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How to select the right smoke detector?

A smoke detector is a crucial device that should be present in every home and office. It does not matter how tiny your house is or at what level your business is at. A smoke detector is essential for every building. You can never know when a mishap is going to happen. There are multiple ways fire can break out, or harmful smoke may get released into the environment. Therefore, it is our responsibility to take all possible preventive measures and ensure that our belongings and loved ones are safe. Smoke Detectors make up a crucial part of safety.

In the following sections, you will know the different types of smoke detectors, how each of them works and what to focus on when you are selecting a smoke detector for your house or office.

Types of smoke detectors

Ionization smoke detectors

Ionization detectors come with a minimal amount of radioactive material. The radiation passes through a chamber that contains electrodes. A small current is constantly moved between the electrodes. As the smoke enters the smoke detector, the alpha particles absorb the smoke. This interrupts the current. Interaction of the current causes the alarm to go off. For quick and rapidly spreading fires, ionization smoke detectors are the best.

Photoelectric smoke detectors

These are cheaper solutions compared to the ionization detector and use a light source to work. The smoke detectors have a light-emitting source. This setup operates with a photoelectric sensor. When the smoke passes through the optical chamber, the light beam path gets disturbed, due to which the light gets scattered and directed towards the center. As light strikes the sensor, the alarm goes off. These alarms are perfect for slow and smoldering fires.

Combination detectors

A smoke alarm that has both ionization, as well as a photoelectric effect is referred to as a combined smoke detector. These are the best and quickest to respond to fast raging fires. These are also the best ones to be installed in a home or office setting. You can never know whether the fire will be a smoldering one or a quick-spreading one. Therefore, instead of going for two different detectors, you can have a single detector that uses both the technologies to detect the smoke and fire.

Photoelectric or optical technology

These detectors are stuck to the ceiling because the air rises towards the top when the fire starts. The gas is produced by fire or is less dense and hot, so they quickly rise upwards. These alarms have an opening to allow the smoke in. The detectors have a light-emitting source as well as a photoelectric detector along with the fire alarm and circuit. When the light is emitted from the source, it does not leave the light detector because the beam has been placed in a way so that it does not fall on the detector. However, the moment the smoke enters through the opening and goes into the chamber, it scatters the light beam. This causes the beam to fall on the detector, which sends a signal to the circuit which has the alarm.

Ionization technology

This technology works in a different manner than optical alarms. They operate via the use of radioactive material. There are mainly two electrodes that have negatively and positively charged ions moving amongst them. Apart from these electrodes, there is a circuit, an opening, and an alarm. When there is no smoke, the radioactive material emits alpha particles. These alpha particles move back and forth between electrodes. When there is a fire, the smoke enters the chamber. In the chamber, the smoke mixes with irons. The entry of smoke disturbs the movement of ions and slows down the charge. As the collision of ions with electrodes is destroyed, the circuit detects the change, and an alarm sounds.

What to look for whenselecting a smoke detector?

Now, you have decided which type of smoke detector you want. How to choose the right one? Here are a few point to consider and remember when selecting smoke detectors.

  • Make sure that the smoke detector you buy follows the standards and guidelines of your area or location.
  • Look for smoke detectors that have a battery life of at least 5 to 10 years.
  • Smoke detectors should have test buttons. Thes test buttons help you in determining if the smoke detector is functioning properly or not.
  • Sometimes, cooking smoke may get detected as fire. Therefore, a silent button is needed, which can help you turn off the alarm momentarily.
  • Do not forget to check the alarm’s expiry date. Some alarms last for a lifetime, while others may have a specific date till which there is a guarantee. After this date, it is best if you’d get the smoke detector changed.
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