Which smoke alarm—an ionisation, optical, or heat alarm—should you purchase? Learn how to select the ideal smoke alarm for your home.

smoke alarms

Good smoke detectors shouldn’t go off every time you singe the fish fingers; instead, they should alert you when there is a real fire and allow you time to escape. There are three different sorts of alarms, including two different types of smoke alarms and a heat alert, as explained in the smoke alarm purchase video up top.

How much money should you spend on a quality smoke alarm?

Our smoke alarm tests demonstrate that you don’t need to pay a fortune to obtain excellent value. For less than £20, you can purchase a top-notch smoke alarm from Best Buy, and we’ve seen many more expensive devices that failed our testing.

A 10-year sealed battery, an emergency light, or an alarm that can be wirelessly connected to other devices can be extra features that come with more expensive models. When danger is identified, connected alarms all ring at the same time.

Although they can cost more than unlinked alarms and will be required in Scotland when the law changes in 2022, it’s still possible to find an affordable interconnected smoke alarm at Best Buy.

smoke alarms

When the legislation changes in Scotland, what kind of heat and smoke alarms will I need?

You’ll need to install linked heat and smoke alarms in your home when the alarms law changes in Scotland. We have tested pairs of smoke and heat alarms from each of the major producers (Aico, FireAngel, and Kidde), and all of their products are compatible with one another.

In order to save money while replacing your home’s interconnected smoke and heat alarms, check for offers on packs of detectors that include two or three smoke alarms and a heat alarm. We list which smoke alarms are compatible with which heat alarms in our reviews of interconnected alarms.

What kind of smoke alarm is ideal for my house?

smoke alarms that emit ions

Air is ionised between two electrodes via ionisation alarms. As a result of their positive and negative charges, the objects induce a tiny current inside the chamber. The equilibrium of the stream is altered by smoke particles.

When this occurs, the integrated circuit receives a signal, and the alarm sounds.

Compared to optical alarms, these alarms are more sensitive to the smaller smoke particles produced by blazing flames, thus cooking has a greater potential to set them off, leading to false warnings.

Pros: Can work well in dustier locations like lofts, the area around your bathroom, or smoking rooms.

Cons: Because of false alarms, they shouldn’t be put too close to kitchens.

optical smoke detectors

Light sensors include optical (or photoelectric) alarms. They have an infrared LED inside that shoots a beam of light into the sensor chamber every few seconds to look for smoke particles.

An alarm is set off when smoke enters and infrared light is dispersed onto the photodiode light receptor.

They pick up the larger smoke flakes from smouldering fires that burn more slowly.

Advantages: Because they are less susceptible to false alarms from cooking, they are good for bedrooms, landings, corridors, and areas close to kitchens.

Cons: Not recommended for humid or dusty environments like bathroom landings or lofts.

smoke alarms

Heat and smoke alarms that are connected

Interconnected smoke alarms will employ the same optical or ionisation technology as those previously stated, therefore they are not a distinct category of alert.

They can be connected to other alarms, including heat and smoke alarms, so that when one senses danger, they all ring. This is what makes them stand out. All residences in Scotland must be equipped with interconnected smoke and heat alarms as of February 2022.

Pros: Each connected alarm sounds when smoke or a sudden increase in temperature is detected.

Cons: When shopping, check for discounts because they frequently cost more than standalone alarms.

How do smart smoke alarms work? Similar to a traditional smoke alarm, smart smoke alarms are made to sound the alert when they detect smoke. The ability to transmit notifications to your phone when there is a fire, however, is a smart smoke alarm’s distinctive selling point. If you are outside when a fire starts, this could be extremely important.

The optical models make up all of the smart smoke alarms we’ve evaluated. When it comes to how quickly they can detect smoke and how they alert you when it does, some smart smoke alarms are far better than others in alerting you when there is smoke nearby.

The most useful form of smart alarm models sound an alarm both through the alarm itself and on your smartphone when they go off. Others will activate the alarm through the alarm unit itself, but instead of activating the alarm on your phone, they will send SMS or emails to it.

As a result, if you’re away from home and away from your phone when the messages arrive, you won’t be able to tell the alarm went off. Pros: The top smart smoke alarms will sound the alert both through the alarm itself and on your phone as soon as they are triggered.

They will be simple to set up, manage, and utilise, with user-friendly apps. Cons: The worst smart alarm we’ve encountered doesn’t even pretend to be smart; it only sends emails and texts to your phone when there’s smoke around but doesn’t really sound the alarm. It took a while for the alarm to go off in one of our tests, and in another, one test sample was unable to detect any smoke at all.

Smart smoke alarms and information gathering

The fire-related data that is being gathered by the new breed of smart alarms, as is the case with Google, which manufactures the Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm, is an intriguing byproduct. Google informed us that it uses the information from its alarms to give its customers “useful insights” and to enhance the product.

For instance, Google claimed to have created a function called Steam Check that makes sure the alarm can tell the difference between steam and smoke. This feature was created using both actual data from homes and traditional lab tests.

According to Google, Pancake Day is the day when UK smoke alarms are most likely to go off.

On a lighter note, Google’s data also showed that pancake day is the day in the UK where smoke alarms are most likely to go off.

When the law changes, is the Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm appropriate for residences in Scotland?

The Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm will stop complying with the new Scottish alarm standards as of February 2022. This is due to the fact that, despite being able to be connected to other Nest alarms, it is incapable of sensing heat rises or connecting to other heat alarms.

If you already have a Nest smoke and CO alarm, you can keep using it, but it must be used in conjunction to interconnected smoke and heat alarms. We discussed this with Google, and they advised us that anyone who bought a Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm within the last three years and wishes to return their product could get in touch with our customer care team for a full refund.

What further home safety alarm options are there?

Heat detectors

Alarms for heat (thermal) instead of smoke detect heat (hot air). When the temperature inside the sensor chamber exceeds 58 degrees Celsius, which typically happens when a fire is well-established, the alarm is set off.

They can be installed in garages and kitchens because they are not susceptible to false alarms from exhaust or cooking odours. However, they take longer to react than smoke alarms do.

Heat alarms are available in three different battery configurations: replaceable batteries, sealed fixed-life batteries, and mains power. Smoke alarms can be used in conjunction with interconnected heat alarms to activate when one of the alarms in the circuit detects danger.

smoke alarms

What kind of battery goes in my smoke alarm?

You must choose between a smoke alarm with a sealed fixed-life battery and a replaceable 9V battery if you choose to purchase a smoke alarm that runs on batteries rather than electricity. The latter are more expensive initially, but you won’t have to account for the cost of replacement batteries. A 9V battery in your smoke alarm should be changed whenever necessary, or at the very least once a year.

What other characteristics will you find while looking at heat and smoke alarms?

Alarms that are powered by the mains provide security because they don’t use batteries. They do require a licenced electrician to install them, and a backup 9V battery is included in case of a power outage. All the connected detectors are interconnected, so when one alarm sounds, they are all activated.

This is especially helpful in a bigger residence. Without the usage of connecting cables, wireless devices can communicate with other devices and other wireless devices. This may be accomplished using radio or wireless interlinking. In a fire, strobes and vibration pads warn those who have hearing loss.