Best Portable Carbon Monoxide Detector

Author: Reece Thompson | Updated on November 3, 2020

We're alarmed that not all AirBnbs, RVs, boats and caravans have adequate protection. If you're looking for a portable CO detector, check out our top five.

family enjoying cooking in the kitchen of a caravan

Travellers consider a lot of things when they roam around the vastness of this world to have a safe journey. If you’re a traveller as well, you already know how painful it’ll be if you fall sick amid your travels. That explains why travellers stay wary of the dangers.

Yet, a new threat has been plaguing travellers, and it can get fatal as well! And the threat is none but the Carbon Monoxide gas.

You can steer clear of Carbon Monoxide using the best portable detectors. Let’s talk about these in detail.

1. Forensics Detectors

Forensics Detectors
Our Rating:  4/5


The detector from Forensics stands in the third category of Carbon Monoxide detectors. This detector's made with the finest Japanese sensor, and it can detect Carbon Monoxide at a level as low as 9ppm. Sometimes, Carbon Monoxide may enter your room from outdoors. Some vehicles are infamous for producing Carbon Monoxide, and CO can enter houses.

These aren’t fatal, but they cause nausea, headache, fatigue, and can be sleep-inducing as well. This detector's designed for the Police force. The product's made of military-grade sensors and not only provide safety but last as well!

Even though these are for Police and military, these devices can be in vehicles and houses. These devices will inform you even if the slightest amount of carbon monoxide is present. The detector lights up a red LED if there’s more than 9ppm of CO, and if it exceeds 25ppm the detector blares an alarm of 70dB.

These are much faster than regular detectors used in a home that takes an hour or so to detect and inform. Such a level will induce drowsiness and fatigue. This is where the Forensics detector wins.

The case is aircraft-grade aluminium alloy, which gives it a metallic finish. It’s one of the best portable carbon monoxide detectors for travel. The only downside of this product is that it’s much more expensive than most other detectors.


  • Can detect Carbon monoxide level accurately
  • Informs as soon as CO is detected
  • A high-pitch alarm of 70dB
  • Durable, solid aluminium body
  • Runs for eight months at a stretch without change of battery


  • Very expensive compared to other products

2. Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector

Our Rating: 4/5


The Kidde Carbon Monoxide detector is the go-to product if you’re on a limited budget. This particular product can show carbon monoxide levels from 11ppm up to 999ppm. It has a digital display that will keep you updated and refreshes every fifteen seconds.

The product is very compact, and it’s made of durable material. You can throw it in your backpack without the fear of getting it scratched. The detector runs by batteries.

It falls in the third category of detectors, that is it comes with an electrochemical sensor. You’re doing your everyday chores without a single worry, and you find that you feel drowsy. Then when you look at the detector, you find it turned off.

Once you investigate the matter, you find that you forgot to put in the batteries in the first place! If this situation sounds relatable, the Kidde detector comes with a battery safeguard. This makes it difficult to put on the battery cover without having the batteries inside them.

The Kidde CO detector is a small, durable, and portable detector that can run for months on a single battery! It’ll inform you within one to four hours when it detects a concentration of carbon monoxide over 70ppm with a blaring alarm of 80dB!


  • Can detect and display carbon monoxide from 11ppm to 999ppm concentration
  • Sets off an 80dB alarm when detects higher concentration than 70ppm
  • Portable
  • Solid, durable build
  • Affordable


  • Takes a considerable amount of time before setting off the alarm

3. Cheffort Handheld

Cheffort Handheld
Our Rating: 4/5


This looks more or less like the radioactivity tracers you’ve seen in various movies. Like the detector from Forensics, this one is a professional tool as well. If you want to detect carbon monoxide of your surroundings, this is a great pick, and it’s one of the best detectors.

The equipment has a fantastic feature that allows the user to set the level of alarm. The alarm will turn off after ten minutes. The detector can detect gas at a wide range.

Another great addition is that you can detect ambient temperatures in two units! The device comes with a screen that allows the user to track his surroundings even in the dark. The screen's made of ABS plastic which provides great durability.

The Cheffort carbon monoxide detector is very ergonomic. It’s designed to fit your hands, and you can hold onto it without any discomfort. The device features a stabilized Electrochemical sensor.

The response time is very low. It will notify you within 60 seconds of detection.


  • Ergonomic design
  • High precision
  • Close to zero latency
  • Adjustable alarm
  • Fantastic backlit LED screen


  • A bit expensive than the detectors designed for home usage

4. First Alert CO400

First Alert CO400
Our Rating: 4/5


Next in line is the First Alert CO400 detector. It’s a wonderful carbon monoxide detector, and it comes at an affordable price as well! The device used an electrochemical sensor to provide the most accurate data possible.

You can use the device by plugging it in. Yet, if you want to take it with you during travels, you can use it without worry as it features a replaceable battery. The CO400 features a loud 85dB alarm, which is enough to wake most people up even if they’re asleep.

