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Smoke alarms are a crucial part of our homes and properties. They keep your family, employees and customers on alert if a fire breakout occurs inside your home or business property, saving lives in the process. In many areas of Australia, you have the choice between two types of smoke alarms at your disposal. These are photoelectric smoke models and ionisation models. Many states in Australia, however, prefer the use of photoelectric smoke alarms in properties.
Selecting the best and most effective smoke alarm should be your biggest priority when it comes to protecting your home. Fires can cause a lot of losses; by detecting them earlier, both lives and properties can be spared. Read on to find out the best smoke alarms in Australia and which one is most suitable for your property.
Types Of Smoke Alarms
Ionisation Smoke Alarms
This type of smoke detector uses ionisation sensors to sense small smoke particles when they enter its ionisation chamber. The alarm will sound when the number of particles in the ionisation chamber reaches a given threshold. Particles that this type of smoke alarm can detect are usually formed when there is a scorching fire in the room.
Ionisation smoke alarms are ideal for fires that combust quickly and produce a relatively low amount of smoke. The downside of this type of smoke alarm is that it cannot detect small fires with large quantities of smoke. This feature makes this kind of smoke alarm unsuitable for installing in the kitchen area.
Photoelectric Smoke Alarms
Most fire services in many states of Australia highly recommend the use of photoelectric smoke alarms. This type of smoke alarm can detect various kinds of fire very promptly compared to ionisation alarms - especially those kinds of fire that do not produce large flames.
Photoelectric smoke alarms utilise photoelectric sensors that feature a beam of light to sense smoke. The alarm will be triggered when the amount of smoke visible to these beams reaches a given threshold. This type of alarm is more susceptible to smouldering, smoky fires when compared to ionisation alarms. They get triggered more quickly than ionisation smoke detectors.
Battery-Powered Vs Hardwired Smoke Detectors
Some smoke detectors are connected to your property’s main power supply, while others are sustained by a battery. Hardwired smoke alarms are primarily installed in a building during its construction. This is because they need to be plugged into the building’s power line. They may also contain backup batteries in case there is a power outage.
It is recommended that you have a smoke alarm that is not only hardwired but also has a battery backup in your property. You will also need to change your smoke alarm’s backup battery when necessary to prevent a low battery incident in the event of a blackout. The good news is that most smoke alarms will sound a signal when their batteries are low.
State Requirements For Smoke Alarms
Australian Standard 3786 determines which rules every household in Australia should follow. Almost every home in Australia is legally allowed to have no less than one smoke detector. Different states, however, do have their own tailored version of the Australian Standard 3786. To confirm what your State requires of you concerning smoke alarms, please check your official local Government website.
Some Of The Best Smoke Alarms In Australia
The are several brands of smoke alarms in Australia to choose from. Family First is an Australian fire protection company offering various photoelectric smoke alarms with impressive features, including a hush button which silences false alarms and an escape light that provides a visual reference for escaping through thick smoke.
Quell is another Australian brand producing a wide range of smoke alarms separated by room type (kitchen, bedroom, hallway, garage, etc.). The alarms feature a test button and a battery warning light for when your battery is low. Though not Australian-owned, First Alert, a US brand, is well-known for combination smoke alarms. Its combination photoelectric and carbon monoxide alarms are slim, easy to install, and have a long battery life.
Factors That Determine The Price Of Smoke Alarms
The cost of most photoelectric alarms can range from about $25 to about $100, depending on the model you want. On the other hand, the cost of an ionisation alarm ranges from around $10 to about $ 50, which also depends on your model of choice. However, the cost of installing a smoke alarm on your property will vary due to a lot of factors. These factors include:
• Number of smoke alarms you need to be installed
• Size of your house or property
• Type and height of your property's ceiling
• Structure of your property
It is highly recommended to replace your smoke alarm at least once a decade. You will also need a good professional to help you change or repair your smoke alarm.
Features To Look For When Shopping For A Smoke Alarm
Generally, reputable smoke alarm vendors in Australia will sell you smoke alarms that are State cleared and approved. However, it is prudent to check out your State’s requirements when purchasing a smoke alarm because different states have slightly altered versions of the Australian Standard 3786.
In addition, check out the Australian Standard logo on the package of the smoke alarm. The presence of the logo on the smoke alarm means that the device has been approved. You should also consult a professional before buying a smoke alarm to be 100 per cent certain that it is approved in your State and area of residence.
A battery is essential for a smoke alarm as it comes in handy in the event of a power blackout. When purchasing a smoke alarm, please look for one with Lithium batteries since they have the capability to last for about ten years. It will save you the hassle of replacing your battery now and then.
Low Battery Warning Feature
When you purchase a smoke alarm, ensure that it has a low battery warning feature. This feature allows the smoke alarm to warn you when its battery is running low for you to change it.
Mute or Silence Button
Some smoke alarms come with a button that allows you to silence or mute them if your smoke detector gives a false alarm. You can also sync others to your smartphone so that you can access the mute feature remotely without having to access the smoke alarm physically.
It is also advisable to install your smoke alarm in adjacent hallways or rooms rather than inside your kitchen, as smoke from cooking can result in a false fire alarm. However, if you decide to install one inside your kitchen, a smoke alarm with the mute feature will be very handy.
Some smoke alarms come with safety lights to help people with hearing impairment. The light can also guide you out of a burning building with a power outage. These kinds of smoke alarms have extra loud sounds with strobe lights.
With the advancement of technology, some smoke alarms now have the capability to be interconnected with smart speakers, security systems and even smartphones. An interconnected alarm system will relay information to your smartphone or security system when a fire has triggered it.
You can reach out to a professional for advice on how to interconnect your smoke alarm with other devices so as to integrate it with your home system.
A test button on the device is very important at ensuring that you can test the functionality of your smoke alarm. Some models will let you use a flashing light at the alarm unit to test it whereas you can use a remote controller to run the test on others.
High-end smoke alarm models do have protective insect screens to keep insects at bay. Sometimes, insects can get into the sensor’s location and trigger the alarm, resulting in a false fire alarm.
Things To Consider Before Installing A Smoke Alarm
How You Will Install the Smoke Alarm
You will need a licensed professional electrician to install your smoke alarm. If you install it improperly or illegally, you will be liable to fines or even face criminal charges.
Where You Will Put Your Smoke Alarm
It is highly advisable not to have a smoke alarm installed in your kitchen area. The most suitable places to install a smoke alarm in your home may be in the hallway, various bedrooms and even the stairway. If you have a smoke alarm in your kitchen, you might find it going off most of the time when you are cooking.
Having a smoke alarm near your kitchen is the best option because most home fires mainly occur while cooking. It is advisable to use a photoelectric alarm near your kitchen because ionisation alarms are easily triggered when cooking.
How Many Smoke Alarms You Need
Any given residence requires at least one smoke alarm. However, you can use as many smoke alarms in your residence. The number simply depends on the layout and size of your house and the number of storeys your home has.
Have A Professional Install Your Smoke Alarm
Smoke alarms can make a big difference between life and death. It is thus very crucial to install good Government-approved smoke alarms in your home or business premises. It is also highly recommended that you consult a professional electrician before purchasing a smoke alarm system for your property. By doing so, you will save yourself a lot of trouble with your State.