known reference values and adjusting as needed.

What are the main functions of a CO2 data logger?

The main functions of a CO2 data logger include:

  1. Monitoring CO2 Levels: The primary purpose of a CO2 data logger is to continuously monitor and measure the concentration of carbon dioxide in the surrounding air. This information is crucial for understanding air quality and ensuring that CO2 levels remain within acceptable limits.

  2. Data Logging: CO2 data loggers record the measured CO2 levels over a specified period. This data logging capability allows users to analyze trends, identify patterns, and assess how CO2 concentrations change over time.

  3. Alerts and Alarms: Some advanced CO2 data loggers are equipped with alert features. If CO2 levels exceed predetermined thresholds, the logger can trigger alarms to notify users of potential issues. This is particularly important in environments where elevated CO2 concentrations can pose health or safety risks.

  4. Data Retrieval: Users can retrieve the recorded data from the logger for analysis. This is typically done through a USB connection, wireless communication, or other data transfer methods.

What are the main benefits of a CO2 data logger?

The use of a CO2 data logger provides several key benefits across various applications. These devices are also incredibly valuable tools for monitoring and managing concentrations for indoor air quality applications, ensuring compliance with inspectors, and providing core data for research on environmental conditions.

In addition, they also provide a cost-effective and efficient means to collect and analyze data related to carbon dioxide concentrations across a variety of environmental settings. In indoor air quality applications specifically, these data loggers can help to identify areas of poor ventilation, allowing the user to make necessary changes to keep fresh air flowing. 

While the use of carbon dioxide data loggers can vary across several core benefits, here are some of the most common seen from customers in the field:

  • Real-time Monitoring: CO2 data loggers provide real-time monitoring of carbon dioxide levels in the environment. This allows for immediate awareness of changes in CO2 concentrations, enabling prompt responses to potential issues.

  • Continuous Data Collection: CO2 data loggers continuously collect data over time, creating a comprehensive record of CO2 levels. This data can be analyzed to identify patterns, trends, and fluctuations, helping users make informed decisions and implement targeted interventions.

  • Early Detection of Issues: With alert and alarm features, CO2 data loggers can notify users when CO2 levels exceed predetermined thresholds. This early detection allows for timely intervention to address indoor air quality concerns, workplace safety issues, or compliance deviations.

  • Occupancy Monitoring: CO2 levels are often used as an indicator of occupancy in buildings. By monitoring CO2 concentrations, facility managers can gain insights into occupancy patterns and optimize ventilation systems, accordingly, leading to energy savings and improved comfort.

  • Energy Efficiency: CO2 data loggers contribute to energy efficiency by allowing for the optimization of ventilation systems. Rather than running ventilation systems continuously at a fixed rate, these systems can be adjusted based on actual occupancy and air quality data, resulting in energy savings.

  • Cost-Effective Monitoring: Compared to continuous manual monitoring or periodic air quality assessments, CO2 data loggers offer a cost-effective solution. They require minimal maintenance, operate autonomously, and provide ongoing data without the need for constant supervision.

  • Research and Analysis: CO2 data loggers are valuable tools for researchers and environmental scientists conducting studies related to climate change, ecological systems, and greenhouse gas emissions. The collected data aids in research and analysis to better understand environmental conditions.

What industries use a CO2 data logger?

CO2 data loggers can be found across many applications in various settings, including commercial buildings, schools, offices, laboratories, greenhouses, and industrial facilities. Monitoring CO2 levels is essential for ensuring a healthy and safe indoor environment, as high concentrations of CO2 can lead to discomfort, fatigue, and impaired cognitive function. Additionally, in certain industrial processes and research applications, precise control of CO2 levels is critical for maintaining optimal conditions.

Below we highlight some of the main advantages of carbon dioxide data loggers in specific areas of application: 

  • Indoor Air Quality Monitoring: CO2 data loggers help in monitoring and maintaining optimal indoor air quality. Elevated levels of carbon dioxide in indoor environments can lead to discomfort, fatigue, and impaired cognitive function. By continuously measuring CO2 levels, these loggers contribute to creating a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment.

