Best Fire Alarm Sensor Type, Optical or Ionization

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
7,987
Mine are combined, mains powered with battery back-up.
Also they are linked, e.g. The one in the basement detects smoke, all the rest of the different floor alarms go off.
I have the same thing; powered from mains with a back-up battery that is good for 10 years. I put a date on the side of all my detectors showing the date of installation. Last time I hung a detector was in 2017. So mine are 7 years old. One in the basement above the furnace, water heater and gas dryer with CO detection, one in the family room (where there's a fireplace) and one in the main floor hallway where EVERYONE can hear it.
In my garage is the hot water heater
I've heard about "Hot Water Heaters". I have a cold water heater. Heats the water till it's hot. I've never fully understood the need for a "HOT Water heater". Why heat it if it's already hot? But yes, there IS such a thing as a hot water heater. It's also called a booster tank which heats water from the standard hot temperature up to about 180˚F. You find them in scullery kitchens, hospitals and anywhere else where far hotter water than what you get out of a domestic water heater is needed. I know, I was scalded by a hot water heater.
they were $50 each and they have a 10 year non-accessible battery, which means someone cannot take the battery out to make it stop working when they cook stuff.
Mine also have the 10 year non-accessible battery.
they have a 'pause' button that will stop them from sounding for 10 minutes if it is pushed in.
So do mine. But they never seemed to work for me. Hold it for a few seconds, hear three quick beeps and it should shut off for 10 (or I thought 13) minutes.

My wife was asking about an alarm that she could silence by simply yelling "I'M COOKING!" Sadly, nobody has thought to make one like that.

Interesting observation: I used to have a gas stove. Every time the wife cooked she almost always set off the alarm. Cats would run for the hills. Last year I got her an Induction stove and pans that were induction ready. She hasn't set off the alarm since. Although, heating milk tends to burn on the bottom because the pan itself is the heat source. You have to constantly stir AND heat slowly or you get black scabs of milk in your Malt-O-Meal. But it doesn't taste bad.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,681
I have the same thing; powered from mains with a back-up battery that is good for 10 years. I put a date on the side of all my detectors showing the date of installation. Last time I hung a detector was in 2017. So mine are 7 years old. One in the basement above the furnace, water heater and gas dryer with CO detection, one in the family room (where there's a fireplace) and one in the main floor hallway where EVERYONE can hear it.

I've heard about "Hot Water Heaters". I have a cold water heater. Heats the water till it's hot. I've never fully understood the need for a "HOT Water heater". Why heat it if it's already hot? But yes, there IS such a thing as a hot water heater. It's also called a booster tank which heats water from the standard hot temperature up to about 180˚F. You find them in scullery kitchens, hospitals and anywhere else where far hotter water than what you get out of a domestic water heater is needed. I know, I was scalded by a hot water heater.
Mine also have the 10 year non-accessible battery.
So do mine. But they never seemed to work for me. Hold it for a few seconds, hear three quick beeps and it should shut off for 10 (or I thought 13) minutes.

My wife was asking about an alarm that she could silence by simply yelling "I'M COOKING!" Sadly, nobody has thought to make one like that.

Interesting observation: I used to have a gas stove. Every time the wife cooked she almost always set off the alarm. Cats would run for the hills. Last year I got her an Induction stove and pans that were induction ready. She hasn't set off the alarm since. Although, heating milk tends to burn on the bottom because the pan itself is the heat source. You have to constantly stir AND heat slowly or you get black scabs of milk in your Malt-O-Meal. But it doesn't taste bad.
Hi,

Hey that last one was funny and a good idea.
How about, "Shut the hell up you $@N of a &!?(H !!".
:)
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
30,286
With the Nest Protect alarm it will let you know it's about to pop. If you have Home Assistant or another voice controlled automation system, you can tell it to pause.
https://support.google.com/googlenest/answer/9243107

https://support.google.com/googlenest/answer/9243107#zippy=,heads-up-and-emergency-alarms
https://nest.com/support/images/mis...-smoke-in-the-hallway-the-alarm-may-sound.mp3
The more complicated and feature-rich something is, the more failure paths there are. I prefer something that is as simple and reliable as possible, and am willing to tolerate a higher false-alarm rate if it drives the fail-to-detect rate into the basement.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
13,523
The more complicated and feature-rich something is, the more failure paths there are. I prefer something that is as simple and reliable as possible, and am willing to tolerate a higher false-alarm rate if it drives the fail-to-detect rate into the basement.
Absolutely but this is a well engineered device that's simple and reliable while also being feature rich. There is no mutual exclusion of those properties with good engineering. It's not complicated in the prime operational feature of being am alarm.
https://www.bobvila.com/articles/google-nest-smoke-detector-review/

