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on January 16, 2011
I bought two of these after another cheaper carbon monoxide detector had alarmed in the middle of the night. I had read some reviews of the other carbon monoxide detector having false alarms and convinced myself it was probably a false alarm but I opened windows to air out the house.

I got these two days ago and they alarmed the first night. I opened the windows and deduced that it was probably my tankless water heater which was recently installed and failed inspection. It is scheduled to be brought up to code this week.

To prove my theory I made sure the central heat was off for a day and we hadn't used the clothes dryer for a few days and I put one of these detectors in the laundry room where the tankless water heater is installed. We have one of those large jacuzzi style baths in the master bathroom (hence the need to have the tankless) and we took a bath last night. When we were done the alarm was going off. I had done some minimal research before doing this test and knew that too high of a level (12,800 ppm) can kill you instantly after just 2 or 3 breaths. I had read that 400+ can be lethal. Wikipedia states 800 ppm will cause dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 min and you will be insensible within 2 hours and 1600 ppm can kill you in 2 hours. So I went downstairs to see what the reading was.

I held my breath and went in. 875ppm is what it read. I called 911 and the firemen came.

My wife, 2 year old, and 2 month old were upstairs and in a room with the windows wide open. They came in and took their readings. They said they are not allowed to work in an environment where the levels are above 30 ppm without respirators. The windows had been open for 15 minutes and they were still getting readings over 70.

Later, we compared what their professional monitor said to what the my 2nd First Alert Carbon monoxide detector was reading (remember I bought two of these). Their reading matched exactly what this unit displayed. So you can trust these devices.

Please trust your device. Thats what you bought it for. Call 911. Open windows or get out of there. The long term affects of Carbon Monoxide exposure can cause heart problems, learning disabilities, and many other terrible things. I am now worried about what this has been doing to my family over the last 4 months since the water heater was installed. Like I said I have a 2 month old....

I have posted a picture of the unit reading the max value from last night.
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on November 3, 2011
Here are my first impressions and what I liked about the First Alert C0615 device:

1) This unit comes with two Energizer E91 batteries. Yes, batteries are included with this product). After inserting the batteries and plugging this into the wall outlet in the bedroom, I saw a battery meter flash. It showed the battery had full power.

2) The battery door is on the front of the unit. I like this design because you can have access to the battery compartment while leaving the unit plugged into wall. Also, I was able to open the battery door easily with one finger.

3) I like the display button. When pressed, the unit will show you the highest carbon monoxide level recorded. This is something I plan to monitor often.

4) Green light vs Red light. When I plugged it in, the light is green. Should the device ever detect unsafe levels of CO, the light will turn red and the audible alarm will go off. While I hope to never see the red light, it is reassuring to see the green light and know the room is safe.

What you might like to know about this product:

1) I recommend that you open the packaging from the bottom. I could not separate the plastic packaging at the top. However, it easily opened at the bottom, and continued to open all the way along the sides - up to the top, where I could no longer separate the plastic seal.

2) All CO monitors that I've researched intentionally stop functioning after 5-7 years (for your safety). This is due to the life of the CO sensors. I've owned KIDDE brand and now this First Alert brand, and they all expire. Replacing these devices after 7 years is piece of mind to ensure you always have a functioning CO sensor that will accurately detect carbon monixide.

3) This unit should be replaced 7 years from the month/year you first installed it. (see the bottom of page six in the owners manual for more information about this).

4) This particular brand/model is currently ranked #1 by a leading consumer
magazine.

For best results:

1) Use only Energizer E91 batteries and replace them immediately when the unit tells you to. Never use rechargeable batteries with this device.
2) Install the device away from windows or fans. (Blowing air may prevent CO from reaching the sensors).
3) Install the device 10 feet away from a water source (bathroom or laundry room).
4) The device is intended for bedroom and living areas. Do not install this in the kitchen area or in the garage.
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on June 1, 2009
Another update.

See recent reviews by others (especially Robert Oppenheim) as well... We just got two of the redesigned ones and indeed they have dropped the remote control feature (good thing) and that would make them deserving of 4 stars, however, they also changed the Peak Level recording, automatically deleting it every 24 hours--that's a bad thing for several reasons and leaves my rating at 3 stars:

1) The peak level resetting should be under user control.

2) One wants to know if, say, during the past week, there was an excessively high reading. Given how it now works, you cannot find that out!

