Personal Breathalysers are becoming more and 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 breathalyzers?
What sort of breathalyser 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 breathalyser for a workplace? A workplace may buy breathalysers that are stronger, more expensive, and more reliable. Personal users may buy breathalysers that are 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 Breathalyser
Budget will probably be the next deciding factor when buying breathalysers. 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.
New Zealand Standards
The most important thing to look for when you buy a breathalyser 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 breathalysers from the novelty ones. Buying a breathalyser 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 make sure 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 breathalyser 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 breathalysers that are really cheap either. These are generally novelties as well and are best avoided as they will not be accurate.
Buy breathalysers that have an attached mouthpiece to blow into instead of a “passive” breathalyser that simply analyses your breath as you speak over it. The mouthpiece helps eliminate smoke, dust, and other impurities that may affect the accuracy of the reading. Mouthpieces can be removeable or permanently attached depending on the model. Replaceable mouthpieces are great for hygienic sharing of your device at a workplace or party.
Semi-conductor or Fuel Cell Breathalyser?
The next decision to make when you buy breathlaysers 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 breathalyser, 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 diabetics. Their readings can be affected by the extra acetone found in their breath. Fuel cell breathalysers do 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 breathalysers and those used in medical environments are Fuel Cell technology. If you are relying on an accurate reading every time over a long time, then always buy a breathalyser 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 breathalyser. Most people want a small device that they can take with them 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 Breathalyser
Always buy a breathalyser 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 able to 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 their 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 breathalyser is a great way to save lives. Remember though, even if the breathalyser shows that you are under the limit, if you feel even slightly impaired by alcohol do not drive. Alcohol can affect you differently on different days, so if you are feeling like you shouldn’t drive, you really shouldn’t drive.