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Which Smoke Alarm?

Did you know you are twice as likely to die in a house fire that has no smoke alarm than a house that does?

Do we really need a smoke alarm?

The UK Fire Service state;


"Every year the Fire and Rescue Service is called to over 600,000 fires which result in over 800 deaths and over 17,000 injuries.


About 50,000 (140 a day) of these are in the home and kill nearly 500 and injure over 11,000, many which could have been prevented if people had an early warning and were able to get out in time.


In fact the governement is now getting behind this with the New Legislation for Landlords from 1st October 2015.


How does a Smoke Alarm actually work?

Their are several different types of Smoke Alarms available for sensing different types of fires which are best located where these different types of fire might occur. 


Optical Smoke Alarms: Have you ever taken your car in for a service walked into the garage and heard a bell sound? You just crossed an infra-red beam and the photodetector or light sensor at the other end of the garage door just detected a lack of light from the beam you just walked in front of. It's the same principal for the optical smoke detector except instead of you breaking the beam of light it's the smoke particles.


Pro's : Effective at detecting large particles of smoke from slow burning fires such as electrical wiring or a smouldering sofa. Less likely to sound when you burn your toast in the morning


Con's: They are less sensitive to detecting fast burning fires that haven't yet produced lots of smoke particles. Optical Alarms tend to be more expensive.


Ionisation Smoke Detectors: These work by means of Ionizing Radiation. Each detector contains an ionization chamber with a very small amount of Americium-241 (approx 1/5000th of a gram), it's a radioactive element. As the element decays it emits alpha particles which ionize the oxygen in the chamber that produces a small electric current which is detected in the ionization chamber. So when smoke enters the chamber the current is disrupted, the alpha particles cant ionize the smoke, this triggers the alarm.


Pro's: These are the cheapest smoke alarms. Very effective at detecting small particles of smoke from fast burning fires like wood and paper. 


Con's: Less sensitive to slow burning fires which produce lots of smoke before fast burning flames develop.


Heat Alarms: Fixed temperature heat detectors work by measuring the changing of state of a material from a solid to a liquid. The material is an "eutectic alloy" which is heat sensitive. Thermal lag delays the activation of the alarm which isn't triggered until the material reaches 58Deg Centigrade (or 136.4 Deg F).


Pro's: Only triggered when the air temperature hits 58 Deg C so no false alarms when you burn your toast.


Con's: Effective in small areas, you may need a few in a larger area.



So which Alarm goes where?



Which smoke Alarm Goes Where?

Optical Smoke Alarms:

Ideally suited to Hallway, Landing

or Living Room



Ionisation Smoke Detectors:

Ideally suited to Bedrooms



Heat Alarms:

Ideally suited to Kitchen or



Carbon Monoxide Detectors:


Should be installed in the presence of

Wood Burning Stoves, Open Fires and

Boilers, Water Heaters, Paraffin Heaters,

Gas Appliances in Caravans or Boats.



What are Multi Point Detectors and Combined Detectors?

Multi Point Detectors or Multi Sensor Alarms incorporate heat detection and optical smoke detection, primarily to prevent false alarms from your burning toast.

Combined Detectors are combined Optical and Ionisation Smoke Detectors, effective at sounding the alarm on both slow burning and fast flaming fire types.


Whats are the Wireless Alarms?

Suppose the downstairs Alarm goes off, wouldn't it be a good idea if the alarm upstairs were off too? If you have a large property you might not hear the alarm in the kitchen, whilst you are fast asleep The more recent alarms from the leading brands have solved the problem with no pilot wires or cables, all the alarms in your home can now be Wirelessly Interlinked. Have a look at the new Sona Series or the Aico 160e Series for a whole house solution.


What else?


Smoke Alarms can be mains or battery powered and also mains and battery with the option of a battery back up. For example the Aico 160RC Series is now backed up with Rechargable Lithium Batteries. Mains powered alarms obviously stop the danger of the batteries running out.


Smoke Alarms for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing, sounding the alarm doesnt always suit everyone. You can now purchase flashing light strobes and vibrating pads which can be placed under pillows for the night time. These are the ideal solution for the deaf or hard of hearing who wouldnt necisarily hear the sound from a smoke alarm.



If you need help or assistance or any further information, please get in touch enquiries@electricpoint.com or 0845 601 3338