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Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms: What’s the Difference?

Surprisingly, the terms “Smoke Detector” and “Fire Alarm” aren’t interchangeable. Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms actually have different functions and may be better suited for one environment over another. For example, a smoke detector may be better for a home while a fire alarm may be better for a business or school.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, almost two-thirds of home fire-related deaths were caused because families did not have a “fire alert system” in their home or if they did, they were not in working order. So it’s important to select a “fire alert system” that will fulfill your individual needs and help keep you safe in an emergency.

Let’s talk about the differences between smoke detectors and fire alarms and how you can select and maintain each system in your home.

Smoke Detectors (aka Smoke Alarms)

A smoke detector is a smoke sensing device that sounds an alarm when an abundance of smoke particles are in the air. Some smoke alarms even come with flashing lights for those with hearing impairments. Smoke detectors can work as either an independent unit or a connected system throughout a home or building.

If you’re wired independently, one smoke detector will sound in a given area of your home. But as a connected system, if one smoke alarm sounds in, say, your bedroom, the rest of the smoke detectors in your home will sound as well. It’s recommended to place a smoke detector on every level of your house—preferably near sleeping areas.

Be Ready For Any Disaster With These Survival Basics

There are three types of smoke detectors you can choose from. Howstuffworks.com gives an excellent explanation of how each of these detectors works:

  • Photoelectric: Uses a light beam and sensor to detect smoke. As smoke travels into a compartment on the detector, that smoke covers the light beam, causing the detector to sound. Better for smoky fires (ex. a mattress or cloth fire).
  • Ionization: Uses a chamber to detect an abundance of smoke particles in the air and the accelerated movement of smoke particles signaling an increase of smoke in a room.  According to HowStuffWorks, “This type of smoke detector is more common because it is inexpensive and better at detecting the smaller amounts of smoke produced by flaming fires.”
  • Dual Sensor: Contains both Photoelectric and Ionization smoke sensors

Smoke detectors are considered the cheapest option to keep your family safe in case of a fire in your home and range from $6 to $50.

Fire Alarms

A fire alarm system can sense heat as well as do everything a smoke detector can. Depending on the type of fire alarm you get and the money you’re willing to pay, a fire alarm can do much more than just signal that there’s a fire in the house.

There are several options to choose from that can help you cater to your household. Some optional features  of a fire alarm include:

  • Fire Alarm Control Panel – connects the central monitoring station and all other parts of the system together—like the motherboard of a computer.
  • Sprinkler System—automatically activates when smoke particles reach high levels, protects you and property from excessive fire damage (but may cause some water damage as well).
  • Warning Systems—alarms, plus visual elements like strobe lights or flashing lights for those who are hearing impaired.
  • Fire Alarm Box-a pull-down mechanism placed in a glass box that sends out a fire alert to local authorities. Similar to what you see in schools or office buildings.
  • Transmitter Devices—optional for elderly, can be worn around the neck or as a wristband to signal for help.

Note: Not all fire alarm systems offer all features

Installing a fire alarm in your home is more difficult than putting in a smoke detector. Often, service professionals or fire alarm technicians install them. Some systems can be installed without professional help, but you’ll need to be somewhat familiar with electrical engineering to some extent.

The benefit of a fire alarm over a smoke detector is the extra layer of protection you receive. Since fire alarms connect to local authorities, you can have a fast response if a fire starts in your home. They also have a longer lifespan than smoke detectors if regularly maintained.

Maintenance

Smoke Detectors

  • Test the detector monthly.
  • Replace batteries once a year (if you have a detector that uses a lithium battery do not replace the battery but replace the whole detector according to the manufacturer’s instructions).
  • Replace the detector every 8-10 years.
  • If your detector is hardwired to your electrical system, you should have a backup battery in it as well. Replace the backup battery once a year.

Fire Alarms

According to the Electrical Construction and Maintenance website, maintenance of a fire alarm is largely determined by the age of the system. Systems five years old and under do not have a lot of problems, but systems ranging from 10-20 years may. Depending on the quality and frequency of the maintenance… You’ll want to do yearly inspections to make sure your system is functioning properly, even in the first five years.