For those unfamiliar with the Google Nest Protect, let’s first take a quick dive into the device, as it’s not a typical smoke detector. Nest Protect is essentially three life-safety devices in one, offering carbon monoxide detection and two types of smoke detection, thanks to its dual-sensor technology. Depending on their method of detection, most smoke alarms can detect either fast-burning or smoldering fires. Google Nest Protect can pick up both for faster, more accurate detection of dangerous situations.

https://9to5mac.com/2023/08/11/does-google-make-the-best-smart-smoke-detector/

They work for me and I'm very selective on product endorsements.
 
Last edited:

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,263
've heard about "Hot Water Heaters". I have a cold water heater. Heats the water till it's hot. I've never fully understood the need for a "HOT Water heater".
This is just a small semantic confusion because hot water refers to something other than what you are expecting.

In this case {hot water} is a label for the tap that provides {hot} {water} when opened, so a {hot water} heater is the device that provides the heated water for that facility.

If you take hot water to mean {hot} {water}, that is, water which is hot, it is confusing since the water supply to a {hot water} heater is certainly cold.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
7,987
Absolutely but this is a well engineered device that's simple and reliable while also being feature rich. There is no mutual exclusion of those properties with good engineering. It's not complicated in the prime operational feature of being am alarm.
https://www.bobvila.com/articles/google-nest-smoke-detector-review/

For those unfamiliar with the Google Nest Protect, let’s first take a quick dive into the device, as it’s not a typical smoke detector. Nest Protect is essentially three life-safety devices in one, offering carbon monoxide detection and two types of smoke detection, thanks to its dual-sensor technology. Depending on their method of detection, most smoke alarms can detect either fast-burning or smoldering fires. Google Nest Protect can pick up both for faster, more accurate detection of dangerous situations.

https://9to5mac.com/2023/08/11/does-google-make-the-best-smart-smoke-detector/

They work for me and I'm very selective on product endorsements.
I've always believed in the mantra: Good - Fast - Cheap! Which two do you want? Good and fast isn't cheap. Good and cheap isn't fast. Fast and - - - well, you get the idea by now.

Having worked 40 years in the manufacturing sector I've seen all combinations of that mantra and have never seen one excursion from that thinking with little exception. I've known those in a hurry to turn a profit and I've known those who are dedicated to "Mission Critical" and "Life Critical" engineering. They were good. They weren't fast and they weren't cheap.

I'm sure someone COULD make an alarm that was voice controlled. I'm just recalling, I think it was Ghallager who suggested an alarm that the chef could simply yell out "I'M JUST COOKING!"

Ionization or Optical, I've had both. I don't recall the ion unit having triggered with smoke from cooking. And somewhere I've seen videos of alarms that don't react to certain kinds of smoke. Since most things in my home would smolder I think I have optical alarms. I have some older alarms that were retired and out of curiosity I've opened them up to find black fingers that appear to be very reflective arranged in some pattern I don't understand. Off to one side is what appeared to be an emitter and receiver. I suppose reflected light that gets scattered would indicate the presence of smoke. But I've never really cared to understand how they work. I also remember tearing into one of those detectors with a metallic housing, I believe they had a very small amount of Americium. I see something similar (or exactly like) are still available.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/274901507861
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
13,523
I've always believed in the mantra: Good - Fast - Cheap! Which two do you want? Good and fast isn't cheap. Good and cheap isn't fast. Fast and - - - well, you get the idea by now.

Having worked 40 years in the manufacturing sector I've seen all combinations of that mantra and have never seen one excursion from that thinking with little exception. I've known those in a hurry to turn a profit and I've known those who are dedicated to "Mission Critical" and "Life Critical" engineering. They were good. They weren't fast and they weren't cheap.

