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Smoke Alarm Safety - Photoelectric vs Ionisation

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

Did you know? You’re twice as likely to die in a home fire if you don’t have an operating smoke alarm.

It's the law to have at least one operating smoke alarm installed on every level of your home. Legislation was first introduced in May 2006 by the NSW Government following a number of fatale fires.

Recently, photoelectric smoke alarms have become the preferred type for installation in homes. It is advised for installed smoke alarms to be hard-wired to house mains supply and to be interconnected with other alarms throughout the home.

In some cases, a hard-wired smoke alarm may be difficult to install in a completed home – especially on the bottom floor of a multi-storey complex where ceiling access is limited. An alternative to overcome this problem is the installation of a photoelectric smoke alarm with a 10-year lithium battery. More recently, wirless interconnected models have also become available to overcome this hurdle.

Photoelectric vs Ionisation

Photoelectric smoke alarms:
  • Rely on newer technology

  • Result in fewer annoying false alarms

  • Picks up more types of fires

Ionisation smoke alarms:
  • Rely on older technology

  • Result in more annoying false alarms

  • Are less reliable

Studies have shown photoelectric smoke alarms to be the more effective alarm for protecting the home. They are designed to detect the types of fires likely to cause fatal house fires and less likely to go off when someone has burnt toast in the morning.

It is recommended to test your smoke alarms with the ‘test’ button on each unit every month. Also, be sure to dust/vacuum your smoke alarm every 6 months to keep it clean. If your smoke alarm is an old ionisation type recently installed, replace the 9V battery every 12 months.

Smoke alarms also have an expiry date and must be replaced every 10 years!

To find out how old your alarm is, check the base as it should contain the date it was manufactured and if the date is pre-2006 – it’s time for a new one!

If you require a new smoke alarm, it is advised to call your local electrician and book an inspection.

More information can be found on the Fire NSW website link below

If you need your smoke alarms tested or upgraded in your home, get in touch. We'd love to help.

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