How To Make Your Dumb Smoke Detector Smarter

Device that makes smoke detectors smart

Having smoke detectors in your home is a no-brainer as they are a necessary safety feature.

Having said that, the conventional smoke detectors possess a flaw – they depend on an acoustic alarm to produce awareness. What then happens when there is no one at home?

This is where Smart Smoke Detectors enter the scene. They have the capacity to notify you when you are not home. This is perhaps not without compromise, naturally. They are fairly costly.

The post now is not about picking a smart smoke sensor but rather turning a non-smart into a smart one.

You can use the following to make your dumb smoke detectors smart

We’ll be showing you how throughout this post.

A couple of days back, UBE Tech delivered me a sample of the Siterwell Smoke Sensor for inspection, and I decided that it was a fantastic opportunity to learn about Smoke Sensors, not to mention, research on ways to make them smarter.

Let’s go through some information regarding Fire Alerts generally before I enter the particulars of the detector.

Types of Fire Alerts Available to Smoke Detectors

There are primarily two types of fire detection alerts:

  • Heat detection
  • Smoke detection

Heat Detector

There’s a trigger temperature and when it’s reached, the alarm goes off. Such a sensor has a tendency to have a slower reactionOpens in a new tab.. Also, they do not detect the presence of smoke which is also harmful to pets and humans.

Smoke Detector

This really may be the most common type of device in the home setting, plus it’s intended to detect smoke rather than a rise in temperature.

Forms of Smoke Detectors

The smoke detectors come chiefly in 2 forms; ionization sensor, and Photoelectric Detector.

Ionization Detector

The ionization detectors possess a chamber that has a small number of radioactive material and two electrodes. This arrangement produces a constant current between the electrodes. After the smoke gets into the chamber, it interrupts or partially interrupts the ionization and thus the current between the electrodes. This, as a result, sets the smoke detector off.

Photoelectric Detector 

The photoelectric smoke detector utilizes a ray of light that goes in through one side to the other one from the room. After the smoke gets into the room, the ray of light is disrupted and reflected in a compartment. The disruption of light’s beam activates the alarm.

Ionization vs. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

You may be thinking…Why should I care? I simply need a smoke detector that gives smoke alerts.

Before doing the investigation with this informative article I had no idea, but apparently, they are extremely different. So, which one is better?

In the event that you were looking for a straight answer here, you will undoubtedly end up disappointed.

Does each sensor work better for a specific sort of flame? Are there different kinds of fires?

I did not understand this earlier, but apparently, yes.

Ionization detectors are better at detecting fires while the photoelectric ones are amazing at detecting smoldering fires. You are able to get the very best of both worlds using a dual-sensor smoke detector if budget permits.

You can even get both of them and install them.

The ideal option is to ask them to test both. However, after doing some research, it seems the photoelectric performs better on a home basis.

Photoelectric detectors are also less instantaneous to false alerts. This is a fantastic idea if you don’t want your eardrums blown out when your cooking tasks wind up getting the whole place smoky. 

Many home fires begin with smoldering smoke before the flame appear, photoelectric detectors are quicker to detect such an event, giving you more time to leave your home.

Smoke Alarms Placements and Other Maintenance Tips 

If you are struggling with Smoke Alarm placements and care, then watch this video.

It helps to put the picture in a way that is very easy to remember. 

Siterwell Photoelectric Smoke SensorOpens in a new tab.: Key Details 

The Siterwell Photoelectric smoke detector is a reasonably-priced, yet full-featured smoke detector. Here, you have a few relevant details about it.

Power supply

The smoke detector is hard-wired to 120v. It also has a battery copy. This really is great because if you have it connected to the powerline at home, then you’ll never need to alter the batteries which usually happens.

You require a battery as a backup in the event of an electricity outage. You can use it on just batteries but remember to check it every few months.


The detector has a coverage of 20 to 40 square meters which should be enough for chambers that are big. It is still best to place one in every single bedroom, particularly in the event you tend to sleep with the door closed.

Interconnect Function

Interconnect is actually a cool functionality that this detector is sold with. It basically comes with an additional output that lets you join smoke detectors on chambers together.

— Why would you want that?

In essence, the fire doesn’t always originate at a space where you can find people, so, ideally, you will want the alarm to set off in every room.

The function does exactly that. When one of the detectors goes off, the others are triggered as well.

Keep in mind that it is just a connection. You’ll need to retrofit cables.

Directed Indicators

The detector includes 2 LEDs, one for your battery status and another for your own use. This really is neat as it is possible to see in a glance and never needing to touch with the testing button if every sensor is working fine.

Siterwell Photoelectric Smoke Sensor: Testing

I should warn you that these tests are not rigorous or scientific in any sense of these words that I really don’t have a testing laboratory.