Fire alarm maintenance is best performed by a trained technician who has knowledge of how fire alarm systems work. Generally, fire alarm maintenance requires testing each component… Technicians generally test:

  • The audible components—horn, siren, bell
  • The visual components—flashing lights
  • The sensors—smoke and fire sensors, sprinkler system
  • The signaling system—ability to signal the fire department and local authorities of the fire
  • The battery—checking  for corrosion

Article Provided by: Emergency Essentials

 

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Smoke Detector Market to Hit $600 Million

Expected Growth In The U.S. Smoke Detector Market

Between 2016 and 2020 the residential market for smoke detectors will grow, according to a recent Technavio report, and technological trends in the market will shift dramatically.

“The market size for the residential smoke detector market, specifically for the U.S., stands … close to around $400 million,” Sayani Roy, Technavio industry analyst, told Security Systems News. “By 2020, it is expected to hit around $600 million,” she said. Technavio is estimating a roughly 7 percent CAGR for the period, Roy said.

Roy pointed to three key market geographies: Texas, California and Florida. “Texas comprises around 15 percent of the … new demand for smoke detectors, we are not including replacement demand here,” she said. “The rise in residential construction in the state is one of the primary reasons [for this growth].”

California makes up 8.9 percent of the total U.S. market share. “The reason for the growth of smoke detectors in California is … increasing multi-family housing construction projects.”

The market in Florida will grow due to a law that mandates the use of smoke detectors, as well as numerous housing projects in the state. Florida has a 7.7 percent share of the market.

The type of smoke detectors being installed will change over this period, Roy said. The report segments the market into three key detection technologies: ionization, photoelectric and dual sensor.

Ionization-based detectors are most prevalent now, but will drop considerably over this time period, according to Roy. “The market for ionization-type smoke detectors will actually decelerate at a negative CAGR of around 10.85 percent.”

Replacing ionization detectors with either photo-electric or dual-sensor detectors will be a factor in the growth of the market over this period. New construction of residential buildings will increase the market.

Fire-related deaths have been declining mostly due to increased use of smoke detectors, Roy said, and certain detectors are better suited for life safety. “The cause [of] fire deaths is mostly from smoldering fires, which can only be detected by these photoelectric or the dual sensors,” she said.

Another factor in the decline of ionization detectors is their rate of false alarms, which have led consumers to disable their smoke alarms. Disposal of ionization detectors causes an additional problem because they contain radioactive materials, she said.

Increased regulations in the United States will be a major trend in the market, some of which restrict the use of ionization-type detectors, Roy said. “States like Massachusetts, Iowa and Vermont—they have banned the use of ionization smoke detectors in their residential buildings.”

Roy gave another example of government involvement in the market: The city of South Bend, Ind., is considering an initiative to give homeowners two free smoke detectors.

By 2020, photoelectric detectors will be most prevalent, but the dual-sensor market share is also increasing, Roy noted.

The report also divided the market by three power sources for smoke detectors: battery powered, hardwired with a battery backup, and hardwired without a battery backup. In 2016, the battery-powered segment has 60 percent of the market, hardwiring with a battery comprises about 33 percent and hardwiring without a backup battery has the smallest share of around 6 percent.

These market shares will remain mostly the same to 2020, Roy said, with a slight decrease in battery-powered detectors.

Integration of detectors into the smart home will be an opportunity for installers in this market, Roy said, such as integration with home energy management systems.

“Integration with the IoT … is expected to open new avenues for the market in terms of revenue,” she said. This trend is in a very early phase, Roy said, and a lot of activity is expected in the next five years.

Among smoke detector manufacturers, Kidde leads the market with 25 percent of the total market, followed by BRK, Honeywell and Siemens, according to Roy.

Article Provided By: Security System News 

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Nest Builds a Smart Smoke Detector With Fewer False Alarms

Smart Smoke Detector

When smoke alarms aren’t beeping, they often fade into the background of our homes; we rarely check to make sure they’re in working order. So when you remove the batteries to stop the beeping over some extra-crispy cookies, you might forget to replace them and consequently miss an important alert.

The Nest smart smoke detector, from the same creator as the smart thermostat, is a new smart smoke detector and CO detector that actually isn’t annoying. At $129 per unit, the Protect is designed to produce fewer false alarms and avoid that low-battery beep at 2 a.m.; each Nest Protect is connected to your home’s wireless network and to one other through another private network.

Fewer False Alarms

“This is a product that the government mandates that you have to have, that you need to help keep you safe,” Nest Founder and CEO Tony Fadell told Mashable. “Yet everyone has a story about how these things that are supposed to keep you safe are so annoying.”