I'm sure someone COULD make an alarm that was voice controlled. I'm just recalling, I think it was Ghallager who suggested an alarm that the chef could simply yell out "I'M JUST COOKING!"

Ionization or Optical, I've had both. I don't recall the ion unit having triggered with smoke from cooking. And somewhere I've seen videos of alarms that don't react to certain kinds of smoke. Since most things in my home would smolder I think I have optical alarms. I have some older alarms that were retired and out of curiosity I've opened them up to find black fingers that appear to be very reflective arranged in some pattern I don't understand. Off to one side is what appeared to be an emitter and receiver. I suppose reflected light that gets scattered would indicate the presence of smoke. But I've never really cared to understand how they work. I also remember tearing into one of those detectors with a metallic housing, I believe they had a very small amount of Americium. I see something similar (or exactly like) are still available.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/274901507861
False alarms are a pain, so far, this model is very good about warnings before alarms. The wife does lots of hot wok stir-fry.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,681
I've heard about "Hot Water Heaters". I have a cold water heater. Heats the water till it's hot. I've never fully understood the need for a "HOT Water heater". Why heat it if it's already hot? But yes, there IS such a thing as a hot water heater. It's also called a booster tank which heats water from the standard hot temperature up to about 180˚F. You find them in scullery kitchens, hospitals and anywhere else where far hotter water than what you get out of a domestic water heater is needed. I know, I was scalded by a hot water heater.
This is one of the fallacies of language.
Remember the old adage, "Brevity is the soul of wit". That is not always true and sometimes it's just the opposite because sometimes the fewer words you use the more ways it might be interpreted. This and the tendency to keep things simple sometimes leads to unusual problems.
"Hot water heater" refers to the end result of heating rather than the initial conditions, so we are not heating hot water we are making hot water. I suppose you could actually heat hot water to make it hotter, but anyone familiar with this kind of device knows it is usually used to turn cold water into hot water. Thing of the way it would sound if we wanted to state what it actually does in more explicit terms. If we said, "Cold water heater", that might make sense, but "Hot water heater" has been in use for a long time now so it might be confusing to say the cold water version. This is also a fallacy: we sometimes go along with standards that were set a long time ago even if they do not make as much sense in the current age. AWG wire gauge is an example where the AWG numbers were decided a long time ago in order to draw wire into the various diameters. To change the standard to say the diameter would mean a lot of people would need a look up table or something. What would we use a 0.1 inch diameter wire for. Newer industries may make up new standards, but then they are usually confined to that sector unless they catch on really good.

So language can be pretty strange sometimes.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
30,286
This is one of the fallacies of language.
Remember the old adage, "Brevity is the soul of wit". That is not always true and sometimes it's just the opposite because sometimes the fewer words you use the more ways it might be interpreted. This and the tendency to keep things simple sometimes leads to unusual problems.
"Hot water heater" refers to the end result of heating rather than the initial conditions, so we are not heating hot water we are making hot water. I suppose you could actually heat hot water to make it hotter, but anyone familiar with this kind of device knows it is usually used to turn cold water into hot water. Thing of the way it would sound if we wanted to state what it actually does in more explicit terms. If we said, "Cold water heater", that might make sense, but "Hot water heater" has been in use for a long time now so it might be confusing to say the cold water version. This is also a fallacy: we sometimes go along with standards that were set a long time ago even if they do not make as much sense in the current age. AWG wire gauge is an example where the AWG numbers were decided a long time ago in order to draw wire into the various diameters. To change the standard to say the diameter would mean a lot of people would need a look up table or something. What would we use a 0.1 inch diameter wire for. Newer industries may make up new standards, but then they are usually confined to that sector unless they catch on really good.

