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Smoke alarms are an integral safety measure that normally exists in a home, an office, a school, or any similar building. They are useful and they can be the means of preventing atrocities caused by fire.
There are different types of smoke alarms that can be used in a building. One certain type of smoke detectors is the Optical Smoke Alarm. In this article, we are going to see the basics of optical smoke alarms and some general information about them.
An Optical Smoke Alarm is also known as Photo-Electric Smoke Alarm. This alarm works using the light scatter principle. What this alarm essentially does is it sends a beam of light into the sensor chamber every 10 seconds. It has an infrared LED that sends out this beam of light. By utilizing this light, the sensor detects if there are any smoke particles or not. In essence, it uses light to detect smoke, unlike other smoke detectors.
The main feature that shows how an optical smoke detector is better is the reported lack of false alarms. Optical Smoke Alarms use their light to ‘observe’ the smoke particles rather than sense or feel it in any way. This way, they are less likely to give a false alarm than ionization detectors. The latter utilizes electric current to detect smoke while optical smoke alarms literally ‘see’ it via their light.
Using an optical fire alarm is also beneficial since it will be quicker to detect smoldering fires-which are preceded by large amounts of smoke.
Optical fire alarms can be used in indoor places like your bedroom and sitting rooms. Since they are less likely to give a false alarm, you can even install them closer to kitchens as they will not mistake the cooking fumes for smoke.
However, they should not be used in places where there is a lot of dust. Thus, they should not be used outdoors or in an exposed location.
The working of a photo optical smoke detector can be explained in three simple steps. They are as follows:
When a fire starts, the smoke will reach the optical chamber via the opening vents. In high-quality detectors, these vents are protected with an insect screen to prevent bugs from coming in and triggering false alarms.
This is the first step where the smoke simply enters the chamber.
In normal circumstances (when there is no smoke or fire), the infrared light in the chamber is falling unperturbed on the optical receptor. When smoke enters, the flow of the light is disrupted and it scatters. In doing so, the normally unadulterated light becomes fragmented and scattered.
When the scattered light falls on the receptor, a signal is sent to the circuit. This subsequently causes the alarm to be triggered.
If you are looking to get an optical smoke alarm installed in your home or office, you should learn how they work and where they can be used efficiently. The above article deals with explaining the basics of optical smoke alarms.