What to Look for When You Buy Breathalyzer
25 September, 2022
Personal Breathalyzer is becoming more common with the greater push by Law Enforcement to lower the number of deaths and injuries on our roads due to alcohol. People are also becoming more aware and responsible for their drinking habits. So how do you know what to look for when looking to buy a breathalyzer?
What sort of breathalyzer do you need to buy?
Firstly, what is your breathalyser going to be used for? Is it purely for personal use while out and about? Or are you buying a breathalyzer for a workplace? A workplace may buy a breathalyzer that is stronger, more expensive, and more reliable. Personal users may buy breathalyzer that is smaller and more portable. Think about whether it needs to be compact and lightweight for carrying with you all the time. Maybe it can be a sturdier, larger model that can live in a desk drawer until needed.
Budget to Buy a Breathalyzer
Budget will probably be the next deciding factor when buying a breathalyzer. The best bet is to buy the best one you can afford. Generally speaking, the more expensive models are more reliable, last longer, and are more accurate. This is mainly due to the technology and design built into them. Cheaper is usually not better, and in some cases, they are no more than toys.
The most important thing to look for when you buy a breathalyzer in Australia is to make sure that it conforms to Australian Standards AS 3547-1997. This Standard means that your breathalyser has been extensively tested and will work as expected for its lifespan. This Standard also separates the serious breathalyser from the novelty ones. Buying a breathalyzer that conforms to the Standard is especially important for a workplace environment where the result may be needed for legal reasons.
Different countries will have their own versions of this standard, so make sure you check what is available in your country.
It is also important to ensure that the device can be recalibrated (except for disposable versions). The recalibration should always be done by a trained professional, not with a take-home recalibration pack. This is essential for maintaining your device’s accuracy and lifespan. This should be an easy and affordable process for the purchaser as well.
Look for a breathalyzer that has an accuracy rating of +/- 0.01%. If a company offers 100% accuracy, don’t buy it as that is impossible, the item is also likely to be a novelty item. Do not buy breathalyzer that is really cheap either. These are generally novelties as well and are best avoided as they will not be accurate.
Buy breathalyzer with an attached mouthpiece to blow into instead of a “passive” breathalyzer that analyses your breath as you speak over it. The mouthpiece helps eliminate smoke, dust, and other impurities that may affect the reading accuracy. Mouthpieces can be removable or permanently attached depending on the model. Replaceable mouthpieces are great for hygienic sharing of your device at a workplace or party.
Buy a Semi-conductor or Fuel Cell Breathalyzer?
The next decision to make when you buy breathalyzer will be between a semi-conductor model or a fuel cell model. Semi-conductors use a reaction between the ethyl alcohol breathed into the acetic acid and water within the device to determine a reading. The reaction creates an electrical current which is small or large depending on the amount of alcohol the person has consumed.
Semi-conductor models are often cheaper but are not as reliable or as accurate as a fuel cell model. If you buy a semi-conductor breathalyzer, make sure it is a Silicon oxide-based model as they are more accurate. Semi-conductor models generally have a shorter lifespan and lose accuracy over time. Semi-conductor models can also give false-positive readings for people with diabetes. Their readings can be affected by the extra acetone found in their breath. Fuel cell breathalyser does not have this issue.
Fuel Cell models produce an electrical charge when exposed to alcohol that can be more accurately measured than the semi-conductor reaction. All Police grade breathalyser and those used in medical environments are Fuel Cell technology. If you rely on an accurate reading every time over a long time, always buy a breathalyzer with Fuel cell technology. This is especially important for workplaces, hospitals and the like who may need a legally admissible result.
In the end, the decision comes down to what you need out of your breathalyzer. Most people want a small device to take when out to monitor their approximate Blood Alcohol content. All devices available will do this in varying degrees (except for novelty devices that are little more than toys).
Where to Buy a Breathalyzer?
Always buy a breathalyzer from a reputable company with readily available product information and product testing results. These should all be easy to find on a website, and all testing should be backed up with proof of the results. Make sure your breathalyser has a warranty in case something goes wrong. Check reviews of the company and of the specific product that you wish to buy. Ask about after-sales service as well. Additionally, check whether the company recalibrates its breathalysers with trained personnel and that this process is quick and easy for you as the consumer.
Drink driving is a major issue on our roads, so buying a quality breathalyzer is a great way to save lives. Remember, even if the breathalyser shows that you are under the limit, do not drive if you feel slightly impaired by alcohol. Alcohol can affect you differently on different days, so if you feel like you shouldn’t drive, you really shouldn’t drive.