Safety Tips

How Do Smoke Detectors Work?

By February 8, 2022 No Comments

Smoke detectors are an essential safety device for every home. The risk of death in a residential fire reduces by half in households with properly functioning smoke alarms. In the event of a fire, they can detect smoke early enough to warn you and your family members of smoke before it’s too late. It is important to place smoke detectors in the right locations and keep them in good working order so that you will be alerted right away if there’s a fire. 

Let’s look at how they actually work in case you are looking for a certain type of smoke detector.

How Do Smoke Detectors Work?

Basically, smoke alarms are triggered when too many smoke particles enter the chamber and trigger a sensor that sets off the alarm. Smoke detectors work differently depending on what kind they are, so let’s look at the different types of smoke detectors.

What Are The Different Types of Smoke Detectors?

There are a few different types of smoke detectors that might suit the needs of your home. There are photoelectric smoke detectors and ionization smoke detectors as well as hard-wired smoke detectors and battery-powered smoke detectors. 

Photoelectric vs Ionization Smoke Detector

Photoelectric smoke detectors work optically with the use of a light source and a sensor. When smoke enters the chamber, it crosses the path of the light beam scattering the light toward the sensor which then triggers the alarm. 

An ionization smoke detector works as a physical process that uses a radioactive material between two electrically charged plates. In this way, the airflow between these two plates is ionized. When smoke particles enter the chamber, the flow of ions gets disrupted which causes a reduction in the air current which then triggers the alarm. A combination smoke detector uses both of these technologies and is recommended for residential use.

Hard-Wired vs Battery-Powered Smoke Detector: 

A hard-wired smoke detector is connected to the other smoke detectors throughout your home. When one smoke detector detects smoke, then all the smoke detectors in your home will alarm simultaneously. All hard-wired smoke detectors each have a backup battery and all are connected to your home’s electrical system. 

Battery-powered smoke detectors are powered by a battery, usually a lithium battery, and they are usually not connected to each other. 

What Makes A Smoke Detector Start Beeping?

Smoke detectors are designed to detect smoke, but occasionally your smoke detector will start beeping when there is no smoke. Most commonly, if your smoke detector is making a one-beep or “chirping” beep every minute or so, this means the battery is low. 

Both hard-wired and battery-powered smoke detectors have a battery that will run low or run out of power and will need to be replaced. In order to avoid fire emergencies, it is very important to change the batteries of your smoke detectors. Alkaline batteries last around 12-18 months while lithium batteries last around 5 years. Alarm sensors can wear out, so it is recommended to replace your smoke detectors every 10 years.

What Do Smoke Detectors Actually Detect and Not Detect?

Occasionally, different types of smoke or substances can trigger the alarm of a smoke detector. Smoke detectors have been known to occasionally detect heavy cigarette smoke, dust, and sometimes even shower steam. Smoke detectors do not detect vaping smoke or carbon monoxide. 

For carbon monoxide sources, we highly recommend using carbon monoxide detectors along with your smoke detectors.

Help Protect Your Family Against Fires With SafeStreets

Smoke detectors save lives—it’s that simple! They detect smoke and warn homeowners of any potential danger before it’s too late. Never worry about a fire spreading in your home. SafeStreets advanced smoke detectors can detect even the smallest of fires, and as soon as it happens, ADT monitoring professionals will dispatch help. Get the best coverage of fire safety in your home. Get in touch with our Smart Security Pros and get a free quote today!

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