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An out-of-control fire in your home is not a usual event, however, the risk of fire is around every single day. There are plenty of ways fires can start, day or night and if you aren’t prepared, the consequences can be savage. Protecting your property and family from fire is an important responsibility that is not just common sense, it’s required by Australian law.

Luckily early warning smoke detection systems for your home are super cheap, simple to install and require little maintenance.

What a smoke detector does

A smoke detector saves lives and property by detecting small amounts of smoke in the air and sending out a loud alarm to warn of the threat of fire. During the day fire can start when someone is in another room, a smoke detector can alert them to come quickly and extinguish the flame. When sleeping, a candle, faulty lights or faulty electronics can start a fire without warning. A smoke detector will help wake people who won’t be aware of the danger otherwise and give them time to get out of the building safely.

The two types of smoke detectors

There are two main types of smoke detector setups that work in different ways. Each provides an advantage with different fire types, however, both will alert you to any fire much faster than you can detect on your own, especially overnight.

How a photoelectric smoke detector works

Photoelectric detectors contain a sensor and light. Typically the LED beam shines uninterrupted through an empty chamber, leaving the sensor in darkness below it. When smoke enters, it crosses the LED beam and scatters the light, casting light onto the sensor and setting off the alarm.

How an ionisation smoke detector works

Ionisation smoke detectors contain a small amount of radioactive material. This is passed between two electrically charged plates, offsetting electrons and causing a current. If smoke enters the area it changes the electrons and the current is reduced. As soon as this happens the alarm is activated.

Pros & cons

Ionisation technologies are cheaper so these detectors are common. They also work with small amounts of smoke, to alert you to a flame-heavy fire.

Photoelectric detectors are best suited to times when a fire simmers, rather than erupts into flames. These fires begin with a long period of slow smoke before catching on – like in the instance of a smouldering mattress. If possible, choose to have both types covered in the same device to double your cover.

If your bedroom is located in a different area of the house to your kid’s rooms, it’s highly recommended that you get interconnected alarms. You’ll need a licensed electrician to help install your new smoke detector. As shrill as a smoke detector alarm can be, most of the time kids will sleep straight through it. Interconnected systems mean that if an alarm goes off close to your child’s room, you’ll be alerted too. Saving precious minutes is enough time to save precious lives.


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