Smoke alarms save lives—if installed and working properly. It's important to choose the right
smoke detectors for your property, know where to place them, and how to keep them in good working order.
Ionization vs. Photoelectric Smoke Alarms
There are two common types of
smoke alarms on the market today—ionization and photoelectric smoke detection. Each technology delivers lifesaving
smoke detection in different ways. Experts in the fire protection and prevention industry don't recommend one over the
The two types of sensors operate and respond differently depending on conditions. Since you can't know the type of fire
that will occur, installing both types of alarms will only improve
fire safety preparedness.
Ionization Smoke Detectors:
Detect smaller, less visible fire particles
May respond slightly faster to flaming fires such as paper or wood fires and candles
Best for areas with highly combustible materials like flammable liquids, newspapers, paint, or cleaning chemicals
How they work:
Ionization smoke alarms depend on a small amount of radioactive material to ionize the air in the sensing chamber.
When smoke enters the chamber, the particulates disrupt the flow of ions, and the alarm is activated. Because of their
sensitivity, ionization smoke alarms should not be placed too close to kitchens and bathrooms. Vapors from cooking
and showers have been known to set off false alarms.