Fuel Cell Facts
Alco-Sensors are some of the most durable breath testing instruments on the market. It’s not unusual for our customers to keep them in service for ten to fifteen years. But the reality is that over that period of time the fuel cell sensor (the part of the Alco-Sensor that detects and measures alcohol) will wear out.
How do you know that the fuel cell is nearing the end of its useful life? There are a couple of things you can look for to assess the viability of the fuel cell sensor in your Alco-Sensor.
How long it takes to generate a positive test result.
A new Alco-Sensor will display positive test results in a matter of seconds, generally between four to ten seconds, depending on the model Alco-Sensor and the concentration of alcohol. As the instruments age, the time to generate a positive result takes longer and longer. Our guidelines call for replacing a fuel cell when the time to display a positive test is more than 30 to 60 seconds, depending on the specific model of Alco-Sensor.
Ability to hold calibration.
It is not unusual for new Alco-Sensors to hold their calibration for a year or longer. As fuel cells near the end of their useful life they lose the capability to hold calibration with precision. An operator can verify that an instrument is holding its calibration by performing monthly Accuracy Checks. A new Alco-Sensor typically will deliver Accuracy Check results of +/- .003 every month. Over time – many months or several years – the calibration of an instrument will slowly drift.
Slow calibration drift is normal. A healthy fuel cell can be re-calibrated and the instrument will continue to hold the new calibration for a long period of time. However, an instrument with a sensor that is at the end of its useful life may not be capable of holding calibration for even one month.
Not sure if your Alco-Sensor needs a new fuel cell? AlcoPro’s Repair Department will be glad to examine your instrument and provide an estimate at no charge. AlcoPro’s Repair Department specializes in servicing all models of Alco-Sensors. Our factory-trained staff completes most repairs within two business days of receiving authorization.
We encourage customers to call our Repair Department at 800 227-9890 before sending an instrument for repair to ensure that a repair is necessary. For example, our staff can determine if the Alco-Sensor only needs a battery that can be replaced by the user, or if the instrument has a problem that requires repair service. Our Repair / Buy Back form has all the information you need to send your instrument for repair.