Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Best Breathalyzers in 2018 – Top 5 Options

Time to put all this knowledge to good use. I have been reviewing these breathalyzers for a number of months now, and have finally finished up with the solo reviews. I shied away from the semi conductor based breathalyzers, with a few choice exceptions, mostly because I have a feature planned for next week detailing the models out there that we need to avoid. This week is dedicated to the cream of the crop. The best of the best, or in one case the good enough but look at that excellent price. You will not find a better breathalyzer anywhere else.

The firms I have reviewed all have one thing in common. They use, for the most part, top of the range sensor technology in their breathalyzers. There is some slight variance in terms accuracy, but that is well within standard deviations. All of the products below are accurate to 95%+. They can boast this due to the sensor tech used. Cheap novelty breathalyzers use semi conductor based sensors, I mentioned them above. These cannot ever be accurate. All sensors react to the presence of alcohol, tiny little particles of it in our breath. When we blow into a breathalyzer it oxidizes, creates resistance on a circuit which is measurable, and thus converted into the reading you see. The more alcohol in your blood, the more gets breathed out. Simple.

The issue with semi conductor sensors lies in the fact that they react to more than just alcohol particles. So many things can give a false reading on them. hair spray, acetone and even cigarette smoke. For those social smokers out there they are useless to you. Fuel cell sensors do not have this problem. They only react to alcohol. In addition, semi conductor circuits have too short a range of resistances to give an accurate result. The best you can get is a high alcohol content or a low. With the fuel cell you have a wide range of resistances, and thus accurate data to within a thousandth of a percent.

Top 5 Professional Breathalyzers – The Ones That Actually Work

I have taken a few things into account here. The accuracy of the device is paramount, but the price is a factor as well. The vast majority of the other lists I have read place a certain BACtrack model front and center, but I feel that this ignores an important little build. Read on for the full list.

5. AccuMed BAC-178 Professional Breathalyzer

bac-178Front and center at this stage is the price. The AccuMed BAC-178 is usually available for under $65 which is an amazing price for what you’re getting. The build looks lovely, taking a leaf from the Samsung school of design. A simple little handheld black build with a bright LED display. Like most on this list it skimps on features to provide a product that is accurate and cheap. Using it is simple, just hit the button, wait a few seconds and blow into the mouthpiece.

The BAC-178 comes with six free mouthpieces, and buying spares is pretty cheap at roughly 50 cents a piece if you buy that at Amazon.com by clicking here. It is a little lacking in the ergonomics department, but the curved edges make it easier to hold than a few others on this list. Overall, an amazing little device that does everything you want it to do.

To get it for the best price online you can click here.

4. Pro-Tec Professional Grade Breathalyzer

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Another inexpensive option, though most here are on the lower end in terms of price, the Pro-Tec ekes out a win over the AccuMed since it’s almost identical in price but a slightly better model. There is generally a pretty good discount on this particular model and you can view the current price by clicking here. If you can get it under $75 it’s a pretty good option as it’s comparable to most breathalyzers under the $100 mark. The think I love most about using the Pro-Tec Professional, and Pro-Tec breathalyzers in general, is how easy it is to hold. Most firms don’t seem to think about ergonomics beyond making the device small, but the folks over at Pro-Tec have given it some thought, and that is always nice to see.

Again, this is an entry level device, with an amazing fuel cell sensor, so while the results of every blow will satisfy, do not expect a plethora of features, I’ve saved those builds for later. Pro-Tec sells their replacement mouthpieces far more cheaply than most too, with a pack of fifty generally costing under $25 on Amazon.com. They have another build that I reviewed recently too, the Personal, and while the sensor is not quite as accurate as the one here, the form factor makes it well worth considering. Same as before in terms of using too, just hit the button, wait a few seconds and blow for a few too Overall another great option, just be wary about the current price.

3. ACE II Basic Professional Grade Breathalyzer

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This is another bare bones affair, for the simple man out there. I love this little thing. It is so tiny, and of course perfectly accurate. I tend to go for either the most basic item on the menu, or the most complicated, and as such take issue with products that appear to me to be middle grounds. From a price point this is one of the cheaper high end breathalyzers too as you can usually get it for around $70. Unlike the Pro-Tec this is a set price, giving it that edge, and unlike the AccuMed the parts don’t feel cheap at all. This one is all about the ease of use. See that nice big button there? That is all you need to use this. If you want something a little more complicated then you are going to have to spend roughly double the price, and frankly I wouldn’t want to. Unless said product blows my mind.

