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Old 11-01-2018, 20:14   #1
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CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

My state (MD) is pursuing legislation to make CO detectors mandatory for all vessels. They are invoking ABYC A-24, the CO detector section.

Unlike most legislative safety disasters, I'm about 90% in agreement with this one. I have a CO detector on my boat, even though a diesel is essentially immune to this threat.

My problem is the ABYC A-24 standard. They require a UL-2034 standard, easy enough. But then, they add, with "the applicable sections pertaining for use on recreational boats." This is the kicker. That's not easy to see on a product label! From what I can tell, the ONLY product that clearly meets this is the Fireboy/Xinex units, pricey units only available at chandlers. Even the "Safe-T-Alert Series 63 Marine CO Detector" does not specifically indicate compliance in their literature (perhaps a case of slapping "marine" on a non-marine product?)

Does anyone have any experience finding CO detectors that are clearly compliant with ABYC A-24?

And what, exactly, does the marine addendum add? Over the last several years that I've had a residential Kidde CO/Fire combo unit on my boat, it has alarmed nicely for fire (err.."cooking"), responds nicely to the test button, chirps when the battery is low, and generally acts like it should!
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Old 11-01-2018, 20:37   #2
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

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. My problem is the ABYC A-24 standard. They require a UL-2034 standard, easy enough. But then, they add, with "the applicable sections pertaining for use on recreational boats." This is the kicker.
Doesn't the applicable sections portion mean that not all of the standard applies to the marine environment. Such as the multi-station portions would not apply.
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Old 11-01-2018, 21:06   #3
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

The law takes effect in Minnesota this spring and I'm dealing with the consequences.

My understanding is that the Fireboy-Xintex units are the only game in town. MN DNR has made it clear that ordinary household battery operated CO detectors aren't acceptable, mainly because they have a problem with "false" alerts in the marine environment where a certain amount of CO, that would be unacceptable in a residence, is expected.

I think this is legislation that is a tad too far ahead of the technology. With time the prices of these things are going to come down.

The legislation is intended to address the recently emerged problem of people running portable electric generators on deck, with CO collecting below deck from the exhaust. I do not have a portable electric generator, and so I do not see a CO detector as providing me with a useful safety benefit.

I have not decided how to deal with this yet from a compliance standpoint. We are also required to have three ugly stickers explaining the hazard of CO. 6 people die a year in MN from jumping off boats while drunk, we average 1 death a year from CO on boats, maybe we need stickers on the Schlitz instead.
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Old 12-01-2018, 04:50   #4
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

Paul brings up one of the problems with legislation like this. It makes good sense to put the burden of developing the specific language on non-profits like ABYC, rather than num-nuts legislators. And ABYC passes the buck to UL, a nationally regognized standards body. The problem is that while ABYC standards are very pricey, there are ways to get it for free (just sign up for a trial membership). But UL standards are nearly impossible to get, so we can't even know what the marine portions are!

I think Jammer may be have been right at one time. But like precautions against storing batteries on concrete (a myth left over from when batteries were made of creosoted wood!), I don't think that is the case anymore. Even household units use time-weighted-averaging to minimize false alarms.
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Old 12-01-2018, 05:19   #5
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

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Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
Even the "Safe-T-Alert Series 63 Marine CO Detector" does not specifically indicate compliance in their literature (perhaps a case of slapping "marine" on a non-marine product?)

We have the Safe-T-Alert systems, although ours are 65 series, Ship's DC powered.

During a conversation once with one of their techs, he did tell me their RV and marine systems are exactly the same except for the label... but he also kind of said it the other way around, that their systems met all marine requirements and that they then aimed them at the RV market too.

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Old 12-01-2018, 05:42   #6
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

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Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
I think Jammer may be have been right at one time. But like precautions against storing batteries on concrete (a myth left over from when batteries were made of creosoted wood!), I don't think that is the case anymore. Even household units use time-weighted-averaging to minimize false alarms.
It is true that household CO detectors use time-weighted averages. I believe the marine ones do as well. The difference is in the thresholds.

Residential detectors compliant with UL 985 do not alarm under 30 ppm. The thresholds are 70ppm, 150ppm, and 400ppm, with time ranges from 4 hours down to 4 minutes.

My understanding is that marine units will not alarm below 400 ppm. The purpose is to avoid false alarms in the marine environment. It is unclear to me whether this is a solution to a real problem that actually exists, or the outcome of a lobbying effort by the manufacturers of marine products.

Some searching shows that there are some other co detectors available that comply with the marine standards, but they are hard wire 12v units.
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Old 12-01-2018, 06:32   #7
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

UL 985 is smoke detectors, not CO detectors. 2034 covers all residential, RV, and marine CO detectors.

You mention levels with a fair degree of authority -- like you may even know of what you speak! Do you have any references for those levels? It would be interesting to see those numbers in a formal document. That information is a closely guarded secret!
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Old 12-01-2018, 06:43   #8
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

We use a CO detector on our boat (UL 2034) with a detection limit of 150 ppm and after several years we have never had a false alarm. In comparison, I've seen/heard several "boat" CO detectors going off when nothing is running and the owners tend to ignore them after a while.

From the literature for the UL 2034, these detectors are appropriate for use in recreational boats.
1 Scope

1.1 These requirements cover electrically operated single and multiple station carbon monoxide (CO) alarms intended for protection in ordinary indoor locations of dwelling units, including recreational vehicles, mobile homes, and recreational boats with enclosed accommodation spaces and cockpit areas.
1.2 Carbon monoxide alarms covered by these requirements are intended to respond to the presence of carbon monoxide from sources such as, but not limited to, exhaust from internal-combustion engines, abnormal operation of fuel-fired appliances, and fireplaces.

