Home Smoke and Fire Alarms

Types, Installation and Cost

Smoke alarms and smoke detectors are some of the most common security devices on the market. In fact most residential dwellings are required by law to have a certain number of them installed in key areas. What makes a smoke alarm distinct from a smoke detector?

The difference between a smoke alarm and smoke detector is purely semantic. Really the devices are two in one: there is a smoke detection mechanism and then there is a corresponding alarm component. The two mechanisms work together to alert you to the presence of smoke with an audible siren. Take away one or the other and you have a useless device from a home hazard standpoint.

The term “smoke detector” is a bit more modern than “smoke alarm” and “alarm” is the most common term still used to shop for these critical devices.

Smoke Alarms in a Home Security System

Any good home security system is a multi-layered system of interconnected devices that serve to resist, monitor, detect, and alert, and pretty much in that order. For example, the locks on your doors and windows are perimeter resistance, while the smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors are a combination of detector and alert system. You can buy and install smoke alarms as standalone devices, but many home security systems include them as an important built-in component that can then be monitored centrally as effectively and efficiently as your door and window sensors.

How Smoke Alarms Work

Most of the common smoke alarms and detectors have a simple inner mechanism. A pair of metal conductive plates have a small electric charge between them; when even a trace amount of smoke gets between them the charge is interrupted or the circuit is broken. Once this circuit is broken the alarm is tripped and you hear the ensuing loud siren. It’s intentionally aggravating and loud. It’s designed to wake even sound sleepers. And since smoke and fire pose the biggest risk to you and your family while you’re sleeping, the alarms are quite effective. And they are quite inexpensive to install and maintain.

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