What is so cool about this one is that it has won awards. In Vienna. Such an odd thing to boast, right? It’s front and center on in their marketing, and while I find the fact a little strange, I am still somewhat impressed by it. It comes with a 3 year warranty so compared to most products you’re getting an extra two years of coverage alongside a pretty nice price point. Mouthpieces are fairly cheap with a price point right around the industry standard of 50 cents. Overall one of my favorite options, and perfect for the thrifty and discerning buyer.

To check out all the current deals for the ACE II Basic Professional Breathalyzer you can click here! 

2. BACtrack Mobile Smartphone Breathalyzer

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It literally could not have been any other product. The BACtrack Mobile is a great option if you have a smartphone that you want to pair your device with. Not only does it use the same fuel cell as the S80 giving us perfect accuracy (which you’ll see shortly) but it also connects to your phone to display. That lack of inbuilt display may put some people off, but it drives the price down quite a bit, allowing BACtrack to sell it around the same price point as the S80. The design of the thing is slick too, one of the nicest looking out there. The mouthpiece is at a slight angle too, you can’t really see that in the image, but trust me it is, and it makes using it just that little bit easier. The big selling point is the phone connectivity, and the app that goes along with it.

The app is a work of art. Some serious thought went into the design of the UI. The buttons are nice and big, well labeled and easy for even a drink addled brain to navigate. It records all of your previous tests, and collates that date wonderfully. When it is reading your results, before it tells you your blood alcohol content, it asks you what you think your levels are, allowing you to eventually get a good firm grip on your tolerances. When it has your data it will, over time and tests, be able to tell you when you will be sober again. You can also share your test results over the internet, seems a little weird to me, but I imagine there are parents out there who might see some use in it.

BACtrack have been ramping up their app compatible line as of recent, but the only other one that uses it is semi conductor based, making it a novelty item pure and simple. It may be half the price, but the recorded results are less than half the quality. Using the BACtrack Mobile is a little more complicated than all the other breathalyzers on this list, that being the only major downside, but if you want pure accuracy paired with a mobile app, look no further.

To see the discounted price at Amazon.com you can click here

1. BACtrack S80 Professional Breathalyzer

I love this image so much.
I love this image so much.

Here is the usual victor in these top lists, BACtrack are probably the best in the business in terms of product accuracy. The S80 was their top of the line product for a long time, and until last year, I would have proclaimed the S80 as the pinnacle of breathalyzer tech myself. As it stands this is still one of my favorites. The design here is fantastic, while the body for the most part is a little lackluster, it has some nice heft to it, and the angled mouthpiece makes using it far easier than i thought it would. Price wise you’ll be hard pressed to find it on sale but you can sometimes get good deals at Amazon.com by clicking here to get all the available discounts automatically applied. If you can get it for under $140 you’ve got a good deal on your hands. That price not only gets you the most accurate sensor on the market, but a whole host of intrinsic features too.

Unlike the breathalyzers above, this device checks a whole host of things beyond blood alcohol content. It monitors your temperature, while alcohol makes you feel warmer it actually lowers your body temperature, which can get a little dangerous. Allows you to set custom warning levels, so you can tailor the experience, it also records the previous ten tests, so you can get a feel for how long it takes for you to return to baseline sober. There is also a nice solenoid pump, allowing even those with breathing issues to get an accurate result. It’s pretty obvious why the S80 is the most popular professional breathalyzer on the consumer market.

You can click here to check out all the available discounts at Amazon.com

Top 5 Professional Breathalyzers Conclusion

There we have them, the top five breathalyzers on the market at the moment. There are plenty more out there, and you can triple that number if we include semi conductor based tech. Remember to be careful out there when shopping, if I haven’t covered the model then check the sensor type, and if you want me to check it out first, then by all means leave a comment below. I will do my best to test out any all breathalyzers that are brought to my attention.

One final thing to bear in mind. In all of my breathalyzer articles I bring up one of the inherent dangers. The simple fact that knowledge can prompt rash action. I understand that there are legal limits to blood alcohol content when driving in most places. But if you find yourself going on the word of your breathalyzer alone to determine your suitability to drive then you may have to rethink things. They may make you slightly less risk averse, and thus more willing to drive when before you wouldn’t dare. I prefer to think of breathalyzers as peace of mind devices, something to use in case you really have to drive, not something to justify a dangerous decision. That said I am sure you know yourself better than I do, so your own discretion.

Drive safe folks, and happy bargain hunting.

Barry W Stanton
Irish born writer who drinks too much caffeine and reads too much Terry Pratchett. I enjoy long walks on the server and Korean cuisine.
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