How to Select the Right Gas Detection Solution

Selecting the right gas detection solution is crucial for the safety and protection of your plant.

Plant processes can generate toxic or flammable gas as a by-product, which can be dangerous for both people and the process itself. You need the right gas detection system to ensure smooth operation.

Why do you need a gas detection system?

Depending on the industry, many gases can be produced as a by-product or part of the process.

Gases such as benzene can cause cancer, and flammable gases such as propane and methane need to be monitored, and you need a system that will let people in those areas evacuate in case of any danger. 

What are gas detectors?

Gas detectors can detect explosive, flammable, toxic gases and oxygen depletion.

This device is used widely in industry and can be found in locations such as on oil rigs to monitor manufacturing processes and emerging technologies such as photovoltaics.

How to select the right gas detection solution for your plant

Many gas detection products on the market might appear to be the same. Still, a closer inspection of specifications, functionality, and features reveals major differences in what products can do and their potential value.

Similarly, individual applications’ designs, needs, and processes are unique.

Know Your Site Risks

Before considering gas detection equipment, a risk assessment needs to be conducted.

Any company employing staff must conduct risk assessments to identify potential hazards, including potential gas, vapor, or Oxygen deficiency risks.

If gas hazards are identified, gas detection is applicable as a risk reduction method.

Identify the main objective.

Depending on the processes being undertaken and the gases being detected, remote or off-site alarm notification plus event data logging/reporting may also be required for Health and Safety management records.

Another factor impacting the need for enhanced reporting functions might be regulatory compliance or a condition of insurance.

Ask the Right Questions

Having identified the primary objective, the suitable equipment is selected by asking key questions. These fall into three broad categories:

  • The gases to be detected and where they may come from.
  • The location and environmental conditions where detection is to take place.
  • The ease of use for operators and routine servicing personnel.

Identify gases to be detected

The risk assessment should identify the gases to be detected; however, experienced gas detection equipment manufacturers and their approved distributors can often help in this process based on their experience in similar applications.

However, it is important to remember that the end user must identify all potential hazards.

It is also essential to identify the potential source of a gas release as this helps determine the number and location of detectors required for a fixed gas detection system.

Consider the Environmental Conditions

The performance, accuracy, and reliability of any gas detection equipment will be affected by the environmental conditions it is subjected to.

The location’s temperature, humidity, and pressure levels directly affect the type of equipment that should be selected.

Additional factors, such as potential variations resulting from a production process, diurnal/nocturnal fluctuations, and seasonal changes, may also affect the suitable device type.

Understand Product Functionality

The next area of consideration relates to additional product functionality. Aspects like wiring configuration are important, especially when retrofitting into an existing application.

If the apparatus is being integrated into a separate safety system, certain communication protocols, such as Foundation Fieldbus, HART®, Lonworks, or Modbus®, may also be required.

Consideration will also need to be given regarding the requirement for local displays on transmitter units, and the local configuration of the unit and gas displays may also be a useful addition.

Measure the Ease of Use for Operators and Routine Servicing Personnel

Routine maintenance is another important consideration. Some gases and vapors can be detected with different sensing technologies, e.g., Hydrocarbon gases with catalytic beads or Non-dispersive Infrared NDIR.

Catalytic beads do not provide fail-to-safety operation and, therefore, can require a high frequency of routine maintenance.

However, NDIR-based solutions tend to have a higher initial purchase price but may require less routine maintenance.

Also, you need to understand that the gas detection system must be calibrated. Most manufacturers recommend calibrating at least once per year. You need to know beforehand who will perform that task and at what frequency.

Identify an in-house resource to undertake such routine maintenance. Without such a resource, budgeting for third-party maintenance is an important factor in selecting the right equipment.

Make sure that you use certified products.

The main reasons for selecting the right gas detection solution are to preserve human life and protect plants.

You need to select products that can perform the job without a problem. To ensure they are up to the task, you must select products certified by well-known institutions.

Institutions such as ATEX, IECEX, CSA, UL, and INMETRO, among others, have one objective: to ensure that the products you use meet local and international standards.

Depending on your local regulations, make sure that you use only certified products, and if you are going to use them in an explosive atmosphere, make sure that they are explosion-proof.


That is, you must select the right gas detection solution, study your process, investigate what type of gases might be present in your plant, and select certified products that comply with national and international standards.

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