Smoke alarms save lives. Three out of five deaths due to fires occurred in homes without smoke detectors. If you have a working unit in your home, the risk of death lessens by as much as 55%.
Every home must have a working smoke detector. However, it must be the right type for your home. It means installing the right smoke detector in every room.
What smoke detector features do you need? Keep reading to know the factors to consider when choosing smoke detectors.
1. Type of Sensor
Smoke detectors have three common types: photoelectric, ionization, and dual-sensor. Their main difference lies in the type of sensor. It affects how sensitive they are and the types of fire they can detect.
Optical or photoelectric detectors sense large particles of smoke coming from a smoldering fire. They have light-sensitive sensors and light-emitting diodes. They create a single beam of light.
When smoke particles enter the dark chamber, it crosses the beam of light and scatters it. The deflection of the light increases the voltage, triggering the alarm.
A downside of this smoke detector is it might respond to non-fire products. Steam or vapors coming from showers might be enough to trigger it.
Ionization smoke detectors detect fast fires, which create smaller smoke particles. They contain two electrodes with a continuously flowing current.
When smoke enters the sensor chamber, it interrupts the flow and connectivity, causing the alarm to go off. This principle makes ionization smoke detectors more sensitive.
There are also smoke detectors with a combination of photoelectric and ionization sensors. Dual sensors are effective in detecting both fast flaming and smoldering fires.
Where are you planning to install the smoke detector? The location determines the right type of sensor.
For kitchens, the better choice is an ionization smoke detector. It won’t go off when you’re cooking with fire. However, it will sound an alarm if the fire gets too big.
It means photoelectric and dual-sensor types aren’t suitable for the kitchen. You can use them in other parts of the house where fires should be uncommon.
You have to assess the fire risk in each room to find out the best smoke alarm. In places where electrical wiring is a fire risk, use optical or dual sensors.
Aside from the fire risk, also consider non-fire phenomena. Smoke, steam, dust, airflow, and so on can affect the room’s smoke detectors.
3. Size of Your House
The size of your house matters when choosing smoke detectors because it determines the right number of units you need. Aside from the square feet measurement, account for the number of rooms and hallways.
In general, it’s best to have a smoke detector in every room. Put one in each hallway. Install one at both ends if you have a long corridor.
Don’t forget the stairwells, utility rooms, basement, and risky places as well.
It’s better to get someone to wire them together, even if it’s not a requirement. It allows all your smoke detectors to sound an alarm even if only one detects smoke. You won’t miss the fire in the basement even when you’re in your room, fast asleep.
4. Battery Type
Smoke detectors run on different types of batteries. Some use AA or AAA batteries, for example. Make sure to change them every couple of years or so to keep them working.
Other types use lithium or sealed lithium. These are more viable for long-term use as the batteries can last up to 10 years.
You can also use wired-in types, which you can buy in both AC only or AC combined. Call for a smoke detector service or electrical panel services to help. If you choose this option, get a backup battery.
Whatever you choose, the smoke detector would have an indicator when its battery level is low. Make sure to mark the date of your last battery replacement. It’s the most efficient way to know when it’s due for replacement.
5. UL Label
When buying smoke detectors, look for the UL label. Having this label means Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. tested the particular model. It’s a nonprofit organization for testing and certifying the device’s safety.
A smoke detector must have this label to let you know that it met the safety regulations. As smoke detectors are a device for saving lives, you have to ensure they passed a high standard of quality.
For the most part, smoke detectors are a set-and-forget kind of device. However, you still have to check on them from time to time.
You have to replace the batteries if you bought battery-operated units. Consider how easy it is to remove the batteries when looking for smoke detectors for homes.
Keep in mind, you also have to clean your smoke detectors to remove the build-up of dirt and dust. It’s can trigger false alarms or render it ineffective, so it’s important to do this at least once a month. Those with removable covers are easier to vacuum and clean.
7. Ease of Use
Smoke alarms can go off due to various reasons, leading to false fire alarms. It’s best to get an alarm you can conveniently turn off whenever it happens.
For convenience, look for smoke detectors to silence while looking for the source. It helps avoid panic, keeping you calm and clear-headed in a potential emergency. You can also consider an alarm with remote control, allowing you to test the unit.
Find Help in Choosing Smoke Detectors Now
Choosing smoke detectors isn’t something you can be careless with. It determines your family and home’s safety. As such, you should look for the right features based on your specific needs.
You can also look for multi-purpose detectors. Some models can also detect the carbon monoxide levels in your home.
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