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Single Gas vs. Multi-Gas Detectors: Choosing What’s Right For Your Industry

Smallest Gas DetectorReliable gas detection is a critical safety component for many industries. Gas detectors have the power to prevent explosions or exposure and inhalation of toxic gases. But choosing the right gas detector for your needs, such as a single or multi-gas detector, is what will keep you, your workers, and those around you safe. When a detector’s alarm sounds, it kicks the user into action — by turning on a ventilation fan, shutting off valves, or even evacuating the facility. Our monitors are generally suited for worker or plant safety and not when high levels of gases or vapors are regularly present.

What’s the Difference Between Single and Multi-Gas Detectors?

It’s all in the name. Single gas detectors are monitoring one gas in particular — it could be Carbon Monoxide, Ammonia, Hydrogen Cyanide, or Sulfur Dioxide, among other gases. Often, single gas detectors are more compact and lightweight than a multi-gas detector and can be easily worn as part of your uniform or clipped to a belt.

Multi-gas detectors are still portable and typically weigh less than a pound, but have bigger screens to display readings for up to six gases. These detect the same gases as a single monitor but do so simultaneously. Each model has a different better life, detection range and set of alarms and logs for readings— all important considerations based on how you or your workers need to use the detectors.

Do You Need a Single or Multi-Gas Detector?

There is a lot of crossover in terms of which detector is best suited for a person or industry. For instance, fire and hazmat services can use one or both types of detectors. Often, when these workers are sent to a call, they have some understanding of the situation and might change out their monitors. For firefighters, a carbon monoxide detector is the most common gas present on routine calls and a single monitor can be kept on their uniforms. Similarly, in refinery plants and furniture, woodworking, and painting industries, a single gas detector might be all that’s necessary because the types of potential toxins are known to workers and facility operators.

Other industries that should consider single gas detectors are: mining, fumigation, water, and wastewater treatment, chemical plants, petrochemical refineries, pharmaceuticals, laboratories, and medical, carpet manufacturing, and heat treatment operations.

However, in larger-scale construction projects, especially when demolishing old buildings, multi-gas detectors are a better fit because often you’re not aware of what lies underneath a building. Investigative situations, like unknown leaks, arson, and landfill monitoring, often require the use of a multi-gas detector as well, due to the range of toxins that may present. Oil, gas, fuel storage, and coal manufacturing also present multiple, potential gases that require regular monitoring.

In many cases, single and multi-gas detectors are both used by the same industry. When more variables are at play — different components are being used or interchanged, or emergency response and construction teams lack clarity on the situation they’re working in — multi-gas detectors are better and provide greater safety coverage.