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It is a well-known fact that drunk driving is one of the hazards of public safety on the highway. To prevent accidents, breathalysers are used by law enforcement officials as a non-invasive way to estimate if an intoxicated driver is fit to drive or not.

A breathalyser determines the blood alcohol content (BAC) of an individual by collecting his/her breath sample. It uses a chemical reaction where it changes colour when it interacts with alcohol. The latest technological innovations are useful in producing breathalysers that have an accurate reading. They are now being used in personal and industrial applications.

Personal and Industrial Breathalysers

In purchasing a breathalyser, you need to know which application you are going to use it for.

Breathalysers are used in industries such as mining, factories, trucking, public transport, mining, aviation, and the military. It is also used in hospitals, clinics, treatment facilities, schools, bars, and in law enforcement.

More and more people are being made aware of the dangers brought by driving under the influence of alcohol. This is why personal breathalysers are becoming increasingly popular.

Affordable, Reliable, Convenient

With a personal breath alcohol tester on hand, you can check your level of alcohol consumption anytime anywhere. Here are some things to consider when buying a personal breathalyser:

  • Must be Australian Standard AS 3547 certified
  • Price – Value for your money
  • Portability – You must be able to carry it anywhere so that you can check your estimated alcohol content on the spot
  • Accurate reading – Accuracy and consistency in the test results
  • Reliable – Can provide accurate readings consecutively
  • Testing range – Must provide consistent estimates in different ranges
  • Longer life span – Durability is also a factor of accuracy
  • Calibration – All breathalysers has to be calibrated to maintain accurate readings

Types of Breathalyzer Sensors

There are two types of sensors used in breathalysers for personal use – semiconductor and fuel cell technologies. The pros and cons will be discussed below.

Semiconductor Sensor – This oxide sensor is used to measure the reaction between the tin dioxide (sn02) bead in the sensor and the alcohol in the person’s breath. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is measured when the alcohol causes the change in the electrical resistance of the sensor.

Its advantages include:

  • More affordable because of lower manufacturing costs
  • Highly portable because less power is needed for the sensor to activate
  • Consumer-based

Its disadvantages include:

  • Can react to other chemicals like hairspray, cigarette smoke, and vaporised gas
  • Provides false positive results when testing a person with diabetes because of breath acetone
  • Has a short lifespan

Fuel Cell Sensor – offer extremely high accuracy and consistency on their results. The sensor applies an electrochemical process that oxidises alcohol and produces an electrical current to measure the alcohol content of the breath sample.

Its advantages are:

  • Provides high accuracy of readings and specifies alcohol only results
  • Can provide multiple tests with same result
  • Although it is used by professionals, prices of fuel cell devices have gone down making this technology readily available to consumers
  • Longer lifespan
  • Used by law enforcement

Its disadvantages are:

  • More expensive technology

Regardless of the pros and cons, anyone can take advantage of these two technologies. A reliable breathalyser will provide accurate information as long as it is a product that passed Australian Standards and it can be calibrated to maximise its use and save you money.

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