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A fire changes everything! What can Z-Wave smoke sensors provide?
20. May 2016
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„A fire changes everything!“ That was the this year’s slogan for the official „Day of the smoke sensor” in Germany last Friday.

It’s a tricky one with smoke sensors. Usually these devices look consistent ugly, cost a lot of money – although we do never need them probably –and nerve due to their status light’s blink and one or other false alarm.

Nevertheless it makes absolutely sense to think about smoke sensors, because “Everyday average one person dies due to fire or smoke and simultaneously some media daily report about people whose life was saved by smoke sensors.” (quote: Mike Filzen, speaker of the German initiative “Smoke sensors save life”). Furthermore, around 70% of all material damages in Germany arise from fire smoke.

Saving money purchasing a cheap smoke sensor or even to skip them altogether in some cases may bitterly regret it.

Simple devices can be found in DIY markets or electronic stores for less than 10 EUR. Of course these devices reinforce the clichés named above, but they ensure a piece of safety nevertheless alarming in case of detected smoke or fire. Unfortunately, you can hear the alarm only when you’re at home and within hearing. And in case of forgotten battery status test it could happen that the device is out of order for a long time unnoticed.
So, it’s better to use a more expensive device with fix installed 10year battery such as the Ei650 from leading European manufacturer Ei Electronics (approx. 25 EUR). Such a battery will work for a whole smoke sensor’s lifetime which is limited to an operating life of 10 years in Europe. Beside this the Ei650 owns two further very attractive features. Firstly, the Ei650 refrain from the nerving blink light which makes it particularly well suited for use in sleeping and children’s rooms. Furthermore, the Ei smoke sensor owns an automatic compensation which prevents false alarms with increasing lifetime.

Why intelligent? Is it not enough to detect smoke?

What is necessary to do for a smoke sensor? It has to detect reliable smoke and emerging fire and trigger an alarm. But what if nobody hears its “shouts”? This will be the case for example when a fire occurs in the cellar, but the residents stay in the attic floor. The smoke sensor’s alarm sound wouldn’t be ring out there. Therefore, it is better to use meshed smoke sensors which forward an alarm signal to all identically constructed device models in range. So the alarm signal will be audible in the whole house reaching into every last corner. There are also some models available for around 20 EUR, but these devices use proprietary wireless systems which only work between identically devices.

The “supreme discipline” for smoke sensors is not only meshing among themselves but with other smoke sensor models and complete different devices. And this is where Z-Wave enters the scene. Devices with Z-Wave wireless technology do not only trigger an acoustic alarm, but are also able to forward this alarm to the home network’s control center. From there further actions can be triggered. The most important thing is to switch on all (colored) lights making escape routes visible simultaneously. In case of an alarm at night it is most important to find the fastest way out of the house. Thanks to connected actions a triggered alarm also leads to switching on all needed lights and opening of shutters. So the connected home perhaps buys lifesaving seconds for its inhabitants.

There are a lot of further good advantages of intelligent connected smoke sensors in contrast to low priced “simple” devices. Just an example: You leave your switched on iron or the frying pan on the switched on stove for taking your laundry from the clothesline in the garden. But you need longer, because your children just transform the flowerbed to a soccer stadium. The smoke sensor reliable detects emerging smoke at the ironing board or the stove and “shouts” for help…but nobody is recognizing. Sometime billows of smoke get out of the house, but it is too late to save anything by yourself. Then you will need fire service. And if the fire service opens the water tap the complete rehabilitation is preprogrammed.

What if the smoke sensor is equipped with Z-Wave technology? In this case the alarm is no longer limited to indoor smoke sensors, because it can be forwarded to connected outdoor sirens, too. Additionally, you will receive a push message on your smartphone, too. Probably you won’t save the food or the shirt on the ironing board, but it should be enough time switching off the stove and the iron and bringing all smoking things out of the house. That will prevent a bigger material damage. Only one situation like this within ten years will balance any additional charge compared to non-intelligent smoke sensors.

By the way: You won’t forget changing the smoke sensor’s batteries, because the device will inform about low battery status by itself automatically.

Which Z-Wave smoke sensor is currently available?

Below you will find four selected devices:

  1. Everspring Smoke Sensor
    hauppauge-rauchmeler

    • This device is either particular stylish nor especial innovative. Nevertheless the smoke sensors is doing what it should. It detects smoke, triggers acoustic alarm and sends the alarm to the home automation control center where further actions can be triggered. Besides the Everspring device was certified by VdS and is used by other companies as OEM product (e.g. Hauppauge mySmartHome).
    • Price: approx. 55 EUR (i.a. allsmart.nl)
  2. Fibaro Smoke Sensor
    smoke-sensor

    • The smallest and most stylish smoke sensor for smart homes is the „Smoke Sensor“ by Fibaro. It is just super small, modern designed and light. Additionally, it has an integrated electronic recorder which works like a “black box”. That will ease investigations in case of fire. The only negative aspect, but for private users not that interesting for a start: the battery is no 10year battery. But who cares about the battery change which comes someday in two years.
    • By the way the small guy also has an integrated temperature sensor. Therewith it’s also possible to control the heating within a connected home – despite the fact that a temperature sensor is certainly better positioned in the center of a room instead on the ceiling.
    • Price: approx. 60 EUR (i.a. betaalbare-domotica.nl)
  3. Popp Smoke Sensor
    Popp_Rauchmelder

    • Certainly, Popp’s smoke sensor won’t any beauty prize, but it has a lot under the bonnet. The device’s base comes from Flammex, but is equipped with an additional Z-Wave wireless module. Thus it’s possible to make the device a part of a Smart Home. Additionally, the Z-Wave module equips the smoke sensor with an indoor siren function. In case of detected water damage or burglary the device will alarm as a siren. Thus it’s not necessary to buy and install a separate indoor siren. Besides the VdS certified smoke sensor was honored as test winner in the smoke sensor test by VerbraucherWELT!
    • Another useful advantage is the opportunity to power the device by mains power meeting statutory requirements in some European countries.
    • Price: approx. 70 EUR (i.a. vesternet.com)
  4. Popp 10year Smoke Sensor
    10-Jahres-Rauchmelder

    • This Popp sensor bases on a „standard“ model extended with an additional Z-Wave wireless module. The actual smoke sensor is the Ei650W from manufacturer Ei Electronics, whose sensor head was already certified with the Q label by VdS.
    • The device is significantly bigger than the Fibaro sensor, but has real installation quality with a fix installed 10year battery. Additionally, this Popp smoke sensor can be used as an independent indoor siren, too.
    • The price level of the Ei650W model with Z-Wave module meets the price level of the same model with proprietary wireless module by Ei Electronics which can be used only to connect Ei smoke sensors and has no additional siren functions.
    • Price: approx. 90 EUR (i.a. youcontrol.dk)

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