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Different types of smoke alarms explained


When buying smoke alarms to protect you and your family from fire, it’s easy to get lost in the available options. What seems like an endless number of devices boils down to two types: photoelectric and ionisation smoke alarms. Specialised alarms such as carbon monoxide and heat are also available but less common. Below, we’ll explain the differences between the two most common alarms and recommendations for the best smoke alarm for your home. 

Photoelectric smoke alarms

Photoelectric smoke alarms contain a beam of light shining away from an internal photocell. The alarm is triggered when smoke disperses the light beam and enters the cell. Because of the way they operate, photoelectric alarms can be falsely triggered by dust and small insects flying into the device.

Ionisation smoke alarms 

Unlike photoelectric alarms, ionisation smoke alarms contain a very small amount of radioactive material, which reacts to particles emitted in a fire. While this technology means ionisation smoke alarms tend to be quicker at sensing flames, they aren’t as fast as photoelectric smoke alarms at detecting smoke.

Which type of smoke alarm is best? 

Any smoke alarm is better than none, however since most house fires typically smoulder and produce smoke long before flames appear, photoelectric smoke alarms are thought to be a better choice for homes. During testing of both types, CHOICE found that while photoelectric alarms responded to the presence of smoke in 3-5 minutes, ionisation alarms took up to 20 minutes to be triggered. When every second might mean the difference between making a safe escape or suffering from smoke inhalation, it makes sense to opt for a photoelectric alarm in your home. It’s also worth noting that the location of your smoke alarm plays a vital role in their ability to detect fires.


Which types of photoelectric smoke alarm are there? 

Emerald Planet offers a range of photoelectric smoke alarms. Here are a few popular models:. 

Ranger series battery powered smoke alarm 

The Ranger Series photoelectric smoke alarms from emerald are available with a 1-year replaceable battery or a 10-year non-replaceable battery. Both versions meet Australian Smoke Alarm standards an come with a 7-year warranty.

Vulcan series hard-wired smoke alarm 

The Vulcan Series photoelectric smoke alarms from emerald are hard-wired to run off your home’s electricity. In case of power loss, the Vulcan comes with either a 1-year replaceable back-up battery. Like all Emerald Planet smoke alarms, the Vulcan Series meets Australian Smoke Alarm standards and is covered by a 7-year warranty. .



Burns Emerald PlanetPhotoelectric vs. Ionisation Smoke Alarms