Buying a smoke detector isn’t as simple as choosing the first one on the shelf. Did you know two are two different kinds? Find out what smoke detector is right for your home!



-More responsive to flames.

-Most commonly used in kitchens.

-Responds to cooking fires or fires fueled by paper or flammable liquids.

-How it works: Photoelectric-type alarms aim a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. Smoke enters the chamber, reflecting light onto the light sensor; triggering the alarm.


-More responsive to a smoldering fire.

-Responds to fires in their earlier stages (before it bursts into flames).

-How it works: ionization-type smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, which ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating the alarm.


Both smoldering and flaming fires can be fatal, and we can’t predict what type of fire or when it will occur in our homes. That is why the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends using dual-sensor type smoke alarms, which include both ionization and photoelectric technologies, allowing them to respond to either a smoldering fire or a fire with active flames.

When it comes to fire preparedness, reliable smoke detectors that have been tested regularly and that we know work are invaluable in the protection our families and homes in case of fire.


Visit NFPA’s website for more details:

Check out reviews for each type  of smoke detectors:

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