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Personal Gas Monitoring vs. Process Gas Monitoring – What’s the Difference?

Gas Detection Equipment  |   September 27, 2022  |   Dante Moore

Across nearly all industries, many people use gas monitors at work to detect toxic and combustible gases. These monitors typically fall into two categories: personal monitors and process monitors.


Personal gas monitors are typically worn on the body to detect toxic and combustible gases and protect workers, while process monitors are often handheld and used with a pump and tubing to read the concentrations of toxic or combustible gases during a very specific task.


Most of the time, a personal gas monitor will use a different sensor configuration than a process monitor because they are used in different applications. For example, personal monitors are often used with a standard 4-gas configuration (O2, LEL, H2S, and CO), while a process instrument is typically configured for exotic gases, which may include VOCs, CL2, CLO2, HCL, NH3, PH3, etc.


Beyond the Basics: Sensor Technology in Personal Monitors vs. Process Monitors

A major difference between personal gas monitors and process gas monitors is the sensor technology they use and how those sensors work to detect gases.


A standard personal monitor typically uses a catalytic bead sensor to detect combustible gases and electrochemical sensors to detect toxic vapors. These sensors are very stable and reliable if maintained properly. Personal monitors are designed to be simple and require minimal knowledge of gas detection to reduce the room for human error. 


On the other hand, process instruments may utilize an optical sensor to measure infrared absorption at specific wavelengths for combustible gases and an ultraviolet sensor to measure the toxic vapors in the parts per million (PPM) range. These sensors are stable and reliable as well but require a certain level of knowledge to understand how they work and the readings they deliver. For example, users of process instruments need to understand that an infrared sensor may not alarm when in the presence of a combustible gas simply because the sensor is not capable of detecting that specific gas (hydrogen or acetylene).




A Hybrid Approach: Process Monitoring Power Meets Personal Monitoring Simplicity

Just like all other electronic devices that we use in our lives, handheld gas monitors have become smaller, lighter, and easier to work with. Because of the latest advancements in technology, process and personal gas monitors can now be streamlined into one device.


By combining a photoionization detector (PID) and an ultra-low power infrared (IR) sensor for combustible and toxic gas detection, some personal monitors, like our Ventis Pro5 Multi-Gas Monitor, can offer the VOC-detecting benefits of a process monitor with the ease of use of a personal monitor. With this enhancement, the Ventis Pro5 can be configured for process-related tasks that require detecting VOCs, CL2, SO2, HCN, NO2, PH3, and NH3. At the same time, this instrument can still be configured to meet the requirements in all industries for a personal gas monitor, including confined space applications and more.


Process instruments and personal monitors are typically two different instruments that users need to learn how to operate, maintain, and interpret—which can make them a burden. Using a personal monitor that is properly configured for process monitoring with a PID sensor and an ultra-low power IR sensor significantly reduces the strain of process monitoring and detecting VOCs by reducing the need for bulky supplementary devices, training on those devices, and maintenance processes for your fleet.


Whether you choose to use the Ventis Pro5 as a personal monitor or for process-related monitoring, users can also rely on the full on-board suite of wireless connectivity options (wi-fi, cell, satellite, LENS Wireless) to relay real-time data (like exposure details, location, man-down and panic alarms) to provide additional visibility into worker safety while creating a safer site for everyone. 


Learn more about using a personal monitor to detect VOCs to simplify gas detection, reduce your fleet size, and ease maintenance pains.