What’s a heat detector?

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Heat detectors warn of fires by detecting a certain temperature or rate of temperature increase. They are useful in areas where smoke detectors are not appropriate. Two types are rate-of-rise and fixed-temperature, with different detection methods. Heat detectors are not meant to replace smoke detectors, but rather supplement them for a more reliable fire alarm system.

A heat detector is a device that is used to warn people of a possible fire. These alarms are designed to go off when a certain temperature is reached or when the temperature in a room rises at a certain rate. Kitchens and closets are areas that can benefit from installing a detector, as smoke detectors are not appropriate for these types of spaces. While not intended to replace smoke detectors, heat detectors are a useful supplemental form of fire detection.

One type of detector is the rate-of-rise heat detector, which detects a sudden increase in temperature. These detectors are especially useful if a fire grows rapidly or explosively. If the temperature in the room rises rapidly, this type of alarm will be triggered.

Rate-of-rise heat detectors can be set to detect different rates of temperature change, depending on what is required by the situation. Many modern rate-of-change heat detectors are also designed to ignore a rapidly passing change in temperature, such as would be caused by opening an oven door. These detectors work well in cold areas. Slowly growing fires, however, may not trigger this type of alarm system.

The other type of detector, called a fixed-temperature heat detector, works by sensing the temperature in the room and setting off an alarm when it reaches a certain temperature. A metal component on the detector is designed to melt at a certain temperature, causing the alarm to sound. The melting temperature of this component is set at 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees C) or higher, and the device is designed to operate without a power source. There is a time lag between when the temperature in the room reaches the melting point of triggering the alarm and when the temperature in the detector causes the device to melt. This type of fire safety device is very useful for warning against slowly developing fires.

A heat detector is not designed to be used as the sole fire alarm system in a building. The vast majority of fires are detected more quickly with smoke detectors than with heat detectors. A combination of the two types of devices can provide the most reliable fire alarm system for a home or other type of building.

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