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Smoke Detectors – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

By ChenDenny |

Smoke detectors are lifesavers. If the danger from apartment fires is no longer as acute, small to very small ignition sources still have the potential to quickly and unnoticed trigger a large fire in your apartment. Fire is so dangerous and unpredictable precisely because it is all too easy to underestimate the speed and area of its spread.

A fire in an apartment can therefore quickly become so widespread that a standard fire extinguisher is no longer sufficient. This is exactly where smoke detectors play an important role.

How Do Smoke Detector Work?

A fire can be detected by the appearance of smoke, an increase in temperature, or a strong flash of light. These factors are laid down in the principle of operation of fire sensors. The most common of these are smoke and heat detectors, flame detectors, and combination devices.

The smoke detector is based on the fixation of combustion products in the detector housing. This is due to the operation of the optical system, which consists of an LED that emits a beam of light, and a photocell that converts the light into an electrical signal.

The light beam from the LED is specifically directed past the photocell. In the absence of smoke, the light cannot reach the surface of the photocell. If smoke enters the sensor body, then the light beam begins to be randomly reflected and hits the photocell. It works, and the electronic circuit generates and transmits a command to the fire alarm device.

If water vapor or gases enter the sensor, they will also deflect the light output and cause a false alarm. Therefore, smoke detectors are not installed in places where they can malfunction.

What Are the Two Types of Smoke Alarms?

The two types of smoke alarms that are available in the market are:

  • Ionization smoke detectors
  • Photoelectric smoke detectors

How Many Smoke Detectors Should Be in a House?

The least number of detectors that is required is one smoke detector per apartment. Even though, it is highly advisable to install a smoke detector in every room where there are residents or in places where there is a potential for fire.

Where Is the Best Location for a Smoke Detector?

Generally, almost all of the smoke detector is attached to the ceiling or wall, which will be there permanently. The most appropriate place for a smoke detector is on the ceiling, in the bedroom, or hallway next to the bedroom entrance.

If it is not feasible to place a smoke detector on a ceiling, then the other alternative is to mount it on the wall as close to the ceiling as possible. Always make sure that you should not place smoke detectors in the corners of rooms where smoke reaches the last place. In turn, detectors in other rooms of the apartment will warn of a fire in a particular room.

Where Should Smoke Alarms Not Be Placed?

If a smoke detector installed on a cabinet or a shelf will perform its functions in a limited volume, since the smoke rises to the ceiling, accumulates there, and only then begins to fill the room from top to bottom.

Thus, the detector will catch smoke later than if it were installed on the ceiling. The fire spreads very quickly and often it is this delay that plays a decisive role when trying to extinguish the flame or manage to leave the room. Do not install the smoke alarm near air conditioning or ventilation outlets so that smoke cannot penetrate the alarm.

How Far Does a Smoke Detector Have to Be from a Door?

A smoke detector should not be at a distance of more than 5 feet from the door and no near than 12 inches.

Which Is a Better Hard-wired or Battery Smoke Detector?

Hard wired smoke alarms get power directly from the AC circuit of the house, and most of the products also consist of backup batteries so that they can remain functional in the event of a power failure.

If you do not know which type of detector is at your home, then you can remove the smoke alarm and if there is a wire connection inside then it is hard-wired. The three-wire means that it connects all the alarms in the whole house into a system, and if one of them detects smoke, all the alarms will sound. Only two wires are independent alarms, whichever alarm detects smoke will sound.

Wireless smoke alarms depend entirely on batteries and need to be replaced once or twice a year. Some products use lithium batteries which have longer battery life. The wireless smoke alarm can also connect all the alarms in the whole house into a system through radio frequency, but this feature is only available in the selected model.

Should You Put a Smoke Detector in the Kitchen?

The kitchen is one of the central rooms in the household. It is no longer just the meals that are prepared here, it is increasingly used for family get-togethers, so the kitchen is an essential space that should also be secured. However, you should not keep the smoke alarm on the ceilings but instead, on the walls.

Do I Need a Smoke Alarm in Every Room?

