When most business owners think of commercial electricians, they assume all they deal with is the electrical wiring of the office space. However, commercial electricians perform a range of other tasks that could work toward keeping your employees safe. One of these tasks would be the installation of smoke alarms. A common mistake that business owners make is selecting the first type of smoke alarm they come across for their office premises without putting much thought into. However, you will find that the different smoke alarms available operate differently. This in turn affects how they detect smoke and fire in the premises.
What is a smoke alarm?
A smoke alarm is electronic device designed to detect the presence of smoke and fire. Smoke alarms typically consist of two main components. The first is the sensor that detects the smoke in the building. The second is the alarm that signals the presence of smoke or fire to any inhabitants of that building. Before making a decision on a smoke alarm, you should consult with your commercial electrician (like those at Combined Electrical Contractors Pty Ltd) about extra features that it could come with. For instance, some models may make use of strobe lights to alert people of a fire in an attempt to cater to individuals who may have auditory disabilities.
What are the types of smoke alarms?
There are two main types of smoke alarms that you could choose to have installed by your commercial electrician. These include:
- Ionization smoke alarms: these smoke alarms comprise metal plates that form an ionization chamber. The ionization chamber contains the compound americium-241. When smoke makes its way into the ionization chamber, the compound inside it creates an electrical current, which passes through the metal plates that form the chamber. This current then sounds the smoke alarm. Ionization alarms can detect even the smallest amount of smoke. Although this makes them great in sending an early warning, they are also prone to being tripped mistakenly if they are installed in a room such as a kitchen.
- Photoelectric smoke alarms: This type of smoke alarms comprises a light source as well as a sensor that is sensitive to light. In normal conditions, the light source will emit is light past the sensor as it shoots in a direct line. In the event of smoke though, the direction of the light becomes scattered and its beams hit the light-sensitive sensor, hence triggering the alarm. These types of smoke alarms detect shouldering fires much faster than ionization alarms. Thus, they give inhabitants an early opportunity to evacuate the building before smoke has spread considerably.