Hardware

8 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Smoke Detector

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Part of having the right smoke detector for your building involves knowing your options. Here are questions you should ask before choosing a smoke detector.

Are you in the market for a new smoke detector? If you are, you may have some questions about the best kind to get.

There are different types of smoke detectors. Each has its pros and cons. Finding the best one for your home or building means doing some research first.

Keep reading for the top questions you should ask yourself before buying a new smoke detector.

1. What’s the Power Source?

When it comes to smoke detectors, you have two power options. Smoke detectors are either battery-powered or hardwired into your ceiling.

If you have a home built after 1992, you may be required to install hardwired smoke detectors. If you plan on selling your home or condo, you must ensure that it’s up-to-code and complies with all local laws.

Why all the fuss over hardwired smoke detectors? This type is safer and more reliable than models that are only powered by a battery. Hardwired smoke detectors even work during a power outage, due to their backup battery.

However, battery-powered units are easy to find and often much cheaper to install. Just remember to look up your local laws for your building, home, or business.

2. How Often Do I Have to Replace the Battery?

If you choose a smoke detector that runs on batteries, you’ll need to know how long they will last. Most manufacturers suggest replacing the battery at least once a year.

If you’ve ever heard the loud “chirping” noise smoke detectors make when the battery gets low, you know it’s time to replace it.

Don’t neglect to replace the batteries or simply remove the dead battery and plan on fixing it later. Doing so could cost you your life. 43% of fires in places where a smoke detector did not operate were due to missing or disconnected batteries.

To ensure your unit is working and the battery is still good, you need to regularly check your smoke detectors.

3. How to Test Your Smoke Detector

When testing smoke detectors, you may have noticed many have lights to indicate they’re powered, but you should still check your alarm every month to ensure it’s in working order.

Most detectors have a button you can press to test them. Other types may have a remote method of testing.

If you have a commercial fire panel, such as the FireLite fire panel, the way you need to test it is slightly different. Make sure you follow the instructions in the guide as well as the manufacturer’s advice to test these units.

4. How Big Is Your House or Building?

Larger homes should have a smoke alarm system that is interconnected. This means that each smoke detector is wired to the others. When one smoke detector senses smoke or a fire, they all go off.

Installing these types of fire detection systems is best left to a professional. If safety is a primary concern, as it should be, the cost is worth the peace of mind.

5. Is Ionization or Photoelectric Better?

When it comes to the different types of smoke detectors, you also have to consider the sensors they have installed.

Photoelectric smoke detectors sense smoke before the fire by using a pulsing light to look for smoke particles. These types of alarms are most efficient at detecting smoldering or slow-starting fires like electrical fires.

Ionization detectors ionize air inside the unit with minuscule traces of a radioactive element. Smoke particles that enter the special chamber will disrupt the electrical current and set off the alarm. This type is best at detecting fast-burning fires like grease fires or those caused by arson.

There are also combination alarms that use both types of detection systems. Other styles also detect carbon monoxide as well as smoke and fires.

6. Do You Have Special Needs?

Some types of smoke detectors have additional features that can help people with special needs, such as anyone that is hearing-impaired.

These detectors often have flashing lights meant to wake the person up and can be combined with equipment that can shake the bed or pillow.

7. Where Can You Install It?

Battery-operated smoke detectors can go just about anywhere, and they’re easier to install. This makes them ideal if you can’t hardwire a detector in a specific area, or you want to add an extra one for security purposes.

But what’s the best location for detectors?

In your home, you should have smoke detectors installed in the hallway outside each bedroom and on each floor. In an office building or business, you need smoke detectors on every level and in areas of high-risk like kitchens and breakrooms with microwaves or electrical appliances.

When buying your smoke detectors, consider the installation method and why you need one in that area. Battery-powered units are easy enough to install that anyone can do it. Just make sure to follow all fire regulations and codes.

8. What Are the Extra Features?

Some smoke detectors come with extra features, often at an added cost. However, if some of these are what you need, it’s usually worth it to upgrade.

Here are some extra features you might see:

  • Remote feature (using a remote or smartphone app)
  • A mute or silent button for false alarms (often using a remote)
  • Ability to connect to a security system
  • Ability to hook up to your other smoke detectors to increase the effectiveness

Inter connectable models are perfect for larger homes and keep everyone in the house safer.

Stay Safe by Buying a Smoke Detector Today

There are other options on the market besides the basic, battery-operated models. Whatever you need, you can find it in a smoke detector.

If you don’t have one at all, start with a battery-operated detector until you can upgrade to something better.

Consider your budget, the size of your house, and your needs before buying. Use these tips to find the perfect smoke detector for your home or business.

Are you interested in learning more about the best technology and upgrades for your house? Check out the rest of our site for inspiration.

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