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Smarter smoke-detectors



Types Of Fire Alarms

There are primarily two types of fire detection alarms:

  • Heat Detection: There is a trigger temperature and when it is reached, the alarm goes off. This type of sensor tends to have a slower reaction. They also don’t detect the presence of smoke which is also harmful to humans and pets.

  • Smoke Detector: This is the most common type device in the home environment, and it is intended to detect smoke rather than a temperature increase.



Types of Smoke Detectors

The smoke detectors come primarily in two flavors, ionization detector, and Photoelectric Detector.

  • Ionization Detector: The ionization detectors have a chamber with a small amount of radioactive material and two electrodes. This configuration produces a constant current between the electrodes. When the smoke gets into the chamber, it interrupts or partially interrupt the ionization and hence the current between the electrodes. This, as a result, will make you smoke detector go off.

  • Photoelectric Detector: The photoelectric smoke detector uses a beam of light that goes from one side to the opposite one in the chamber. When the smoke gets into the chamber, the beam of light is interrupted and reflected on a different compartment. The interruption of the beam of light causes the alarm to go off.


Ionization vs. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors. You may be thinking…why do I care…I just want a smoke detector that detects smoke. Before doing the research for this post I had no idea…but apparently, they are very different, so…which one is best? If you were looking for a straight answer here, you will be disappointed… Each sensor is better for a particular type of fire.


Are there different types of fires?

– I didn’t know but apparently yes.

Ionization detectors are better at detecting flaming fires while the photoelectric ones are great for smoldering fires. You can get the best of both worlds with a dual-sensor smoke detector, if budget permits. You can also get both of them and place them together. The best option is obviously to have them both, but after doing some research looks like the photoelectric performs better on a home environment. Photoelectric sensors are also less prompt to false alarms. This is a good idea if you want to place it in the kitchen and don’t have your eardrums blown out when your cooking activities end up with a smoky situation. Many home fires start with smoldering smoke before the actual flame appear, photoelectric sensors are quicker to detect this type of event, giving you more time to leave the house.

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