A 24-hour automatic clearing of a bad reading hides potentially dangerous, even lethal situations. (Unless one becomes obsessive about checking this every day!) In this day and age, they really should have a small memory and track days and peak levels!

Here are some other updates--and First Alert deserves credit for listening to some of the critiques.

1) The manual, well it is really a pamphlet, is more readable now.

2) The warranty has been upped to 7 years.

3) They greatly improved the packaging.

Alas, the way the unit is designed means it still wobbles on a nightstand or bureau; the battery cover still doesn't work very well; the CO level still shows up only if one presses the button (and that's a tricky press); the battery symbol still suggests that one is on battery power--they really need a dual indicator for that. In fact, it would be better if you had to press to get the battery level, but that the current CO level would always be displayed. (It's now the reverse.)

Unfortunately, there's another problem. The darn thing glows in the dark and lights up an entire room. It makes it nearly impossible to keep it in a bedroom. We miss the comfortable soft red light 0 of our old Kidde model immensely (but their newer ones seem to have BRIGHT RED lights now).

I would have been happy to give this 4 stars, especially given the various improvements, had they not adopted the 24-hour peak level reset. Oh, well.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
PRIOR REVIEW:

I have updated my rating and review to include CONSUMER REPORTS' FINDINGS. It was top rated by them. That initially improved my rating, upping it to four stars. Well, we're now DROPPING it back down one. We discovered that the remote control "feature" (which we had viewed as a gimmick in any case) is not one! Turns out, that if we press the Mute button on our remotes (just press, not even holding them down), the darn CO alarm goes off! The remote test operation is only supposed to happen if you hold down the volume or channel button for FIVE seconds.
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We bought this to supplement our Kidde Nighthawk CO detectors, the 900-0234 curved model with a 7-year warranty (we didn't want to put all our eggs in one basket!). The First Alert looks to be a fine CO detector.

Here are some positives:

1) It has the plug on a wire, so that you can put the detector somewhere other than right in the outlet. That's helpful as outlets can have other adapters in them making it hard to plug it in or be behind something rendering the CO detection harder.

2) It can be tested or silenced with a remote (hold down the volume or channel button for 5 seconds) (our Tivo remote worked!). (Some of their other products with the remote features have received critical reviews as regular remote operation has set them off!)

3) Operates on AC with a battery backup (2 AAs)

4) Batteries ARE included!!

5) A biggie! Consumer Reports rated this much higher than the Kidde brands. It's better at detecting low levels of CO.

Here are several negatives:

1) 5-year warranty unlike the Kidde's 7-year. [This has apparently been upped to 7 now, but check with the company.)

2) A "manual" that's a huge, cumbersome, folded sheet, with small print that's blurry and hard to read. They should supply a magnifying glass with it! This is a major concern as one needs to refer to the text for installation, for operation, to determine what to do under certain conditions, etc. [This also supposedly has been improved.]

3) Yes, one can park the detector on a bookshelf (with the cord going to the outlet), but the detector itself wobbles! The previous Kidde CO detector Nighthawk model--the COPP-3 -- has the plug on a cord feature, along with a nifty slide out stand that makes it stable. (We had good luck with that model, but many did not. Plus, it's an older model, with only a 5-year warranty which is why we went for the 900-0234).

4) The CO level only shows up if one presses a button. It's a cool blue light, but unlike the Nighthawk's red LED that shows you the current CO level at all times (a reassuring 0), this displays a blank screen with a recessed green light. For some, it could be a plus as it would be less intrusive especially as the Kidde's red LED seems to be much brighter on their latest model.

5) The detector displays a battery icon when it's plugged into AC and the battery is installed! That's unnerving as it makes it look as if it's running on the battery! Very odd design choice, as in most of the electronic world, that's an indication that you are running on battery power and no longer on AC (take any laptop, e.g.).

6) The test alarm didn't seem as loud as the Kidde's.

7) Battery cover is the front of the device, which the manual didn't explain or illustrate, and it doesn't shut well--or rather, it's awkward and you feel as if you're about to break the lightweight plastic parts.

8) One other issue, which plagues all the CO detectors and many other products on the market, is the infuriating, hard plastic packaging. It's hard to open and I even cut myself on it. There are alternatives that are just as secure but much friendlier to the environment and the customer!

In comparing the two (Kidde Nighthawk 900-0234 and the First Alert CO615), the advantage on first glance clearly goes to the Kidde. It just seems a more professional, better designed, and better thought out product. Part of that is because we're used to the Kidde design and like the red LED, but it also seems more solid (the First Alert has the seemingly fragile/flimsy cover), and has a higher quality, usable manual--it's a real booklet that's more readable and better organized (it also has a bigger font than FA's, but still could be larger).

