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A fire is one of the most frightening things that can happen in a home. It’s important to protect your family and property with smoke detectors that suit your needs.

However you first need to know the difference between the 3 main kind of smoke detectors. Don’t worry it isn’t that difficult and after reading this article you should be able to exactly what to purchase.

First of all, you might already know that there are two basic types of smoke detectors: photo-electric or ionization. Ionization detects fast flaming fires better than photo-electric, but it doesn’t do as well at detecting slow smoldering fires which are more common in residential settings.

Quick tip:

Photo-electric technology is known to be less sensitive to the type of smoke produced when cooking and usually recommended for kitchens.

Dual sensor detectors are exactly what you they sound like. These advanced smoke detectors have both a photoelectric and ionizing sensor and allow you to get the best detection for all types of fires. They may be slightly more expensive, but in this article we’ll help you decide if it’s a worthwhile investment for you.

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

They were designed to recognize smoke patterns from slow or smoldering fires. Photoelectric smoke alarms use a light source and a light-sensitive sensor. Here’s a little about how the sensor works.

When the smoke gets into the device, it will block the light that is usually shined onto a sensor. Hence, when the light is blocked the sensor will sound the alarm and let you know that there is smoke in the air.

One of the great benefits of this technology is that it doesn’t ring when there is steam or light smoke coming from cooking. For this reason, it is always the smoke detection techn0ology of choice around bathrooms and kitchens

Ionization Smoke Detectors

Ionization smoke alarms are widely recognized for their greater efficiency in detecting fast-flaming fires. The ionization smoke detectors use a small amount of radioactive material, which is fitted between two plates that are electrically charged. Don’t worry this is not dangerous at all!

These ingredients combine to create a steady stream of ionized air within the detectors main chamber. Any smoke in the vicinity of the alarm will disrupt this flow and alert the area immediately.

This technology also doubles as an effective means to detect carbon monoxide.

They are most effective at detecting fires that have fast/flaming properties.

Because of its low price and availability, it is currently the most popular method for smoke protection and found in most devices you will find for sale online.

Dual Sensing Photo & Ion Fire Detectors

Finally we get to the Dual sensing smoke and fire detector!

Photoelectric and Ionization detectors use different technologies to accomplish the same goal. Since it can be difficult to choose the right alarm for each area because fires are all different manufacturers developed dual smoke alarms that combine both technologies.

These smoke alarm have the most high-end detection capability and provide the maximum smoke coverage. However they also have the disadvantage of being the most sensitive devices.

Hence, while these devices are considered the best in detecting smoke in the air, we do not recommend them near kitchens and washrooms. For everywhere else in your home, they absolutely provide the best possible warning of any type of fire.


The two most popular types of smoke detectors are photoelectric and ionization. Each type has its own pros and cons, but the best option is a dual-smoke alarm that uses both technologies to detect different types of fires with maximum sensitivity.

Before concluding this article we’d like to simply remind you that both photoelectric and ionization technology are effective and both can be used any where in your home. Hence, dual-sensor smoke detectors are not necessary,

If you’d like to learn more about the technology please read on about smoke detectors. All our articles are on our resources page above!

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