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What Should I Consider When Buying a Smoke Detector?

By Deborah Ng
Updated May 16, 2024
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A smoke detector is an early warning device used to signal residents of a home in case of smoke or fire. If smoke is detected, the smoke detector emits loud, high pitched beeps, alerting residents and, if need be, allowing them to evacuate before the home is consumed by fire. Since most house fires occur when the occupants are sleeping, a loud, obnoxious smoke detector is your best bet for survival.

When it comes to life-saving items such as the smoke detector, it's not enough to choose the cheapest model. Instead, it's best to choose the most reliable. Some tips for choosing a smoke detector can be found below.

Your first step is to make sure the smoke detector is UL (Underwriter's Laboratory) tested and rated. This means the smoke detector has been put through extensive testing in all possible scenarios. If a smoke detector box doesn't indicate it's been through UL testing, it probably hasn't been. You'll want to pass on this product. Remember, your family's safety is at stake.

You can choose a hard wired smoke alarm, that is, one that's hooked up to your home's electric system, or you can choose a 9-volt smoke detector, which is battery operated. Choose the smoke detector that works best for your home, but take into account the following considerations. The hard wired smoke detector is more reliable. It provides earlier detection and automatically reverts to a battery backup should the electrical system fail. On the downside, it'll cost you. Not only is a hard wired smoke detector more expensive, but you'll have to pay to have it professionally installed.

The battery operated smoke detector works well enough, however. It's less expensive, but still saves lives. Really, the only downside to a battery operated smoke detector is that you'll need to remember to replace the batteries. A good rule of thumb is to change the smoke detector batteries whenever you change the clock for daylight savings time.

There should be at least one smoke detector on every floor in your home. An even better idea is to have one outside every bedroom, especially if there are smokers or candle burners in the house. It's important to maintain your smoke detector to keep it working properly. Clean it regularly using your vacuum's hose attachment and test the battery often.

At the very least, your smoke detector should be replaced every ten years. They tend not to work as well after this point, so you'll want to make note of the date of purchase and keep it with your important household papers.

Smoke detectors are important, necessary home safety devices. When choosing a smoke detector, be sure to get one with a high rating. You might want to take some time to research the different smoke detectors available and buy the best one you can, even if it's the most expensive. After all, you can't put a price on your family's safety.

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Discussion Comments
By LynnBogan — On Nov 22, 2017

Well, thanks for the post!

I think there are actually several reasons why people should buy a smoke detector. It is the fact that shows it has saved lives of many people out there since the great feature has provided the best protection through the alert by using a lamp and sound. It is very important to keep our homes and families safe and secure by installing smoke detectors by taking some guidance from electricians.

By Sara007 — On May 18, 2011

When buying a smoke detector for your home, are there any versions that beep when they are running low on battery power? Can anyone recommend a model number?

I never remember to change batteries in things, and having a smoke detector that let me know when it needed its battery changed would be great.

I remember my mother used to have one that would screech just before it died, and while I thought that was annoying then, now I realize it would be something great to have.

By lonelygod — On May 15, 2011

When buying a smoke detector you should know that they actually come in two kinds, ionization and photoelectric, and to be really safe you should have a smoke detector that has a dual-sensor for both of these conditions.

Photoelectric ones work on the principal of light, so basically, when there is smoke, less light is seen by the alarm's sensor and it goes off. This is excellent for smoky fires.

Ionization detectors register changes in the particles of the room and are great for detecting flames with less smoke.

Having a combination smoke detector is excellent, but sometimes it can be more affordable to just place two different kinds in your home.

By anon1962 — On Jun 21, 2007

Another thing to take into consideration is relative humidity and temperature ranges. The ideal detector should have higher humidity range to prevent from nuisance alarm and the same for temperature ranges. In outlet boxes the humidty and temperature levels increase causing the outlet boxes to sweat and drip. If you live in a trailer or onsite at a construction camp which have trailers or dorms these trailers are not like your regular home.

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