Definitive Guide to Buying a Gas Detector

So you've decided it's time to buy a gas detector? You poor sap, you're in for a great time! I absolutely promise that the sales person won't misrepresent their competitors, fail to inform you as to maintenance costs, or sell you a bunch of additional accessories you don't need.

Salespeople never do that.

This state of affairs has annoyed me for years, so I'm finally writing a guide to help you through your gas detector purchase. Follow these rules and you'll do fine. I'll try and keep brand call outs to a minimum here, and all of these rules should apply to all of the manufacturers.

Rule 1 - Call their Contact Us phone numbers

The first thing you need to understand is that gas detectors require regular maintenance. That means ordering parts, walking through strange things going wrong on the monitor, and walking you through procedures someone at your company may be doing for the first time. It is absolutely imperative that you get along with their support staff. As I'm writing this, I've been on hold with one company for 12 minutes while they try and find the part number for a pump filter. I've been doing this for 10 years and I still run into this type of garbage, knowing exactly the right questions to ask. How do you think you'll fair calling up out of the blue? Don't guess at this. Call the manufacturers you're debating buying from and ask them for some PNs for pump particulate and hydrophobic filters and ask what you can expect to pay list price.

Rule 2 - Look into replacement sensor and filter pricing and whether or not you can do the replacements

Look we love it when you send your monitors in to be repaired. We do a great job and working on your equipment keeps my people employed. That said, you may not have the budget for repair services included in your head when you get started. It's always a good idea to know what the price of that Oxygen sensor is when it needs replacement, and the price is going to vary widely between manufacturers. Ease of installation is another concern. We're happy to ship you an Oxygen sensor you can install yourself if you know what you're doing, but some monitors are more complicated than others.

Rule 3 - Buy from a place you'll have service done

Sending monitors into the manufacturer is often 2-3x as expensive as sending it to a repair shop. They're in the business of selling and manufacturing new equipment, not servicing the old stuff. There are some exceptions, but you're just generally better off going with a company that services detectors in house and who may have rental units available to cover you while your equipment is down. I know this whole spiel sounds self serving, but it's the truth. If you're not going to buy from a company that handles service in house, at least get a service company in mind now so you aren't trying to figure it out when you're in a jam.

Rule 4 - Check the user interface

Some monitors have a more complicated user interface, some have it set up to be more simple. I recommend a simple interface that you can only change through a dock if you have a big fleet of monitors and a crew of people who might screw up the settings. If you're more of a one person army or a small crew, you may want more functionality that you can adjust in the field. You're not going to figure out what works until you actually try a few out. Some, for instance, are a real pain to work with.

Conclusion

Follow the simple rules above, and you're well on your way to not hating life once your new equipment arrives! You'll be a happier customer, and your supplier will look like a genius. Don't be the customer that buys the cheapest thing and then gets stuck with equipment that doesn't do what you want or support that drives you crazy. Put in some work on the front end, call those people in customer service, and I promise you'll dodge 90% of purchasing issues in the industry.

Otherwise, you could be like me, still on hold trying to get a simple part number for some filters. 30 minutes and counting!