When we talk about home improvement and security, most people bring up motion detectors or cameras. Unfortunately, other dangers undetectable by these devices may be present. Naturally occurring gasses can pose a dangerous threat to a family’s health. Radon detectors exist for this very reason.
Air quality is not something we talk about much when we discuss our home. As long as nothing smells outright wrong, we assume that we must be okay. What we don’t know is that harsher gasses may be mixing around the air.
What is radon?
Radon, an inert radioactive gas, is a harmful substance capable of causing lung cancer in individuals. So much so that the Environmental Protection Agency, or the EPA, has reported that radon gas is the second most common cause of the disease in the United States.
The natural occurrence of radon also means that we can’t really predict where and when it will show up. Cracks in the flooring can lead to leaks, trapping radon inside homes or buildings. What makes matters worse is that the odor of radon is not easily noticeable.
For this reason, the EPA has advised homeowners to test their own homes for radon via a radon test kits or specifically, a radon detector. With these tools, individuals can detect the radon level and perform radon mitigation to decrease any risk at home.
What is a radon detector?
Due to the nature of radon gas, it is difficult to accurately measure radon levels without some form of radon gas detector or test kit. Generally, there are two types of radon tests — passive and active tests.
Passive tests use test kits to gather samples, which are then tested by lab professionals. This means that users can use the kit to sample for 2-90 days for the short term, and 90 days or more for the long term. The collected data from the kit is then sent to a lab who finishes the rest of the test before you can get your test results.
Shipping fees for the samples will either be covered by the cost of the product or the homeowner. Unfortunately, lab fees for some states make this this radon test kit unreasonable as lab fees are not at a flat rate.
Active tests, on the other hand, are radon test kits that can give accurate and immediate readings. They are usually pricier than their passive counterparts but for good reason. This test is what is most common and advisable for homeowners who want to monitor radon levels and can invest a little more into their property.
With active tests, the homeowner will not need to consider shipping, delivery, or lab fees. However, a power source must be considered when using these tests. This will become a factor when choosing devices as some run on battery power and others rely on outlets.
In either case, these are devices designed to give results as soon as they’re available to give homeowners more time to deal with any potential problems. Fortunately, developments in technology have allowed the radon gas detector to be purchased at a more affordable price.
Factors to consider when choosing a radon detector
The power source of your radon detector is a factor in terms of placement. What makes this factor easy to consider is that you only have two options to choose from.
Battery operated devices are usually easier to place. Since power outlets are unnecessary, the device can be placed in most locations. This means having the ability to constantly move one device to different rooms for separate checks.
Unfortunately, the drawback of battery operated devices is that the device will have to be charged or have its batteries replaced. While this may not be so often, it also means you can’t just leave the radon detector and forget about it.
Power outlet devices are more common because of that. Since the device is connected directly to the home’s power, the only thing people have to worry about is the readings of radon in your home. This also means that you are limited by the number of plugs you may have at home.
The accuracy of the device is probably the most important factor to consider. After all, the point of having a radon detector is to detect the radon level at home. What would be the point if the device you paid good money for doesn’t do the thing it’s made for?
The best way to tackle the issue would be to check for reviews just like this one. Even better is finding reviews from people who have these installed permanently at home or work. First-hand knowledge is the best way to learn more about the benefits and the quirks of the radon detector.
For those who have a technological background, it might help if you can find the technical specifications of the device. This can help you figure out how the company designed the product to provide consistently accurate readings.
Aside from measuring radon levels at home, most manufacturers include features in their products to make them unique. These will range from cosmetic to functional features that improve the user’s experience.
Of course, this also means that the feature that you’re looking at might not be the best for you. To help yourself out, figure out what you need for your home in the long term.
Do you have a large basement? Do you live in an area that experiences a lot of power outages? Or do you want to avoid having to check on the device itself and just glance at your phone for the details?
These are some of the questions you should be able to answer before settling on a radon detector, aside from the price of course.
Best radon detectors
1. Radon Eye RD200
The Radon Eye RD200 starts off our list as one of the best electronic radon gas detectors. The company boasts that they have developed a device that is 20x more sensitive compared to competitors, making radon mitigation an easier task to accomplish. Radon credits this feat to the device’s dual pulse ionization that boosts its accuracy.
