There are two main types of smoke detector technologies accepted today: ionization smoke alarms and photoelectric smoke alarms. Continue reading to learn about each type of smoke detecting device, as well as, the general rule of thumb for installing smoke detection systems in your home or building.
Smoke Alarm Technology
Photoelectric smoke alarms use light coupled with a sensor to detect smoke. When smoke enters the chamber, it causes the light to scatter, which triggers the alarm to ring. In contrast, ionization smoke alarms are designed containing a minor amount of radioactive material that ionizes the space between two electrically charged plates, which then stimulates a current to flow between them. When smoke enters the chamber of the device, the current that keeps the ions flowing becomes disrupted, which sets off the alarm.
U.S. Fire Administration Recommendation
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, nearly 96% of all homes have ionization smoke alarm systems. However, they strongly recommended to have both types of alarms installed in your home or office. That is because they each use a specific technology that detects different types of smoke and fire, giving you a faster alert and reaction rate. For instance, photoelectric smoke alarms are good at detecting smoldering fires, while ionization smoke alarms react faster to the smoke produced by flaming fires.
Tips for Smoke Detector Installation
You can purchase two different types of smoke alarm systems, but you also have the option of choosing a dual sensor smoke detector with both ionization and photoelectric technology. Once you have your chosen smoke detectors, you are ready to install them. If you are not familiar with handyman work, it is recommended to hire a licensed Indianapolis general contractor for help ensuring your systems are installed properly and up to code. If you are an experienced handyman, you will just need to follow some important rules.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests that a smoke alarm should be installed in every bedroom of the home, as well as, outside of each sleeping quarters, on each level of the home, and even the basement. On the main floors where there are no bedrooms, smoke alarms should be installed in a central area, as well as, the near the stairs to the upper and lower levels of the home.
For smoke alarms that are designed for wall mounting, be sure to install them high on the wall, but no more than a foot away from the ceiling. Ceiling smoke alarms should be strictly used for ceilings only. Avoid mounting smoke detectors within 36 inches of hot kitchen appliances to prevent false alerts. Furthermore, do not install them near doors, windows, or vents; air currents can interrupt the devices ability to detect smoke or fire.
A very important rule of thumb that is also strongly recommended by the NFPA is to have all your smoke alarms interconnected; this way, when one is set off, all others are set off at the same time, thus increasing reaction times. This can be done either by hard-wiring or wireless technology. If you are unfamiliar with how to do this, it is suggested to hire a professional for help installing your smoke detector systems in your home or office.