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Smoke Alarms – Which type?

Smoke Alarms – Which type?

Smoke alarms. For the most part they are those little round white things on our ceiling either near our kitchen, or if we’re really unlucky, outside our bedroom! Occasionally they will start chirping incessantly or god forbid, they will start a full on beeping at a noise level that would put a jet engine to shame, letting all that are within a 5km radius of our home know that we’ve just burnt the toast!

In all seriousness though, these small round white things on our ceiling could be just the thing that saves our lives one day and perhaps we had better understand them just a little better. Well read on and find out some more about smoke alarms.

There are two main types of smoke alarms that are used in domestic/residential situations and they do in fact do different things; these are ionisation or photoelectric and they both ‘sense’ smoke differently.

Ionisation Smoke Alarms

Ionisation smoke alarms are generally more responsive to flaming fast burning fires. They have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, which ionises the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating the alarm. These types of smoke alarms can be prone to nuisance alarms if placed near a kitchen due to the small amount of smoke caused by cooking.

If you have one of these alarms and are getting nuisance alarms frequently do not disconnect or remove the alarm. Call LS Power and we can come to inspect and advise if you have the correct type of alarm and that it is situated in the right location.

Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

Photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more responsive to smouldering, slow burning fires. Photoelectric smoke alarms aim a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. Smoke enters the chamber, reflecting light onto the light sensor; triggering the alarm. These types of alarms can be triggered by dust particles or insects built up inside the alarm and causing so occasionally they should be cleaned (vacuumed or blown out, never washed).

What type of smoke alarm should I have?

LS Power recommends that you should have at least one of each in your home in order to provide the most effective protection to you and your family. There have been some tests which show that an ionisation smoke alarm will not respond as quickly to a smouldering fire as a photoelectric alarm. These smouldering fires are ones that commonly start in furniture or clothing from excessive heat build up rather than naked flame. Fires like these produce enormous amounts of often toxic smoke before a flame is present, this smoke is often what overwhelms occupants and causes escape to not be possible.

LS Power also recommends that your smoke alarms (where you have more than one) should be interconnected; this means that if one smoke alarm sounds, it will trigger the other to sound also. This can be critical if a fire starts in one area of your home and you are in another area, possibly asleep.

Read more about how LS Power can help at http://lspower.com.au/services/smoke-alarms/

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