Smoke detectors are an integral part of a homeowner’s routine inspection program. Unfortunately, smoke detectors in the past have not performed as well as the manufacturers have promised. Recently, however, manufacturers have developed better products that work reliably and with a more convenient user interface. In this article, we’ll discuss the basic types of smoke alarms that you’ll want to consider before choosing the type that fits your needs.
The first types of safety devices are always the most expensive. If you choose to purchase a two-stage system that automatically and quietly activates in both smoke conditions it will cost much more than an equivalent “no-chase” product. Most people who use smoke alarms prefer to get one that can go off on demand, even if the smoke alarm is off or the user is away from the house. A convenience and value component is another reason for purchasing a no-chase system. Keep in mind though that you must be within the range of the detector for it to activate, and that it takes approximately five seconds to hear the warning siren in a non-mobile unit.
Laminate detectors are another option that can be purchased in retail stores. This type of detector usually works by using mechanical or electrical impulses to detect smoke and/or moisture. These devices are also known as “scratch detectors” due to their physical appearance and their distinct method of detecting smoke. The first two stages of a typical model are activated by mechanical means and then when the detectors detect smoke or moisture, they send an electrical signal to the circuit board for activation. When the circuit board detects the current, it sends a signal to the radio transmitter, which in turn makes a loud noise audible. If you’re planning to install a laminate smoke detector in your home, it’s best to keep it in a well-ventilated area of your home.
Alarms that use electromagnetic fields to trigger the system are becoming more popular. They utilize radio waves that travel along a wire that connects the antenna to the back of the detector. When a person approaches the detector, the detector sends an electric current through the wire. When it finds a human contact, the current is recorded and triggers a loud alarm. Keep in mind though that if the person wearing the detector is wearing clothing that is capable of transmitting radio waves, you can still hear the alarm.
Smoke and fire alarms that use infrared light are great for older homes where there’s no direct contact between the smoke detector and the fire in the attic. These types of devices use electromagnetic pulses that travel down the wire to the detector. When the object of interest is located, a sensitive LED inside the detector then sends a signal that triggers a loud siren.
There are also fire alarms that use magnets that trap electricity inside. The current then travels through a series of conductors to the back of the device. If the area of a smoke detector is close to where the magnets are located, the current will travel through the magnets and activate the alarm.
Deciding on a detector depends on your need and how often you’re going to check it regularly. However, there are several types of sensors available so it’s important to choose one that will give you the most protection.
The Australian Standards Association and The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors recommend that you do a risk assessment before purchasing a detector. Then you should determine how long it would take to replace the unit if it is defective. Besides, you should determine how many times you’ll be using the detector.
An important thing to note in recent issues of fire safety is one of the biggest risks is the presence of damp and mould. Mould can cause a wide variety of problems for your smoke detector, including premature damage to the unit. On top of that, damp smoke can trap a tremendous amount of heat, causing your unit to overheat.
Choosing the right type of detector is dependent on whether you’re using a battery-operated or a lithium battery-operated detector. You should know this information before purchasing a product. It’s also important to find out what kind of batteries the device uses.