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Photoelectric smoke alarms are particularly adept at detecting smoldering fires, and offer enhanced protection especially in households with electric stoves and heating burners. These devices also offer features such as wireless integration, inter-connectivity, temperature or carbon monoxide monitoring and voice alerts.

Best Photoelectric Smoke Alarms
9.5 FIRST ALERT BRK PRC710V Talking Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Built-In 10-Year Battery , White
Top PickA talking smoke- and carbon monoxide alarm
9.3 Google Nest Protect - Smoke Alarm - Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector - Battery Operated , White - S3000BWES
Runner upA smart, self-regulating smoke detector
9.1 X-Sense SD03 10-Year Battery Smoke Detector Alarm, ETL Listed Fire Alarm with Photoelectric Sensor, Auto-Check & Silence Button
Affordable pickSmoke detector alarm with auto-check & silence button
9.0 First Alert PR700 Battery-Operated Photoelectric Smoke Alarm, 1 Pack
Best portable smoke alarmEasy to install, twist-lock smoke alarm
8.8 Honeywell 5808W3 Wireless Photoelectric Smoke/Heat Detector
Best heat alarm2-in-1 photoelectric smoke and heat detector
8.6 10-Year Worry Free Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector, Lithium Battery Power & Voice Alarm, Fire Alarm
Smoke and CO alarm with sealed lithium battery power

Smoldering fires are particularly difficult to extinguish and can cause extensive damage, penetrating deep into the ground. Having smoke alarms designed to quickly detect smoke from such fires helps significantly reduce or eliminate potential damage. 

What's different about a photoelectric alarm?

Generally, smoke alarms sense smoke differently based on their designs. In fact, different types of fires produce different types of smoke. For example, flaming fires produce different types of smoke than smoldering fires. Typically, photoelectric smoke alarms do a better job at detecting smoke from smoldering fires (long lasting fires) than their ionization smoke alarm counterparts.

These alarms function by aiming a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle from the sensor. As the smoke enters the sensor chamber, it is detected; triggering the alarm. Whilst each fire type comes with its own fatality in a home or office, it is recommended to install both types of smoke alarm technologies.

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A talking smoke detector, the First Alert combo alarm features both electrochemical and photoelectric sensors.

Top Features
  • Detects both smoke and carbon monoxide.
  • Voice alerts that can be programmed.
  • Sleek and slim design.

The First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm is not only affordable, but it also integrates a heap of smart features to keep your home safe at all times. The detector tells you whether you are in a smoke or carbon monoxide danger and where exactly the danger is.

You can set up to 11 pre-programmed locations within your home or office via voice commands. Integrating electrochemical carbon monoxide and photoelectric smoke sensors, the smoke and CO alarm detects smoke from both rapid and smoldering fires.

The sensors also detect large smoke particles – reducing the number of false alarms. First Alert claims that its patented smoke entry system allows for even better detection. 

Its sleek and low-profile design, on the other hand, blends well with the background design of any wall or ceiling.  

Featuring a built-in high-quality lithium metal battery, the smoke detector has a lifespan of up to 10 years. When it’s time to replace the detector, a simple chirp lets you know. You won’t get phone notifications, though.

What we liked
  • Built-in battery with a lifespan of up to 10 years.
  • Detects both rapid flame- and smoldering fires.
  • Slim and sleek design, that’ll blend easily with most surroundings.
What we didn't like
  • No phone notifications.
  • Can only be silenced by physically pressing a button.

Tech Specs

Dimensions: 5.75” x 1.38”
Batteries: Built-in lithium metal batteries
Sensor type: Photoelectric, electrochemical
9.3
Runner up
A smart, self-regulating smoke detector

Boasting a split spectrum sensor, the redesigned Nest Protect smoke alarm automatically tests itself and is a long-lasting option.

Top Features
  • 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Can be controlled through your phone.
  • RGB color ring with 6 LEDs.

Built with split spectrum sensors, the Nest Protect smoke alarm combines photoelectric and ionization sensors to detect both fast-burning and smoldering fires. Its dual technology also allows it to detect both smoke and carbon monoxide while maintaining a smart element.

Its built-in LED lights will come in handy during the night and in low light conditions. The alarm brightens your path after detecting motion beneath it, so it doubles as a nightlight as well. 

When it comes to the actual sensors, the smoke and CO alarm is quite accurate and reliable – Nest claims it won’t go off during steam baths or in the kitchen.

Its smart design means that the alarm gives off verbal alerts before the alarm goes off – giving you enough time to disable it from your phone app. When you are away from home, you don’t have to wait for the neighbor to call since the smoke alarm will notify you of any danger through the smartphone app.

What we liked
  • Designed to tell you what causes the smoke alarm to go off.
  • You can turn the smoke detector off through the phone.
  • Notifies you through phone messaging when the battery power is low.
  • Nightlight detects motion.
What we didn't like
  • Requires a higher number of batteries compared to alarms of similar design and caliber.
  • Poor integration with other smart home hubs/assistants.

