A smoke detector is an essential device for every home and office.
Regardless of how big or small, your house is or at what level you are working with your business; a smoke detector is a necessity for every building.
We never know when a mishap can happen and the accidents are always around the corner.
There are more than one ways a fire can break out, or a harmful smoke is around so we should take all the precautionary measures to make sure that our loved ones and valuable belongings are kept safe, and smoke detectors are one of them.
However, having a random smoke alarm is just not enough.
You got to get a good one which is up and working so that there is certainly you’ll be warned if a fire goes out.
Here, we will help you in selecting the right product as we talk you through smoke detector types, how they work, and what you should consider when choosing one.
Types of Smoke Detectors
The smoke alarm is among the alarms that will detect fire quicker than the heat ones.
These are currently available in three types of smoke detectors available in the market, namely the ionization, photoelectric, and combined smoke detector.
1. Ionization Smoke Detectors
The ionization smoke alarm is the ones that come with a slight amount of radioactive material.
The radiation is set to pass through a chamber which ionizes, filled with air which separates the two electrodes.
A small current constantly moves between the electrodes, and as the smoke enters the alarm, the alpha particles will absorb it.
It will lead to the alarm going off as the current will be interrupted. For abrupt and rapidly spreading fires, these type of alarms works the best.
2. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors
The photoelectric smoke detectors are a cheaper solution and work with the help of a light source.
There is a light beam collimating setup that operates along with a sensor which is photoelectric.
As the smoke passes through the optical chamber, the path of the light beam is disturbed because of which it is scattered and directed at the sensor.
Therefore, as the light strikes, the sensor sets off the alarm. These alarms are best suited to detect slow, smoldering fire.
The smoke alarm which is labeled as a combination of both comes with two technologies in it.
One is photoelectric, and the other is ionization. As listed, the former are best responding to fast-raging fires while the latter is better to be used in slow smoldering fires.
For the best protection of your home or office, it is recommended that you must use both as one never knows how a fire will start off and at what rate it will spread.
So, rather than getting two separate alarms, you can have a single detector which possesses both technologies.
Smoke Detector Working Principle
The smoke alarm work on certain principles and they are defined by the type of alarm you choose.
Above, we have listed the types and a bit about their working but here is a thorough detail of the smoke detector working principle according to their technology.
1.Optical or Photoelectric Technology
These optical detectors are screwed at the ceiling because as the fire starts the smoke heads towards the top of the room.
The gases generated with fire are hot and less dense, so they rise upwards.
The alarms have an opening from where the smoke passes into it.
The detectors contain a light emitting source and a photoelectric detector (light detector), along with a circuit and a fire alarm.
Normally, the light being emitted from the source does not reach the light detector because it has been set that way so that the beam does not fall directly on to it.
However, as the smoke passes through the opening and enters into the chamber, the light beam is scattered because of the smoke particles.
Ultimately, it falls onto the light detector which sends a signal to the circuit which is fitted into the smoke alarm.
As the circuit receives the signal from the light detector, it ultimately senses that something is wrong as the smoke has come into the detector and, therefore, sets off the alarm to wake you up and save your life.
2. Ionization Technology
The ionization technology works differently as compared to the optical alarms.
These operate with the help of radioactive material.
There are two electrodes between which you have the positively and negatively charged ions moving around among the two electrodes.
Apart from that, there is an opening, a circuit, and an alarm.
In normal condition, the radioactive material emits the alpha particles, and there are positively and negatively charged ions.
These flow back and forth between the electrodes, assuring that the current is appropriate and nothing is wrong.
But when the fire goes off, and smoke enters the chamber, it gets mixed with the ions.
Therefore, they disturb their movement and slow down the charge, making them less efficient.
Now, as their collision with electrodes is disturbed, the circuit inside such alarms suddenly detect the change.
That way, it gets to know something is wrong, and ultimately the circuit sends the signal to an alarm which would start ringing and telling you there is a fire around.
As soon as the smoke clears and particles are back at their initial place,i.e. smooth collision between the electrodes, the alarm will shut down.
How to Choose a Smoke Detector?
So, now you know the smoke detector types and their working principle, the next question is that how you pick one?
Here is the list of 5 necessary considerations you should always keep in your mind while buying a Smoke Detector.
When you are looking for smoke detectors, always take a peek at their certification.
Wherever you are living, the authorities have certain standards.
Some of them are acceptable around the globe while others are exclusive to a particular state.
So, watch out for the standard certifications and make sure that you get an alarm which is certified.
The battery life of a smoke alarm matters a lot.
Many homes catch fire because they have a smoke alarm with a battery that had gone flat a long time ago.
So, always look for the ones that come with a decent battery and can be used for at least 5 to 10 years.
Even if you plan to get the alarms that are powered from the main circuit of your house, they do have a backup battery in case your home’s circuit fails to provide power to it.
For any smoke alarm, a test button is necessary.
It helps you in determining how it will sound and whether it is loud enough or not.
Some of the alarms could be tested with the help of remotes while others may be going off as you shine a torch on them.
For the rest, you’ll have to climb up a ladder and reach with a broom.
As the alarm goes off, there are cases when the mishap would be slight, or it might be deliberate.
So, in that case, you need to have a silent button using which you can turn it off or at least shut it down momentarily.
And lastly, don’t forget to check the expiry date on the alarm.
Some may be there to last for a long time, maybe a lifetime, but getting to know about the date till which it is guaranteed to work at its best is always good.