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How Much Space Does an Area Monitor Cover?

Gas Detection Equipment  |   October 24, 2019  |   Kyle Krueger

In the last two years, it’s become easier than ever for companies to incorporate area monitoring in their gas detection programs. New products allow you to place durable, easy-to-use sensing devices with advanced technology throughout your facilities at a lower price point. This gives you better awareness of the environments at your site, while also unlocking the ability to drive safety improvements.

But as more companies turn to area monitoring, questions arise. What is the radius of my area monitor? How much area can these sensors cover? Will the area monitor cover 10 feet? 100 feet? 1,000 feet? My entire job site?

We’ll answer these questions and more.

How much space can my area monitor cover?

Let’s start with basic sensor function. Sensors can only detect gas if that gas passes directly over the sensor. This is true for both personal monitors and area monitors because they use the same sensor technology. Don’t be fooled — area monitors do not provide more coverage than personal gas monitors. Unlike fixed gas detection points, area monitors can be used in far more dynamic environments, so static assumptions on airflow and gas source don’t apply.

worker placing area gas monitors along the perimeter of his worksite

What if the instrument has a pump?

Despite what you may think, placing a pump on a monitor will not greatly increase the monitor’s overall coverage. Even though pumps sound powerful, they aren’t so mighty. Pumps draw an average of 500 cc/minute. A good way to think of this is to take a breath, then exhale. The pump brings in that volume of air over several minutes. With that low volume, the pump itself isn’t strong enough to pull in and sample significantly more air than a diffusion-style monitor in an open area.

However, pumps do allow you to remotely sample an area through tubing. For example, a pumped monitor allows you to place tubing in a confined space to remotely sample the air inside while the monitor and operator remain outside. But again, this only samples that the air where tubing is placed – not the whole space.

How do I decide the best placement for an area monitor?

Unlike fixed-point gas detection systems, area monitors are commonly moved to different locations or are used in emergency response situations. Accordingly, each time you deploy an area monitor, you need to consider these factors:

1. Source identity and placement location: Different gases can have different atmospheric characteristics that you need to consider. For example, some gases are lighter than air while other are heavier. Because of this, it’s crucial that you place an area monitor at the correct distance and height for the gas that needs to be measured. Additionally, if you are using LEL or PID sensors (which are not gas-specific) in your area monitors, you will need to know the source gas and factor its characteristics into the monitor’s reading.

2. Wind direction: Environmental factors like wind direction can influence the effectiveness of your area monitors – and they’re always changing. Just because you have an area monitor placed correctly one day, does not mean it will be in the correct place the next day. A common solution is placing area monitors in multiple locations, so you always have adequate coverage, even if environmental conditions change.

3. Notification: When placing your area monitors, think about the situation in which a gas alarm occurs. How will this system relay critical alarm information to the appropriate personnel? Are your devices connected to each other? Advances in technology now allow area monitors to connect to one another and to personal gas monitors, as well as prompt real-time alerts via text message and e-mail through live monitoring.

Before you deploy an area monitoring solution, conduct a site survey to assess these factors. If you still have questions about how to place your area monitors to properly detect gas hazards, we can help you determine the right solution. When implemented correctly, these solutions can dramatically improve site awareness, leading to better safety and operational decisions. 

Learn more about area monitoring with Industrial Scientific.