Forget about the terminologies (photoelectric and ionization). It is the function and application that matters……..This article will help you understand photoelectric smoke detector as well as ionization smoke detectors¬†in an easier way ūüôā

Generally there are two broad categories of smoke detectors: the photoelectric smoke detector and the ionization smoke detector.

Photoelectric effect is a phenomenon that takes place on most metals when light falls on them and forces them to emit electrons. Electrons are very small particles at the atom level with negative charge. (if you can recall your high school science). When these electrons are made to flow, they generate electric current.

photoelectric smoke detector reviewsFor the photoelectric smoke detector, there is a light source and a photo detector that senses the light. They are not positioned in a straight line and therefore under normal circumstances, the photo detector will not sense any light. In case of smoke entering the detector, some of the light is scattered towards the photo detector sensor. This triggers the alarm. It is as simple as that.

Having said that, it is good for you to know that smoke alarms have responsive time. This is the difference between the time a fire starts and the time the fire alarm goes off. To ensure you are protected, we want this responsive time to be as small as possible. The type of smoke detector that you should have in your home should go off immediately there is a fire.

The photoelectric smoke detector is more responsive to fires that burn without flame. This kind of fire undergo slow or suppressed combustion. There is no outward demonstration of fire and are often referred to as smoldering fire.

How do ionization smoke detectors work ?

Photoelectric Smoke Detector

Flaming Fire

On the other hand, ionization smoke detector is more responsive to flaming fires.

The photoelectric smoke detector is considered more environmentally friendly. This is because, ionization detectors use radioactive elements such as americium-241.

When choosing what smoke detector to install in your home, the bottom line therefore is that, the two types of smoke alarm technologies should be installed.

Since there is no way of predicting which type of fire that may start in your home, it is highly recommended that you invest in a photoelectric smoke detector as well as an ionization smoke detector. You will have safeguarded your home from smoldering or flaming fire.

There are smoke detectors that have the two technologies integrated into one smoke alarm detector. We recommend the following for customers who may want to buy both photoelectric smoke detector and ionization smoke detector.

Best Photoelectric Smoke Detector

Dual Sensor Smoke Alarm

You get double protection in one device.

First Alert SA320CN

photoelectric smoke detector plus ionization - First Alert SA320CNThe¬†First Alert SA320CN has been designed having intelligent sensing technology that reduces false¬†alarms greatly. Therefore you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night or panic for no apparent reason. ¬†It detects both flaming and smoldering fires because it has both the photoelectric and the ionization sensing technologies built in.

  • The warning sound is loud enough at 85dB.
  • It uses standard two AA batteries that are easily available. The battery door is so accessible and therefore replacement of batteries is never a hassle. You do not have to remove the detector from its placement.

Like many smoke alarms, this one has a 10 year warranty covering its full life cycle. This product also meets UL standards and hence it is of high quality.

Cons: It is neither wireless or hardwired and hence cannot be interconnected to form an integrated network of smoke alarms in the home.

First Alert BRK 3120B

photoelectric smoke detector plus ionization - First Alert 3120BThe product comes with a 10 year limited warranty. It is very ideal for residential and commercial use especially sleeping areas. The Optipath 360 technology feature allows 360 degrees access into the sensor.

Other Features

  • It has both Photoelectric and Ionization sensing technologies for optimal sensing of smoke particles produced in both flaming and smoldering fires.
  • It is easy to connect to 120V AC power therefore installation is quick and cost effective. Additionally, it has 2 AA standard batteries for back up even when there is power outage.

Unlike SA320CN, it is hardwired and hence can be interconnected to form an integrated network of smoke alarms in the home.

Kidde Model Pi9010 Dual Sensor

photoelectric smoke detector plus ionization - Kidde PI9010
This type has the Hush feature that allows you to silence nuisance alarms. It is battery operated and has both photoelectric and ionization sensing technologies. This means that it is very suitable for both fast flaming fires or the slow smoldering fires.

Kidde Model PI9010 uses the 9V battery. A red LED flashes after every 30 seconds to show that the smoke detector is functioning properly. The button is used for testing or temporary silencing. It is also loud enough at 85dB and meets UL standards.

Cons: It is neither wireless or hardwired and hence cannot be interconnected to form an integrated network of smoke alarms in the home.

Kidde PI2010 Hardwired

photoelectric smoke detector plus ionization - Kidde PI2010

Unlike the Kidde PI9010, this smoke alarm is hardwired and can be interconnected to form an integrated home smoke alarm system. You can connect up to 24 Kidde devices including carbon monoxide and  heat detectors! It offers you double protection from flaming and smoldering fires.

The source of power is the 120V AC mains with a 9V battery backup. Also has the hush feature that can temporarily silence false alarms.

The tamper resistant feature prevents theft and unauthorized tampering. The red LED keeps flashing every 40 seconds to indicate normal operation of the device.

In case of smoke the detector will beep 3 times then pause and repeat the beeping again. Low battery warning is signaled by a brief chirp after every 40 second for like 7 days. It is expected that you replace the battery within the 7 days.

There are quite a number of wireless photoelectric smoke detectors or wireless ionization smoke detectors but not a combination of both sensors.