The descriptions on smoke detector packaging can be confusing. We will take you through them but first and foremost, remember, choose a photoelectric smoke detector! It is identified on the packaging by the word “Photoelectric” or the “P” symbol.
Here are the options, their descriptions and Earl Lee Warning’s recommendations.
Dual-Sensor (Photoelectric & Ionization): Not recommended. The ionization sensor will make this detector more prone to nuisance false alarms. It isn’t necessary, but if you prefer to use ionization detectors in conjunction with your photoelectric detectors, purchase separate ionization detectors and mount them next to your photoelectric detectors.
Combination Photoelectric & Carbon Monoxide Detector: Personal preference. We do recommend that everyone have at least one carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom area but we suggest having at least one separate carbon monoxide detector with a digital readout. A digital readout gives the user an indication of the type of alarm the unit is experiencing & the approximate levels of carbon monoxide present. Visit neofpa.org for more information on carbon monoxide detectors.
Escape Light: Not recommended. Remember that smoke rises and the light on your smoke detector will be obscured quickly in a fire. It also only covers a small area. We suggest keeping flashlights in nightstands in each bedroom to take with you as you escape a fire.
Silence/Mute/Hush Button: Recommended. In the event of a false alarm from cooking or shower steam, pressing this button will temporarily silence the smoke detector while you clear or fan the smoke or steam away from the detector. It will automatically reset after several minutes. Remember, never remove the battery from your smoke detector!
Long Life Battery (Up to 10 years): Recommended. A long life battery (up to 10 years) may be permanently mounted in the smoke detector and the 10 year battery is designed for the life of the detector. You never have to remember to change the battery!
Hardwired or AC Powered Smoke Detectors (With battery back-up): Recommended. Smoke detectors are powered by the home electrical system and have a battery back-up to keep the detector operational during power failures. This type of installation is common in newer homes but can be retrofitted into older homes. A hardwired system must initially be installed by a qualified electrician but the homeowner can easily replace existing detectors with new photoelectric detectors and when existing detectors malfunction or reach their 10 year expiration date.
Interconnected Smoke Detectors (Hardwired or Wireless): Recommended. With interconnected smoke detectors, when one smoke alarm sounds, all smoke detectors throughout the house also sound. With voice option, the specific location of the detector in alarm can be announced to all detectors.
Voice Alarm (Talking): Personal preference. A voice alarm option provides a pre-programmed voice or can allow the homeowner to record their own voice that will sound in conjunction with the standard warning tone. The announcement of the specific location of the detector in alarm may also be an option. Some studies have shown that young children will awaken quicker to the sound of a voice than just the standard beeping alarm.