First of all, a gas detector is made up of electronics and a detection sensor. Although the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of the electronics is longer than 200 years, as is the case for our OLCT50 detector, for example, the sensor won't last as long.
The lifespan of a sensor depends on several factors: the technology used, environmental conditions and gas exposure. For explosive gas detection, an infrared sensor lasts 2 to 3 times longer than a catalytic cell. I'll come back to these two technologies later, but in principle an infrared sensor is not subject to continuous or heavy exposure to the gas to detect, while a catalytic detector will wear out faster if it is regularly exposed. This also applies to electrochemical sensors used for detecting toxic gases. The more an electrochemical sensor is exposed to gas, the shorter its life. The other important factor to consider in the case of electrochemical sensors is ambient temperature. If used outside of normal operating conditions, a cell will not last as long or may even be irreparably damaged.
Other factors, such as humidity, could also influence lifespan, but I just discussed the most important ones above. I know that many of you would like to be able to count on precise and firm data, but a gas detection cell is like a tire on a car: it will wear based on the way you drive, your annual mileage and outside temperatures. For example, no manufacturer can guarantee a 4 year life.
However, we CAN give you an estimate of the lifespan of a detection cell! Oldham has more than 100 years of experience in safety and gas detection, and we manufacture the majority of our detection cells. In our sales brochures, downloadable from our website, you will find the weather characteristics of each one of our detection cells. You'll find among other characteristics: average lifespan, temperature range, response times, storage conditions and shelf life.
Remember, if you have a question you’d like to ask or a gas-detection story to share, please visit us at contact Oldham.
Global Director of Product Development