The most common alcohol testing equipment are hand held devices. The best hand held alcohol testing equipment commonly use a fuel cell to analyse the content of alcohol in a breath sample.

Types of Breath Alcohol Testing Equipment

Hand Held Breath Alcohol Testing Equipment

Breath alcohol testing equipment are commonly referred to as "breathalysers". Breathalysers usually collect a breath sample by either blowing through a straw or mouthpiece and a portion of the breath is then analysed using a built in sensor. This analysis provides an approximate equivalent blood alcohol concentration.

Disposable Breath Alcohol Testing Equipment

Disposable breath alcohol testing equipment are single use devices usually relying upon a tube containing dichromate crystals that change colour when alcohol is present. The extent of change is usually measured with a line that provides an approximate equivalent blood alcohol level. Alternate disposable alcohol testing equipment is available using urine or saliva to provide approximate levels. Some research indicates that saliva is a reasonably accurate means to determine an equivalent blood alcohol level.

Evidential Breath Alcohol Testing Equipment

Evidential breath alcohol testing equipment are breath alcohol testing devices used to provide an accurate equivalent blood alcohol level for law enforcement. These devices tend to be large, extremely expensive and use infrared technology to analyse breath samples to determine an equivalent blood alcohol concentration.

Types of Breath Alcohol Testing Equipment Sensors

These sensors are either based on semiconductors, fuel cells or infra-red. The less expensive and least accurate breath alcohol testing devices are the semiconductor breathalysers.

Fuel Cells are the most commonly used sensor used in law enforcement breath alcohol testing (roadside) and workplace requirements where a fast and accurate test result is required.

How to select breath alcohol testing equipment

Naturally, your required application tends to lead any selection of breath alcohol testing equipment. If you are simply looking for a device to use on very rare occasions to provide a very rough approximation of blood alcohol concentration, a disposable or inexpensive hand held device is likely to be adequate.

If on the other hand you are looking for a personal breath alcohol testing device to use regularly for your own purposes, an electronic hand held breath alcohol device is likely to be the perfect solution for you.

Australian Standard accredited devices are also preferable of course as they have been independently verified to perform against AS/NZS 3547;2019

Consider the cost of consumables

For workplace requirements, higher end hand held devices are definitely your preferred range. A device that can work with both active and passive modes is likely to save a substantial amount of money in the long term because you can minimise the cost of consumables.

Replacing single use mouth pieces can quickly become a major on-going cost in high volume testing environments. It is possible to minimise this cost by relying on passive testing (talking into the device) and only using mouthpieces after a failed passive test to obtain an accurate result. Passive tests merely provide an approximate pass/fail result which means that the secondary active (mouthpiece style) test is required afterwards to provide a quantifiable indication of the equivalent blood alcohol concentration.

Consider the cost and inconvenience of Recalibration

Recalibration costs are also worth considering. Breath alcohol testing devices need to be calibrated every 6 or 12 months (depending on the device). A typical recalibration is likely to cost in the range of $100-$300 per service.

While the breath alcohol testing equipment is being recalibrated (usually meaning that it needs to be sent to a service agent), clearly you won't be able to perform any testing until the device has been returned. This could necessitate buying additional devices in high volume testing environments to maintain continuity in an alcohol testing program.

Need help selecting breath alcohol testing equipment?

If you would like to discuss your requirements and obtain help in selecting breath alcohol testing equipment, please reach out to us - we're very happy to help you with your selection.