Fire Alarms, Smoke Detectors, Smart Sensors - Differences Explained

There are a lot of things you’ll need to consider when you’re building your security system for your home. What kind of cameras to get, how many smart lights to add, do you get motion sensors, etc., these are all concerns. But there’s one aspect that oftentimes gets left out, even though it is critical to both your safety and security – fire detection devices.

For many families, a smoke alarm is the only thing that allows them to safely escape a fire and call the fire department on time. However, an unmonitored detector is nothing more than a simple noisemaker if nobody is at home to alert the authorities. And even the most advanced home security systems can’t do much to prevent a fire.

Fortunately for all homeowners, smart technology is changing things. Smart sensors will allow you to catch a potential fire hazard early, and get help immediately, even if nobody is at home when the alarm rings. Now, the thing is that many owners think that fire detection devices are interchangeable. They aren’t, and you’ll need the right selection of components to keep your family, and your home, safe from fire.

What is the use of Smoke Detectors?

A smoke detector is more or less the simplest device of them all. It’s a smoke-sensing device that’s going to ring a loud alarm when there are more smoke particles in the air than necessary. There are a few devices that will also trigger your fire alarm, too, provided it’s linked to a monitoring device or the fire department. Many will also have flashing lights to help the hearing understand what’s going on.

They usually work in one of three ways. An ionization detector will respond best to a fast, raging fire. There’s a small amount of radioactive material that creates an ionization chamber. Smoke particles will disrupt the flow of ions, triggering the alarm. Photoelectric detectors react best to a smoky fire. They rely on a photoelectric sensor and a light source. When there’s smoke into the detector’s compartment, it reflects light on the light sensor, triggering the alarm. Last but not least, there are dual-sensor detectors that have both technologies, and respond to a wider spectrum.

The issue with smoke detectors is that most aren’t linked to a fire alarm. Therefore, they’ll only notify anyone who’s physically there, inside the home. If you aren’t home and nobody calls the fire department, you have a much smaller chance of saving your home. Note that you should replace smoke detectors every few years, as they become less sensitive over time.

What is Smart Smoke and Heat Sensors

Smart sensors will take the entire protection game to another level. They’re connected to your home security system, regardless of whether it’s a DIY or a monitored one, and they alert you or the monitoring company instantly if something happens. This allows you to get a quick reaction and notify the fire department immediately if something happens.

The wireless sensors will also send you a notification if they detect that something isn’t right, and they’ll specify which device is reporting a problem. If you aren’t there, you can rely on your home security cameras to see if everything is okay. This system will also let you silence the alarm from a smartphone if nothing is happening, so you know not to overreact.  

These are even better when you’ve got a professional monitoring system, and they add even more protection. For example, if something is happening and a sensor is triggered, the monitoring company will try to contact you. If you don’t respond, they’ll dispatch emergency services instantly.

How Fire alarms Work?

Even though people describe anything that makes noise when there’s a potential fire as a fire alarm, that’s not entirely true. A typical fire alarm is pretty complex and is usually seen in commercial applications. You’ll find them in businesses and multi-unit residential properties, and their requirements differ based on the type of the structure.

These alarms might be activated manually, or they might be tied to an initiation detection, such as a smoke detector. They will blast a siren, or a bell, or anything else that will warn people to exit the building. Similar to smoke detectors, they also have flashing lights for the hearing impaired. You will seldom see these in single-home structures, though.

Which One Is Right?

This is a difficult choice for many because an alarm is the first line of defense when there is a fire in a home. It gives people time to remove themselves, as well as their loved ones, from danger. However, an unmonitored smoke detector is useless if nobody hears the warning, or if the people or pets inside can’t call for help. Since fire alarms are for commercial purposes, as a homeowner, you’d be best off with a smart smoke and heat sensor that’s going to alert you, and the emergency services, that something is happening before things go terribly bad.