Ionisation vs Photoelectric
Do you know the difference?
There are two types of smoke alarms - Photoelectric (also known as optical) and Ionisation. The alarms work in different ways to detect smoke. Both types are capable of meeting Australian Standard AS3786:2015 and both types of alarms can be legally purchased and used in Australia. Regardless of this, every State Fire Authority in Australia recommends the use of photoelectric smoke alarms, not ionisation smoke alarms.
Smoke Alarm Solutions fully supports the views of the Fire Authorities, and we only install photoelectric smoke alarms. If we visit a property and the existing smoke alarm requires replacement, we replace the alarm with a photoelectric alarm, even if the alarm we are replacing was an ionisation alarm. The inherent problems with ionisation alarms include:
• Not as effective as photoelectric smoke alarms in detecting the early, smouldering stage of fire
• Contain a small amount of radioactive material
• Prone to false alarms resulting in people removing the battery and therefore having no protection at all. Statistics show that over 25% of ionisation alarms are disconnected after two years.
Smoke Alarm Solutions has conducted more than 1.5 million smoke alarm inspections and we have first-hand experience in the potential dangers of ionisation smoke alarms not responding to a real fire situation. During the last 8 years we have attended a significant number of properties where the occupant has reported a fire, with the house full of smoke, and the alarms did not respond. In every single case, the alarms that did not respond were ionisation smoke alarms. We service the smoke alarms in more than 230,000 properties, and we attend more than 100 properties every day where the occupant has reported a beeping, faulty or false-alarming smoke alarm. In 87% of these fault reports, the alarms are ionisation smoke alarms.
We take our responsibilities of protecting the occupants of homes that we service very seriously, and for this reason, and based on our real-world experience with ionisation smoke alarms, we only install photoelectric smoke alarms.
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