What CO2 Sensor Range is Best for Your Application?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors and related monitoring devices are available in a diverse array of ranges, from 1000 ppm (parts per million) to 100% CO2.

Choosing a sensor or monitor with an appropriate CO2 measurement range is important, and this must be selected to meet the needs of the application in question.

The narrower the range of CO2 levels measured, the more accurate the device or sensor will be; for example, a 200 ppm difference in CO2 will be detected on a 1000 ppm CO2 sensor, while this would not be detected on a 100% CO2 sensor.

CO2 sensors and measurement devices are typically divided into three groups:

  • 0-10000 ppm for indoor air quality (IAQ) applications
  • 5000 ppm to 5% for personal safety, beverage, agriculture, restaurants and life sciences applications
  • 5% to 100% for industrial, fire suppression testing or biological applications

Ensuring that the proper CO2 range is selected for an application will simplify the choice of sensor – an important consideration given the size of CO2Meter’s extensive portfolio of CO2 sensors and products. This will also ensure the most accurate sensor possible.

Before making this decision, it is important to consider the difference between parts-per-million and % CO2.

PPM Versus Percent CO2

Carbon dioxide is regarded as a trace gas in the atmosphere. If it was possible to acquire a quantity of dry, outdoor air with precisely 1 million molecules of gas present, counting and separating each of the molecules by hand would yield the following numbers of particles, reported as numbers and gas percent in fresh air.

  • 780,840 molecules of nitrogen (78.08%)
  • 209,460 molecules of oxygen (20.9%)
  • 93,400 molecules of argon (0.93%)
  • 500 molecules of helium, hydrogen, methane and other gases
  • 400 molecules of carbon dioxide

Beyond the high percentages of nitrogen, oxygen and argon molecules, the quantity of remaining gas molecules in the theoretical amount of air is relatively small.

It is for this reason that gases with over 1% by volume are measured as a percent. In contrast, smaller volumes of CO2 and other trace gases tend to be measured by sensor manufacturers and the gas industry in parts per million.

For example, 0.04% CO2 is equal to 400 parts per million - typically abbreviated as “400 ppm”.

What CO2 Sensor Range is Best for Your Application?

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

Indoor Air Quality Applications

What CO2 Sensor Range is Best for Your Application?

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

When measuring and analyzing indoor air, parts per million are the most logical way to describe gas quantities. It is only in very rare instances – for example, in a cave or close to an active volcano – where a sensor would be exposed to natural CO2 levels above 1% (10000 ppm).

When seeking to measure indoor air quality (IAQ) in homes, schools or office settings, the optimal CO2 monitor choice is a 2000 ppm to 10000 ppm sensor. Fresh air tends to contain around 400 ppm CO2, while the ASHRAE standard for ambient indoor air in occupied spaces tends to recommend between 800 ppm to 1000 ppm CO2.

An indoor air quality monitor or sensor able to measure at these specified levels is an ideal choice for accurately measuring CO2 and indicating any CO2 thresholds exceeding the accepted levels.

CO2Meter offers the popular K30 CO2 Sensor by Senseair and the CozIR Ambient CO2 sensor. Each of these robust sensors are employed across the globe by both the OEM manufacturers of indoor air quality devices and outdoor air quality devices.

The company also offers a popular desktop indoor air quality monitor: the IAQ-MAX CO2 Monitor and Data Logger.

What CO2 Sensor Range is Best for Your Application?

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

In contrast to homes or offices, employing a 10000 ppm CO2 sensor in air quality verification in car parks or garages is advisable.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for these settings require that the time-weighted average (TWA) over an 8-hour workday does not exceed 5000 ppm for a garage employee.

CO2Meter’s Beverage Product Portfolio

CO2 safety applications involving workers or the public close to tanks or cylinders of stored carbon dioxide would benefit most from a 5% CO2 sensor or device.

What CO2 Sensor Range is Best for Your Application?

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

A CO2 leak in an enclosed space has the potential to be fatal, so if a CO2 tank or cylinder leaks, it is imperative that these sensors are able to trigger an alarm. It is important to note that 5% CO2 sensors and devices meet all relevant OSHA, NIOSH, IFC, NFPA and NBIC requirements.

The CozIR GC-0015 0-5% CO2 sensor represents a good choice for an OEM safety device designed for use around stored CO2.

Customers tend to choose the Remote CO2 Storage Safety 3 Alarm as a suitable wall-mounted safety monitor, while handheld portable devices are available which feature personal CO2 alarms based on a 5% CO2 sensor.

What CO2 Sensor Range is Best for Your Application?

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

These devices are suitable for use in a wide range of applications, including restaurants, fast food businesses, wineries, breweries or cultivation facilities looking to ensure compliance while meeting the comprehensive personal safety CO2 monitoring regulations required by many authorities and regulatory bodies.

Industrial CO2Meter Products

Industrial and biological processes, such as biological incubators or wood gasification, tend to involve high levels of CO2. A 10-100% CO2 sensor or device tends to be the most ideal solution in these applications.

What CO2 Sensor Range is Best for Your Application?

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

The SenseAir K33 ICB or CozIR Wide-Range 20% sensors are well suited to these applications, while the high-speed CM-1000 Multi Sampling Data Logger offers a robust data logging option for incubation or industrial scientific applications.

Applications involving controlled atmosphere storage for grains and other products necessitate the ability to measure up to 100% CO2. In these instances, the most recommended sensor solutions tend to be the CozIR GC-0016 and SprintIR GC-0018 CO2 sensors.

The MH-100 Biological Incubator CO2 Sensor is a further option. This specialist sensor has been designed to monitor carbon dioxide levels in cell incubators, allowing users to manage cell and tissue growth better. These devices typically need to measure up to 5% CO2.

What CO2 Sensor Range is Best for Your Application?

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

The sheer number of different sensors and products available can make it challenging to select the most appropriate measurement range for a particular application. A proper understanding of the most appropriate CO2 range required simplifies the process of selecting the optimal sensors or products for each task.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by CO2Meter, Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit CO2Meter, Inc.

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