Home alarm systems are, as we’ve discussed, not just about intrusion detection. Another very important role that residential security technology can play in your peace of mind is to add an additional layer of protection, in the form of fire detection.
Unlike intrusion direction, which is only “active” when your alarm system is armed, fire detection devices don’t need to be turned on and off: they’re on the job 24/7. Good alarm companies will recommend at least one monitored smoke and heat sensor for every systemthey sell, even though building codes don’t require that the sensors be monitored.
In fact, fire monitoring alone is a major reason to have a monitored home alarm system in the first place. An additional advantage is that your insurance company may well offer further discounts for fire monitoring over and above the savings you’ll see just from having a monitored intrusion system.
So, let’s briefly recap the key benefits of adding fire monitoring to your alarm system:
- Non-monitored smoke alarms – even the extensive systems sometimes required by building codes – will never summon help. They do nothing when you are away, or if at home and overcome by smoke.
- Fire monitoring should not add a penny to your monitoring fees.
- Fire monitoring should provide you with additional home insurance discounts.
- Pets that are home alone need monitored fire protection, too!
Explaining the Smoke & Heat Sensor
The workhorse of home fire monitoring is the wireless smoke and heat sensor, and as with the other sensors we’ve discussed, wireless is in fact the way to go. The good devices actually contain three separate fire detection technologies:
- Smoke Detection: using either ionization or photoelectric technology to sense airborne particulate, the sensor “samples” the air. Ionization is slightly better for actual flames, whereas photoelectric (more common) has the edge detecting smoldering fires: both types work, but photoelectric is used much more widely today.
- Fixed Temperature Sensor: the standard trigger point is 135 F. Once the detector senses this temperature has been reached, the alarm is activated.
- “Rate of Rise” Temperature Sensor: the sensor can determine if room temperature is increasing by more than 15 F within a 60-second period. That unusual (and dangerous) “rate of rise” in temperature triggers an alarm.
Smoke and heat sensors are best placed high on the wall, or on the ceiling – and as a rule, not in the “corner” where the wall and ceiling meet. I generally recommend one sensor on each floor, starting with the upper floors, and working down (since heat rises, and upstairs is usually where the bedrooms are).
As you may imagine, the kitchen is not a great location for the Smoke & Heat Sensor. There is too much possibility of a false alarm. The same can be said for a bathroom, as the steam can be interpreted by a detector as smoke.
Monitored Fire Detection is Best
It’s great to know that if you are way from home – or if you are at home, and are overcome by smoke – that help can be on the way in minutes. That’s why a monitored Smoke & Heat Sensor is the wise choice of homeowners looking for true peace of mind.
And when it comes to alarm monitoring, remember the best systems rely on a security cellular connections, not a phone line or Internet connection: cellular is just safer.
That’s one more wireless sensor we can add to our list of devices to include in a complete wireless home alarm system. We’re getting close to the point of putting it all together and designing the right system for your situation – so stay with us, and you’ll keep on learning about the best ways to protect your home and family. We’re here for you, so keep those calls and questions coming. See you next Monday!