Choosing The Right Personal Breathalyzer

by johnh

Choosing a personal breathalyzer can be a daunting task. For portability, the new BACtrack keychain breathalyzer is tough to beat.

Choosing Your Personal Breathalyzer

One of the more popular safety gadgets in recent years is the personal breathalyzer. Since technology has made it possible for almost everyone to carry a device that is affordable as well as portable. Like anything, there are choices to be made though, so if you are in the market for one of these hi tech gizmos it pays to do a little homework.

The biggest decision you really have to make prior ot making a purchase is to develop a clear understanding of what you want your breathalyzer to accomplish. Sure, the easy answer is that you want it to measure your blood alcohol content, or BAC. Maybe the question really needs to be WHY you want to measure BAC. You see, there are breathalyzers on the market that will measure BAC and are reliable for you to use if you simply want to detect the presence of alcohol, and there are also much more advanced devices that are more suited for use when you want to know a precise measurement of BAC. 

Let me give you a couple of examples of typical uses of personal breathalyzers, and perhaps that will help to guide you. Let's say you have a family member or other loved one who has a history of issues with alcohol, and they are not supposed to take in any amount of alcohol. In this case you really don't need a precise measurement of BAC, you just want to be able to test to see if alcohol is present. That allows you to purchase one of the more entry level type breathalyzers, and that will save you some money. The BACtrack Keychain Breathalyzer is a good example of a portable, reliable unit that while not as accurate as something you would see used by law enforcement, it will serve the purpose of telling you if alcohol is present as well as giving you an idea of just how much is in the system. Expect to pay around $30 for a model like this.

On the other hand, if you want to have a breathalyzer that is on a par with those used by law enforcement or clinics, you will have to pay substantially more. The type of breathalyzers used by these professionals are powered by fuel cell sensors as opposed to the semi conducter sensors that power the less precise models. You can get a good fuel cell breathalyzer like the BACtrack Element for around $130. there are also fuel cell breathalyzers that cost several hundred dollars, but for personal use there is usually not a good reason to spend that kind of money. 

One important thing to remember if you are purchasing a breathalyzer is the fact that in most cases your unit will require periodic recalibration. Over time the sensors slowly become less accurate, and it is generally recommended to send your breathalyzer back to the manufacturer once per year for calibration. This will cost around $30 and cause you to not have your unit for about a week. There are now some models coming to market that do not need recalibration. Instead, you simply replace the sensor yourself much like you would change a battery. Replacement sensors cost about as much as recalibreation, but the benefit is you never have to be without your unit.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider before making your purchase, but if you can answer the question as to what it is you want to accomplish with your personal breathalyzer, you will quickly find yourself pointed in the right direction. There are some good places online, like The Breathalyzer Store, where you can get a lot of good information about many different models in order to help you make the best decision. 

BACtrack keychain breathalyzer
Updated: 10/06/2012, johnh
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