Photoelectric smoke alarms are the only smoke alarms you need. Forget dual-sensor smoke alarms, and forget ionization alarms. A recent article in the ASHI Reporter by San Bruno home inspector Skip Walker, titled Silent Alarms; Deadly Differences, convinced me of this.
Last year I wrote a blog post advocating the use of dual-sensor smoke alarms, which incorporate both ionization and photoelectric sensor, but there were enough statistics in this recent article to convince me they're not that great. If you already have dual-sensor smoke alarms, don't throw them out... but don't bother buying them next time. Just buy photoelectric smoke alarms.
Here are the main points advocating the use of photoelectric smoke alarms over dual-sensor smoke alarms.
The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) advocates the use of photoelectric smoke alarms, and in January of 2013, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) became the first home inspection organization to advocate the use of photoelectric smoke alarms. As an ASHI Certified Inspector, I'll be doing the same. If you're curious about what type of smoke alarms you have in your own home, click here for info on how to determine what type of smoke alarm you have. The bottom line is that every home should be equipped with photoelectric smoke alarms.
Rossen Reports: A news clip showing the difference between ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms, and a stammering representative from CPSC with no plausible excuse for the many known failures of ionization smoke alarms.
ASHI Vice-President Bill Loden conducts a test showing the differences between ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms.
Author: Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections