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What type of smoke alarm do you have?

Experienced Contributor

What type of smoke alarm do you have?

The message at daylight savings time is always to replace your smoke alarm battery. But now I'm thinking that I need to change all my smoke alarms too. I just read this Choice article - - that recommends a Photoelectric smoke alarm. Apparently they are much better at detecting smouldering fires, which is the most common type of housefire. By the time there's a flame you might already be in big trouble.



Established Contributor

Re: What type of smoke alarm do you have?

I thought there was only two types - battery and powered....

Experienced Contributor

Re: What type of smoke alarm do you have?

I just want one that doesn't go off and freak out the dog every time I burn the toast.

Junior Contributor

Re: What type of smoke alarm do you have?

There are two main 'types' of smoke alarms: ionisation and photoelectric. All state fire services in Australia now recommend photoelectric smoke alarms, as they are better at detecting smouldering fires, which if undetected can smoulder for hours before suddenly igniting into a house fire. Photoelectric smoke alarms also suffer from far fewer 'false alarms' than their ionisation counterparts, (so it sounds like photoelectric might be the answer you're looking for @Goldmember).


You can tell which type yours is by looking closely at your smoke alarm unit - if it has a small radioactive symbol it's an ionisation smoke alarm.


There are also different types of power for smoke alarms - the classic 9V battery, hardwired smoke alarms, which run off 240V mains power and need to be installed by a licensed electrician, and there are now also smoke alarms containing a sealed lithium ion battery, which will last for up to 10 years.


Also don't forget that smoke alarms only have a working life of 10 years! If you can't remember the last time you changed the whole smoke alarm unit, it might be time to replace the whole thing with a new, photoelectric model.


The NSW Fire and Rescue page provides a good summary if you need any more ifnormation 

Trusted Contributor

Re: What type of smoke alarm do you have?

Great post @Emily, the hard-wired & interconnected/communicating alarms are definitely the way to go. Every bedroom should have one, also at the very least, one located in a passageway, that separates them from the rest of the house.

I'm not a fan of battery only alarms, even though they sound an alarm when the battery falls to only 85% charge.

The 240v alarms have a 9v battery as a backup, to cover for power failures, & they're automatically tested at regular intervals (every few minutes?). We've successfully used 9.6v rechargables, because it's nonsense to bin perfectly good non-rechargeable batteries every 12 months.

Having said that, I reeeeeally like the sound of the new alarms with inbuilt Lithium Ion rechargeable (they don't tend to self discharge) battery packs, but I hope they use smart chargers, rather than continuously trickle charging. They'd be a stress free solution, that wouldn't put occupants at risk, & insurance companies should subsidise them.


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