FAQs: Technical and Performance
Yes! The North Eastern Ohio Fire Prevention Association (NEOFPA) (of which Earl Lee Warning is a member) has conducted a number of smoke alarm comparison tests.
The North Eastern Ohio Fire Prevention Association has conducted eight full-scale, real world smoke alarm comparison tests in two different residential dwellings. The first series of tests were conducted in the city of Euclid, OH on January 10 and 11th, 2013. The second series of tests were conducted in Mayfield Village, OH on May 9, 12th and 13th 2014.
The test conducted on January 11, 2013 in Euclid, OH was filmed by and the story aired by Cleveland's NewsNet 5 on February 11, 2013. The tests conducted on May 13, 2014 were filmed by and the story aired by ABC's Good Morning America. The story ran nationally on GMA on May 29, 2014.
In all the tests, the performance of photoelectric, ionization and dual sensor smoke alarms was monitored and recorded. The detailed test reports showing the results are available below.
Our test results have been consistent with test results performed by other agencies including Texas A&M and NIST. That is that photoelectric smoke alarms typically sound tens of minutes earlier than ionization smoke alarms in smoldering stage fires. Ionization smoke alarms typically sound only tens of seconds earlier than photoelectric smoke alarms in flaming stage fires. Ionization smoke alarms sometimes did not sound at all during some of the smoldering fire stage tests.
These tests continue to confirm our beliefs that the BEST smoke alarm for a consumer to purchase and install in their homes is the photoelectric smoke alarm.
Long Life Battery: Power may last up to 10 years with a long-life lithium battery.
Hardwired: Wired to the home 110 volt electrical service (with battery back-up)
Battery smoke alarms are readily available and can be installed by a homeowner or tenant. Hardwired alarms must be installed by a qualified electrician but can be easily replaced by the homeowner at the end of their service life or if faulty.
We've put together some quick stats for those of you who like facts & figures!
United States: (2005-2009)
- 96% of homes have smoke alarms.
- Ionization type smoke alarms are installed in 90% of homes.
- 20% of these smoke alarms don’t work because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.
- People were most likely to disconnect batteries because of nuisance false alarms.
- 73% of nuisance false alarms were due to cooking.
- 24% of home fire deaths occurred in homes in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate.
With these stats in mind, consider these:
- Photoelectric smoke alarms reduce nuisance false alarms like those from cooking by an average of 72%!
- Photoelectric smoke alarms are, on average, 77% less likely to be disabled for any reason than ionization smoke alarms!
- "NFPA: Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires" Marty Ahrens Issued: September 2011)
- Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms in rural Alaskan homes Thomas M Fazzini, Injury Prevention Specialist,1 Ron Perkins, Director,2 and David Grossman, Co-Director3
- King County, Washington by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center 2000-2002
- US Experience With Smoke Alarms And Other Fire Detection Alarm Equipment; NFPA2004
Download the sources here:
King County, Washington by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center 2000-2002
US EXPERIENCE WITH SMOKE ALARMS AND OTHER FIRE DETECTION ALARM EQUIPMENT NFPA2004
Photoelectric-type alarms aim a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. Smoke enters the chamber, reflecting light onto the light sensor; triggering the alarm.
Ionization-type smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, which ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating the alarm.
Photoelectric smoke detectors are typically used in commercial buildings like hospitals, schools and nursing homes where our most at-risk citizens are located. In fact, they have been for many years because the commercial fire alarm industry understands the differences.
Not Necessarily! The airborne particles from burned toast, ordinary cooking and shower steam are different from the smoke from burning furniture and household items. These nuisance false alarms lead people into a false sense of security that their ionization smoke alarm is ultra-sensitive and will give them an early warning in the event of a fire in their home. In fact, your ionization smoke alarm may not go off early enough to save your family in an actual fire! Ionization smoke alarms are, on average, over five times more likely to have a nuisance false alarm!
Photoelectric smoke alarms are 72% less prone to these nuisance false alarms and may alert tens of minutes earlier than ionization or dual-sensor alarms in an actual fire.