Posted on January 18, 2019
After several hours of research, I finally made my selection of the 4 best electronic breathalyzers among more than twenty models available at the moment.
The choice was difficult, but I think if I had to buy a breathalyser now, I would take the Zaphir CDP 3500. It's very simple, it's the best of the best. You will tell me that it is easy to say if we do not mention the budget. Yes, it's the most expensive, but when it comes to driving safety, I do not think there's anything wrong with it.
You will also find at the end of this article a buying guide to help you make the choice that best suits your needs. Of course, the easiest way would be to never drink again, unfortunately I must admit that I do not feel ready for it yet!
The best cheap electronic breathalyzers
Electronic breathalyzers can be at extremely low prices, around ten euros. But at this price, as you would expect, reliability is not always the rendezvous. That's why I propose a selection that starts a little higher, while remaining cheap.
Topelek: the best cheap
Ease of use
Fuel cell sensor
Hard to understand instructions
What immediately attracted me with this breathalyzer is that it was able to hold a fuel cell sensor in this small price. This is the technology that gets the most reliable and accurate results (against solid state sensors), so it's a big bonus.
It offers a detection range of 0.00 to 0.400% BAC. Beyond, you will not see your rate, only the fact that you exceed the threshold, but this is the purpose of the operation!
It is very small (smaller than an iPhone), and weighs just 100 grams, but the LED screen is large enough to read the information even in (slight) drunk, especially since the results are displayed in red. In addition, if you exceed the threshold, you are entitled to an audible warning.
The result is displayed in the unit of your choice: percent, per thousand or mg / L, and you can also set alert levels yourself.
The use is very simple, and thankfully, because the attached leaflet is incomprehensible, at least in French! But basically, we press, it loads (do not neglect the warm-up time), then we blow a few seconds (5 or 6), as in any breathalyzer, and there is more to wait for the result. The latter can be stored up to 10 times.
The breathalyzer is powered by a battery, which is fully charged in 4 hours, using the micro-usb cable included. Its longevity is favored by a function of automatic standby after 2 minutes of inactivity: it does not discharge stupidly in your glove box.
Side certification, unfortunately no French standard NF, but still the European standard RoHS.
Oh, and I was going to forget, this model comes with 4 tips in all. So you can for example chain tests if you want to determine your Sam after a drunken evening!
Oasser T5: the lowest price
The next product in my selection is Oasser T5. While it is equipped with semiconductor sensors, which are a little less accurate than fuel cell sensors, but that does not mean that it is unusable.
Above all, this allows it to be offered at an unbeatable price, offering almost the same features as a higher-end model. If you have read the description of the previous product, you will recognize them: the 3 main units of measurement available, memorizing the last 10 results, buzzer (and light) high alcohol, micro-usb rechargeable battery included, and 4 replaceable tips.
The detection range is slightly less wide, as one might expect, ranging from 0.10 to 0.200% alcohol in the blood. But the main thing is to know when you exceed the limit!
Its compact dimensions make it very practical (12 centimeters by 6), with a weight of less than 100 grams, and still a good size LCD screen to display the results.
In addition to the CE standard, this alcohol is certified by the FDA, the US administration of drugs and food, a pledge of seriousness!
The best mid-range electronic breathalyzers
In the mid-range, it is no longer fun: technology is more reliable and more features. It's not just about blowing and waiting for a beep (or not)!
AlcoHawk Slim: the best mid-range
The AlcoHawk Slim is, as its name suggests, a very compact breathalyzer for a mid-range product. Judge for yourself: it is 11.4 centimeters long and 4.1 centimeters wide.
It's smaller than most smartphones! And its weight is less than 100 grams.
Performance side, as I said in the introduction, we get to the heart of the subject. All the usual features are present, with a large LCD screen, a detection range of up to 0.40% blood alcohol, a buzzer, etc.
Let's see what sets it apart from entry-level breathalyzers.
To begin, the results are displayed in red. Simple but effective.
The tip is foldable, which reduces the presence of ambient air around the sensor, which can skew the results. The sensor itself is equipped with a special technology to identify abnormal conditions (eg too much air). In addition, the manufacturer included in its software the ability to check if the amount of alcohol in the air sample is stable and consistent.
In short, if something falsifies the result, the breathalyzer signals it to you and you can start again to obtain a more reliable result.
Only flaw, probably due to all these improvements, the result is a little slower. We can not have everything !
The unit is guaranteed for one year, and certified by US DOT standards (Ministry of
transport) and FDA.
Last thing, this breathalyzer is the only one of our test to be powered by batteries. But with these features at this price, I'm ready to forgive him.
The best high-end electronic alcohol testers
Finally the top of the range, the cream of the crop! Here, we are dealing with the best products, with a reliability equivalent to the breathalyzers used by the police (be careful, that does not mean that your personal measure will prevail against a police control)!
Zaphir CDP 3500: the best high-end
Coupling possible with the smartphone
Pretty complex to use
The Zaphir CDP 3500 is undoubtedly the most successful breathalyser of this selection. It is the lightest and most compact, with a weight of 68.8 grams and dimensions of 9.55 centimeters by 5.3 centimeters.
