The expected properties of Cerenkov detectors when used for fission product monitoring in water cooled reactors and test loops are discussed from the point of view of the knowledge of the sensitivity of these detectors to some beta emitting isotopes. The basic theory for calculation of the detector response is presented, taking the optical transmission in the sample container and the properties of the photomultiplier tube into account. Special attention is paid to the energy resolution of this type of Cerenkov detector. For the design of practical detectors the results from several investigations of various window and reflector materials are given, and the selection of photomultiplier tubes is briefly discussed. In the case of optical reflectors and photomultiplier tubes reference is made to two previous reports by the author. The influence of the size and geometry of the sample container on the energy resolution follows from a separate investigation, as well as the relative merits of sample containers with transparent inner walls. Provided that the energy resolution of the Cerenkov detector is sufficiently high, there are several reasons for using this detector type for failed-fuel-element detection. It seems possible to attain the desired energy resolution by careful detector design.