False Positives

Among my concerns has been the issue of false positives. I had a smoke detector in the kitchen and the alarm would go much off too frequently. I guess it doesn’t say much about my cooking abilities.

Using the Siterwell detector,  I wanted to emulate some tests to find out if I could trigger a false positive.

The Crawling Insect

One common culprit of smoke detectors is the adventuresome insect that climbs into the room.

Domesticating an insect was probably going to take too much time, so I tried introducing a rod into the room to find out if I could set off the detector.

I wasn’t able to set the alarm off.

Cooking Very Close to Your Smoke Detector

The smoke detector that I had in the kitchen didn’t like the whole cooking thing so I chose to do some cooking so I could get some smoke accumulated in the kitchen. Again, nothing happened.

The Aerosol Test

Aerosols are understood to trigger false alarms on the smoke sensors, so I went ahead to squirt a few aerosols very close to the detector. Again, nothing happened.

I wanted to examine some scenarios that are usual but at the end of the day, it depends on customs and your own use. It’s been in my own kitchen and, so far, I have not had any false positives, therefore, I am content with it.

Actual Smoke

I also wanted to assess whether the detector could actually detect smoke. It sort of defeats the point if it really doesn’t.

The easiest and safest way to do this is using a testing spray but I didn’t have one I decided to go with the recreational technique, generating smoke.

I did this with a fire bowl of cardboard outside and onto a location that is controlled. The detector required only about one minute to place off the alarm. I think it is very responsive, especially considering that it was an open area.

3 Approaches to Turn your Smoke Detector into a Smart Smoke Detector

Like I said at the beginning, the biggest hurdle on traditional smoke detectors is that they are only effective when individuals are at home, yet, if the house is vacant, you can get alerted only by your neighbors and may likely be a touch too late.

There are full-range Smart Smoke Detectors from the market like the Nest ProtectOpens in a new tab., a connected smoke detector with smart capabilities. It’s an excellent option but with its higher cost, replacing the detectors in your home can add up.

If you’re after a more palatable option such as the Siterwell smoke detector or you’ve got smoke detectors installed at home, these four options can allow you to add related attributes to non-connected smoke detectors.

Amazon Alexa Guard 

In the most recent Amazon event, they announced a brand new functionality named Alexa GuardOpens in a new tab.. It’ll soon be rolled out to the devices in the near future. Also, it is intended to increase your security at home.

The point would be to leverage the capabilities of these echo gadgets, ever-listening apparatus, to look for suspicious sounds just like glass breaking, the sound of a smoke alert, and so on.

Once it’s rolled out, you’re going to have the ability to use your Amazon Echo to send you a push notification if your smoke alarm goes away.

Before new functionality is published, you will have to wait but it should be soon.

Wyze CamOpens in a new tab.

You have likely heard about the WyzeCam, a low-budget smart surveillance camera using a growing list of features. One of these features is Smoke and CO alarm tracking. The camera is listening when it detects a pattern that matches a smoke alert, and it triggers a push notification to your device.

Utilizing a WyzeCam, it’s possible to kill two birds using a single stone, safety security on precisely exactly the same device.

Roost Smart BatteryOpens in a new tab.

The Roost Smart Battery is, in fact, an excellent idea. The tech is similar to this Amazon Guard or even the WyzeCam in the sense that it uses sound to start searching for smoke alarm routines.

In the Roost Smart gadget’s instance, it simplifies the backup battery of its sensor converting it to some smart smoke detector.

Even the battery is a great add-on in the sense that it is inside the apparatus, but maybe not without a compromise. You need one battery with each detector. Also, it doesn’t provide any service to you, just like the Amazon Echo or the WyzeCam. 


  • What is the code requirement for smoke detectors?

For many years NFPA 72, the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, has required as a minimum that smoke alarms be installed inside every bedroom (even for existing homes) in addition to requiring them outside every sleeping area and on every level of the home. (Additional smoke alarms are required for larger homes.)

  • What causes false alarms on smoke detectors?

Here are seven of the most common causes of smoke alarm malfunction.

  1. Smoke detector placement. It doesn’t take a lot of smoke to trigger the alarm.
  2. Overcooked food.
  3. Steam or high humidity.
  4. Pesky insects.
  5. A buildup of dust.
  6. Strong chemicals nearby.
  7. The batteries need to be changed.
  • Can I throw away old smoke detectors?

When it comes to disposal, old photoelectric detectors can be safely put in the trash, so long as you remove the battery first. 

So, there you have it. With any Amazon’s Alexa Guard, the Wyze Cam, and the Roost Smart Battery, you have three means to make your “dumb” smoke detector smarter. A smart smoke detector makes for a safer home, and with these, your safety is definitely assured.


I am a tech enthusiast. Since the Smart Home tech came out I fell in love with it and have been following it ever since. I decided to use this platform to pour out my knowledge and experience I've had overtime to guide your decisions. Hope the experience is worth your while.

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