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What is a Home Fire Alarm?

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A home fire alarm is an electronic installation that is usually a part of a larger home security system designed to protect a house against burglary as well as warn the home's occupants of dangerous conditions such as fire.

Parts of fire alarm system

The fire alarm, which is usually a loud siren or bell designed to both waken sleepers and be heard in parts of the house that may be isolated (such as the basement or garage), is only one part of the main alarm system. The alarm is connected to the system's control panel, the central monitor of the system that both activates the alarm and, if programmed to, calls the appropriate authorities or a designated monitoring station should an alarm sound. The control panel is also connected to an initiating device, which is the part of the system that tells the control panel to trigger the alarm; the initiating device can be manually activated, as in the case of a switch, or automatically activated, such as an alarm set off by a smoke detector. The final part of the fire alarm system is the power supply - without this, the entire setup cannot function.

Automatic initiating devices

Multiple types of automatic initiating devices or sensors can be installed in a home fire alarm system to detect the presence of smoke or fire. These are generally either smoke detectors or heat sensors.

Smoke detectors - There are two ways that a smoke detector can work: optically or through ionization. Optical smoke detectors use light sensors to observe air as it passes by an optical lens; enough smoke flowing through past the lens will disperse light in such a way that the sensor will detect it and trigger an alarm. An ionization smoke detector senses changes in air ionization that occur when smoke enters an area; detecting this change triggers the alarm.

Heat sensors - Heat sensors are infrared scanners designed to trigger an alarm when the rapid change of temperature associated with a fire is detected. These can be slightly less effective than smoke detectors, as smoke travels farther than heat when a fire is first starting. Unless the fire is starting within the heat sensor's detection range, a smoke detector will sound an alarm faster.

Types of fire alarm systems

There are three distinct types of home fire alarm systems.

Traditional fire alarm systems are hardwired and divide the house into zones - if a fire is detected, the alarm will sound and the zone which triggered the alarm will be indicated on the control panel.

Addressable fire alarm systems are very similar to traditional systems, except these systems have the ability to pinpoint the location of the fire, allowing it to be put out more quickly.

Analog addressable systems have additional options, such as wireless connectivity, and are less prone to false alarms.

Home fire alarm systems are an excellent way to safeguard a home and its occupants against harm. Consultation with a home security service company is a good way to determine what system will work best in your home's layout.

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