Types of Smoke Detectors used in Fire Alarms

Ionization versus photoelectric Smoke DetectorsTypes of Smoke Detectors used in Fire Alarms


Ionization Smokes versus Photoelectric Smokes.


Types of Detectors

The three types of smoke detectors available today are photoelectric, ionization and those that have both sensors. A photoelectric alarm is triggered when smoke enters the detector and light from a pulsating source is reflected off the smoke particles onto a light sensor. In an ion alarm, ionized air molecules attach to the smoke particles that enter the chamber, reducing the ionizing current and triggering the alarm.

Pros and Cons

The ion detector reacts faster than the photoelectric in responding to flaming fires, and the photoelectric detector is more responsive to smoldering fires. Because an ion detector tests the air for small combustible particles, it can be fooled by chemical or paint particles in the atmosphere. The photoelectric detector, which needs to “see” the fire, can be fooled by dust, steam or even spider webs. Though both offer protection against undetected fires, ion detectors experience a higher incidence of nuisance alarms.

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