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Frequently Asked Questions about the Carbon Monoxide Alarms from Aico, part 2

This is the continuation of the Aico Carbon Monoxide Alarms FAQ – the second part (read the first 11 questions and answers here).

If you have any other questions related to the CO alarms, the CO detectors, or the dangers of the Carbon Monoxide, you can leave us a message, or contact us. We will do our best to provide you the information (as much as we know/our manufacturers specify).

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Question 12. How do Ei CO Alarms conforming to BS EN 50291 give warning?

When the CO Alarm detects potentially dangerous levels of CO, a red light on the cover will flash. The alarm will sound if the CO levels persist, or rise. The list below shows how the alarm reacts to different levels of CO and exposure.

(CO level in ppm – Red alarm light – Sounder operates)

  • 50 ppm – 1 flash every 2 seconds – Within 60 to 90 mins
  • 100 ppm – 2 flashes every second – Within 10 to 40 mins
  • 300 ppm – 4 flashes every second – Within 3 mins

The Aico Ei261DENRC will indicate the ppm CO detected (above 50 ppm) on the digital display on the front panel of the alarm cover.

Question 13. Can the alarms be interconnected?

The Aico Ei Professional model Ei261ENRC and Ei261DENRC (mains operated with Rechargeable Lithium cells) can be interconnected to other Ei261ENRC and Ei261DENRC units so that when one senses CO, they will all alarm. Twelve units may be interconnected, but only the unit sensing CO will have its red light lit in order to identify the area in which CO was detected. We would recommend that when more than one CO alarm is installed in a property they should be interconnected.

Question 14. Can I signal to other devices from a CO alarm?

Yes, either an Aico Ei261ENRC or Ei261DENRC can be used with a remote relay model Ei128RBU (with Ei128COV cover), which is rated at 5 Amps. The relay can be used to switch shut off valves, sounders or strobes, or signal to other suitable remote devices as required. The relay has an optional pulse feature, which is suitable for signalling to Warden Call Systems widely used in Sheltered Housing Schemes.

Question 15. Can I interconnect CO alarms to a smoke alarm system?

There is merit in interconnecting CO and smoke/heat alarm systems, as it will improve audibility throughout the property. However, it is generally considered that interconnecting CO alarms into a smoke/heat alarm system is not good practice, as the actions that should be taken in the different emergencies are quite unique:

  • If a fire occurs, you should keep doors and windows closed to contain the fire as much as possible.
  • If a CO leak occurs, you should open all doors and windows to ventilate the area as much as possible – at the same time turning off the appliance/s from where CO leak is being emitted.

We believe that interconnection between the 2 types of systems may be considered if the user is able to determine which of the alarms has caused the system to operate (the smoke alarm or the CO alarm) so enabling them to make the correct decision on what action should be taken. The only foolproof method of achieving this is by having a means of silencing the remaining system i.e the alarms not actually sensing smoke or CO. The solution to this problem would be the addition of an Ei1529RC Alarm Control Switch into the system.

If any of the alarms in the system operate (CO, smoke or heat) it is only necessary to press ‘Locate’ on the Aico Ei1529RC switch. This will silence all alarms that are not actually sensing either CO, smoke or heat, enabling the user to quickly and easily identify which of the alarms is sounding. This gives complete control over the system allowing the occupant to take the safest action according to the problem identified. Additionally, if found to be a false alarm, simply press ‘Hush’ on the control switch to silence the alarm. The entire alarm system can also be tested regularly by pressing the ‘Test’ switch.

The Aico Ei261ENRC and the Aico Ei261DENRC CO alarms have an interconnect feature that allows them to be interconnected with any of the Ei160RC series smoke and heat alarms (Not RadioLINK models). Adding the Ei1529RC switch is a simple job, only requiring a 3 core connection from the alarm (smoke, heat or CO) closest to where the Ei1529RC switch is to be installed.

Question 16. Do they meet the standards?

All the Aico Ei CO alarms comply with BS EN50291: 2001 and they are Kitemarked to show that they have been third party tested to this standard.

Question 17. Do the CO alarms have back-up power?

The mains operated models Ei261ENRC and Ei261DENRC are supplied complete with sealed-in tamper proof Rechargeable Vanadium Pentoxide Lithium standby cells, designed to last at least 10 years without the need for replacement and can power the unit for a minimum of 30 days in the event of mains failure. The battery is monitored, and if it starts to become depleted (i.e. with mains off), or if it becomes defective, the unit beeps every 40 seconds.

