As we all know, every building both residential and commercial should be fitted with smoke detectors. In fact, for some commercial buildings it’s law!
On this page of my website I intend to give you a few options which include the main two types. This is photoelectric and ionization which both give the desired effect but work slightly differently.
An ionization type smoke detector works (as you’ve probably guessed) by utilizing ionization. Essentially, the sensor has two plates inside: one will charge positively, and the other negative.
Without getting too technical, there are three elements to think about here: oxygen, nitrogen and electrons. Positively charged oxygen and nitrogen particles are attracted to the negatively charged plate, whilst electrons are attracted to the positive plate.
When smoke enters this chamber in the sensor, the particles attach to the ions which neutralize them. This causes a drop in the current between both plates and signals the alarm that smoke has been detected.
Photoelectric smoke sensors on the other hand are a little more sophisticated in that they use LED or “light omitting diodes”. When smoke is present it scatters the beam and raises the alarm. Of course, there is more to this in terms of technology, but I don’t want to send you to sleep before you get to my reviews!
First Alert SA320CN Double Sensor Smoke and Fire Alarm
I chose this as my first review because it makes use of both photoelectric and ionization technology. You see photoelectric smoke sensors are very good at detecting fires that smolder for a long time before bursting into flames. Think about a cigarette slowly burning its way through the fabric on an armchair for instance. This will create more smoke before the fire really gets going.
On the other hand, ionization is much better at detecting fires that will produce flames quickly. Again, as an example think about fires fueled by paper or kitchen grease.
This sensor will help detect both situations. Because of the technology used, this smoke detector can also tell the difference between threatening and non-threatening situations which reduces the amount of false alarms. However, when it does go off be prepared because you’ll get an alarm that’s not less than 85 decibels.
Just as a side note, if you do intend to use this in the home it comes in a neutral color that will blend with you décor and the batteries can be replaced without removing if from its current position.
Kidde i9040 Fire Sentry Ionization Sensor
I think this model is great if you want to have smoke detectors in several places around the home. It won’t break the bank and will suit most budgets so you can protect the more obvious fire prone areas. It measures no more than 4 inches in diameter which makes it one of the smallest on the market, and is discreet enough not to interfere with your décor.
It uses ionization technology so it’s best suited to detecting fires that are likely to burst into flames very quickly. For that reason, I think this smoke sensor is best suited to the kitchen or places around the home where flammable substances or large amounts of paper are kept. There is no need to wire this detector in, and it comes with an easy to use test button so you can check if the batteries need changing. Incidentally, this one will require a 9v battery which is included.
It’s UL compliant for extra peace of mind and comes with a 3 year limited warranty.
First Alert SA710CN Smoke Alarm with Photoelectric Sensor
As the name suggests, this is a photoelectric smoke sensor and is great for areas where “slow burning” fires can start. What’s also worth mentioning is that photoelectric sensors are more environmentally friendly than their ionization counterparts so if that worries you, this one might suit you better.
It’s also worth remembering you tend to get less in the way of false alarms with photoelectric technology and this model can be mounted on the ceiling or wall, which makes it a great choice for RV’s or mobile homes. As with the detector reviewed above, it will need a 9v battery but this is included in the price, and you get a low battery alert so you don’t forget to replace it.
It also has a useful button that can be used to test the unit as well as silence it.
BRK Brands 7010B Hardwire Smoke Alarm with Photoelectric Sensor
So far, it appears I have shown a bias towards home smoke alarms but I haven’t forgotten they are just as important in the workplace, which is why I have included this model. Of course, this one can also be used in the home and is a great option for the kitchen, in the hallway or near fireplaces. However, it is great for business premises like hotels.
There is one reason for this (apart from the photoelectric technology) and that is it can be interconnected with up to 12 other compatible devices as well as 6 horns, bells, repeaters or door closers. When the alarm sounds, you will also be told which area it has come from.
Other features include Optipath 360 degree technology which means the detector will monitor the layer of air all round the ceiling or wall where it’s installed. It includes a 9v battery just in case you lose mains power and a tamper resistant locking feature. Of course, it goes without saying this model also has a silence/test button and comes with a 10 year limited warranty.
Kidde Combination Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm
In my humble opinion, I have saved the best until last on this page of my website. Considering this carbon monoxide detector combines both CO and smoke, you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive it is.
First of all, this particular model is really easy to install. Simply choose where you would like to place it, put the batteries in and screw it on. The range this sensor has is also something the manufacturer has thought about because it’s possible to install one of these where you once needed two.
One of the best features for me is the voice activated alarm. If it detects smoke, the LED will flash, you’ll receive three alarm beeps and then a voice will call out “fire, fire”. When it senses dangerous levels of CO the same thing happens except the voice alarm will shout “Warning – Carbon Monoxide”. What you should know is both these warnings will continue until the threat has been eliminated.
What I also like is, if you have this detector installed in, say, your kitchen you can make use of the trademark “hush” feature. This means you can silence the alarm if you know smoke is likely to be produced when you’re cooking.
Other features include a low battery indicator, a test/reset button so you know it’s always working and it’s also UL approved.
You can also buy the same model to be hard wired into your building. What’s great about this one is it will interconnect all of the detectors you have and makes use of your electrical supply. Should a power outage occur, all sensors will immediately switch to their battery back-up. Another plus to opting for this model is when an alarm sounds it will automatically send the signal to all other sensors, so it doesn’t matter where you have smoke or high CO, you’ll know about it!
If you would like to find out more about the hard wired version: take a look here.