We all know that we’re supposed to stop, drop and roll if you catch on fire, but that only works if you know there’s a fire. In 1915, you’d have a one in ten chance that a fire would kill you if you lived in a home or an apartment. One hundred years later, that statistic has dropped to one in one hundred with the invention of the practical and inexpensive smoke detector. Your home has multiple smoke detectors, but most of us don’t even know how they work. How do they detect smoke? If you know how they work, it will make it easier for you to choose the type of smoke detector and where they should be placed to keep your home and family safe.
Smoke Detector Types
You probably thought that all smoke detectors are created equal. Most homes have ionization detectors or photoelectric detectors. They both do the same job but operate in different ways that may lead to you to choose one over the other.
Ionization smoke detector – This smoke detector has a very small amount of radioactive material that sits in a chamber between two metal plates. The radioactive material is americium-241. The two plates continuously emit a minor electrical charge back and forth. If smoke enters the chamber, it interferes with the electrical charge, kills the current and causes the alarm to go off.
Photoelectric smoke detector – This smoke detector is also known as an optical smoke detector and uses a tiny beam of light from a diode. This beam of light moves from the diode to the sensor chamber. If smoke comes into contact with this beam of light it will shift the beam of light and the alarm will go off. It would be like the effect of throwing some dirt into the path of a flashlight’s beam.
Which Smoke Detector is Best?
One isn’t better than the other, but they both use different technology and will react a little differently. They both work better at detecting different types of fire. An ionization detector works better at detecting hot fires because they are extremely sensitive, and a photoelectric smoke detector does a far better job at detecting smoldering fires. The best way to keep your home and family is to have both types of smoke detectors in your home. While this may seem like a hassle, smoke detectors are pretty inexpensive, and much cheaper than the damage your home and family will experience in the event of a fire.
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But, if you want those smoke detectors to keep you safe, you’ll need to make sure they are working. When you hear that chirping sound coming from your smoke detector, it’s time to change the battery. To avoid this chirping sound at 2 am, when you’re sound asleep, change them on a regular basis. A battery should keep a smoke detector working for about 6 months, so change the batteries twice a year. If you have any questions about hard wired smoke detectors, contact the experts at Peterkin Electric. We have certified and licensed professionals to take care of all your electrical needs!