How Much Does it Cost to Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms?

Are you planning to install carbon monoxide alarms? Smart move! Installation of a carbon monoxide detector costs relatively little, but is essential to keeping your family safe.

Cost to install a carbon monoxide alarm runs about $100 to $205 for a single unit, including materials and labor. Of course, you can always try to set up the alarm yourself, but it is better to turn such a crucial job over to a professional handyman who knows exactly how to do it.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas, known as the silent killer. Colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it is produced when a carbon-containing fuel -- natural gas, coal, wood, charcoal, gasoline, or kerosene -- is not burned completely. Operating a fireplace or any fuel-burning appliance (such as a gas stove or water heater, or a kerosene furnace) can cause CO emissions. The only way to detect carbon monoxide in the air is by installing a special alarm.

Where to Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Check your town's regulations regarding CO alarm placement.

Carbon monoxide is lighter than air, so it will rise. Therefore you should install CO detectors on or near the ceiling.

Have at least one carbon monoxide detector installed on every level of your home, close to the sleeping area, and also in the attic and basement. If each story's square footage is large and/or you have a split floor plan with bedrooms far apart, install two or more CO alarms per floor. In a home with an attached garage, install an additional unit near the garage.

Place an additional detector near each large fossil-fuel-burning appliance -- your furnace or water heater, for example -- about 15' away.

The cost of the carbon monoxide alarm itself is about $25 - $55, or $45 - $80 for a CO detector/smoke alarm combo.

Save on the labor cost per device by having your handyman install several units in the same service call.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm Features

CO Alarm Feature

Advantages

Disadvantages

BATTERY-ONLY ALARM

- Easy to install.

- Works even during a power failure.

Most batteries must be replaced annually

INTERCONNECTED SYSTEM OF ALARMS

Every alarm sounds if one is triggered.

- Expensive to retrofit unless you install a wireless system.

- All alarms in a wireless system must be the same make.

DIGITAL DISPLAY

Lets you monitor CO levels even if they're too low to trigger alarm.

Costlier than standard.

STROBE ALARM

Best alarm for hearing-impaired.

VOICE ALARM

May be the best to awaken soundly sleeping children.

REMOTE-CONTROL TEST/MUTE

Allows you to remotely test the alarm or silence a nuisance alarm.

CO DETECTOR/SMOKE ALARM COMBO

Increases protection.

Usually doesn't include technology to detect both types of fires -- flaming (ionization) and smoldering (photoelectric). You'll need to supplement the system.