ElectricalHow Does a Smoke Detector Work?

Smoke detectors are really a marvel of engineering. Not only are they incredibly effective, they are also cheap to make and save thousands of lives every single year. So how do they work? Here at G&S Heating, Cooling and Electrical, Inc. we wanted to put together a quick explanation of how smoke detectors work. Give us a call if you’re having any issues with your home and you need Lynnwood, WA electrical services.

Smoke Detectors: The Basics

There are a couple different types of smoke detectors: photoelectric and ionization detectors though some models of detectors actually use both. The basic idea behind smoke detectors is that they constantly run some kind of continuous process that, if it gets interrupted by smoke, cause the alarm to trigger.

Photoelectric Detectors

These types of detectors use a beam of light emitted from an LED to detect the presence of smoke. If smoke enters the detector it will scatter the beam of light into a sensor which will trigger the alarm.

Ionization Detectors

These types of detectors use a small amount of radioactive material to generate an electric current. In the presence of smoke, this electric current is interrupted which triggers the horn on the detector.

So Which One Is Better?

Trying to compare the effectiveness of each detector is like comparing apples and oranges. Each detector works differently and so they respond differently to various type of fires. Both have undergone rigorous testing in order to receive UL certification. Photoelectric detectors tend to respond faster to smoldering fires because of the large amounts of smoke. But ionization detectors respond faster to flaming fires that have less combustion material in the air; this is why some homeowners disable them during cooking because they respond so quickly to the small amounts of smoke in the air.

If you have any questions about where to install your home’s smoke detectors or if you need any other Lynnwood, WA electrical services just give us a call here at G&S Heating, Cooling and Electrical, Inc.


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