Tech Specs

Dimensions:  5.3” x 1.5”
Batteries:   3 or 6 long-life AA batteries
Sensor  type: Split spectrum smoke
9.1
Affordable pick
Smoke detector alarm with auto-check & silence button

Integrating the most advanced photoelectric sensor, the X Sense quickly detects dangerous smoke levels in the event of slow-burning smoldering fires. Yet, the advanced technology is also accurate enough to minimize the likelihood of annoying false alarms.

Top Features
  • 3-color LED and sound notifications.
  • Advanced photoelectric sensor.
  • 10-year battery life.

Built with a long-lasting battery, the smoke alarm has a lifespan of up to 10 years of 24/7 uninterrupted protection. It also features a 3-color LED light for extra notification mode, especially for people with impaired hearing. The 3-color LED light features colors red, green, and yellow.

However, the SD03 is not the only  X-sense smart smoke alarm in the collection. X Sense offers a selection of other excellent quality alarms, such as the XS-01WT, which also offers phone notifications – so you don’t have to deal with the unwanted alarm sounds in your home or office. Other X-Sense alarms: www.x-sense.com

9.0
Best portable smoke alarm
Easy to install, twist-lock smoke alarm

Featuring an ultra-slim profile, the First Alert Smoke Alarm has half the thickness of a standard smoke alarm – allowing it to complement any wall or ceiling. The battery-operated smoke alarm requires zero wiring or tools – making its installation smooth and easy.

Top Features
  • Photoelectric smoke sensors.
  • Patented smoke entry system.
  • Single test/silence button.

Thanks to its wire-free installation, the smoke detector continues to function even during power outages. It features an easy twist-lock mounting system that takes only a few seconds to set up. 

The alarm’s tamper-free design allows you to install it in public areas without risking its removal or the removal of its batteries.

8.8
Best heat alarm
2-in-1 photoelectric smoke and heat detector

Designed to avoid wiring of any kind, the Honeywell smoke alarm is ideal for buildings that are difficult to wire or for rentals where you aren’t allowed to temper walls.

Top Features
  • Built-in, fixed thermal detector.
  • Smart check signal.
  • Wireless installation, no need for hardwiring.

This smoke detector offers round-the-clock protection and integrates a built-in, fixed temperature thermal detector that senses temperatures of up to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermal detector also senses pre-freeze conditions of below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

The alarm features a robust RF field strength that enhances the distance between the detector and receiver without really needing a repeater. Thus, a large area in your home can remain protected. 

The additional LED status indicators allow you to easily recognize alarms thanks to the green and red color indicators.

8.6
Smoke and CO alarm with sealed lithium battery power

Designed with voice command features, the Kidde smoke- and carbon monoxide alarm announces the hazard type detected, so you’ll instantly know if it’s a battery-related notification or a fire hazard. The alarm detector is fitted with a test and hush button for consistent alarm circuitry testing and temporary nuisance alarm silencing.

Top Features
  • Sealed lithium battery.
  • LED indicator.
  • Test/hush button.

The smoke alarm also features an LED indicator. The flashing red LED indicator reacts to the alarm’s sounds, unit error mode, and standby connection. 

For longer-lasting operation, the smoke- and carbon monoxide alarm features a sealed-in lithium battery to last for up to 10 years. At the end of the alarm’s life, the alarm unit chirps as an indication that it needs replacement. The sealed design gives it a tamper-resistant finish – eliminating the risk of unapproved removal.

Photoelectric Smoke Alarms Decision-Making Factors

Location

Photoelectric smoke alarms are designed to quickly detect slow smoldering fires which have a lot more smoke. Typically, such fires originate from materials such as upholstery and heated wiring. 

Thus, photoelectric smoke alarms are best installed in locations such as bedrooms, lounges, and hallways where such materials are likely to be found. Additionally, you can install photoelectric alarms in offices and landings.

Battery Life

Most photoelectric alarms are battery-operated – although you may find some that require wiring into your home or office’s general wiring. Most battery-operated alarms feature a tamper-resistant build – protecting against unauthorized removal. 

The tamper-resistant design means that you don’t have to replace the batteries until it is time to replace the unit. Such batteries can last as long as 5 to 10 years.

Connectivity

The connectivity your smoke alarm offers depends on your needs and the product’s manufacturer and design. When choosing alarms, think of what you would like the unit to offer and ask questions such as: Do multiple alarms connect with each other? Do they send notifications to mobile devices? Do they connect with your smart home network (Zigbee/Z-Wave)? What sort of network can the alarm connect to depending on frequency range?

Alarm Sound

The alarm sound is the audible warning noise you hear when the unit goes off. Different alarm designs will offer different sound frequencies (in dB). This value simply tells you how far the sounds will travel. For example, the 85dB sound offered by the Nest Protect Smoke Alarm can cover up to 3 feet distance.

The Verdict

Adding photoelectric smoke alarms to your home system is one way to further reinforce safety. Less prone to false alarms such as cooking fumes, these smoke-detecting alarms are ideal for rooms with soft furnishing and cables which are more prone to smoldering fires.

A talking smoke detector, the First Alert combo alarm features both electrochemical and photoelectric sensors.

Top Features
  • Detects both smoke and carbon monoxide.
  • Voice alerts that can be programmed.
  • Sleek and slim design.

Sources

usfa.fema.gov

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