So language can be pretty strange sometimes.
While I have certainly heard the term "hot water heater" throughout my life, the most commonly used term (in there here parts) is simply "water heater". But then, I live in a part of the country that, historically, has always had a blend of people from across the country, so we get exposed to most of the regional variants on a regular basis and think nothing of it. The first example that I ever became aware of was the terms used for carbonated beverages. If you say, "soft drink", "soda pop", "soda", or "pop", everyone knows what you are talking about. As I went to different parts of the country, I was surprised that they often only knew one or two of those terms and the others were completely foreign to them. The one that amazed me the most (because it was an example that didn't exist where I grew up) was referring to any carbonated beverage as a "coke". Here, "Coke" refers to a specific beverage. I have certainly encountered plenty of people that don't distinguish between various colas, so if you ask for a Coke they might serve you a Pepsi, or vice versa, but usually if you ask for one and they only have the other, they will ask you, "Is Coke okay?" But one place I was at (don't recall where, it's been several decades now) the waitress asked if we wanted coffee or coke. The person I was with said that they wanted a coke, and then she asked what kind, and I was expecting something like "diet" or "regular", instead he asked for a "Mountain Dew", and that's what she brought him. We had an interesting discussion as a result, both of use learning something about how different the use of words was in our respective worlds.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,681
While I have certainly heard the term "hot water heater" throughout my life, the most commonly used term (in there here parts) is simply "water heater". But then, I live in a part of the country that, historically, has always had a blend of people from across the country, so we get exposed to most of the regional variants on a regular basis and think nothing of it. The first example that I ever became aware of was the terms used for carbonated beverages. If you say, "soft drink", "soda pop", "soda", or "pop", everyone knows what you are talking about. As I went to different parts of the country, I was surprised that they often only knew one or two of those terms and the others were completely foreign to them. The one that amazed me the most (because it was an example that didn't exist where I grew up) was referring to any carbonated beverage as a "coke". Here, "Coke" refers to a specific beverage. I have certainly encountered plenty of people that don't distinguish between various colas, so if you ask for a Coke they might serve you a Pepsi, or vice versa, but usually if you ask for one and they only have the other, they will ask you, "Is Coke okay?" But one place I was at (don't recall where, it's been several decades now) the waitress asked if we wanted coffee or coke. The person I was with said that they wanted a coke, and then she asked what kind, and I was expecting something like "diet" or "regular", instead he asked for a "Mountain Dew", and that's what she brought him. We had an interesting discussion as a result, both of use learning something about how different the use of words was in our respective worlds.
Hi there,

Oh yes the regional variations can be quite varied and amazing.
Going to a different country even nuttier. Rio De Janeiro has a special word for people that live in that area only, Cariocas, and even hand gestures that we never heard of here in the US or other countries either.

Yes "water heater" is also a very common name for the device we are thinking about.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
7,987
language can be pretty strange
Was just poking a bit of levity into the conversation. If you have "hot water" then you don't need to heat it.

I agree, region matters. My father always called the radiator of a car "Rad-dee-ator." My friends laughed when I said it that way and I quickly learned to say "Ray-de-ater."

I go preferably by my middle name because, when a boy, my mom would call out in the front yard "Pita, time for dinna." My cousin Pete and I were named both after an Uncle who passed away under tragic circumstances. He would note the same thing from his mom, my Aunt. You might know him as "ThePanMan". Our parents grew up in Brooklyn NY. Plus, going by Tony eliminated some confusion when being called by other family members. We were a large family. Two Uncles, seven Aunts, 13 cousins. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were a huge event. Today there are just three cousins left. Cousin Pat, and two Peter's.

Wodda instead of Water was another one. Being from CA cousins and friends on the east coast would badger me to say Water. They thought it was hilarious. As hilarious as my west coast friends thought the way I said Radiator.

Nuff bout me.

The wife loves her induction stove. Today you can get a water heater ('scuse me, Hot water heater) fired by natural gas, propane (probably other fuels as well), electric, solar and heat pump types. Wonder if anyone ever considered making a (hot) water heater powered by induction. Wonder what its efficiency would be.

And you thought this thread was just about fire alarm sensors (a.k.a "Smoke" detectors).
 

ThePanMan

Joined Mar 13, 2020
803
My cousin Pete and I were named both after an Uncle who passed away under tragic circumstances. He would note the same thing from his mom, my Aunt.
Uncle Peter suffocated when trying to clean out a septic tank. But yes, I heard the same east coast accents too. Your dad was a blast. You bring back long forgotten memories.

I have the optical sensors and have been happy with them. But then again I've never had a house fire. I love the idea of "I'M JUST COOKING!" alarm cancelation protocol. Maybe somebody should invent a voice controlled smoke detector like Tony says. Whether it's optical or ionization, the detection method may vary but the end desired result is an alarm.
 
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