We need a battery-powered smoke alarm compatible with cooking.
February 28, 2014 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Our current detector goes off even with fairly innocuous oven and range use. Surely this problem has been addressed by manufacturers...help?

Our family really wants to do the right thing and have reliable smoke detectors on duty, but we are huge food and cooking enthusiasts. The constant false alarms are annoying and wear down our resolve to do the right thing. The alarms we have now go off with any high-heat frying or high temp oven use (think pizza), which leads to me batting the damn thing off the ceiling and yanking the battery. We have a decent exhaust fan in the kitchen, not a range hood but an inline vent fan for indoor air quality that can be temporarily turned up to high speed to exhaust cooking odors. It works fine on odors but doesn't seem to prevent the false alarms; the smoke detectors go off very quickly after starting to cook, long before visible smoke has been generated. Installing a real range hood is not an option.

Is there a different technology I can get, that will distinguish between cooking and genuinely hazardous conditions? It has to be battery powered.

Thanks everybody!
posted by werkzeuger to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Nest Protect is the obvious upscale choice, though I've only seen it hyped on the internet, never actually seen it or tried it.
posted by mbrock at 8:17 AM on February 28, 2014

Response by poster: The nest model is interesting, but it seems to solve this problem with user interface tweaks rather than better detection. It still goes off, albeit more discreetly, and it's still up to the user to go hush it up.
posted by werkzeuger at 8:22 AM on February 28, 2014

Best answer: You want a photoelectric smoke alarm instead of one that uses ionization, and you want to get one that has a silencer. The photoelectric detection will reduce the number of false positives you get from things like pizza, and if you're actually cooking something that is going to create a lot of smoke you can press the silencer button when you start cooking and the smoke alarm will be disabled for the next half an hour (or however long that model's silencer is timed for).
posted by Jairus at 8:25 AM on February 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have the same problem and was told the problem is having the alarm on the ceiling. Purportedly lowering to a spot on the wall helps since it's the warmest air at the ceiling that is triggering the alarm.

*Note: my smoke detector remains on my kitchen counter so I have not yet verified that this is true.
posted by looli at 8:26 AM on February 28, 2014

Response by poster: Yep, our current models are all ionization. Thanks Jairus. Awesome, awesome, awesome!

Would this type cost significantly more? Do they respond as well to real hazardous smoke? I could see how mounting the detector lower on the wall might reduce false positives but it would also take longer to respond to real smoke, wouldn't it? Fire safety videos I have seen always depict a layer of smoke hovering close to the ceiling...
posted by werkzeuger at 8:34 AM on February 28, 2014

Where is the detector located? You're actually not supposed to put it in the kitchen, exactly because of all of the false alarms. Put it in a different room if you can, and maybe open a window in the kitchen if you're frying to encourage airflow.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:44 AM on February 28, 2014

Seconding getting the photoelectric kind. They're comparable in price to ionization detectors; I just got this one for about $20.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:44 AM on February 28, 2014

In our kitchen we have a Heat Detector rather than a smoke detector. I guess it'll go off in the event there's a fire but smoke doesn't seem to bother it. I have been known to cause enough smoke to set off the smoke detector in the hallway, but for general use the heat detector doesn't tend to go off.

Perhaps this is the same thing as a photoelectric detector described above.
posted by bondcliff at 8:48 AM on February 28, 2014

Response by poster: The current detectors are not in the kitchen but down hallways, up stairwells, etc. separated by numerous door thresholds. I don't think location is the problem.
posted by werkzeuger at 8:56 AM on February 28, 2014

Consumer Search provides a nice overview of the types of smoke detectors and some recommended models.
posted by roomwithaview at 9:06 AM on February 28, 2014

Response by poster: roomwithaview that link does not speak to the problem of false alarms and actually states that ionization detectors are commonly used in kitchens (!)
posted by werkzeuger at 9:12 AM on February 28, 2014

There are smoke alarms specifically for kitchens and you need to pick one that's marketed for that purpose. You can't take just any smoke alarm and put it in the kitchen.
posted by tel3path at 9:14 AM on February 28, 2014

Response by poster: I'll consider this resolved. Sincere thanks to everyone.
posted by werkzeuger at 9:20 AM on February 28, 2014

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