What To Look For In A Smoke Alarm

Ionisation Smoking AlarmKeeping your family safe is of the utmost importance. In the event of a fire you need to be able to get them out of the building as soon as possible. Having an efficient fire alarm is vital in alerting you in case of a fire and having on installed that works is imperative. When selecting a fire alarm, you need one that will do the job efficiently and effectively, so what to look for in an excellent fire alarm?

Ionisation alarm

These alarms work by creating a small current of air inside the chamber through the ionising of air between two electrodes. The smoke changes the balance of the air; a signal is sent to an integrated circuit and sets the alarm off.

While it is a cheaper option and is widely available, this type of alarm does have its faults. It is a lot more sensitive to small particles of smoke that can easily trigger the alarm. It is best to avoid putting it too near the kitchen as the fumes from cooking smoke can set the alarm off.


These are more expensive but are less likely to go off randomly. They detect slow burning fires such as overheated electrical wires. They contain an infra-red lens which sends a beam into the device chamber to detect smoke particles. Once smoke enters, the light is scattered to the photodiode sensor, triggering the alarm. These can be placed near the kitchen as they are not as sensitive and advised to place in hallways as well.


This alarm detects the hot air inside the smoke. The alarm is triggered when the heat inside the chamber reaches over 58 degrees. While it is not as sensitive, it does take a while to respond. This alarm is ideal to place anywhere in the house.


These alarms combine the best features of both the optical and the heat. With its level of intelligence, it can interpret the different signals whilst monitoring them both. This is suitable for all rooms, except for the kitchen.

While there are differences between the types of alarms, there is also a difference between smoke and fire alarms. Both alert you in the event of a fire, but the mechanics and functionality are different.
Fire alarms alert you if there is a fire by monitoring the temperature and changes in the environment. They can be linked to other systems, such as sprinklers which are triggered by the alarm. Because of the complex system and circuitry, fire alarms are more suitable for commercial buildings rather than domestic.

As with all alarms, ensuring you have a sufficient power supply for the alarm is vital. Make sure you have the correct batteries and that you keep it in good working order. Test it once a week by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds and change the battery once a year. Every ten years you should replace the whole unit. For further information on fire regulations and safety, you should seek advice from a fire safety check company. Please click here.

By Harry Price

Harry Price lives by the sea and has 3 dogs. They all enjoy long walks by the coast, especially on a stormy day!