Marine Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

Knowing typical carbon monoxide detector batteries typically only last ~5 years, and the fact the boat was supposed to be equipped from the factory with them…I went in search of them…on the boat, that is. To date, I’ve searched through threads on where they may have been mounted, looked through the owner’s manual and have come up empty, as in - none onboard our boat. It’s possible they were only equipped on boats with generators, but I can’t confirm that either online or via the original owner documentation.  Regardless, although expecially relevant if you plan on using a generator - if you’re going to overnight on your boat, I’d highly recommend ensuring you have a proper working detector (or more than one).

As I’ve already had to make one vinyl modification to fit my choice of HVACs, or more precisely the control panel for it, and I couldn’t seem to locate prior hard-wiring, I decided to look for a battery-powered device vs the many dual-power options out there.

I’ll go out on a limb a bit and say, yes, I did indeed look first at ‘marine’ detectors, most if not all of which were dual-powered, and made the call to go battery-powered, at least for the intial ‘replacement’ (is it really a replacement if you can’t locate even where the original one was supposed to have been?). In part due to this (unable to locate existing/prior or their wiring), I went with battery only to at least get something in place for now, while hoping to in time sort where the original wiring at the least may be tucked away, or sorting an existing 12V source without punching new holes through the divider from the cabin to the engine and bilge area…

Specialized Marine or home type detector?

The consumer GPS industry at large remains holding onto business models (and sometimes technology) of the past in many cases...

Now, I’m not going to say there is no difference between marine and home detectors of various kinds. Previously working in avionics some time back, I can say that quality avionics and other specialty gear does indeed have differences, such as potted circuit boards and the like for avionics. However, without doing a lot more research or buying and pulling some apart, I’m just not convinced every ‘marine’ smoke or carbon monoxide detector is fundamentally in function or in quality, quantifiably different, moreso in the era of ‘cost cutting’ by so many companies in the name of profits. It’s entirely possible that in time, I may find a $100+ carbon monoxide detector I’m happy to give the $ to, believing fully it’s indeed a ‘specialized’ unit. Until then, I weighed my options in the marine category, also checked out others on Amazon  and went with one, with the tact of having one at least beats having nothing at all when my wife and I are planning to overnight…  

Where to mount them?

Placement recommendations are all over the place. CO is in fact heavier than air, so various comments of mounting as low as possible seems to have cursory merit, although any official statements from safety and other organizations seem to indicate approximately eye level is appropriate, with at least a detector in each sleeping quarter and galley, but also not immediately over any LPG/butane/alcohol stove. For a boat our size, I did a wall mount at the dinette as a central location, and battery only in this case, mounted right above my control panel for the HCAV. This is a good central location to the overall cabin, while I may add a second into the mid-berth area (we don’t use that for sleeping, but it is right next to the separation to the engine room/bilge area).

Some industrial-strength velcro cut to fit the back or Command Strips makes mounting things to solid surfaces easy and non-damaging.  In this case I mounted it to the cover plate from the old OEM HVAC display, although it could have easily been mounted elsewhere.