A smoke detector is a device that detects smoke, typically as an indicator of fire. Commercial, industrial, and mass residential devices issue a signal to a fire alarm system, while household detectors, known as smoke alarms, generally issue a local audible or visual alarm from the detector itself. Smoke detectors are typically housed in a disk-shaped plastic enclosure about 150 millimetres (6 in) in diameter and 25 millimetres (1 in) thick, but the shape can vary by manufacturer or product line. Most smoke detectors work either by optical detection (photoelectric) or by physical process (ionization), while others use both detection methods to increase sensitivity to smoke. Sensitive alarms can be used to detect, and thus deter, smoking in areas where it is banned such as toilets and schools. Smoke detectors in large commercial, industrial, and residential buildings are usually powered by a central fire alarm system, which is powered by the building power with a battery backup. However, in many single family detached and smaller multiple family housings, a smoke alarm is often powered only by a single disposable battery.
Commercial smoke detectors
Commercial smoke detectors are either conventional or analog addressable, and are wired up to security monitoring systems or fire alarm control panels (FACP). These are the most common type of detector, and usually cost a lot more than a household smoke alarms. They exist in most commercial and industrial facilities, such as high rises, ships and trains. These detectors don't need to have built in alarms, as alarm systems can be controlled by the connected FACP, which will set off relevant alarms, and can also implement complex functions such as a staged evacuation.
The word "conventional" is slang used to distinguish the method used to communicate with the control unit from that used by addressable detectors whose methods were unconventional at the time of their introduction. So called “Conventional Detectors” cannot be individually identified by the control unit and resemble an electrical switch in their information capacity. These detectors are connected in parallel to the signaling path or (initiating device circuit) so that the current flow is monitored to indicate a closure of the circuit path by any connected detector when smoke or other similar environmental stimulus sufficiently influences any detector. The resulting increase in current flow is interpreted and processed by the control unit as a confirmation of the presence of smoke and a fire alarm signal is generated.