As for connectivity, this device allows users to connect it to their smartphone or their PC, which makes data analysis much easier for those who understand the graphs. It even lets you export the data directly onto Microsoft Excel!
For us though, the best part would have to be how instantaneous results can be. How quickly can this thing test? Well, some users have reported results within 24 hours and even the first hour after installing the detector. That surely beats waiting a week for a lab result.
2. Airthings Wave Smart Radon Detector
As with most things these days, a smart version is available. That goes for radon detectors as well. The Airthings Wave is a unique tool in that it compresses the necessary technology in a small form.
Unfortunately, this also means not having an interface to look at on the device itself. The great thing, however, is that the digital radon detector sends all that data to the companion app. This way, at least, the detector can bring you in-depth results right to your smartphone.
Additionally, this device provides a continuous measurement of air quality. What this means for you is a steady stream of information about radon content, air temperature, and even humidity all from one product.
3. Safety Siren Pro Series 3
While the Safety Siren Pro might not be that affordable, it still deserves a place on this list. That’s because it’s been evaluated by the EPA, the accepted professionals when it comes to these things. Passing that test means this radon detection kit means serious business.
The Safety Siren also provides a continuous read, just like the Airthings Wave. That steady stream of information is featured on the built-in display that, we have to say, is very easy to read. All that with the benefits of both long and short term readings.
In terms of radon testing, the Safety Siren samples the air in your home every hour. To make sure its readings are accurate, the device also self-tests every day. To monitor radon levels, this device is also dependent on a wall outlet, meaning no risk of it dying save for a power loss, improving your peace of mind.
4. Radex MR107
In terms of radon detectors, the MR107 is the most serious looking one of them all. Like the rest, it’s an active radon detector built for consumers. That being said, this one is also rated for workplace environments.
The Radex MR107 also advertises itself as a user-friendly device. To prove that, the device comes with software that enables easy data transfer and analysis on any home computer. The device does come with a screen, albeit a pretty small one.
In terms of the products’ features, the Radex can also be programmed to sound an alarm if high levels of radon are detected. That means radon gas exposure should be a thing of the past with one of these things around.
5. Airthings Corentium Home
The Corentium Home by Airthings is probably the most aesthetic of the products. On the surface, it looks like a thermostat remote but in function, serves as an important tool. The size also means that this thing is more portable than its competitors.
In terms of speed of results, the Corentium Home Radon Detector takes a little longer than, say, the Radon Eye. Still, 24 hours is not that long a time compared to having to mail the actual sample and waiting for the lab tests.
While reading radon levels in your home isn’t as fast, that doesn’t mean that the Corentium Home by Airthings is a bad device. Among the rest, it’s probably the one with the most comprehensive digital display. After all, it doesn’t need any external device to read the levels of radon at home.
Where to place a radon detector
Of course, you can’t simply just purchase a radon monitor and leave it in your kitchen. The point of the detector is to place it in areas where either: a) your family spends a lot of time in, or; b) in locations where the risk of having dangerous radon levels is high.
Since radon gas comes up from the ground, there are a couple of key places in your home for radon monitors. In a typical home, the best places to have radon detectors are basements and living rooms. Basements, in particular, have the highest risk of radon gas level increases.
For obvious reasons, the living room and other similar rooms should be monitored for radon levels. With radon exposure dangerous to both kids and adults, you’ll want to make sure that the busiest room is safe.
What to do if radon is detected
Radon levels in your home should be constantly monitored for risks. In case the radon levels reach a dangerous number, the best option would be to contact EPA certified professionals to deal with the issue. After all, the risk of lung cancer should be kept in mind.
In the meantime, radon leaks can be mitigated by using a sealing product to seal any cracks or spaces where radon may have leaked. Check out the results of the radon detectors analysis to gain a better understanding of where exactly the leak is.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to comment below
Virginia Hoff is a former police officer with over 20 years experience, and currently acts as the Senior Security Writer for Be-Safe.org.
Her expertise include Home Security and Family Protection.