There has been a lot of talk recently regarding the different types of smoke alarms, in particular photoelectric smoke alarms. You’re probably wondering if this information is relevant to you. Should you be paying attention? What if you already have a smoke alarm installed?

The answer is YES – when installing new smoke alarms in your household or when changing expired ionisation-type smoke alarms, photoelectric smoke alarms should always be your first choice.

As suggested by the Duty Commander of the NSW Fire and Rescue Brigade, Stewart Alexander, “we’re encouraging people to replace their older smoke alarms, particularly if they are aware they have an ionisation-type alarm. We recommend the photoelectric-style fire alarm”.

Photoelectric smoke alarms work by detecting visible particles of combustion. By aiming a light source into a sensing chamber, the light gets reflected onto the sensor when smoke enters the chamber, and the alarm is triggered. This is different to an ionisation smoke alarm, which works through detecting the invisible particles of combustion, rather than the visible ones. A small amount of radioactive material interacts between two electrically charged plates to ionise the air between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, the ionised airflow is disrupted and the alarm is triggered.

The reason that photoelectric smoke alarms are more valuable to you, is that they are more efficient at detecting slow burning, smouldering fires, which are the most common type of fire in home environments.

At Detector Inspector, we only install photoelectric smoke detectors to ensure the highest level of protection.

Please be aware, though, that the most important thing you can do to keep you and your family safe is change your smoke alarm batteries once a year, every year.