A smoke alarm is a legal requirement for homes in Australia. However, there are a few types to choose from, so it’s important to understand what the best options are for you and your family.

Here is a guide to the different types of smoke alarms and how to select the right one.


Types of Smoke Alarms

Ionisation Smoke Alarms

Ionisation smoke alarms are the most common type of smoke alarm in Australian homes, using both an ionisation chamber and an electrical circuit. The ionisation chamber contains a small heating element and two electrically charged plates and triggers an alarm when smoke enters the chamber and interrupts the voltage on the plates.

Ionisation smoke alarms are good for detecting smoke from fast-burning fires, and if they are linked together, they can sound within seconds of the smoke entering the house.

Queensland law around smoke alarms changed in 2017 as a result of an unacceptable number of deaths from fire as a result of non-functional or missing smoke alarms. From 1 January 2017, any smoke alarms manufactured before 2007 must be replaced by photoelectric alarms, which comply with Australian Standards (AS) 3786-2014.


Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

Photoelectric smoke alarms are the second most common type of smoke alarm. These devices use a light-emitting diode and a light-sensitive sensor to detect the presence of smoke in the room.

When smoke enters the alarm, it reflects the LED light back to the sensor, triggering the alarm. They are good for detecting slow-burning fires, such as those caused by electrical malfunctions or overheating appliances.

As flagged above, since 2017, all new smoke alarms installed in Queensland homes must be photoelectric alarms. In addition, by 2027, interconnected photoelectric alarms must be installed in every bedroom, hallways linking bedrooms, egress paths and on each level of your house. 


Dual Sensor Smoke Alarms

For ultimate protection, some families may choose to install dual-sensor smoke alarms. These devices have both an ionisation chamber and a photoelectric sensor, giving them the best of both technologies.

Dual-sensor smoke alarms are good for detecting both slow-burning and fast-burning fires so that they can provide the most comprehensive protection for your family.


Tips for Choosing the Right Smoke Alarm

When selecting the right smoke alarm for your home, here are a few things to consider:

  • Check the safety regulations for your property and ensure the smoke alarm you choose is compliant. In Queensland, this will typically mean installing a photoelectric smoke alarm.
  • Choose a smoke alarm that is best suited to the type of fire risks you are most likely to experience in your home.
  • Consider installing a smoke alarm that is linked to an emergency warning system, which will sound an alarm in all your connected alarm systems when triggered.
  • If you have a disability or hearing impairment, choose a smoke alarm with a visual alarm system as well as an audible one.
  • Make sure to regularly test your smoke alarm to ensure that it is functioning properly.
  • Replace your smoke alarm every ten years or as recommended by the manufacturer.


Having the right smoke alarm installed in your home is an important part of ensuring the safety of your family. At Just-In Time Electrical, we can help you select the right smoke alarm for your particular needs. We also offer repair and installation services for all types of smoke detectors, so contact us today for more information.


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