Types of Smoke Detector for Businesses: Your Best Options in 2020

By Bernhard Mehl
June 29, 2020

Safeguarding your employees against the dangers of fires and smoke inhalation is essential. Many businesses will spend large portions of their budget on physical security software and electronic door locks. However, taking the time to understand the benefits of various smoke detector types is just as important. 

Here is a list of the best smoke detector types for businesses in 2020 below: 

Aspirating Smoke Detection Systems (ASDs)

Aspirating smoke detection systems are some of the most sensitive detector types available on the market. These are great for use in environments like data centers and other spaces with high ceilings, like warehouses. In spaces like these, early warning is essential. 

ASDs work by means of a system of sampling pipes with several holes. It draws in air from around a building using fans. This is then sent through highly sensitive detectors that are designed to detect smoke particles. If it does, it triggers a warning signal. 

The benefits of these systems include that it can detect everything from smoldering fires to cool smoke. They are, however, on the more expensive end of the spectrum to maintain and install. 

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors (Optical Beam)

Photoelectric smoke detectors are also referred to as optical beam alarms. These detectors react to obscured light. Sensing chambers trigger an alarm when light reflects onto a sensor from an angled light source. 

Certain units feature dual-path technology with reflectors on one end and a transmitter-and-receiver system at the other. 

This type of smoke detector works wonders in large open areas. It easily picks up on smoky fires that burn slowly. Examples of the causes of this type of fire include PVC wiring that overheats or upholstery that catches alight

Ionization Alarms

This is one of the most affordable smoke detector types available. It uses a small radioactive source to generate a current inside the alarm. The system monitors ions (electrically charged particles). 

If smoke should enter, the current changes and creates an electrical imbalance. This obstructs the flow of the current, triggering the alarm to sound when the current becomes too low.

Ionization detectors are suitable for most office spaces but aren't ideal for use near kitchens. They respond particularly well to fast-flaming fires. Businesses that stock highly flammable liquids and paint often install these systems.

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Video Smoke Detection Systems

Video smoke detection (VSD) systems are perfectly suitable for use in large areas where you need to view the situation immediately. This includes spaces like road tunnels, turbine halls, shopping malls, rail depots, and more. 

VSD alarms work by means of imagery captured by CCTV cameras, which is then analyzed by proprietary software. This software has been developed to identify the motion patterns of smoke. If it picks up on this type of pattern, it sounds the alarm in a very short window of time. Certain systems can also detect flame patterning. 

Heat Alarms

Heat alarms are technically not a type of smoke detector. This is because these systems use a thermistor to detect unexpected rises in temperature rather than actual smoke. It then sounds when a certain set limit is reached. This will normally be around 58°C. 

As such, heat alarms are preferred for use in industrial kitchens and restaurants because it won't go off due to steam or cooking smoke. Garages and auto repair shops also prefer it because dust or exhaust fumes can set off other types of smoke detectors. 

Gas Alarms

Gas alarms are very versatile. They can be portable, battery-operated, or fixed. These systems can alert you visibly or audibly if the levels of certain gasses become dangerous. This is done by means of high-tech sensors that can detect gasses that are known to combust, catch alight, become toxic, or deplete oxygen. 

Normally, this type of smoke detector is preferred for use in confined spaces like storage bins, tanks, pits, and vessels that aren't occupied on a continuous basis. Factories and industrial units use these systems to great effect as well. 

Combined Alarms (Multi-Sensors)

If you really want to cover all your bases, a combined alarm or multi-sensor smoke detector system is your best option. These units combine the functionality of optical and heat sensors. This means that you are able to monitor smoke, as well as heat. 

In short - you'll be able to respond to any kind of fire, whether it's slow and smoldering, or blazing at high temperatures. 

These are some of the most popular smoke detector types available on the market today. Use this information to weigh your options and make your purchase decision an easier one. 

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.