Photoelectric Fire Alarms

If you’ve been shopping for fire and smoke alarms, you may have come across reference to “photoelectric” fire alarms, usually in contrast to ionization smoke detectors or dual sensor units. If you’re trying to figure out the best products for your business, not understanding these technologies and what they might offer to you in terms of safety is a major impediment, so we’ve put together a quick blog post to explain what a photoelectric smoke detector is, how it works, what’s different about it compared to other smoke detectors and when you might want to use one.

Need photoelectric fire alarms for your business or commercial properties? Reach out to us today by dialing (713) 893-1090 or by messaging us online to learn more

What is a photoelectric fire alarm?

A photoelectric fire alarm or photoelectric smoke detector is a form of smoke detector that operates by the use of light to detect smoke. Inside of a photoelectric smoke detector, a chamber exists within which an LED light constantly shoots a beam directly across to the far side of the chamber. So long as that chamber and its beam of light remain unobstructed, the alarm doesn’t sound.

If smoke does enter the chamber, as it would in a fire, the beam of light is refracted by the smoke to one of several light-sensing surfaces within the chamber. If that happens, the alarm immediately sounds.

What’s the difference between photoelectric, ionization, and dual sensor smoke detection?

Photoelectric smoke detectors are one of two primary types of smoke detector, the other being ionization smoke detectors. Ionization smoke detectors work not with light, but with voltage and electrons; when smoke enters an ionization smoke detector’s chamber, it knocks an electron out of place and provokes ionization, which sets off the alarm.

Different fires will be more or less likely to trigger one or the other type of detection sooner; generally speaking, photoelectric smoke detectors are better at detecting slow, smoldering fires, while ionization detectors will detect fast-flaming fires more effectively.

So-called dual sensor smoke detectors aren’t a third type, but rather refer to detectors which include both technologies in a single product, covering the full range of fire types.

Both of these technologies differ from heat or fire detectors or alarms, which respond to increased temperature, or carbon monoxide detectors, which detect a common toxic byproduct of combustion.

Find out more about all of your business in the Houston area’s options to protect against fire today. Contact Kauffman Co. by dialing (713) 893-1090 or send us a message online via our contact page

Who should be using photoelectric fire alarms?

Any commercial structure, and arguably any structure, should be protected with a combination of photoelectric smoke detectors and ionization smoke detectors, either as separate alarm products or as combination dual sensor products. A slow, smoldering fire and a fast-burning fire can be equally dangerous to life and property if they are not detected effectively, so it’s crucial that your buildings be protected against both.  

Learn More About Photoelectric Fire Alarms

If you would like to learn more about your options for smoke detection and fire alarm systems for your business or property, you can reach out to our team at Kauffman Co. for information and guidance on the best solution or combination of solutions for your goals, budget and legal obligations.

Contact Kauffman Co. today by dialing (713) 893-1090 or by messaging us online via our contact page.

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