If you hear an incessant loud beeping sound in the middle of the night, be on guard. If it’s not your burglar alarm system, then it must be your smoke detector. Along with burglar alarm systems, it is your family’s source of protection while asleep. A smoke detector should be present in every home. It is a fact of life that they are very efficient in detecting fires. It is a very inexpensive life-saving tool. It cannot be placed in every room though. The kitchen should not have smoke detectors because of the activities that go on in the area. You can use heat detectors instead like fire alarm systems. Every smoke detector is composed of a sensor system to sense smoke and a loud horn to alarm homeowners.
It can run on a 9-volt or 20-volt battery. The 9-volt battery has to be changed every year while the 20 volt or the chirping kind can be replaced every month. Aside from the battery, you also have to attach the wirings for one smoke detector to connect with the others and a dual smoke/carbon monoxide detector.
These smoke alarms are classified into two types. These are the ionization and the photoelectric detectors. The photoelectric detectors can sense movement or activity through laser light or photo beams. They can also act as motion detectors. Once it is blocked, the alarm will start ringing. This kind of smoke alarm is often utilized in business establishments like malls or department stores because of their bulk. However, it may not be fit for household use due to its size. It can only detect heavy smoke activity and not the small ones.
Meanwhile, the ionization smoke detectors make use of radiation to detect smoke. The ionization smoke detectors contain an ionization chamber and a supply of ionizing radiation called americium. This is a radioactive element that can be stored for 432 years. It also contains a rich supply of alpha particles. Alpha particles knock off the oxygen and nitrogen atoms within the chamber. Because it has been knocked off, it becomes a free electron, which has both negative and positive charges. These opposing charges attract. When the smoke enters the chamber, it changes the configuration of the atom and causes the air to be neutralized. When this happens, the alarm immediately starts to sound. It may be cheaper and readily available but it is definitely better than photoelectric smoke detectors because it can immediately sniff through smaller smoke sources to cause the alarm to be sounded. Because of its radiation content, some people are afraid of exposure. This fear is not warranted because the amount of americium inside the smoke detector is very tiny.
The ionizing smoke detectors work better with open flames while the photoelectric smoke detectors are better designed for smoldering fires. It is recommended to use both kinds. This is to make sure that they complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. That way, you will have a foolproof smoke detector system.