For anyone looking for a new gas detection product, the process can often be overwhelming, with more and more alternative technologies, and so many similar looking products available.
At first glance, you might think that many gas detection products appear to do the same thing, offering the same features at different prices. However, on closer inspection, when you know what to look out for – you’ll find major differences in the capabilities of different gas detectors; in everything, from functionality, to specification and varying features.
So how do you know which product is the best choice for your working environment and application? Read our 6 Steps to help focus your search, and discover the staple selection criteria.
The more you know about the hazardous risks and conditions in your workplace, the better equipped you will be to select the right gas detector for your situation.
1. Understand your site risks
Even before you've considered researching the various types of gas detection equipment, a risk assessment needs to be conducted to give you a basis of what you're faced with.
An employer has the obligation to carry out risk assessments which will identify the potential hazards that will either be harmful to its workers or can affect the process. Generally, the most common atmospheric dangers across industries include flammable gases such as methane or natural gas, oxygen deficiency or enrichment, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide. Once gas hazards are identified, gas detection is applicable as a risk reduction method.
Depending on your industry, you may have a variety of applications with diverse gas hazards, or you may have one source of concern with one known hazard. Knowing what gas/gases need to be monitored will determine which instrument you need.
However, it is important to remember that it is the end-user's ultimate responsibility to identify all potential hazards.
2.Identify the primary objective
Every site is unique and there can never be a one size fits all approach when it comes to gas detection. An employer needs to identify their prime objective, because some products will have been designed to protect workers as they carry out their jobs and alert them to imminent danger, whilst others are solely designed simply for data-logging.
So you need to consider the purpose of the product use; does it need to alarm? If so, what type of alarm is required? Do you want to read the data locally, or will it need to be transmitted to a BMS off-site?
Data logging/reporting may also be required for Health and Safety records, reporting functions for regulatory compliance, or insurance purposes.
3. Ask the right questions
Having identified the primary objective, suitable gas detection equipment is selected by asking a number of key questions;
- Where are the gases detected and where might they come from?
- Is the location accessible and what are the environmental conditions where detection is to take place?
- How easy will it be to service the equipment?
- Will the equipment offer the functionality required?
4. Identify where gases are detected & where they may come from
The gases to be detected should be identified by the risk assessment, however, experienced gas detection equipment suppliers are often able to assist end-users in this process, based on their experience of similar applications. You should consider;
- Are there several areas of concern in the workplace?
- Which gas hazards are present in each area of concern?
- What is the potential source of a gas release
5. Ease of servicing the equipment
Portable gas detectors could be used by many different people in the workplace; how will you track which detectors are due calibration, and how will you physically bring them in for service? Will it be more cost-effective to invest in a docking station and have them serviced on site, or send them to a distributor for service and calibration?
Also, consider the frequency of service. Some gases and vapours can be detected with a number of different sensing technologies e.g., hydrocarbon gases with catalytic beads or IR. Catalytic beads do not provide fail-to-safety operation and therefore can require a high frequency of routine maintenance, however, IR based solutions tend to have a higher initial purchase price, but may require less routine maintenance overall.
6. Understand product functionality
Last but not least, considerations must be given to how you intend to use the equipment. Consideration should be made whether batteries are rechargeable or replaceable, and how long will the charge last for.
Communication should also be an important factor in your decision. Will data be communicated be wirelessly transmitted or manually downloaded?
Is event logging an important feature for you? Data logging capabilities can often vary, and are another factor to be considered when making your choice.