Jun 30 2010

What types of smoke detectors are there? How do they work?

Category: Fire Safety


There are only really two types of smoke detectors on the market today. Both are effective at detecting smoke, yet each has a unique detection system. See the two types below.

Ionization smoke detectors have a small ionization chamber that emits a small quantity of radioactive particles creating a current. If the current is disrupted by free flowing particles caused by combustion, fumes, dust, or anything else, it sets off the alarm. This technology is generally more responsive than photoelectric but may also have many more false alarms. EPA Article

Photoelectric smoke detectors are typically better at detecting smoldering fires, or fires that take longer to combust. The photoelectric detector features a light emitting diode (LED) that shoots narrow beam of infrared light across a detection chamber. The alarm is triggered only when particles from combustible materials enter the chamber and stop or interrupt the light. EPA Article

Both types of detectors will generally be powered by a standard 9V battery.

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