Up In Smoke – Part 1. Types of Smoke Detectors.

Greetings from us here at Hauer Power Electrical! Hello everyone and welcome to today’s edition of your Edmonton electrician! Today we are going to be talking about smoke detectors and the 3 different types. There is alot to cover when it comes to smoke alarm detectors so today will be part 1 of this fiery read. No matter if you are looking for new smoke detectors for at home, or in your place of business there are important things to take note of and watch for. If you are ever concerned with the quality of your install, or have any questions feel free to reach out to your proffessional edmonton electrician, at Hauer Power Electrical! You can always email us at info@hauerpower.ca or call us during regular business hours. If you need emergency electrical assistance you can always call our phone number at 780-935-0622. Now come join us as we dive into the world of smoke detectors!

Why.  Why do you need smoke detectors? Aside from Canadian Electrical Code making it a requirement, you want smoke detectors in your home to let you know if your home is experiencing a residential fire. Smoke detectors help to alert the occupants inside that there is a fire so that they can either extinguish the fire themselves, or vacate the premises, and alert the authorities. Electrical smoke detectors can often cause a nuisance when they start chirping to indicate low batteries, or when they go off when someone in the kitchen is cooking up a controlled amount of smoke. The fact is that these smoke alarms need to be regularly maintained and periodically replaced according to manufacturer’s recommendations, and local codes. Some brands say that their product is good for 7 years before replacement and some brands state 10 years before replacement. Regardless of make or model of electrical smoke alarms it’s important to be familiar with these devices, and test them periodically to maintain proper safe working order. As your Edmonton electrician, we highly recommend it!

3 Types of smoke detectors. There are 3 basic types of residential smoke detectors and they have different advantages to them. As your Edmonton electrician we are happy to break them down for you. All 3 will have some things in common, and all 3 have their differences. There is not really any right or wrong type of smoke detector in your home, but when it comes to safety it is always important to choose wisely. All electrical smoke detectors and smoke alarms will vary in price and quality. As your Edmonton electrician we encourage you to see electrical smoke detectors and electrical smoke alarms as an investment. These electrical devices are the items that are going to help notify the occupants of a fire. Should a fire occur and noone hears about it the results are tragic, and often fatal.

Ionization smoke detectors.  The first type of electrical smoke detector that we are going to discuss today is the Ionization type of smoke detector. Ionization electrical smoke detectors are used to detect small smoke particles in the air that typically come from a classic aggressive flame type fire, rather than a smouldering type of fire, which produces a high volume of low lying smoke. Contained within these ionization smoke alarms are 2 metal plates that have an electrical current flowing between them. This electrical current is regulated and when smoke clouds the space between these two charged plates then the current becomes interrupted and triggers the electrical smoke detector to go into alarm mode. The current does not typically arc between these two plates as it would in other scenarios because the ionization smoke detectors have a very small regulated amount of radioactive material between these two plates. If you have these smoke alarms near a kitchen, bathroom, or food prepping area where smoke, steam, or other air particles is common then you may experience nuisance alarms. When someone burns food that they’re cooking, or has a hot steamy shower in the bathroom these particles can interrupt the charge between the 2 electrical plates in the detector and cause it to go into alarm mode regardless of a fire or not. This type of electrical smoke detector is also typically marked so as to say not to paint it. As your professional Edmonton electrician we would highly advise that you never paint your electrical smoke detectors. When you paint a device such as these chances are good that you are compromising their ability to function properly.

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors. The next type of smoke detector or smoke alarm that we are going to discuss is the photoelectric type. The photoelectric type of electrical smoke detector operates on the principle of light. These smoke alarms use the physics of light and the principles of reflection, and refraction of light at different angles. An internal light source is introduced into the device at an angle away from the light sensor that is to receive it. Once smoke is introduced to this smoke detector the light reflects and refracts and shines on the lighting sensor within the device, which then triggers it to alarm. These smoke detectors are more suited for the smouldering type fires that you would typically find in garbage, or wastebaskets from matches, cigarette butts, or other sources of ignition. These smouldering type fires produce a larger volume of smoke which is what helps to cause the photoelectric smoke detectors to alarm. Because of the light sensor sensing any refraction in light steam doesn’t tend to nuisance these alarms as much. While you may not experience as many nuisance alarms these units may become faulty with time due to a large collection of dust. As your Edmonton electrician we strongly advise that these units be cleaned periodically according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Dual Sensor smoke detectors. The third type of smoke detector we are going to talk about today is the dual sensor smoke detector. The dual sensor smoke detector combines both the photoelectric and ionization smoke detectors qualities into one unit. This combined effectiveness helps detect both types of fires, from one single unit. Depending on the make, model, and manufacturer these can trigger into alarm immediately once one of the sensors signals an alarm, or it can require both. With having only one sensor be triggered in order to go into an alarm it gives faster notice of a fire in the home, however you will have more nuisance alarms occurring from smoke, steam, or burnt food, etc… When you have the type that requires both sensors to sound then you face fewer nuisance false alarms however you will also be potentially delayed in hearing of a fire in the home or place of commercial business. As with all units, your Edmonton electrician advises routine electrical maintenance, as well as to never paint any type of electrical smoke detector.

CO detectors. In addition to these 3 types of fire alarm smoke detectors there is another thing to remember when updating or installing a smoke alarm system. Carbon Monoxide or CO. Carbon Monoxide is colourless, and odourless, but can be a fatal gas to inhale if not exhausted or alerted in time. The effects of carbon monoxide from the exhaust gases that were not entirely ignited, such as exhaust fumes from a car, or perhaps a gas furnace. Many smoke detectors and electrical alarms can come combined with CO detection as well. Carbon Monoxide detectors are also readily available as stand alone units. As your Edmonton electrician we always strongly recommend that if you are changing out detectors or installing new ones to spend the extra money and get the combo with CO detection. If it can save your life or the well being of your loved ones or home occupants it is definitely a small cost to consider. Some CO detectors also will come with a digital readout display of the amount for times when tracking CO may be a concern.

Disabilities. If someone is hearing impaired then an audible signal may not be enough to alert them of a fire. As a professional Edmonton electrician we are always on the ball when it comes to accommodating our customers needs. So when someone has hearing impairment it is important to install smoke alarm detectors complete with flashing lights to help warn all of the occupants in the home of a potential fire. When everyone is aware of a fire and can extinguish or evacuate, then that home is just that much more safe.

Buttons on your electrical smoke alarm detectors. Smoke alarms and smoke detectors will often have buttons on their faces for the user. Sometimes, 1 sometimes 2 buttons, maybe more depending on the make, model and manufacturers. These buttons are often used to either silence, or test the electrical smoke detector. The silencing feature is typically a temporary measure and the smoke detector will alarm again if it is triggered by another source, whether real or false alarm. It is always best to use the silence feature on the smoke alarm units rather than take the batteries out as there is a good chance to forget to put the batteries back in. When forgetting to replace the smoke detectors batteries it creates a good chance that a potential fire can go undetected. 

Don’t go up in smoke! We have reached the end of part 1 concerning the different types of smoke alarm detectors. Stay tuned for the next edition covering the best brands on the market and how we can install them for you. Whether you have the correct wiring or just want battery powered devices we are happy to give you free in home estimates and provide you with electrical solutions! As your Edmonton electrician we always highly advise that you contact your local professional electrical contractor to clarify any concerns that your system may be facing. Whether you need a reliable residential electrician, or an experienced commercial electrician, we are always here to help give you the power! You can email us at info@hauerpower.ca or call us at 780-935-0622. We provide emergency after hours services to Edmonton and area and are always happy to give you power. Call us today and see what we can do for you!

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