  • Occupational Safety: In industrial settings, CO2 data loggers are used to ensure that the concentration of carbon dioxide remains within safe limits. High levels of CO2 can pose a health risk to workers, and monitoring helps prevent potential hazards. Alerts and alarms on data loggers can notify personnel when CO2 levels exceed predefined thresholds.

  • Compliance Monitoring: Certain industries and facilities may be subject to regulations and standards regarding indoor air quality and safety. CO2 data loggers assist in complying with these regulations by providing a documented record of CO2 levels over time.

  • Energy Efficiency: In buildings and facilities, CO2 data loggers can be used to optimize ventilation systems. By monitoring CO2 levels, these systems can be adjusted based on actual occupancy and air quality, leading to more energy-efficient operation and reduced energy consumption.

  • Research and Environmental Studies: CO2 data loggers are valuable tools for researchers and environmental scientists studying climate change, ecological systems, and greenhouse gas emissions. These loggers provide continuous data on CO2 concentrations in specific locations, helping researchers understand trends and changes in the environment.

  • Process Control: In certain industrial processes, maintaining precise control over CO2 levels is crucial. CO2 data loggers assist in monitoring and controlling these levels to ensure that manufacturing processes, such as those in the food and beverage industry or controlled atmosphere storage, are optimized for quality and efficiency.

  • Occupancy Studies: CO2 levels are often used as an indirect indicator of occupancy in buildings. By monitoring CO2 levels, facility managers can gain insights into the patterns of occupancy and adjust HVAC systems, accordingly, leading to energy savings and improved comfort.

Overall, CO2 data loggers play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and safe environment, ensuring compliance with regulations, and supporting energy efficiency initiatives.

What is a CO2 data logger? 

A carbon dioxide data logger is commonly used to monitor for high concentrations of CO2 across indoor air quality or safety environments. In addition to carbon dioxide concentrations, many data loggers can also provide temperature, relative humidity, particulate matter, or dew point - which can come as great additions when monitoring indoor air quality environments.

One example, is the Portable CO2 Detector and Alarm. This device is a portable carbon dioxide (CO2) detector designed to measure concentrations in many applications and industries. It features data logging capabilities with long-term data storage. This data features ambient gas levels that can be read in real time on screen or saved for data analysis. It also Includes visual and audible high CO2 alarms.

This device also can measure temperature, relative humidity, and barometric pressure to provide further analysis of environmental conditions. With the use of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, this device also ensures a long battery life across many different industries.

How is data collected in a data logger?

Carbon dioxide data loggers collect data through the use of sensors that monitor specific environmental parameters. The data logger than continuously or periodically samples the values from these sensors and stores the measurements in its internal memory storage.

While the process of data collection involves several key steps, the specific sensors depend on the type of data and environmental factors that are being monitored.

Here is a closer look at how a data logger collects data within its memory:

  • Sampling Interval: A data logger programs its collected data at specific intervals, known as the sampling interval. This interval can range from fractions of a second to hours, depending on the application and the required level of detail in the data.
  • Storage: The digital data is stored in the data logger's memory or storage space. This can be in the form of internal memory chips, SD cards, USB drives, or other storage mediums, depending on the design of the data logger.

  • Time Stamping: To provide a chronological sequence of measurements, data loggers often include a real-time clock or a time-stamping mechanism. Each data point is associated with a specific time and date, allowing for accurate temporal analysis of the collected data.

  • Data Retrieval: Depending on the data logger's design, users can retrieve the stored data through various means. This can include connecting the data logger to a computer via USB, using wireless communication (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi), or physically accessing the storage medium (etc., removing an SD card).

  • Data Analysis: Once the data is retrieved, it can be analyzed using software tools provided by the data logger manufacturer or third-party applications. Analysis may involve visualizing trends, calculating averages, identifying anomalies, and drawing conclusions based on the collected information.

Overall, data loggers provide a systematic and automated way to collect and store data over time, making them valuable tools in a wide range of applications, including environmental monitoring, research, industrial processes, and quality control.