And yet, it embeds in this tiny box of incredible features. First, the fuel cell sensor has demonstrated exemplary reliability, according to tests from the Ministry of Industry of its home country, Spain.
For example, he showed a sensitivity deviation of only 0.6% per month, equivalent to police devices. Less reliable sensors, such as semiconductors, can display twice as much drift! It means less maintenance for you, and more reliability over time.
As for use, the BAC limit is of course configurable according to the legislation of the country where you are, and its detection range is from 0.000% to 0.450% BAC. Its 400 mAh battery is the most powerful of our selection, with low power consumption, and it is of course rechargeable by micro-usb.
You may tell me that so far, this breathalyzer is nice, but nothing exceptional. So I'll introduce the main dish: it pairs with your smartphone via an app available for Android and iOS, Bluetooth.
The app allows you to view the test results, select the unit, see the results graphically, including a history, all much simpler and more intuitive than a few buttons on a case. Be careful, it's not because it's more fun that you have to take the results less seriously …
Of course, you can also simply display the results on the high-end screen: an OLED screen in color please. The icing on the cake, this breathalyzer is loaded with certifications, with the American DOT, but also the European standards CE, EMC and RoHS!
The products of my selection on offer for the moment
Many breathalysers are available on the market, from ten euros, up to more than one hundred. The most basic simply allow you to know if you can drive or not, while the most advanced are equipped with a battery of additional features more or less gadget, but also improved reliability.
Now that we have seen some examples of breathalyzers, let's talk about the selection criteria.
Types of breathalyzer
Now that you are convinced of the interest of electronic breathalyzers, let's move on: the different products. Finally, what is an electronic breathalyzer (also called "electrochemical")?
To start with, you have to distinguish these products from chemical breathalyzers, the good old ones "blow into the balloon". These are cheaper, but for single use, with a validity period of two years.
That is why it can be very interesting to invest in an electronic breathalyzer that you can keep for years (with annual maintenance).
If you go out with your car several times a year, you will pay very quickly!
They fall roughly into two categories, depending on the type of sensor.
The breathalyzers can be equipped with semiconductor sensors. The main interest of this type of sensors is a low price … but they are less reliable and less accurate.
The better quality breathalysers are equipped with fuel cells that can be as reliable as those of the police. The price necessarily suffers!
But beware, even the best breathalyzer can be wrong.
The simplicity of use
No need to lie: when using a breathalyzer, you will not necessarily be at your best shape or lucidity. It is therefore important to have at your disposal the product the simplest possible use!
A device that has buttons easy to find, does not require too many manipulations to adjust, and with a display of results clearly legible, is preferred. A backlit display can be very useful, and the addition of light or sound signals will help you to not miss the result!
Size can be an important criterion if you want to always have your breathalyzer on you. For example if you want to be able to use it to other people (a friend before letting him go on the road, or to determine who can bring you back).
But if you just want to keep it in your glove box for your personal use, you can settle for less compact models.
On average, the results are displayed in 30 seconds, which can be quite long, if you wait in the cold for example. Powerful breathalysers can display the result faster.
But one thing is certain: take care of the preheating time before blowing (a few seconds, usually accompanied by a sound signal), otherwise your test will be distorted!
It is obviously a good thing to have the most accurate breathalyzer possible. Even though the measurements are never completely reliable. Yes, even those of the police: only a blood test can determine your exact blood alcohol level
If your breathalyzer tends to go up, it's not that bad. But on the contrary, you suspect that it is important not to underestimate your blood alcohol level.
High-end breathalyzers can provide results up to 0.000% accuracy, while lower performance breathalysers can sometimes only measure up to 0.00%. Not very clear? It's one less unit after the comma!
The breathalyzers are disturbed with time. They must be calibrated every year (or every 200 tests … if you do more than 200 tests per year)!
For this, the breathalyzer must be returned to the manufacturer. A high-end device is generally more stable in time, so its reliability depends less on this calibration (which remains necessary).
Power can be by batteries or battery. The battery is now more convenient, especially with the ability to recharge your car with a micro-usb cable.
Check the power of the battery, and the existence of an automatic standby in case of inactivity.
Options and accessories
The breathalysers can be accompanied by a battery of options and accessories. The most popular novelty in the high-end is the coupling with your smartphone via an app.
But more basic elements can be essential: the choice of the unit of measurement, the spare tips, or a storage case.
Standards and certifications
First, a little history: in 2012, in France, a law made mandatory the presence of a breathalyzer in a car. However, another law followed very quickly: while maintaining this obligation, the new law … rejected the possibility of sanctioning the absence of the breathalyzer.
Do not try to understand! In short, nothing requires you to have a breathalyzer, if not your safety and that of others … so my advice is not to neglect this small device.
Take care to choose a model guaranteed by reliable standards. In France, the most reliable is the NF standard, but European standards are also known (RoHS, not just CE). US standards such as DOT or FDA are also signs of reliability, but without legal value in France.
Anyway, remember: your breathalyzer only serves you as a personal indication. This is the blood test that will be given to you by the police when there is doubt that will prevail. At the slightest ambiguity in the result, do not hesitate: do not drive!