Optical beam smoke detectors are effective pieces of fire safety equipment that form the first line of defence against smoke by providing an early warning of fire.
Guide to smoke detector types
Welcome to the third and final part of our guide to smoke detectors.
Household smoke detectors
Most of us are familiar with domestic smoke detectors. There are three types of household smoke detectors — ionisation, photoelectric (optical), and combined. The benefit of these is that they are very cheap and are widely available.
Combined detectors are effective at detecting slow-burning fires as well as flaming fires. These are both common types of household fire. A combination of ionisation and photoelectric technologies offers the maximum protection.
Household smoke detectors devices are powered either by batteries or the mains electricity – and some have both. It is possible to inter-connect some units so that smoke detected at one point raises the alarm at all the others. Additional facilities, such as emergency lighting or silence buttons to stop false alarms are available.
- Industrial units
- Confined spaces
A gas detector detects the presence of certain gases, usually as part of a wider system. They are sensitive and can be used to detect flammable or toxic gases, so they are widely used in industry. Infrared and catalytic sensors detect flammable gases; electrochemical and metal oxide semiconductors detect toxic gases. They are efficient in confined spaces such as tanks, pits, and storage bins
Optical beam smoke detectors (photoelectric)
Photoelectric detectors are recommended for use in areas with high-ceiling spaces such as warehouses.
Optical beam smoke detectors, measure smoke over a large area, rather than in a single location. They are sensitive to diluted smoke at high levels. They are expensive to install, but they are effective at detecting the larger smoke particles from slow-burning, smoky fires. The detectors work by aiming a light source into a sensing chamber. When smoke enters the chamber, light is reflected onto the sensor, triggering the alarm.
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