A Simple Primer on Smoke Alarm Technology

Technology is an important part of helping to detect fires. It can be difficult to understand what technology is best for your home or even what the terms mean. As a part of our Fire Prevention Week, we want to help you understand the technology a little better.

Ionization smoke detectors- Ionization detectors are better at detecting white smoke generated from fast, flaming fires than slow, smoldering fires. When smoke enters this detector it causes a change to the base line voltage readings of the detector, setting off the alarm. This can be an effective method of detection for flaming fires with a small amount of smoke.

Photoelectric smoke detectors – Photoelectric smoke detectors sense darker smoke generated from slow smoldering fires better than flaming fires. When smoke enters this detector, it scatters a light beam in the detector. One of the beams hits a sensor which causes the alarm to sound.  This can be an effective method of detection for slower burning, smoldering fires that might not be recognized by the ionization sensor.

Combination ionization photoelectric smoke detectors – This detector features both ionization and photoelectric sensors. Having both technologies in one detector increases the chances that either fast flaming or slow smoldering fires will be detected. The NFPA suggests that you either invest in both types of detectors or a combination smoke heat detector.

Monitored smoke detectors – Guardian’s monitored fire systems use photoelectric smoke detectors, which are particularly effective for identifying abnormally high levels of smoke associated with even small, smoldering fires before they get out of control. Not only can this help to protect your property, it can help to alert you and your loved ones to the potential  danger associated with smoke inhalation. Guardian’s smoke detectors signal Guardian’s 24-hour, award-winning monitoring  center who will notify emergency services and also try to make contact with you.

Heat Detectors- Guardian’s heat sensors can detect abnormally high ambient heat in places where smoke detectors cannot be used, for example a furnace room, kitchen or laundry room. When the heat rises to a certain temperature, a signal is sent to Guardian’s 24 hour, award-winning monitoring center. A representative can then contact you and notify emergency services if necessary.

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