Question 18. Are the mains operated models Aico Ei261ENRC and Aico Ei261DENRC easy to fit?

Yes, these models are supplied with an `Easi-fit` surface mounting plate, with integral terminal block and cable cover. The terminal block is permanently fitted to the mounting plate. The built-in battery connects as the unit is slid on to the plate. Conduit (up to 25 x 16mm) can be attached to the top or bottom of the unit for surface wiring. The units can be ceiling or wall mounted.

Question 19. Will I get false/nuisance alarms?

Every effort has been made to make the unit insensitive to normal household chemicals. However, units may go into alarm if cigarette smoke is deliberately blown into the unit, or if aerosols, paints or similar materials are used nearby. All Aico Ei CO alarms are fitted with a manual test/hush button which, when pressed, will silence low levels of CO gas for approximately 5 minutes. The unit will then automatically re-set to standby mode. For safety reasons the hush feature cannot over-ride an alarm caused by dangerously high levels of CO.

Question 20. How often should they be tested, and do they have to be serviced?

The CO alarm should be tested weekly by pressing the test button. The alarm may be cleaned externally with the narrow nozzle of a vacuum cleaner and wiped down with a damp cloth (disconnect the mains on Ei261ENRC / Ei261DENRC / Ei225EN models). The sensor may be tested annually in CO gas to ensure that it is fully operational. To simplify this process, all the Aico Ei CO alarms have a “quick test” feature. Pressing the test button causes the unit to sample for CO every 4 seconds so that when CO gas is injected into the sensor it will respond almost immediately with 3 short beeps. The alarm will automatically re-set to standby within 3 minutes. Apart from sensor replacement after 5 years (Ei261ENRC and Ei261DENRC only) no other servicing is required (see 22 below).

Question 21. How will I know if it is my CO alarm or my smoke alarm?

The Aico Ei range of Carbon Monoxide alarms have a distinctive on-off sound of 3 pulses, followed by a pause, as compared with a typical smoke alarm which has a rapid pulsing sound. In addition, when the CO alarm is detecting CO, the red light in the centre of the cover will flash.

Question 22. How long does the unit last?

The Carbon Monoxide alarms are sophisticated electronic devices with many parts, including the sensors, and will not last indefinitely. We recommend that the Aico Ei205ENA and AicoEi225EN models should be replaced after 5 years in operation.

The mains operated models Aico Ei261ENRC and Aico Ei261DENRC are designed to last 10 years and have a replaceable sensor module,which we recommend be replaced after 5 years use. This simply requires the pulling out of the sensor module from the rear of the alarm and replacing with a new sensor module (Aico Ei261MEN) readily available at a modest cost.

Question 23. What should I do when the alarm goes off?

  • Open the doors and windows to ventilate the area.
  • Stop using the appliance; turn it off if possible.
  • Evacuate the property leaving the doors and windows open.
  • Ring your gas or other fuel supplier on their emergency number; keep the number in a prominent place.
  • Do not re-enter the property until the alarm has stopped.
  • Get medical help immediately for anyone suffering the effects of CO poisoning (headache, nausea) and advise that CO poisoning is suspected.
  • Do not use the appliance again until it has been checked by an expert; in the case of gas appliances this must be a CORGI registered installer.

Question 24. How much electricity does a mains operated CO alarm use?

The Aico Ei261ENRC / Ei261DENRC / Ei225EN models use only one unit of electricity per week.

Question 25. Will it detect other gases?

The Aico Ei series of Carbon Monoxide alarms are precisely calibrated so that they will only detect CO gas. THEY WILL NOT detect the presence of natural gas (methane), propane, butane or other combustible gases/fuels. Therefore, a detector specific to the other gas, or gases, that may be present must be used in addition to the CO detector, as required.

Question 26. Can I use it instead of a smoke alarm?

No! The Carbon Monoxide alarms are not suitable as early warning fire alarms. Fire produces CO, however the measured response of the CO alarm could allow a fire to get out of control before it warned of danger. Smoke alarms must be fitted for protection against fire.

Question 27. Why are CO alarms more expensive than smoke alarms?

The technology used in the Aico Ei Carbon Monoxide alarms is much more complex and sophisticated than smoke alarm technology. Cheaper less sophisticated CO alarms are available, but they may not be as reliable and are commonly prone to false alarm.

Part 1 of Aico FAQ on Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Read the first part of the Aico FAQ on the Aico Carbon Monoxide Alarms – the first 11 questions.

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