UPDATE--OTOH, I'm a believer in most of what CR does--and the testing on these--and the user reports here and on the web--suggest that it is the better detector. And, after all, that's what one buys these things for! However, we're not going to be able to use this in our bedroom as the Mute button sets off the alarm!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 3, 2011
A short video to show the detector in use. I don't subject it to any test fumes in this video.
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VINE VOICEon December 30, 2008
I ordered and received this item timely from Amazon. The product was well packaged and the directions for use were easy to follow. The product is nicely constructed, easy to use, and seems to work well. I like the fact I can push one of the buttons located on the front of the unit to see if the unit has picked up any CO levels from the area it is located. It is designed to plug into a wall electrical outlet and also has a battery backup. The unit is small and appears out of the way when it is plugged in and being used. So far, the two units I bought are working well so I give this product a rating of 5 stars.

Update: Jan. 14, 2011 - I have now owned two of these devices for over two years and each one is still working just fine. I have had to replace the back up battery on each just once a year, which is fairly standard, so the devices seem to be well built and last.
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on March 7, 2012
I think the First Alert Co615 carbon monoxide alarm is an excellent product. I would have given it 5 stars instead of 4, except for the fresh-dating issue.

I bought two of these carbon monoxide detectors from Amazon two years ago, in April, 2010. I like the following features:

- It is powered by plugging it in, with a battery backup. So, it does not use the batteries much, but it will still operate if there is a power failure. And the batteries are two AA's, so they are not expensive.

- No false alarms. I don't want to lose a night's sleep for no reason!

- The batteries are not depleted as long as the unit has AC power. In two years, there is no noticeable drop in battery voltage. Therefore, I am not awakened by low-battery warnings, like the purchasers of some other brands.

- Digital readout. You can press the button and see the reading at any time. Mine have always been zero; if I saw anything else, I would look for furnace, water heater, stove, or other appliance malfunctions. Some people have complained that it does not display the reading constantly, without pressing a button; I suspect this would drain the batteries more quickly in case of a power outage.

- Detachable plug with extension cord. You can plug in the unit at ground level and install it much higher, so you can read it easily, and also have the unit sense readings higher off the ground. (Carbon monoxide is just slightly lighter than air.)

I decided to purchase a third detector from Amazon. But when I put in the search criteria "Co615" with an "All Departments" search, a little note was displayed with a date of "May 2, 2007". I e-mailed Amazon customer service to find out if this was the date of manufacture, and they confirmed it was. This date is unacceptable. The detectors have chemical components that deteriorate over time, even if the unit is not turned on, and this date is FIVE YEARS AGO. I decided to purchase my third unit from First Alert directly in order to get a fresher unit. If I had received an older unit, it still would have been warranted by First Alert for seven years from date of purchase. However, I did not want to buy an item that had an increased chance of failing prematurely.

I think both First Alert and Amazon can do better on the fresh-dating issue. First Alert should put the date of manufacture where it can be seen without opening the package. Right now, it is only on the unit, and you have to open the package and remove the plug to see it.

Amazon only displays the mysterious date (which happens to be the manufacture date) on the "All Departments" search result screen. It does not appear in the detailed description of the item. It also does not appear if you search within a particular department, like "Tools and Home Improvement". This date is important, and it should not appear only intermittently and without explanation.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 22, 2014
I purchased three of these First Alert carbon monoxide alarms here on Amazon.com (two in 2008 and one in 2010) for placement in different locations around my house.

One of these CO alarms - most likely a 2008 purchase - has just recently given up the ghost and gone into permanent error mode on the display which means that it's time to purchase a new replacement unit since the alarm's rated useful service life of about 7 years has expired, apparently just a bit on the early side (by about 1 year).

Well I just ordered a replacement alarm from Amazon, but it wasn't this identical First Alert model. Instead, I decided to purchase the comparable CO alarm by Kidde (Kidde 900-0234 Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Alarm, Long Life AC Powered with Battery Backup and Digital Display - see my review) which I prefer for several reasons based upon my more than 6 years of experience with this particular First Alert CO alarm.

1) The aforementioned Kidde CO alarm is a truly dedicated plug-in unit with battery backup. The entire unit must be plugged directly into an AC outlet of your choosing where it can be rotated from the vertical to the horizontal (or anywhere in between) to provide a more convenient fit as needed.

