A Guide for Buying Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

Photoelectric sensing alarms are known to respond fastest to flaming and smoldering fires.  These smoke alarms are better than ionization sensing alarms. However, not all photoelectric smoke alarms are created equal. Here is a guide to choose the right one. 

Power Source

A smoke alarm needs a power supply to detect fires. Smoke alarms can be hard-wired or battery operated. Hard-wired smoke alarms are connected to your home’s electrical system.  If you plan to buy a hard-wired unit, make sure your home has a backup battery that will power the smoke alarm in case of a power outage.

A battery-operated smoke alarm runs on AA batteries or lithium-ion batteries. Some units also have large lithium-ion batteries sealed inside that can power the unit for years.  This means you don’t have to worry about changing batteries every year as these batteries are known to last around ten years.


The photoelectric sensing alarm that you buy must meet the Australian compliant rules set for smoke alarms. Though most of the photoelectric smoke alarms in the market meet Australian compliance requirements, you need to be careful when buying one

While most Australian regions accept AS 3786:1993 standards and above, things are slightly different for Queensland residents. They need to buy smoke alarms that comply with AS 3786:2014 standards.

Essential Features to Look For

When you go to buy a smoke alarm, make sure they have these essential features. Here is the list.

Test Button

A smoke alarm needs to be functional all the time. However, an electrical device can develop a fault, and it can lead to a catastrophe. Hence, a smoke alarm comes with a test button. This allows you to ensure the smoke alarm is functional.

Some photosensing alarms may not have a test button. Still, they have a mechanism to check if they are working correctly. For example, you can test the alarm by shining a torch on the alarm sensor. 

Hush Button

Some sensitive alarms ring an alarm when they detect smoke from a burnt toast or food. The Hush button allows you to turn off the alarm sound while the smoke inside the kitchen clears out.

Battery Test

This feature is only found in battery-operated smoke alarms. A good quality smoke alarm will monitor the battery all time and beep continuously when the battery needs to be replaced. It eliminates the need to check the battery all the time and you can rest assured the alarm will sound a beep when the battery is low.

Escape Light

An escape light is a useful feature in smoke alarms. It will give you a visual indication that the alarm is activated during a fire accident. If there is a power outage during a fire accident, this visual indicator can guide you out of your home.


If your house is big, you might need more than one smoke alarm. Interconnection of smoke alarms allows you to notify everyone about a fire in one section of your house. When one smoke alarm sounds alert, so do other smoke alarms in the home. 

To sum up, these are some of the crucial things to look at while buying a photosensing smoke alarm.

Author: Ester Adams