See no evil smell no evil? Photoelectric VS Ionization smoke alarms

Smoke signal alarm type blog banner ss 2.png

In Ancient China, soldiers used to use smoke signals along the Great Wall as a way of communicating with one another to pass on information and warnings of danger. This method of communication has clearly been replaced with the evolution of transportation and communication, but one facet that remains from this form of
long-distance communication is that smoke is an indication of danger. 

Where there is smoke, there is fire and with our Smoke Signal pieces, we wish to provide you with useful, interesting and insightful information on smoke alarm security. 

smoke signals logo 2.png

It is always good to get an understanding of the hardware that is protecting you and your families. With smoke alarms, an important place to start is by asking the question "what type of smoke alarm is in my property/ies"? The answer to this will take the form of either a Photoelectric smoke alarm or an Ionization smoke alarm. Questioning your alarm type often then brings up the questions' 'what is the difference'? and 'does it matter'? Well, we thought it only make sense for a smoke alarm security company to give you the breakdown of smoke alarm type and importance.

Ionization alarms

Ionization alarms are essentially radioactive sniffer dogs. The alarm functions by balancing a small amount of radiation between two magnetic plates. This small amount of radiation converts air molecules that funnel through the alarm into positive and negative ions. The ions will then flow to the positive and negative plates within the top and bottom of the alarm creating a circuitry path out of the converted air molecules. Once smoke enters the alarm's chambers the path of created ions bond with the smoke entering the alarm, which then breaks the molecule circuit between the plates, triggering the alarm.

Ionization alarms are known as a 'smelling' alarm as the smoke needs to fill the chamber and be sensed by the ion cycle to trigger the alarm in the same manner as needing an odour to fill your nostrils for your body to register a smell. 

ionization alam 2 fram infograph bbb.png

Photoelectric alarms

Photoelectric alarms are the eyes of the house when it comes to smoke detection. They work by having a beam of light positioned above a light sensor. When a fire begins to smoulder, smoke particles will enter the alarm and deflect light from the beam of light positioned within the alarm. Once the smoke particles deflect the beams light they interfere with the path of the beams from one side of the alarm to the other, cutting off the path of light within the alarm by deflecting light towards the light sensor, therefore activating it to warn the detection of smoke. 

Photoelectric alarms are the 'seeing' alarms as they sense fires through light and interference of lights pathways, similar to how we notice items when they are put within our line of sight.

photoelectric alarm both images inforgraph bbb.png

Which is safer?

When questioning which smoke alarm is the safer option it is, without a doubt, photoelectric smoke alarms. The reason photoelectric is safer than Ionization is predominantly based off its ability to detect fire at its early stages. Because photoelectric alarms have a visual sensor that triggers off reflections from smoke particles, they are more sensitive detectors, meaning they are able to sense fires at the smouldering stage before it builds a head of steam. Ionization alarms require the smoke alarms chamber to fill with enough smoke that the ions react to the smoke particles and break the air molecule circuitry. This means that fires will need to develop to a level to generate enough smoke to fill a chamber, alerting those within the property of the fire at a much later stage of detection than that of a photoelectric alarm. Fire authorities encourage the use of photoelectric alarms as it gives those within the property the foresight to leave at the early stages of a fire, creating greater odds of safety and security.

At Smoke Alarms Australia, our main concern is giving tenants, landlords and agents the greatest chance for safety and security against the risks of fire for themselves and their properties. That is why we only use photoelectric smoke alarms in all our smoke alarm services.

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with one of our Business Development Managers, click the contact us button below and leave a message regarding your inquiries around alarm types or any other smoke alarm matter.