They’re white, round and they screech a high-pitched, sleep-smashing tone when trouble is near. We’re talking about smoke alarms – but what you might not know is that, while similar in appearance, there are two fundamentally different kinds in widespread operation throughout Queensland and Australia. The ‘original’ technology was the ionisation smoke alarm, but it’s steadily being phased out across the state and country in favour of photoelectric smoke alarms. But why?

Photoelectric or ionisation smoke alarm?

The original ionisation smoke alarm technology was developed in the late 60s, with the first mandatory Australian legislation emerging a couple of decades later in the late 90s. But it wasn’t until just over a decade ago when Australia’s Fire Protection Association recommended that all ionisation smoke alarms eventually be replaced country-wide with photoelectric smoke alarms.

  • Ionisation: These alarms feature radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, with smoke particles disrupting the flow of ions and triggering the alarm.
  • Photoelectric: A light source and a photosensitive sensor detect smoke when it enters the chamber, scatters the light, and triggers the alarm.

Today, Queensland has led the way with photoelectric smoke alarm-related legislation – specifically insisting that an end goal is that no smoke alarm across the Sunshine State will feature an ionisation sensor. But what’s so superior about photoelectric smoke alarms over other types of smoke alarms that justify such a push?:

Need a Electrician?

Get an obligation free quote and competitive pricing from a top rated Electrician near you . It takes just 30 seconds!

Difference between ionisation and photoelectric smoke alarms

1. Smouldering fires

The headline news here is that photoelectric technology is much, much better at detecting the kind of slow-burning, smouldering fires whose large smoke particles were slow to trigger ionisation alarms. In other words, the warning of a potentially catastrophic fire event comes much, much earlier.

2. False alarms

You know all those false alarms due to burned toast, other cooking smoke and even steam from the shower? There are less of them with photoelectric smoke alarms because they’re more sensitive to larger smoke particles, meaning that when you do hear that high-pitched squeal, you take it much more seriously.

3. Overheating wiring

A big percentage of house fires are caused by wiring issues – and because photoelectric smoke alarms are so much better at reacting to large smoke particles, that means the early warning from overheated wiring can catch a burgeoning blaze before there’s even a flame.

4. Radioactive material

Sure, it’s only a tiny amount of radioactivity – but it’s a fact that ionisation smoke alarms require the material called Americium-241, which emits radioactive alpha particles that are not particularly harmful to humans in small quantities. The radioactivity is also heavily regulated and carefully engineered and sealed in the smoke alarm designs, but some still worry about ionisation smoke alarms when they’re damaged or disposed of.

The good news is that photoelectric smoke alarms are not radioactive at all.

5. Interconnectivity

Because today’s modern standards and all that new legislation is designed around photoelectric technology, the wireless interconnectivity of these devices is absolutely top-notch and state-of-the-art. It could hardly be easier to comply with the rules about each device in a home needing to be able to seamlessly communicate with the others, with installation time, cost and complexity all significantly lower than ever.

Photoelectric smoke alarms and Tradie Near Me

Just want a friendly, local, licensed and insured smoke alarm professional to take care of all your needs in smoke alarms for you? By using Tradie Near Me’s carefully-compiled network of experienced and recommended local electricians, tradies and small businesses near you, you’re just a couple of clicks away from the help you need with:

  • Expertise with smoke alarm installation, maintenance & testing
  • Full compliance with complex legislation and local regulations
  • Proper placement and coverage for optimal early detection
  • Integration, interconnection, synchronisation and any wiring work.

Every smoke alarm electrician & specialist offer no-obligation quotes, fixed pricing and fully-guaranteed workmanship for life – so why not give Tradie Near Me a try today?

Expert & Professional Services

Obligation Free Quote

Get an obligation free quote from local tradies to meet your business or home needs.

Competitive Pricing

Our network of local tradies will provide you with a competitive price for the industry.

Top Rated Tradies

Work with professional tradies that follow our quality code, with great reviews and customer service.

Guaranteed Workmanship

You're in good hands for all repairs, installs, and maintenance with tradies that guarantee their workmanship.

Get a quote