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How do I Choose the Best Home Smoke Alarm?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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Smoke alarms are used as a fire protection device in most homes today. The home smoke alarm provides residents with imminent warning of a fire in the house. The best home smoke alarm is one that uses both electrical and battery power. These alarms are integrated with other alarms in the house, which provides greater overall coverage. This type of alarm simultaneously engages all smoke detectors in the home.

Smoke detectors detect smoke through either photoelectric sources or ionization. Both smoke detector types provide sufficient coverage, but they work differently. Photoelectric smoke alarms use a light beam to detect smoke, while ionization uses an electronic monitoring device.

An ionization smoke alarm is a smoke detector that can detect small particles of smoke common in home fires. This detector is activated by monitoring the electronic energy between two battery-powered metal plates. When smoke is detected, the voltage between the plates drops, which causes the alarm to activate. This type of smoke detector is typically inexpensive.

Photoelectric smoke detectors are activated when smoke breaks a photo beam of light. This type of smoke detector contains a special photo sensor that monitors a beam of light. When the beam is broken by smoke particles, the alarm is activated. The photoelectric home smoke alarm is a commonly used smoke detector that can detect smoldering smoke areas.

A battery-powered home smoke alarm is an economical choice when shopping for a smoke detector. These smoke alarms typically use a nine-volt battery as a primary power source. This form of smoke detector is easiest to configure and mount because it does not require any electrical wiring. Small battery-powered smoke detectors can be easily added to multiple rooms within a house.

A good home smoke alarm is one that includes both smoke detection and carbon monoxide detection. This type of combo detector protects home occupants from harmful carbon monoxide poisoning while simultaneously monitoring for smoke. A combo alarm system is typically more expensive but provides the added benefits of dual health protection.

Smoke alarms are a required safety device in most homes today. Studies have shown that smoke is the leading cause of death during a fire. This is because inhaling hot smoke typically causes imminent death. A smoke detector gives occupants sufficient time to escape a burning home. Having any type of smoke detector in a home is better then having no smoke detector.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Jun 12, 2014

I know a battery operated smoke alarm is easy to install, but I'd almost rather have a hard-wired one with a battery backup. That way, as long as you have power, you've got a working smoke alarm, and if the power goes out, you have a backup.

You still have to replace batteries every so often, but I'd rather do that than worry about whether the alarm was working. Actually, I'd prefer to just spend the extra money to have it wired to an alarm system that will call the fire department automatically, unless I call them to tell them it's a false alarm.

I just like the extra security of an alarm system.

By Scrbblchick — On Jun 12, 2014

A smoke alarm is certainly a necessity. One thing the article did not mention is the decibel level of the alarm itself.

My mom has an alarm system in her house and her smoke alarm is hard wired. When that thing goes off, the sound is ear-splitting. There's no way you could sleep through that noise, and that's important. It should be loud enough and shrill enough to wake someone out of a sound sleep.

Some home improvement type stores have models you can test, and I would recommend doing that, especially if you know you're a really sound sleeper.

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