Heat Sensor

Amongst common hazards, a fire can grow from a kitchen stove, and erupt in seconds, burning a house down, endangering the lives of its occupants.  This is unfortunately a reality as a house fire is reported every 85 seconds in the US and a civilian gets injured because of a fire after every 33 minutes (NFPA)

When it comes to house fires, prevention is better than cure. Heat sensors, available in the market, are designed to detect fires, which are especially high in flames and emit little smoke in the beginning. Therefore, if you want to take your safety into your hands, it may be wise to invest in a heat sensor and set it up in your house.

How it Works

A heat sensor may be hard-wired or battery operated, but it has different technologies depending on your needs.

  • A heat sensor may be electronic or mechanical: - An electronic heat sensor uses a thermistor to detect changes in temperature. A mechanical heat sensor, on the other hand, may be bi-metallic or pneumatic. A bi-metallic heat sensor usually has a strip made up of two different metals, which distorts when the strip is heated and closes a contact. However, a pneumatic heat sensor uses an air chamber, which is sealed with a movable diaphragm so that when the air inside the sealed chamber is heated, the chamber expands and moves the diaphragm. This applies pressure on a set of contacts to electrically trigger the alarm. Such devices are used more in harsh environments.

Mechanical heat sensors tend to be less expensive than electronic heat sensors; however they cannot be restored after a field test as they are set to a fixed temperature.

  • Heat sensors can also be fixed-temperature and/or rate-of-rise: Fixed-temperature means that the device could go off when it detects that the temperature has hit a set point. However, such devices may have to contend with a thermal lag (making the sensor go off when the room temperature rapidly rises above the set point) and are not restorable after a field test. On the other hand, a rate-of-rise setting (which is sometimes added on top of a fixed-temperature setting) ensures that the device is triggered when it detects the room temperature exceeding a set temperature. These devices are restorable after a field test.

Where to Place

The installation of a heat sensor is generally carried out by a professional; however you should know the locations where you may fit the device.

First, you should know that a heat sensor could be spot type or linear. A spot type sensor generally detects heat in one particular location. However, a linear sensor has its range of detection spread out over an extensive area as special cable wires are utilized that may be hundreds of feet in length.

Heat sensors may be placed wherever there is a possibility of high flames and intense heat occurring. These devices are especially useful in locations where smoke detectors cannot be placed for fear of false alarms or high up on ceilings where smoke cannot reach. They may also be placed in environments that are prone to high levels of dust or fumes. Therefore, the following locations may be considered for placing heat sensors:

  • Kitchens

  • Garages

  • Basements

  • Unfinished attics

  • Boiler rooms

  • Chemical or fuel storage rooms

However, do not install heat sensors in places that may have high humidity, such as bathrooms, near washing machines or dish washers, etc. These areas may prevent heat from being detected by the device. Also, do not install the sensors in rooms where temperatures may fall below -10 degrees F, or rise above 100 degrees F, or near fluorescent lights as electrical noise and flickering may cause malfunctions.

Things to Consider

  • Find out about the different types of heat sensors available in the market.

  • Consult your local fire department for recommended sensors.

  • Always check against the component list provided that nothing has been left out. Also check the device for any faultiness. However, it may be best to leave the actual setting up to the professionals.

  • Make sure the device is tested regularly and its battery is checked often, but again, leave the maintenance to the professionals.

  • Explain to your family or employees about fire hazards, how to use the device and what to do in case it is triggered.

  • In case of emergencies, make a plan of action that will keep your family safe and practice it regularly.

In 2013, there were 487,500 structure fires, causing $9.5 billion in property damage as well as 2,855 civilian deaths (NFPA).  The unfortunate part, however, is that most of these fires could’ve been avoided with heat sensors in place. In the end, a heat sensor could save lives.

Heat Sensor Products

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