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1_Smoke Detectors: A Complete Buying Guide

Updated on May 6, 2021 by Sydney Williams

Imagine not being able to detect a fire in the middle of the night when you are fast asleep due to a malfunction. We know, even the imagination gets too frightening! To avoid serious damages and fire hazards like these, it is essential to get Smoke Detectors installed at home. Smoke Detectors save lives and relieve you from unnecessary stress. According to surveys, a significant percentage of households that see accidents due to fires do not have Smoke Detectors installed. This affordable and economic equipment should be installed at the earliest for the safety of your and your family. With so many choices and types out there, the buying process might get a little overwhelming. In this article, we are going to clarify all your doubts and walk you through all the intricacies involved in this buying process.  Take a look at some of the most recommended Smoke Detectors that are efficient, durable and quite popular with the people.

Types of Smoke Detectors

A smoke detector’s job is to identify any extra smoke or gas in the house and prevent hazards. It is imperative to know about the Smoke Detectors that exist to make a wise choice. But how do Smoke Detectors work? Let us read to find out.

Smoke Detectors are majorly divided into two categories that are mentioned below along with their working mechanisms. While we are at it, Smoke Detectors are also available in Wired as well as Wireless forms about which I have mentioned in my other blog, “Smoke Detectors- Wired Vs. Wireless”. Read it to know which detectors will suit you the best along with pros and cons for both. This will result in better clarity and help you in making an informed choice.  

  • Ionized Smoke Detectors

These Smoke Detectors have electrodes that produce a low current through the ionized air. If any type of smoke or gas is predicted, the current gets disrupted and the alarm goes off, alerting the housemates. These are better in detecting small flames or fires too.

  • Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors detect the fire through light. They have a light sensor and a light beam for the detection process. Generally, the light beam is away from the sensor, but when there is fire, the smoke particles scatter the beam. This causes some light to fall on the sensor and it signals the residents with an alarm. The best under this category is ‘First Alert Smoke Detector, Photoelectric and Ionized Alarm’ that consist of a loud alarm and powerful battery.

In the below-mentioned section, we have tried to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. Read on to find out more about these gadgets.

Where to Install Smoke Detectors?

Smoke Detectors should be installed in specific locations and away from stoves, dishwashers, cloth dryers and other products which generate heat. Since the natural tendency of the smoke is to rise vertically up, the best location for Smoke Detectors is the middle of the ceiling.

 How to Install a Smoke Detector?

Typically, Smoke Detectors should be installed in every room of the home. But the most favored place is usually on the kitchen ceiling as most of the electric appliances are kept in a kitchen like a microwave, toaster etc. Repeat the following steps to install:

  • The first step is to remove the mounting base from the detector.
  • Locate the place where you want to install the detector and take a small screwdriver to fasten the detector’s base at your selected location.
  • After the base is fit on the wall or ceiling, place the detector on top of the base and fasten the screws.

 How many Smoke Detectors do I need?

As mentioned before, Smoke Detectors should be placed in every room and outside every sleeping area. For instance, a two-story home with five bedrooms should have at least seven Smoke Detectors. There is no such thing as having too many Smoke Detectors so you can install as many as you want for the safety of your family.

How to Clean Smoke Detectors?

It is recommended to clean Smoke Detectors in every six months. For the cleaning process, you can remove the face of the unit and gently clean the Detector’s insides by a vacuum cleaner. To clean the outside vents, you can use some detergent and damp cloth to remove the buildup.

How to Dispose of Smoke Detectors?

Photoelectric Detectors can be disposed of without any extra measures as long as you have removed the battery. For Ionization Detectors, it is important to dispose of them carefully as they have radioactive material. You can either give them to local hazardous waste collection centres or send them back to the manufacturer. These small steps can contribute to a better environment. As a responsible citizen, it should be your duty to be vigilant. 

Now that you know the basics of a Smoke Detector, let’s understand the factors that we should consider before purchasing them.

  • Maintenance

Smoke Detectors last for years and there is not much you need to do for their maintenance. The basic routine involves testing them every month to check their functioning. It is also recommended to clean them after regular intervals of time. Battery-powered ones have to be replaced with new batteries when the detector chirps indicating a low battery.

  • Interconnectivity

As most homes have more than three or four Smoke Detectors, it is advised to go with the variants that can be connected so that if one detector goes off, all the others go off as well, thus alarming everyone in the house.

  • Cost

Most Smoke Detectors cost you around USD 10 and are really affordable. However, if you want more features, the cost increases. Detectors that sense Carbon dioxide (CO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) require more investment.

  • Detectors for Impaired Hearing

Some Smoke Detectors can emit loud noises for people who are partially hard of hearing. For instance, Kidde Smoke and Carbon Dioxide alarm is the best smoke detector in this category. Other detectors include visual warnings using strobe lights. The intensity of these lights is generally high and can wake up a sleeping person.


Do not shy away from buying Smoke Detectors. Only a few products in the market are so important. In fact, Smoke Detectors are a mandatory addition in the households across the majority of the states in the Continental US. Abiding against them is a punishable offence with a heavy fine. These detectors can save your life and protect you from potential hazards. We hope this blog has been able to clarify your doubts about Smoke Detectors. 

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