Ionization vs. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors: Which Type Should You Use?

Ionization vs. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors: Which Type Should You Use?
Fire Protection

Ionization vs. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors: Which Type Should You Use?

When it comes to fire safety, the installation of a proper smoke alarm system is essential. According to House Grail, 93% of households in the U.S. have at least one smoke alarm, indicating how important they are to home safety. There are two main types of smoke detectors: ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors. It’s essential to understand the differences between them so that you can select the best option for your property.

What’s an Ionization Smoke Detector?

An ionization smoke detector uses a small amount of radioactive material (americium-241) and two electrically charged plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it interrupts the flow of ions between the two plates, triggering the alarm. The advantage of an ionization smoke detector is that it can quickly detect fires caused by flaming combustibles such as wood, paper, and other materials. These smoke detectors can also identify small particles generated in fast-flaming fires, making them ideal for smaller spaces.

What’s a Photoelectric Smoke Detector?

A photoelectric smoke detector has a light source and a detector on the opposite side of its chamber. When smoke enters, it scatters the light across the chamber, which then triggers the alarm. Photoelectric smoke detectors are best suited for detecting smoldering fires due to the larger particles they can detect. They are ideal for bigger spaces where smoldering fires are more likely.

Which Type Should You Use?

When choosing a smoke detector for your property, consider the type of fire you are most likely to encounter. If you have any areas susceptible to fast-flaming fires, an ionization smoke detector is the best option for quickly detecting those types of fires. For areas where smoldering fires are more likely, a photoelectric smoke detector would be the best choice. For added protection, you may also want to consider installing a combination detector to detect both types of fires.

Should You Install Both?

Installing both ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors in your property is the best way to ensure comprehensive fire safety. It’ll help reduce the risk of false alarms and ensure that both smoldering and fast-flaming fires are detected quickly.

No matter which type of smoke detector you choose, it’s essential to ensure that it’s properly installed and regularly tested. At FireTron, we offer a wide selection of smoke detectors from leading manufacturers. Contact us today for information about the right smoke detector for your fire safety.