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Security & Fire Protection Systems/science fair project - type of smoke detectors


Which smoke detector works/detects smoke or fire the quickest.... an ionizing or photoelectric smoke detector?

Thanks so much for your help.

Hello Peyton, and thanks for your question.

Over the years, there's been an ongoing debate about which type of smoke detector is best, and which detects fires sooner.

In the early days, ionization was thought best, because they could detect particles of combustion that were invisible to the eye. These were slowly smoldering fires that went for hours before bursting into flames and producing visible smoke.

Over the years, though, research has shown that ionization detectors lagged behind photoelectric detectors in the most common types of fires. These fires start quickly, and produce the visible smoke that's needed for photoelectric detection.

So the current thinking is that photoelectric detectors are better suited to saving lives.

I hope this answers your question, and helps you out in you science fair project. Please write again if you need more information!

Warmest regards,


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Dave Neuweiler


The design and application of burglary and fire systems for homes and businesses. Helping alarm owners understand how their system works. Helping to troubleshoot false alarm problems. Questions about monitoring issues.


Over a quarter century in the industry. Experience in installation, service, and monitoring centers. Training manager for a national protective services company; director of education and training for a national trade organization for for alarm dealers.


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