The sensor will last up to five years. Yet, if you find your sensor to be dysfunctional, you can claim the five-year warranty! If you’re looking for an affordable detector that can keep you secure, this is a great choice!


  • Affordable pick
  • Features an 85dB alarm
  • You can run it either by plugging it in or with a battery


  • Isn’t as fast nor as accurate as some of the expensive products

5. Alert Plus

alert plus
Our Rating: 4/5


Last but not least product in our list of the best Carbon Monoxide detectors is the Alert Plus detector. It’s one of the affordable picks of this list, but it performs well, especially if you compare it to its price. The product comes with a reliable electrochemical sensor.

You can run it with a 9V DC adapter or with a 9V battery. The display of this device displays the carbon monoxide level of its surroundings. If you want a CO detector that acts as a clock as well, this one is it!


  • Reliable performance
  • Portable
  • Digital backlit display
  • Shows the clock as well


  • Isn’t as fast nor as accurate as of the professional devices
carbon monoxide detector affixed on a plain white wall

A First Alert carbon monoxide detector hangs on a wall

How We Decided On Our Winner

Carbon Monoxide is a toxic gas that you won’t be able to sense. And when you can, it’ll already be too late. Don’t panic.

Carbon monoxide doesn’t pose fatality always. Sometimes it’s present at a low concentration only. Yet, even if Carbon Monoxide of 70ppm's inhaled for a long time, it will cause drowsiness and headache.

And who wants to waste a day while travelling? As we already know, most hotels and resorts overlook the threat of carbon monoxide. That’s why it’s only reasonable that you carry a portable carbon monoxide detector.

If you want a bang for the buck, go for the more affordable options from the list. Yet, if you can spend some extra cash, we recommend that you take the Forensics detector. It’s one of the best Carbon Monoxide detectors for travel ever made!

Hoping that you’ll be able to get the best portable detectors for travel for yourself with the help of this article, we end our review.

gas hob in a yacht

Is your boat as luxurious? No? Well, you should buy a portable CO detector regardless

Is your boat as luxurious? No? Well, you should buy a portable CO detector regardless

FAQ and Buying Guide

What’s Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is a toxic gas produced when fuel burns with an insufficient level of air. With the insufficiency, there’s an absence of oxygen that leads to Carbon Monoxide. And while Carbon di Oxide isn’t toxic, Carbon Monoxide is.

Why’s Carbon Monoxide Harmful to You?

Carbon Monoxide is an unstable compound looking for more oxygen, which our body has in enough. Once a small particle of Carbon Monoxide enters our body, it engulfs an Oxygen particle. While it may not seem much as we’re talking about one particle, this exerts a great effect if we inhale loads of CO gas.

Unfortunately, CO gas's produced in bulk near its source. If inhaled for a minute, it can send you straight to the doors of heaven.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Who dies from Carbon Monoxide emission anyway?”

A while ago, CNN reported that three people found dead in their hotel room from CO inhalation. A couple found dead in a hotel in Mexico, and the reason was CO inhalation. An article suggests that 89% of hotels and resorts of the USA don’t have any Carbon Monoxide detector.

And Carbon Monoxide doesn’t need to harm you on your travels only. CO might be in your home as well! If it remains in a low concentration, it won’t kill you, but you’ll fall sick often.

What’s the Prevention?

In this case, there’s no cure, as you will be long gone before you can be treated, and so, prevention is the cure. And that’s where the best portable Carbon Monoxide detectors for travel comes in!

Carbon Monoxide Detectors with Semi-Conductor Sensors:

Carbon Monoxide detectors are of three types. These devices categorise as they come with different kinds of sensors.

The first type comes with a sensor made of metal-oxide semiconductors. You don’t need batteries to run these detectors, but you’ll have to plug these in.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors with Biometric Sensors:

The second type of detector is cheaper than the other two types. Unlike metal oxide semi-conductor sensors, these come with biometric sensors. There are small discs inside these detectors that are coated with a kind of special gel.

The gel turns dark once they come in contact with Carbon Monoxide, and thus the alarm's triggered. These units can plug in, or they can come with batteries.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors with Electrochemical Sensors:

The third and final type of detectors is the most expensive and most accurate. These use electrochemical sensors that create an electric current when they come in contact. If you are looking for precision, these are the ones.

Even if there is the slightest amount of in your home, these detectors will detect. These sensors also come with memory chip that records the most concentration. If you can spare some money, these should be ones to go for!

Hint: Always Set the Detector Well Above Ground:

Carbon Monoxide is lighter than air, which makes it float away over the floor level. Make sure that you place the detector at least five feet over the ground, that way it can be used to its full potential.

Another point is, don’t place the detector near any source of gas, stove for example. Plus, try to keep the detector at a place from where it’s alarm will be audible to you. Otherwise, there’s no point in keeping a Carbon Monoxide detector in your home.

To read similar articles, go to our section about home detection.