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Best Carbon Dioxide Monitors (Expert Guide)

Air quality monitoring has become an important topic since the COVID-19 pandemic. Carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring has been at the center of the conversation. Used to track air quality levels, CO2 meters are employed in classrooms, gyms, workplaces, and offices. They are a fantastic proxy to pathogen transmission risk and are even required for indoor use in some cases. A typical carbon dioxide monitor has adjustable alarm settings to allow users to be in compliance with various CO2 exposure limits. 



  • CO2 monitoring is affordable, costing less than $100.
  • CO2 sensors last for over 10 years, unlike carbon monoxide sensors which have a limited lifespan.
  • A plethora of carbon dioxide detectors exists, including handheld units, battery-operated units, and JUMBO units.
  • Most CO2 detectors traditionally require high power and 110V wall plugs.
  • At high levels > 2000 ppm, there may be physiological effects on humans.
  • Often confused with carbon monoxide.


What Is Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Gas?

CO2 is the chemical formula for carbon dioxide. It is a common gas that occurs naturally in the air. As of 2021, CO2 atmospheric outdoor levels are approximately 413 ppm. CO2 has many modern uses we take for granted, such as:

  • CO2 is used for carbonation in drinks
  • CO2 is used as dry ice for refrigeration
  • CO2 is used as an inert gas in many industrial processes
  • CO2 is used as a modified atmosphere packaging gas to extend food shelf life

Why Is CO2 Gas Important?

Carbon dioxide is one of the most important gases in our atmosphere, with a concentration of 413 ppm. Carbon dioxide is an essential gas as it helps to contain heat in our atmosphere by absorbing warmth from the sun. Without CO2 and its pivotal role in the greenhouse gas process, our planet would be miserably cold and inhospitable.

Carbon dioxide also plays an important role in plant and animal life, including photosynthesis and respiration.

Is Carbon Dioxide Heavier or Lighter Than Air?

Carbon dioxide is about 1.5 times heavier than air. This can be seen when dry ice is used at a wedding to provide the “dancing on a clouds” illusion. The carbon dioxide clouds stay low to the ground because CO2 is heavier than air.

What Does a CO2 Monitor Do?

A carbon dioxide monitor tracks the CO2 concentration levels in outdoor and indoor environments. It provides the user with a parts per million (ppm) reading, which represents the concentration of carbon dioxide.

A carbon dioxide monitor is sometimes called a CO2 monitor, CO2 analyzer, CO2 meter, CO2 detector, CO2 alarm, carbon dioxide sniffer, or carbon dioxide tester. All of these terms refer to a device that is capable of sensing and reporting carbon dioxide levels in real-time.

CO2 monitors typically read concentration in ppm and display this value on their LCD screen. Most CO2 monitors have an alarm that warns occupants if a certain preset level is exceeded. This helps users take action to remedy high CO2 levels.

CO2 monitors are also integrated in many heating and cooling systems that may trigger the HVAC system to switch operating modes.

How Is Carbon Dioxide Gas Detected?

Carbon dioxide is measured in the air using CO2 gas meters and monitors. Inside these monitors, a small CO2 sensor cells determines the amount of CO2 molecules in the air. Carbon dioxide detectors range from $50 to $1000. Most carbon dioxide monitors employ CO2 sensors with non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) sensing technology. An example of carbon dioxide monitors and what they look like is here.

What Is the Best Carbon Dioxide Meter Brand?

There are many carbon dioxide detectors on the market. Reputable brands include the following:

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