What is a Photoelectric Smoke Detector

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Photoelectric Smoke Detectors are the newest in fire safety technology. They provide an alternative to ionization detectors and work better in specific circumstances. Of course, you might be wondering: What is a Photoelectric Smoke Detector?

Simply put, photoelectric smoke detectors are fire safety devices that use light to detect smoke from fires. Homeowners might be interested in exploring options for these new kinds of smoke detectors.

So today, the team at Attic Projects is here to answer the question: What is a photoelectric smoke detector? We will discuss these innovative detectors, including how they work and what makes them effective, and why you should consider getting one in your house.

How Does a Photoelectric Smoke Detector Work?

A photoelectric smoke detector uses light to detect smoke. Photoelectric smoke detectors have a small chamber with an LED light that projects a beam onto a light sensor. Smoke particles in the air scatter the light beam making contact with the sensor module. When the sensor detects a break in the light beam, it triggers the alarm and starts to sound.

What Is A Photoelectric Smoke Detector

Need for Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

Despite what many people may think, not all fires are the same. Different fires produce different amounts of flames and amounts of smoke. Traditional ionization smoke detectors may not be suitable for detecting all types of fires.

Therefore, manufacturers created photoelectric smoke detectors to safeguard people from different types of fires that ionization detectors may not detect. Photoelectric detectors give homeowners more options when planning fire safety.

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors vs. Ionization Smoke Detectors

The crucial difference between a photoelectric smoke detector and an ionization smoke detector is the mechanism for detecting fires. Ionization detectors use a small piece of radioactive matter to create a current between two electrodes in the sensor. Smoke particles that get into the sensor interfere with the current. When the electrodes sense a current drop, the alarm starts to sound.

Photoelectric smoke detectors are still relatively uncommon but may be the ideal choice in several situations. Generally speaking, photoelectric detectors are best for detecting fires that do not produce high quantities of flame. These include smoldering fires from things like cigarette butts or candles. The leading cause of death from fire is actually smoke inhalation, and photoelectric detectors can identify these kinds of fires before the flames even start.

Ionization detectors, on the other hand, are better for fires with large flames that do not produce as much smoke as smoldering fires. Ionization detectors are especially useful for fires from sources like wood, paper, or flammable liquids. These detectors can give you more time to react to and escape from high-flame fires.

Benefits of Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

Below are some of the main benefits of choosing a photoelectric smoke detector.

Wider Range of Detection

Photoelectric smoke detectors may be best for homes because they can accurately detect a wider range of fires. Many fires in the home start as smoldering ashes, and the low heat prevents ionization detectors from detecting them. Photoelectric detectors are better at detecting these fires that can linger until they turn into large, destructive flames.

Fewer False Alarms

Ionization false alarms can trigger from several non-fire sources, such as cooking and steam from the bathroom. Anything that increases heat could potentially trip the alarm. Conversely, a photoelectric smoke detector false alarm would be relatively rare because smoke particles must scatter the light beam before it goes off.

No Radioactive Material

Ionization smoke detectors contain a small amount of radioactive material, most commonly americium-241. The level of radiation is small enough that it does not pose a risk to human health. However, photoelectric detectors are an option for homeowners who want to minimize radiation exposure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

Below are some of the most common questions about photoelectric smoke detectors we receive.

What Triggers a Photoelectric Smoke Alarm?

Smoke particles scattering the light beam away from an internal sensor trigger a photoelectric sensor smoke detector. The sensor detects the break in the light beam and sets off the alarm. Even in the absence of fire, as long as there is smoke, a photoelectric alarm will do its job.

Where Should Photoelectric Smoke Detectors Be Placed?

You should place smoke detectors in each bedroom and have at least one on every level of the house, including the basement. Placing detectors in the living room and kitchen is also a good idea due to the possibility of fires in those areas.

Which Smoke Detector Is Better: Ionization or Photoelectric?

Determining the best smoke detector depends on your needs. A photoelectric smoke detector hardwired into your house would be better for detecting low-heat high-smoke fires, while ionization detectors are better for low-smoke high-flame fires. Generally, photoelectric detectors have a wider detection range and fewer false alarms.

How Close Should a Smoke Detector Be to a Bedroom Door?

You should align bedroom smoke detectors with the center of the door frame and place them no further than five feet from the door. Placing them further away can reduce their effectiveness and cause them to miss signs of smoke and fire.

How Often Do I Need To Replace Photoelectric Smoke Detectors?

Just like regular fire alarms, you should replace your photoelectric detectors at least once every ten years. You can figure out how old your detector is by looking at the manufacturer date on the casing.

How Much Do Photoelectric Smoke Detectors Cost?

The average best hardwired photoelectric smoke detector will hover around $120. You can also find battery-powered photoelectric smoke detectors for around $60 to $70.

Can I Install a Photoelectric Smoke Detector Myself?

You can install a battery-powered smoke detector on your own, but you will need to hire a licensed contractor to install a hardwired photoelectric smoke detector.

Contact Us Today!

Now that you know the answer to “What is a photoelectric smoke detector?” it’s time to take the next step. Contact Attic Projects to discuss options for photoelectric smoke detector installation!

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