We did research before we purchased our First Alert CO detector (model CO1210) knowing the hazards of CO and felt this was an appropriate detector based on its application scope. The sensitivity of these detectors are more than a typical "boat" detector (150 vs. 400ppm (from above level of 400 ppm) and yet to date we have had no false alarms. As a scientist, in general it's probably better to have false positives in tests (in this case an alarm sounding) vs. not working when there really are hazardous levels of CO present. When the false positives become too frequent, then the detector becomes useless for most as it's typically ignored.

So even if they do pass legislation, I'll be happy to take them court if we get a citation for not having "the correct" CO detector on board.

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Old 12-01-2018, 07:56   #9
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

UNDERWRITERS LABORATORIES INC. UL2034
1 Scope 1.1 These requirements cover electrically operated single and multiple station carbon monoxide (CO) alarms intended for protection in ordinary indoor locations of dwelling units, including recreational vehicles, mobile homes, and recreational boats with enclosed accommodation spaces and cockpit areas...
From ➥ https://standardscatalog.ul.com/stan.../standard_2034

WHAT LEVELS OF CO CAUSE AN ALARM?
Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Standard UL2034 requires residential CO Alarms to sound when exposed to levels of CO and exposure times as described below. They are measured in parts per million (ppm) of CO over time (in minutes). UL2034 Required Alarm Points*:

- If the Alarm is exposed to 400 ppm of CO, IT MUST ALARM BETWEEN 4 and 15 MINUTES
- If the Alarm is exposed to 150 ppm of CO, IT MUST ALARM BETWEEN 10 and 50 MINUTES.
= If the Alarm is exposed to 70 ppm of CO, IT MUST ALARM BETWEEN 60 and 240 MINUTES.

From ➥ What Levels of CO Cause an Alarm

Similarly

Carbon monoxide levels that will set off your alarm
Carbon Monoxide Level Alarm Response Time
40 PPM 10 hours
50 PPM 8 hours
70 PPM 1 to 4 hours
150 PPM 10 to 50 minutes
400 PPM 4 to 15 minutes

From ➥ Carbon monoxide Levels that Sound the Alarm | Kidde
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Old 12-01-2018, 08:22   #10
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

Legislating standards is a concern. We have a First Alert CO400 with a UL2034 label. It false alarms when we equalize our FLA batteries. I have ordered a CO410 with a display and peak memory. From the CO400 manual:

UL2034 Required Alarm Points:
If the alarm is exposed to 400 ppm of CO, IT MUST ALARM
BETWEEN 4 and 15 MINUTES.
If the alarm is exposed to 150 ppm of CO, IT MUST ALARM
BETWEEN 10 and 50 MINUTES.
If the alarm is exposed to 70 ppm of CO, IT MUST ALARM
BETWEEN 60 and 240 MINUTES.

I've found a couple of references that CO detecters can false alarm with hydrogen gas. That is probably what is happening for us. We need more ventilation while equalizing.

https://hawkenvironmental.com/hydrog...noxide-alarms/

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Old 12-01-2018, 09:04   #11
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

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Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
You mention levels with a fair degree of authority -- like you may even know of what you speak! Do you have any references for those levels? It would be interesting to see those numbers in a formal document. That information is a closely guarded secret!
Others beat me to it. I had found the same times and levels on a couple of manufacturer's web sites.
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Old 12-01-2018, 09:10   #12
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

We have data for the thresholds for home units. Anyone have factual data on how the marine standard differs? I suspect that the marine standard is the same with regard to thresholds.

I also hear a pervasive thread through this discussion that others, like me, use and are quite happy with residential units.
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Old 12-01-2018, 10:33   #13
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
My understanding is that the Fireboy-Xintex units are the only game in town. MN DNR has made it clear that ordinary household battery operated CO detectors aren't acceptable, mainly because they have a problem with "false" alerts in the marine environment where a certain amount of CO, that would be unacceptable in a residence, is expected.
When I researched CO detectors years ago I discovered that the CO detection profile built into marine CO detectors is different than those for homes (what Jammer had indicated in his response). I obtained replacement detectors from MTI Industries (link below). These detectors do have to be replaced after 5.

I did take note that even with the marine CO detectors, minute traces of Freon (from charging the A/C unit) and some aerosols can set them off.

https://www.mtiindustries.com/produc...i=0&ci=2&si=13


Addendum: I hadn't read all the responses about the time-weighted averaging and thresholds and it jogged my memory. I'm thinking back a few years now but I think the difference may actually be in the sensors used in marine rated detectors. The sensors are different and less susceptible to some trace gasses more typically found on boats.
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Old 12-01-2018, 10:40   #14
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

Literature for MTI detectors is quite silent on if they meet the UL requirements for marine units. Their literature simply states "UL 2034" and the only place they mention "marine" is in the front panel. I would have troubles convincing a jury that they meet the law as currently proposed in Maryland.

I suspect it meets the requirement. But they are "exhibit 1" for my complaint. It's HARD to determine if a unit meets UL 2034 with the special marine sections!
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Old 12-01-2018, 11:57   #15
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Re: CO detectors -- UL2034 and "the applicable sections pertaining ..."

Bought a house hold battery powered CO detector from Costco. It didn't give any false alarms. Did warn me of an exhaust leak when an obstructed mixing elbow caused the muffler intake fitting to melt. Unit did not like salt water bath when we got pooped. Don't know if it's relevant but reefer lost it's refrigerant and it didn't go off. Replaced it with another Costco unit and mounted it away from the companionway and out of direct salt water exposure which should improve it's longevity.

ABYC ratings are fine but sometimes they just seem to be a bit over the top. If the criteria for their certification is limited false alarms feel safe with a household unit that may give a false alarm but so far hasn't.
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