When Protect notices smoke or CO levels rising, it gives you a verbal “heads up” about the issue. Since each Nest Protect in your home is networked together, that heads-up is specific not only to the type of alert but also to the problematic area.

For instance, if you leave the oven on, each Protect in your home might say, “Heads up, there’s smoke in the kitchen” — an especially useful setting if you’re upstairs and didn’t realize you forgot to turn it off.

You can wave your hand in front of the smart smoke detector to dismiss the beeping — essentially, like pressing snooze on an alarm. As long as the situation doesn’t worsen, then your smoke alarms will never sound.

For severe issues, Protect may opt to bypass the “heads up” warning and simply sound the alarm.

Smarter and Safer

In the dark, the Nest smart smoke detector glows green to let you know it is functioning properly, and built-in motion sensors turn the detectors into a nightlight of sorts. During the day, the motion sensors work alongside the Nest thermostat to optimize its “away” feature.

A mobile app provides low-battery alerts for individual units and sends push notifications for “heads up” and emergency alarm notifications while you’re away from home. In the event of an emergency, the app has one-button access to an emergency number, as well as basic emergency preparedness instructions.

In this case, Nest alarms will not only beep; it will speak aloud, too.

“Studies have shown that children are less likely to wake up to a horn, and are more likely to wake up to a mother’s voice,” Faddell said. Nest recruited voice talent for five different languages that will launch on the smart smoke detector.

“We have a British-English mother, a French-Canadian mother, a Canadian-English mother … We wanted to make sure we went to that level of detail to get it right for the specific region,” he said.

After the Protect goes off, the device will check itself to ensure everything is working properly — removing yet another step for the user. In fact, Protect tests itself every 10 minutes, so you know the device is always in working order.

Ongoing Mission

 

Faddell says the company originally launched two years ago with the whole home — not just thermostats — in mind. Nest products are now available in more than 5,000 retailers, including the recent addition of Target.

“We’re here a lot faster than we thought,” Faddell said. Already a fast-growing business, the Protect has the potential to accelerate that growth even further.

Nest Protect will be available in November at Amazon Best Buy, Home Depot and Apple stores. The smoke detector will be sold in both a wires and battery-powered version and will be priced at $129 per unit.

Article Provided By: Mashable

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Home Security 101

 

Home Security 101… It wasn’t so long ago that when an intruder broke into a home, the home security system would sound an alarm. If it was a monitored system, the central station would call the police to report the intrusion. This assumes, of course, that you armed the system, the batteries were still good and the intruder wasn’t quick enough to disable the system before it sounded the alarm or dialed the central station.

The revolution brought on by wireless technologies, smart phones, and mobile apps have changed all of that. Today, home security systems can still sound alarms, but are much more difficult to forget about or foil. A software-supported security system can send you a text message every time a door or window is opened, whether you’ve armed it or not. It can stream live video or send still images of what’s happening in your garage, living room, backyard or wherever you deploy a security camera. You can even be alerted before the break-in, the moment the burglar pulls into the driveway!

And that’s not all. Home security has teamed up with home automation so the same interactive service can give your home the appearance that someone is home. Lights, TVs and radios can be turned on and off at random intervals, or according to the schedule you choose. Even motorized blinds can be raised or lowered upon your command.

[Thinking about installing a home security system? Click to find a provider now.]

The Mighty Mule wireless driveway alarm.

Home security systems can give you peace of mind in other ways, too. Whether you’re home or away, they can inform you of hazards like fire, elevated carbon monoxide levels, and power outages.  They can alert you if someone is tampering with a safe, a locked tool chest, or a medicine or gun cabinet. You might even use it to check on the safe arrival of a child returning home from school. Or, if you lose sleep wondering whether the water heater is flooding your basement, you can have your system set up to alert you of that as well.

With interactive systems come other benefits as well. Prefer not to hand out house keys to housekeepers, or other service providers? You can unlock a door for them from wherever you are, whether you’re at work or on a trip, with systems such as Kwikset’s SmartCode.

You can also use the system to program your home’s temperature so you don’t waste energy heating or cooling your home unnecessarily. During cool seasons, it can automatically lower settings when you’re sleeping or away—and raise them just before you wake or return home.

Article provided by Yahoo! Homes

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