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Basic Guide to 6 Smoke Detector Types

While 3 types of smoke detectors are most commonly use, there are more varieties available in the market, each suited for different purposes.


The 6 smoke detector types can be broken down by its functions: optical, ionization, aspiration, beam, video and combination. Below we explain the main differences between each of them:


Optical (ionization) Smoke Detector

Optical smoke detector uses radioactive particles to detect the presence of smoke. When the smoke is in the chamber, the disturbance generates alarm signal.


These are commonly used in residential and commercial buildings such as bedroom, hallways and office room as they are cheap.


Photoelectric Smoke Detector

Photoelectric smoke detector uses light scattering principles to detect the presence of smoke. Smoke accumulation will cause the light to refract and thus trigger the alarm.


Photoelectric smoke detector is generally used for detecting smoke in large area, such as buildings with tall ceiling or warehouses.


Beam Smoke Detector (dual-type, also optical)

Beam smoke detector uses beam transmitter and beam receiver to sense the smoke. When the light beam is obstructed by the smoke, the smoke alarm will sound.


Beam smoke detector are less sensitive to cumulative obscuration of smoke and can be used in warehouse, building with tall ceiling and outdoor area.


Aspirating Smoke Detector

Aspirating smoke detector uses a fan to draw air into the sampling space in the detector which determines the particles to see if there is potential fire.


Aspirating smoke detector is used in locations where early warning is required, such as data center, museum, building with tall ceiling, or warehouse. 


Video Smoke Detector

Video Smoke Detector uses camera technology and software to detect smoke patterns and motion. When identified, it sends out alarm signal for alert.


Video smoke detectors are often used in large areas or outdoor where there are no ceilings for installing the traditional types of smoke detectors. It can also cover a large area, making it ideal for forests, large warehouses, or tunnels.


Combination Detector

Combination Smoke Detector can be a variety of the above combined together to detect via different methods. They can be photoelectric and optical mix to detect both low energy and high energy detector, or they can be smoke and heat combined to detect smoke and heat.


Because of the multi-functional feature of the combination detector, they can be used in settings from stairwells, offices, bedrooms to hallways.