How to Choose the Best Home Fire Alarm System

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Smoke alarm

Contrary to popular belief, there is a variety of fire alarms to choose from for your home. Depending on the type of fire and the materials, size, and construction of your home, one style of fire alarm may respond better than another. To verify the best fire alarm system in Mantua, NJ, for your home, here are some facts that distinguish different types of alarms from each other.

Different Types of Fire Alarms: Ionization vs. Photoelectric

It’s easy to assume that all fire alarms are the same because they all have the same goal: detecting when there’s a fire and alerting you to evacuate to safety. However, there are different types of sensors that are used to help detect smoke. One is ionization. In this instance, small amounts of americium 241 (a radioactive element) are used to ionize the air inside of the alarm, which creates a small electrical current inside the detector. When smoke enters the device, that current is disrupted and the alarm will sound. Ionization alarms typically respond more quickly to fast-flaming fires.

The other type is photoelectric. Photoelectric alarms aim a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. Smoke enters the chamber, reflecting light onto the light sensor and triggering the alarm.  Photoelectric detectors are generally more responsive to the smoldering fires that are common in homes.

For each type of smoke alarm, the sensing technology they provide can be critical to life safety in various fire scenarios. Household fires, day or night, include a large number of both smoldering fires and flaming fires. No one can predict the type of fire you may have in your home or when it will occur. Any smoke alarm technology, to be effective, must be able to detect both types of fire in order to provide early warning day or night and whether you are asleep or awake.

FirefightersIn tests, ionization alarms will typically respond about 30 to 90 seconds faster to “fast-flame” fires than photoelectric smoke alarms. However, in smoldering fires ionization alarms respond an average of 15 to 50 minutes slower than photoelectric alarms.

For Best Protection, Use Both Types of Smoke Alarm Technologies

For the best protection against fire, we recommend both technologies be used in homes. Ionization alarms are generally available thru retail and chain outlets. Photoelectric detectors are generally available through professional security dealers and are normally monitored 24/7 for response by fire departments. Professionally monitored fire alarm systems are preferred by insurance companies and provide a quick, sure response to fires to best protect you and your family.

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