Pros: Seem reliable, ear piercing alarm would wake those sleeping
Cons: Old models found on store shelves and they have to be replaced after 7 years.
Five years ago when we remodeled our kitchen wepurchased a Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm to put in the hallway just off of our kitchen. The model we bought was the Kidde KN-COB-B, which runs on three double A batteries.
It is round in shape, measuring 5 1/4" in diameter and 1 1/8" deep. It comes with a template that allows you to easily mark the two areas where the included screws go into the wall. When it is in place it is very secure and sits completely flush against the wall.
The batteries can be changed without removing the unit from the wall, which is very handy. The cover comes off to reveal three slots for holding double A sized batteries. In the battery compartment there are three red plastic arms that need to be depressed as the batteries are put in place (they lay flat under the batteries).
The front of the unit has a test/reset button on the left, with a green light that reads "Operate" below the window. On the right is a red light that reads "Alarm", with the words "Move to fresh air".
The back of the alarm lists cautions and warnings, such as letting the owner know that carbon monoxide cannot be seen or smelled, but it can kill you. It tells you what to do if the alarm sounds (operate reset/silence button, call 911, and immediately move to fresh air).
Other cautions say to test the unit weekly and clean it by vacuuming the outside each month. Had it not been for this model malfunctioning, I never would have remembered these instructions since they are on the back side and are against the wall. This isn't as big issue for me, as I conduct monthly fire drills to remain in compliance with my childcare license. When I have a fire drill I test all of my alarms, both smoke and CO2, but how many people would really remember to test this once a week?
The alarm should be anchored 1/8" from the wall, and if you have drywall you should drill two 3/16" holes using the plastic anchors that are included with the detector.
The green light will flash every 30 seconds, and this was bothersome to me in a dark bedroom. I had to place it on the same wall that our bed was against (more or less behind me) so the flashing didn't irritate me at night. It should be placed at least 5 feet from all fuel burning appliances and should be at "eye level". It should not be put behind any pieces of furniture or curtains.
If dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are detected, the red light will pulse while the ear piercing 85 decibel alarm goes off. There will be a pattern of 4 short beeps, 5 seconds of silence, then 4 more short beeps. The cycle of beeping and flashing red light will continue for 4 minutes and if the detector is not reset it will then cycle every minute.
When I pushed the test button this alarm really hurt my ears. A few nights ago I woke to the sound of a chirping, and soon realized this was a very regular pattern, going off every 30 seconds. I woke my husband up and he tracked down the noise - coming from this alarm.
The back of the alarm says that it will chirp in this way when the batteries need to be replaced. We had numerous double A batteries on hand, but none of them solved the chirping problem. I even bought a new package of batteries just in case the ones we had on hand were old, but the alarm still continued to sound every 30 seconds.
After locating the manual I read that after seven years this model will encounter a unit error, where the alarm will beep every 30 seconds, and when this happens it is no longer reliable and needs to be replaced. Of course we all want and need reliable alarms in our homes, and that is not a problem. However, there is indeed a problem.
A sticker on the back has the date of manufacture. Mine reads 2003 October, 06. That would make this model 7 1/2 years old, but I bought it five years ago. That raised my curiosity, and I checked the date on our other Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm that is on the second floor of our home. That date read 2007 June, 09. That would make the second model almost four years old, but I know it was purchased within the last year. I have a licensed childcare in my home, and the state recently started enforcing the regulation requiring these on each level of a home. I know for a fact that my alarm was no more than a year old, yet it was manufactured in 2007!
In all fairness to Kidde, the manual does say to write the "Replace date" (7 years from power up) in permanent marker on the label. Again, the label is on the back of the unit, and since the batteries can be replaced through the front, I never had a reason to take this off of the wall and look at the back. I wonder how many people would remember to do this months after they installed the detector and the manual had most likely been tossed or misplaced.
There is a 5 year warranty on this model, but in order for Kidde to replace it I have to send the unit back to them, along with the original receipt. At $20 a unit, I would pay almost that amount of money to send it back to them. They do state that the models should work 7 years past the date the batteries were first installed. It bothers me that old models seem to be on store shelves.
I will now be looking for a new CO2 alarm to replace our first floor unit, and I will most definitely be reading the manual and checking the date of manufacture before I make a purchase. I don't know if the seller or the manufacturer are responsible for old units being on store shelves, but this is a problem I hope to avoid in the future!
Since we already have the screws in our wall, I obviously want to purchase the same brand again, so we don't have to make more holes in our walls. I am just not sure I want another Kidde brand.
These models retail for around $20.00. Ours were purchased at our local Fred Meyer store.