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How Do Smoke Detectors Work?

Updated on May 6, 2021 by Sydney Williams
How do smoke detectors work

Whenever a smoke detector blares alarm automatically, even with a whiff of smoke in the air, the first question always is, how do smoke detectors work? A smoke detector or alarm is a device that measures the smoke levels and humidity within the area. It can detect fire and help identify the source of smoke inside the house. The unit is compact, lightweight and easy to set up. Electronics and radioactive material inside the detector significantly helps in detecting and preventing the number of emergencies fire can cause. 

Smoke detectors are available in two types: ionization and photoelectric. Photoelectric smoke detectors detect fires at an early stage. To know more about the basics of ionization smoke detectors and photoelectric smoke detectors, read our blog. 

How do Ionization Smoke Detectors Work? 

These Ionisation smoke detectors have been used for years to detect advanced fires. Wires extend through their positive and negative ends, and attach to separate electrodes. Americium-241 element transforms the air molecules between the electrodes into ions.

Ionized smoke detectors contain charged ions between the plates to complete the circuit. In the event of a fire, smoke enters the device through slits, and the positive and negative ions seek the smoke. The circuit becomes incomplete, and the alarm goes off. 

How do Photoelectric Smoke Detectors Work? 

Also known as optical smoke alarms, Photoelectric smoke detectors go off when the LED light within the chamber is broken. These detectors are useful in catching the fire in its early stage. The invisible beam of light which connects both the sensors in these detectors breaks when there’s a lot of smoke. 

How to Buy and Install a Smoke Detector? 

Installing them is easy. All you need is a drill, screwdriver, and a hammer. 

  • Secure the bracket to the wall by drilling holes. Attach the alarm to the mounting bracket by twisting it into place
  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, you should install both ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors for maximum protection
  • Many carbon monoxide detectors work on both ionization and photoelectric detection and are highly efficient
  • It is also very important to buy interconnected detectors so that they all go off at the same time
  • It is easy to interconnect hard wired smoke detectors

You should also keep in mind to install one detector outside every room and on each level of the house. Install them at least 10 feet away from the kitchen so that you do not get bothered by false alarms repeatedly. 


Smoke detectors are very useful. From battery operated to hard-wired, interconnected, and combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, there are many detectors available in the market today. To protect your house fully, ensure that the detectors are also properly placed in each area. If you haven’t bought smoke detectors yet, it’s high time you buy them for reliable protection. 

For buying options, head over to Bestviewsreviews.com. We review & recommend some of the best products based on their quality, performance, and durability to simplify your buying process. 

Happy shopping to you! 

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Created with Raphaël

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