Smoke detectors are mandatory in every bedroom, children's room, and hallways that serve as escape routes from a common room. A smoke detector in the kitchen would increase safety, as many fires occur here. However, if the smoke detector on the ceiling often causes false alarms through cooking fumes, the smoke detector should be installed on the wall.

Is It illegal to Not Have a Smoke Detector?

Many owners wonder what happens if smoke alarms are not installed and a fire breaks out. It is currently unclear what the legal situation is concerning the smoke detectors. Also, there are currently no known cases in which a missing or improperly operated smoke alarm would have hurt the insurance benefit. Even though, it is highly advised to install at least one smoke detector in your house.

What Type of Smoke Detector Is Best?

Both the type has their pros and cons. Photo electrical smoke detectors are generally one of the best devices out there as they can easily detect the smoke from smoldering more often and easily. Also, it rarely makes any false alarm sounds in the kitchen due to burned food.

On the other hand, Ionization smoke alarms respond to the flaming fire more rapidly. They are also sensitive to tiny particles, thus reacting quickly.

If you look for a certified smoke detector with the quality mark “Q”, you not only benefit from excellent quality, you also no longer have to worry about replacing the battery. Thanks to high-quality electronics and improved stability of the device components, Q smoke detectors are less prone to false alarms over ten years.

How Do You Tell If It's a Smoke or Heat Detector?

The most noticeable contrast between smoke or heat detector is that a smoke detector tends to catch fire very rapidly whereas a heat detector often fails to do so.

A heat detector alarm is activated and makes sound an alarm when it senses any changes in temperature of the ambient. A heat detector is activated if there is a temperature increase that exceeds a preset level. However, heat detectors can’t detect smoke.

Can You Replace a Smoke Detector with a Heat Detector?

In contrast to smoke alarms, heat detectors, which are also known as thermal detectors, do not detect smoke, but heat. A thermal sensor is used for this, which activates the alarm of the heat detector from certain temperatures. The areas of application of heat detectors are very extensive and include both private and commercial areas.

One should also clearly keep in mind that heat detectors are usually not an alternative for smoke alarms, but can be considered as a valuable addition. It is quite better to use heat detectors in places where smoke detectors cannot be used. Having another option is always better than having none.

Are All Smoke Detectors the Same Size?

All the smoke detectors don't need to be of the same size. This depends on many factors. Since they use different advancements and sensors to detect smoke, it is not feasible to make all the smoke detectors of the same size. They can vary largely in size and shape.

Will My Smoke Alarm Stop Chirping If I Take the Battery Out?

All the smoke alarms must be able to use the same energy source (with battery operation) for at least one year and that the required battery change must be indicated at least four weeks before the battery fails.

This is done by the devices beeping softly every 30 seconds until the battery has been changed.

Since the shrill sound can be quite annoying and often starts at night, the owners like to use a screwdriver and dismantle the lifesaver without further ado. However, removing the batteries is not a solution as it does not stop chirping on most of the devices.

It is therefore advisable to always have exchangeable batteries available in the household. The smoke alarm is no longer a problem and you can go back to sleep with peace of mind.

What Does the Red and Green Light Mean on a Smoke Detector?

There are a variety of different reasons a smoke alarm could blink red or green. As the flashing status does not necessarily interpret that the device is defective or that action is required immediately. It also indicates that the smoke and radio smoke detectors must be subjected to a regular manual function test.

This check is carried out by pushing the test button on the device, which triggers the alarm. Many devices indicate that they are ready for operation by regularly lighting up the status LED. The smoke detector also flashes red when switched on.

A green light usually means that it is getting connected to the main power line. There is no point of risk or defect if a green light is blinking.

Ionization Smoke Alarms vs. Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

Ionization Smoke Alarms

Ionization smoke detectors - often also referred to as ionization detectors or I-detectors for short - are smoke detectors that detect the entry of smoke or fire particles through ionization current.

For this purpose, a radioactive substance is used, which is usually placed on a carrier as a radiator foil and fastened in the housing of the smoke detector. The radiator foil emits radiation which ionizes the air in the smoke detector. An electrical voltage creates a so-called ionization current, the size of which changes when smoke particles or fire aerosols enter. This leads directly to the alarm being triggered by utilizing evaluation electronics.

Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

In the optical chamber of the smoke detector, there is an infrared light-emitting diode and a light-sensitive sensor, a so-called photodiode. The infrared LED continuously emits a beam of light that is not visible to the human eye and is oriented so that it does not hit the light-sensitive sensor directly.

If there are smoke particles in the air and penetrate the optical chamber of the detector, the emitted infrared light beam of the LED is scattered and deflected by the smoke particles. If enough infrared scattered light falls on the light-sensitive photodiode, the smoke detector sounds the alarm.

Why Is My Smoke Detector Beeping?

The most common reason for the beeping is that the device needs a battery change.

Manufacturers are legally obliged to design smoke alarms in such a way that consumers are alerted no later than 30 days before the battery runs out. This is usually done by a continuous warning tone.

In this case, replace the battery contained in the device immediately according to the manufacturer's instructions. If the battery is permanently installed, replace the entire device.

If an empty battery and a real fire can be ruled out and the device still beeps or rings loudly, it can also be a so-called false alarm.

This case can be triggered, for example, by water vapor from the kitchen. Air pollution, for example from sawing and grinding work in the building, can also trigger a false alarm.

If these types of cases occur, make sure to ventilate your home and wait until the alarm goes off. Then push the test button on the device to check whether it is working properly or not. If the alarm does not silence or if water vapor and air contamination can be excluded, dust or insects clogging the air inlets of the device can also be responsible for the warning sound.

How to Turn Off the Smoke Detector?

Before switch off the smoke alarm, you must ensure that it is a false alarm. There are many alternatives you can do when turning off the detector. If the smoke detector triggers correctly, i.e. if smoke or steam has risen, for example from a cigarette or burnt food, it usually helps to wave a towel or similar fresh air at the device.

The smoke detector switches itself off automatically as soon as the smoke has cleared. Many smoke alarms also have a test button. If you press this for a few seconds, the smoke detector switches off. If the smoke alarm does not stop beeping even though there is no smoke, you must remove the battery.

To do this, remove the cover on the back and disconnect the battery from the contacts. Put it back in after a few minutes. If the smoke alarm continues to beep after removing and reinserting the battery, this may indicate that the battery is dead. Insert a new battery. Here you will find special batteries for smoke alarms that last a particularly long time. If changing the battery does not help either, the smoke detector is defective. You need a new smoke alarm.

Smoke Detector Recommendations

There are so many outstanding smoke detectors from X-Sense that work the best.

X- Sense SD01 smoke detector

X- Sense SD01 smoke detector

One of the best things about the X-sense SD01 smoke detector is that it comes with a 10-Year Battery Smoke Detector with Escape Light, so works for a long period. Also, these detectors have amazing innovation and intelligence along with a guarantee. It comes with an increased sensitivity due to an upgraded sensor. It also has a replaceable lithium battery.

Key features:

  • It analyses 3 times before it alerts.
  • Detect both slow and fast burning fires.
  • 10-year battery life.
  • Replaceable lithium battery.

X-Sense Mini Wireless Interconnected Smoke Detector


XS1-WR is another great product if you are looking for the best-interconnected smoke detector. They receive and transmit messages through radiofrequency. It also comes with a 5-year replaceable battery if caused by defects. It is quite simple to install this kind of device instead of a hard-wired system. They are wireless interconnected smoke alarm which can be set up conveniently without any hassle.

Key features:

  • Wireless interconnected smoke detector.
  • Full home coverage.
  • Advanced-technology.
  • Easy to install.

X-Sense XS01-WT Wi-Fi Smoke Detector with Replaceable Lithium Battery

XS01-WT Wi-Fi Smoke detector

XS01-WT Wi-Fi Smoke detector is safer and more convenient as you can operate it using your app. This smoke alarm comes with 10-year battery life. They have reliable and accurate sensors which usually provide a long sensing range. You can easily test the alarm with a single button via Wi-Fi.

Key features:

  • Regular self-check.
  • Low-battery notification.
  • Simple and smart device.
  • Wi-Fi connection.
  • Malfunction notification.

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