Laser Based Gas Leak Sensors - Reliability and Total Cost of Ownership

Image Credits: Padraic Durham (Gauge Refrigeration)

Laser based gas sensors have a higher up-front cost when compared to their electrochemical counterparts, but it is important to consider this investment in the contexts of reliability and total cost of ownership (TCO).

Ammonia Detectors

Ammonia is a toxic gas that can cause (for example) food contamination, loss of stock and, of course, fatalities and serious injuries. As health and safety laws become increasingly stringent, it is no longer enough to rely on the human nose to detect ammonia levels – a more robust, reliable system is required.

Traditional, chemical-based ammonia detectors would cost around $1,000 initially and require regular calibration costing between $150 and $200 every 6 months. Because the sensor element depletes as it reacts to gas (even at ambient, background levels) then these must be recalibrated regularly to ensure that readings are reliable.

Eventually, the sensor head will be completely depleted and have to be replaced, costing a further $310 to $400 every 18 months. Additional staff costs can make this process even more expensive, and average at around $200 to $250 every 6 months. Finally, the unit may need to be completely replaced in around 7 years.

When combining these factors and costs, it is possible to see that the total cost of ownership for a chemical-based ammonia detector is somewhere in the region of $8,000 to $10,000 every 8 to 10 years.

Additionally, the above TCO calculation does not include hard to quantify potential costs such as unreliable detection, missed detection or false alarms that trigger production time losses. These incidents can have a related cost of anywhere between $10,000 and over $100,000 per incident.

Laser-Based OPLD Open Path Indoor Sensor

In contrast, Photonic Innovations’ laser-based OPLD open path indoor sensor generally retails for around $7,700. This does not require periodic recalibration or sensor replacement, so maintenance costs are minimal. Additionally, the unit does not use consumables.

Each OPLD can substitute between 2 and 4 point sensors in a large plant room, so the total cost of ownership of the OPLD remains $7,700 compared to up to $32,000 for, for example, 4 point sensors. Similar value for money can be observed within the Photonic Innovations FLD point sensor which retails for around $4,700.

Laser-based detection products are not susceptible to fatigue, depletion or poisoning so do not have to be replaced periodically. Additionally, because the technology is very specific to a particular gas it does not give false alarms due to cross-reaction with similar gases. Photonic Innovations FLD and OPLD units can be connected to the Stratus monitoring dashboard offering remote monitoring, notifications and analytics alongside a range of other features.

Overall, despite their higher additional costs, laser-based detection products have a much cheaper total cost of ownership and are a lot more reliable than their chemical-based counterparts.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Photonic Innovations.

For more information on this source, please visit Photonic Innovations.

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