Compare Oxygen Deficiency Monitors
Like most things in life, not all oxygen deficiency monitors are the same. There are significant differences in automobiles, lawn mowers, cell phones, as well as oxygen deficiency monitors. A number of oxygen monitors use what’s referred to as “fuel cell” oxygen sensors. Fuel cell oxygen sensors typically require replacement every 10-14 months. But that’s only half of the problem. The issue is that as fuel cell sensors age, their respective electrical outputs diminish over time (similar to a flashlight battery). This reduction in output mimics a low oxygen signal to the electronics. If the drop in output is significant enough, it will result in a false low oxygen alarm. Typically, with the first few false low oxygen alarms, the reaction by personnel is to treat them as actual low oxygen alarms and clear the areas in question. As these false low oxygen alarms increase in frequency, it often leads to frustration on the part of personnel, and may create a potentially dangerous scenario. Employees begin cancelling the audible alarms assuming they are false, when in fact they may be real low oxygen events. Cases have been documented where employees have gone as far as to permanently disable the monitor’s audible alarms due to the “nuisance factor”. Is it worth taking the risk with fuel cell oxygen sensors?
Frequent exaggerations are being made on the part of certain suppliers of zirconium oxide based oxygen deficiency monitors. Claims that the zirconium oxide sensors are calibration free for 10 years plus! One should ask why aren’t these same manufacturers offering a 10 year sensor warranty? Ironically, one of the major Japanese suppliers of the actual zirconium oxide sensor used in many of these monitors makes no such spurious claims. Upon closer examination, customers find a much different story is told when they read the instruction manual for many of these zirconium oxide oxygen monitors. One manual states, “as the oxygen sensor ages over time, it may require adjustment to 20.9%. The 02 monitor also requires periodic testing with nitrogen to verify the cells response to 0% oxygen”. The manual goes on to detail how to make the adjustments (AKA calibration) to the monitor. As the old adage says, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Trained safety personnel both understand and agree that gas monitors used to help protect personnel require occasional checks. The stakes are significant.