Pros and Cons of using a CO2 data logger:


  • Real-time monitoring on CO2 levels
  • Indirect indicator of occupancy monitoring to enable more efficient ventilation
  • Early detection of issues that can allow for early intervention to address potential problems
  • Portable, hand-held and battery-operated options so you can monitor quickly from place to place
  • Data logging capabilities to monitor concentrations over time and create comprehensive records
  • Provides energy efficiency savings by optimizing ventilation based on actual CO2 levels and efficient operation of HVAC systems


  • Routine calibration and testing is required for accurate performance
  • Over time, sensor drift can occur leading to gradual loss of accuracy (calibration is used to address this issue)
  • Proper placement of the device is crucial for accurate readings and environmental factors
  • Ensuring the security of data, especially in applications where privacy and compliance is critical, requires careful consideration

How to Calibrate a CO2 data logger?

Calibration is one of the most necessary services for any data logger or gas detection monitoring device. Though you should always utilize the gas detector manufacturer for this service, you can carry on this task yourself with the correct instructions. Further, you should be doing calibration of your device annually to ensure optimal performance and increase your gas detector life span. 

A typical calibration involves adjusting the device to ensure that it is providing accurate readings for the gases being detected. The exact calibration procedure will depend upon the specific make and model of the detector, but here are a few general tips:

  1. Consult the user manual: The first step is to consult the user manual for your specific multi-gas detector. The manual will provide specific instructions on how to calibrate the device, as well as any tools or equipment needed.

  2. Select calibration gas: Calibration gas is used to test the accuracy of the detector's sensors. Choose the appropriate calibration gas based on the gases being detected by the device.

  3. Prepare the calibration gas: The calibration gas must be prepared according to the manufacturer's instructions. This may involve attaching a regulator to the calibration gas cylinder and connecting it to the detector using tubing.

  4. Turn on the detector: Turn on the multi-gas detector and let it warm up for the recommended amount of time.

  5. Initiate calibration mode: Most multi-gas detectors have a calibration mode that can be accessed through the device's menu or buttons. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for entering calibration mode.

  6. Expose the sensors to calibration gas: Once in calibration mode, expose the sensors to the calibration gas. The gas concentration should be within the range specified in the user manual.

  7. Adjust the device: The detector should display a reading that matches the known concentration of the calibration gas. If the reading is not accurate, adjust the device according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  8. Complete the calibration: Once the readings are accurate, complete the calibration according to the manufacturer's instructions. This may involve pressing a button or navigating through menus to exit calibration mode.

  9. Confirm accuracy: After calibration is complete, confirm that the device is providing accurate readings by exposing it to fresh air and verifying that it shows a zero reading for all gases.

At CO2Meter, we offer several educational resources and guides to make calibrating your device easier and increase your detectors longevity in the field.

How long does a CO2 data logger last?

The typical lifespan of any gas detector depends on the type of sensor technology that is used at its core.

We typically advise our customers to ensure they are purchasing a gas detector with high quality sensing technology and are getting the device annually serviced/calibrated to ensure consistent and long-lasting performance and operation.

Here is a helpful chart below that shows each gas sensor and the typical life expectancy:

Electrochemical   2-3 years
Non-dispersive Infrared   5-15 years
Opto chemical   2-7 years
Catalytic Bead  4-5 years
UV Flux   2-5 years
Metal Oxide >10 years

How do you select a Carbon Dioxide Data Logger?

Selecting the right carbon dioxide data logger involves considering several factors to ensure that the device meets your specific needs and application requirements. When selecting the right gas detector, you should always make sure you are aware of the gases that are commonly used/produced/stored in your specific application or environment.

One common gas detector that CO2Meter often refers customers to is the CM-500 GasLab Plus® lineup of portable gas detectors. These gas detectors are easy to use and offer six user-friendly buttons making operation of the device trouble-free. In addition, this device offers different combinations of (CO2, CO, NH3, O2, and PM) making it diverse across multiple applications and industries.

For more information on gas detection and to better assist you in choosing the right gas detector, one of our gas detection experts would be happy to walk through some common questions to better select the right device that fits your individual needs and environmental requirements.

Feel free to speak to an expert at Sales@CO2Meter.com or (877) 678 - 4259

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