How to Choose a Breathalyzer

A breathalyzer is a device that very easily, reliably and accurately detects your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. It enables you to make life-saving and sensible decisions.

But with so many breathalyzers – both cheap and expensive models – now hitting Australian stores and eBay, you are often left wondering which breathalyzer to buy.

To help you make your decision, consider the factors below:

Are you buying a breathalyser for personal use, or for professional (or workplace) use?

If you’re only buying it for yourself or a friend or family member, browse our range of personal breathalyzers.

They are designed to be highly affordable, compact and lightweight, easy to use, and ideal for testing one person or some friends and family on a night out.

If you’re looking to buy one for your workplace to test employees, then take a look at our range of workplace breathalyzers and wall-mounted breathalyzers. Check out our article on the Best Workplace Breathalyzer for more specific information on choosing a breathalyzer for workplace alcohol testing.

These are more expensive but are designed to be more stable even with high volumes of testing, durable, and has advanced features including data logging, printer compatibility, and more.

If you or a family member have gotten into trouble before for drink driving, and need something that will stop someone from getting behind the wheel, then the best choice is an alcohol interlock device.

How accurate do you need your breathalyser to be?

As explained in our article on how a breathalyser works, breathalysers generally use two types of sensors – semiconductor sensors and fuel cell sensors.

“I just want an indication of what my BAC might be” or “I just want something affordable”

Personal breathalysers generally use semiconductor sensors because they are more affordable (usually around $200 or less). However, semiconductor technology is less accurate (usually with an accuracy range of +/-0.01%BAC) and they may pick up traces of substances such as cologne or mouthwash when giving a reading.

Semiconductor breathalysers will still remain accurate when calibrated regularly (every 6 months), and are generally only suitable for testing one person or a few other people, like friends or family, on a night out. They do lose stability over time and have a shorter working like than fuel cell breathalysers.

If you need something that gives you a good estimate of your BAC range and you don’t need something extremely accurate, then a semiconductor breathalyzer like the AlcoSense Pro is a smart and affordable choice for you.

“I want a very accurate breathalyser that will give me a precise BAC reading”

If you need something much more accurate for personal use and you don’t mind spending the money, go for a fuel cell breathalyzer instead. Fuel cell technology has advanced in recent years and their prices have started to decrease as well, making them more affordable for consumers. Fuel cell sensors offer much higher accuracy (with an accuracy range of +/- 0.005%BAC), a longer working life, and more stability over time even with multiple tests.

For personal use, we recommend the AlcoSense Stealth which is highly accurate for personal use and great for low volume professional testing as well.

For new drivers and old drivers, we also have the AlcoSense Verity, available in five colours and designed with a built-in mouthpiece for convenient testing on-the-go.

Do you need Australian Standards AS3547 Certification?

To get Australian Standards AS3547 certification, a breathalyser is tested independently by SAI Global for their accuracy and reliability. Breathalysers with this certification are proven to perform better than other breathalysers in the market that are without it. The certification also shows that the breathalyser is serviceable and well-supported through a strict control process as a safety device.

Most workplaces require their breath testing device to carry this Certification. The top choice is the Andatech Precision+ which provide fast and simple breath testing, or the more advanced Andatech Prodigy S, which has various capabilities including keeping data, printer compatibility and USB functionality. The Prodigy is ideal for workplaces that employ a very strict alcohol policy, such as mining and construction sites, fleet and aviation companies, medical clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and of course, law enforcement.

All AlcoSense breathalysers go through strict testing procedures before we introduce them to the market, and we are constantly improving and increasing our standards on quality. All our breathalysers are serviceable and are calibrated by our in-house technicians under a strict controlled process.

Other factors to consider when buying a breathalyser

Convenience

Take our industrial wall mounted breathalyzers for example: with a replaceable sensor, you don’t have to send your breathalyzer back for calibration, so as long as you have a spare calibrated sensor on hand, you’ll never have to be without your breathalyzer.

Calibration

All breathalyzers need to be calibrated to maintain their accuracy. They generally need to be calibrated every 6 months for personal breathalyzers, or one year for workplace breathalyzers.

If you don’t get your breathalyzer calibrated at the recommended frequency, you will find that it gives you false readings or very high readings.

Refrain from buying a breathalyzer that is not serviceable or cannot be calibrated, as these are usually inaccurate and cannot be calibrated at all, so if it stops working, you have no choice but to throw the whole thing away.

Extra features

Do you need something simple, or must you have a unit that keeps past test results?

Check the breathalyzer’s features and functions before you buy.