Consumer Reports Details Strengths and Weaknesses of Smoke Alarm Types

Posted on March 26, 2013

Not all smoke alarms are created equal.  In fact, many consumers probably don’t realize that there are two types of smoke alarms, and each has its benefits and drawbacks, according to Consumer Reports.

Photoelectric smoke alarms tend to be better at deducing instances in which a slow-building fire forms, for instance when a mattress or a couch is set ablaze.  Other alarms work by way of a process known as ionization.  These alarms do a better job detecting instances in which a fire suddenly bursts forth and gains intensity quickly.

Consumer Reports, prompted by a recent episode of Dateline which studied smoke alarms, advises that consumers take pains to ensure that they have both types of alarms in each level of their home.  This can be achieved by putting two unique smoke alarms alongside each other or investing in the type of smoke detector that utilizes both types of technology.

The agency also wants consumers to protect themselves from the issuance of a false alarm, too many of which can lead one not to heed the proper safety directives when doing so is actually necessary.  To that end, it’s admissible to not place ionization-based alarms in a kitchen or any other part of the home where steam or cooking smoke would be common and not necessarily signal a fire.

It’s also advisable that consumers put alarms in and just outside of bedrooms and to use such alarms in conjunction with carbon monoxide detectors.

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