How to Choose Between Smoke Detectors?
I believe that every home or building should be required to have working smoke detectors on every floor. It’s one of those great inventions that have saved a lot of lives and properties from the verge of potential disaster and damage. They are so inexpensive that surely they are worth it for the lives that they have saved.
For them to work, they may require either a 9-volt battery, lithium battery or the traditional 120 volt mains wiring. Some mains operated smoke alarms have batteries as back up just in case the power fails. The two main kinds are ionization detectors and the photoelectric detectors . Some conscientious homeowners use a combination of both types with a heat detector or stand alone units to warn against fire.
The two parts of an ionization detector are the ionization chamber and a source for ionizing radiation. The alarm will sound off when the smoke enters the ionization chamber. The smoke particles attach to the ions and neutralize it so that it does not reach the plate which results in a drop in current that will trigger the alarm off.
The more expensive type of smoke detectors is photoelectric detectors. With these, the alarm will be triggered if the smoke blocks the light beam. The mere reduction of light that reaches the photocell will sound off the alarm. This type of alarm best responds to smoldering fires. Some would say that this is a better system as they don’t have to turn it off as often.
They are less sensitive than ionization detectors which can sound off even with a little smoke from cooking which results in some ionization owners turning off the alarm. The danger of it then is if they forgot to turn it back on after cooking, if that happens your home and family will not be protected at all.
Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. For example the ionization detector is cheaper than photoelectric detectors but the photoelectric is much better when it comes to the sensitivity of setting off the alarm. Whichever type of smoke detector that you choose, you need to make sure that the unit you will be buying or installing is a certified UL smoke detector. The UL mark on a product is internationally recognised as being checked for safety and has follow up evaluations.
Smoke alarms that respond quicker to flaming fires with smaller combustion particles are known as ionization detectors. This type is less expensive as compared to the photoelectric detectors. The good thing about using this type of detector is that you will know when to change the battery because it gives you fair warning. What it does is it triggers the alarm sounds if the battery starts to fail in an ionization detector because the ion current falls.
Your unit may have a 5 year or 10 year guarantee. Smoke detectors should have a manufacturers date on them and to be on the safe side you should go by that date and not the date that you bought or installed it. Choosing your fire alarm really depends upon how safe you want you and your property to be.