Optical Smoke Detector VS Ionisation Detector – What’s The Difference?

by Guardian  |   in Fire, News  |   Comments Off on Optical Smoke Detector VS Ionisation Detector – What’s The Difference?

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the two¬†types of smoke detector that are most commonly installed within homes: An optical smoke detector and an ionisation detector.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, smoke detectors are key components to a fire alarm system. They are the round boxes that are secured to the ceiling that detect smoke particles. Once smoke has been detected, the alarm is triggered to warn occupants of a fire.

However, they don’t all detect smoke in the same way.

Let’s explore the difference between an optical smoke detector and an ionisation detector and identify which detector is best for different areas of the house.

Optical Smoke Detector VS Ionisation Detector

how does an optical smoke detector work-1

The infographic above, courtesy of Spy Alarms, illustrates how the different smoke detectors pick up the smoke particles.

As you can see, both detectors use a source and a sensor and, when the smoke prevents the sensor from being able to detect the radiation or light, the alarm is triggered.

So, now you know how they detect smoke differently, you need a bit more information on their Pros and Cons.

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Ionisation Smoke Detectors In A Nutshell

Ionisation alarms are the more dated option out of the two, but that doesn’t mean they’re not relevant any more.

As you learnt earlier, ionisation alarms rely on tiny particles of radiation to detect the presence of smoke.

These alarms are very sensitive to smaller particles of smoke that are created from paper and wood fires. These are also what many pub owners choose to install to catch secret smokers! They are less efficient at sniffing out large and dense smoke particles.

One last thing to consider is their disposal. Because they contain a small amount of radiation, they need to be disposed of carefully. You can’t just chuck it in the bin when you’ve had enough of it and want an upgrade.

If your council doesn’t have provisions for the disposal of ionisation detectors, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry and go with an optical alarm.

The Key Facts About An Optical Smoke Detector

Optical smoke detectors, on the other hand, are a more modern (and slightly more expensive) alternative.

They are less sensitive to fast burning fires, such as the quick fires that start in the kitchen.

Because of this, you can safely place an optical smoke detector close to, but not in, the kitchen. We would suggest putting it just outside the door or down the hallway from the kitchen to avoid false alarms when you burn the toast!

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