Since all of the AC outlets that I use for these devices are easily accessible, I have never had any use for the small, snap-on AC adapter with an extra length of cord that the First Alert model provides for easier access to inconveniently located power outlets while keeping the more bulky main alarm housing at a more distant and convenient location.

This specific feature has been nothing short of a nuisance over time with the small, flimsy brackets that hold the AC adapter in place on the back of the unit eventually breaking off resulting in an alarm that no longer can be plugged flush into the wall outlet unless you resort to less-than-perfect repairs to reattach the AC adapter with tape, etc.

Unless you definitely need and/or want to mount your CO alarms at a distance from the power outlet, the Kidde CO alarm is the clearly more durable, all-in-one, easy-as-pie solution that you should purchase.

2) Since the batteries usually need to be changed no more than once each year, backup battery accessibility (2 AAs) is "too convenient" on the First Alert CO alarm. The batteries are located behind a relatively flimsy hinged plastic door/latch directly beneath the main LCD display on the front of the unit. This door opens relatively easily, but closing it can frequently be a problem as one or the other of the hinges seems to catch on something and provide significant resistance when attempting to do so. I have on more than one occasion thought that the door might break, but it never did.

The Kidde alarm provides battery backup via a 9V battery that is kept nicely out-of sight and out-of-mind in its battery compartment that can easily be accessed by removing a single screw with a Philips screwdriver. No worries about any potentially broken plastic doors, hinges or other parts here!

3) The display on the Kidde CO alarm is a very nice, bright, always easily legible (even at night and at a distance) red LED which in my opinion is far superior to the LCD display that First Alert uses on its model. Unless you activate the much needed back lighting by pressing the appropriate button, the LCD display is very difficult to read.

4) The error code malfunction on the display (and associated beeping/chirping) indicating the useful service life of the alarm has expired and it needs to be replaced is not set to occur until 10 years after first powering the unit on with the Kidde alarm. The First Alert alarm is set to do this after only 7 years have elapsed and in my case (see above) this apparently occurred after only 6 years.

5) The manufacturing date of the CO alarm can be easily and clearly read on a sticker located on the back of the Kidde unit while trying to find the specific manufacturing date of the First Alert alarm (I am referring to my units from 2008 and 2010.) is like playing a game of hide and seek. I still have not been able to determine the manufacturing dates of my First Alert alarms.

Note that unless there are small children or other individuals at home who are likely to tamper with the CO alarm by unplugging it, etc. there is really no need to activate the optional anti-tampering functionality (alarm arrives with this feature turned off) on the Kidde CO alarm. Who needs or wants a loud warning alarm to go off every time that there is a power outage of any sort - definitely not me!

Nevertheless, as far as the actual functioning of the CO alarm itself is concerned (accuracy and sensitivity, testing capability, last recorded peak CO value, etc.) both manufacturers do indeed provide the consumer with essentially comparable devices. From a purely technical perspective, you really can't make a wrong decision in choosing either one of these home carbon monoxide alarms.
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on January 17, 2009
I bought this to replace my older detector. We lost power for 4 days and that's when I realized that without battery backup my carbon monoxide detector was useless. I needed it because we were using a kerosene heater for some heat and we got a bit ill from it. So next time we lose power and have to use emergency heaters at least we will know if the carbon monoxide levels become unsafe.
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on February 3, 2014
so, i know the unit works. i had a gas company guy come in a show me his meter and check it against mine. i had the alarm going off at my office and i called in the fire and gas company.

so confirmed my meter was reading 10ppm lower, 31 on mine and 41 on the professional meter.

annoying part. when the alarm goes off, you can turn it off or reset. it is hard to tell what the sampling time is, but it beeps for ever to me.

i wish the unit has a check the level now button. but the peak like others have said resets every 24 hours. again that sucks too. but... granted this is a simple machine. beep on alert. it did work for me. i will post a picture of both the unit against the gas company meter.
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on February 9, 2009
I've owned this product for 3 years. Simply plug it into the wall, the unit comes with a battery for battery back up. It is very small and unobtrusive compared to my previous kidde unit and doesnt take up both outlets - nice design.

There have been several reports of people getting sick or dieing from carbon monoxide poisoning - this is a small price to pay for a life safety device.

It has a digital readout. This is a nice feature - if you had a problem and called the fire department they would be able to read the display to determine what level of Carbon Monoxide poisioning there way.
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