Smoke Detector Comparison
|Alarm Type||Carbon Monoxide,|
|2 AA||2 AA||2 AA||1 AA||1 AA||1 AA||1 AA||2 AA||1 AA||2 AA|
|85dB at 10ft||85dB at 10ft||85dB at 10ft||80dB at 10ft||85dB at 10ft||85dB at 10ft||85dB at 10ft||85dB at 10ft||85dB at 10ft||85dB at 10ft|
|40 – 100||45 – 100||40 – 95||35 – 95||40 – 100||45 – 95||40 – 100||45 – 95||40 – 100||40 – 95|
|Humidity Range||10%-95% |
|Up to 85% |
|Up to 90%|
|Up to 85%|
|Up to 80%|
Smoke Detector Buying Guide
What is a Smoke Detector?
A smoke detector is a special device that is designed to emit a high, piercing signal or voice alarm when smoke or flames is detected. It is important to get the right kind for your home. There are actually specific places in the home that certain smoke detectors perform better. We will tell you want those places are.
There are several different types of smoke detectors on the market today. They are typically separated by the way they detect smoke or fire. We have provided you information on each type below.
Ionization – An ionization smoke alarm is the best kind to detect flames and actual fire. It works by using a radioactive element to ionize the air inside the detector. An electric current is inside the detector that is interrupted when smoke particles enter the chamber. Once the current is disrupted, it sets off the alarm. All of this happens in a surprisingly short amount of time. These types of smoke detectors are best at detecting the sometimes invisible smoke particles that can come from quick-starting fires like grease fires and paper fires.
Photoelectric – This type of smoke detector uses a small strobe light that remains on. When smoke particles are detected, the light is broken and the alarm immediately goes off. These units are more expensive than ionization smoke detectors but they are growing in popularity because they are much less likely to be set off by non emergency situations. These units are better at detecting larger smoke particles that can be caused by clothing or bedding that catches fine and smolders before catching fire. Some fires that have started have actually smoldered for hours before bursting into flame. When you have photoelectric smoke detectors, they are much more likely to detect the fire before it gets to the bursting into flame stage which can make a big difference in damage and injury.
Dual Sensor – These types of smoke detectors are actually the best kind you can purchase because they cover both ionization AND photoelectric sensing and covet the gambit of types of fires that can occur. Whether it’s smoldering clothing or a rapid grease fire, the dial units will be able to detect both types and that increases your safety. You can choose to get two separate types of smoke detectors, but having both types in one saves space and money too.
Air Sampling – This type of smoke detector is not as prevalent and is mostly used in businesses and scientific environments. The reason these are better used in warehouses and labs is due to the increased sensitivity of these units. The design is created to be able to detect whether smoke is present or not. Due to their extreme sensitivity they are not usually used in homes.
There are several different features that smoke detectors need to have to be good choices for your home. When you’re researching smoke detectors check to make sure the ones you are considering have these features so your smoke detectors provide the best amount of protection for your home.
- Dual Sensor – This type of unit has both ionization and photoelectric sensors which means they cover both smoldering fires and flames. This is the most all inclusive type of smoke detector to get that provides the most coverage for your home.
- Test/Silence Button – This button has a double purpose; it checks to make sure the smoke detector is working and also quiets the alarm when it has gone off during non emergency situations. No more having to take it out of the ceiling or looking for something to wave in front of it.
- Low battery Indicator – Any models that use battery power should come equipped with a low battery indicator that will alert you if the battery gets low. In most detectors, a beep will sound about every 40 seconds or so when it’s time to change the battery.
- Escape Light – This feature activates a light that comes on when the detector goes off so that people can see enough to get out. This light works even if the power is off.
- Interconnecting capable – Any unit that is hard wired into the electrical of the home can be part of an interconnect network of detectors. This means that when one goes off they all go off. Some battery operated units can have this capability as well.
- Hearing impaired features – If you’re getting smoke detectors for a home of someone who doesn’t have good hearing or who is deaf completely, there are features available that can help. These include extra loud alarms, strobe lights and even pads that go under the sheets that vibrate in the event the detector goes off.
- Insect Screens – Lots of the newer models of smoke detectors have insect screens that prevent bugs from getting into them and falsely setting off the detectors.
- 10 year lithium-ion built in battery – Some smoke detectors come with pre-installed and built in lithium-ion batteries that can last for the lifetime of the smoke detector. Others might require AA or 9 volt batteries.
- UL certified – Only purchase smoke detectors that have been UL certified which means it meets all the regulations it needs to meet.
- A Good Warranty – Make sure that the units you are considering come with good warranties. A smoke detector is not supposed to last forever but a good 5-10 year warranty is good. Most smoke detectors last anywhere from 5-10 years before they need to be changed.
- Easy battery changing ability –Make sure that when it comes time to change the battery that you don’t have to struggle with how to do it. Many units have simple front loading battery compartments that don’t even require the unit to be taken off the wall.
Which Type Goes Where?
Certain types of smoke detectors do better in specific locations. Below we have outlined which types do better in certain places so if you want to not purchase the combo units that have both types of sensors, you will know which types to buy and where to put them.
Ionization – This type of smoke detector is best installed in stairways, upstairs landings and in offices.
Photoelectric – These detectors are best installed in bedrooms, dens, hallways and also are good for offices and upstairs landings
Heat sensor – These types of detectors do best in kitchens and garages where a sudden change in temperature will set them off.
Dual Sensor – These units can be put in any place in the house EXCEPT the kitchen. Always use a heat sensored detector for the kitchen because oil and grease can contaminate the sensor in a dual sensor unit and cause it to malfunction.
Most smoke detectors don’t last longer than 10 years and should be replaced if they have reached the 10 year mark or you don’t know how old they are, it is best to replace all of them. There are some other things you can do to ensure that your smoke detectors are kept in good working order.
Cleaning the Detectors – Use the vacuum attachment and vacuum the sensor of the smoke detector every week to ensure dust does not get inside and mess with the sensors. If your home is not particularly dusty (some are dustier than others due to environmental factors) may only need vacuuming monthly.
Checking the Battery – Test the battery in your smoke detector once a week or at the very least, once a month. Most have a test button that you can press that will set off the alarm. If it goes off then everything is working properly. If it doesn’t go off then the batteries need to be replaced.
Having working smoke detectors can save you or your family’s life in the event of a fire. Fires are very unpredictable things and they can be caused by many different things. Having that protection can bring a lot of peace of mind. With the different choices available it can be a little confusing as to the type you should buy, but this buyer’s guide has taken care of that and given you the information you need to understand not only how they work but which ones work best.
With the right smoke detectors in your home you can go to sleep each night feeling much more peaceful about your family and home being safe. Don’t forget to go over fire escape routes with your family members regardless if how young they are. It is important that everyone knows where to go, how to follow the safety guidelines that will save them (such as crawling) and where to meet once they get outside. Most importantly, teach children that they should NEVER hide in closets or under beds.
With the right information, the right detectors and the right practice your home and family will be protected from danger in the event of a fire.
- Kidde – http://www.kidde.com/
- First Alert – http://www.firstalert.com/
- X-Sense – http://www.ozaccess.com/