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The Difference Between Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Fireco Explains the Difference Between Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors and How to Chose the Right Systems for Your Home Safety

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are two vital systems in safeguarding your home against potential disasters. While both serve distinct purposes, their combined presence is crucial for protection against both fire emergencies and carbon monoxide poisoning. In this blog, we explain the difference between smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and outline why you should install both in your home.

Differentiating Between Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors:

Smoke Alarms: A smoke alarm is a crucial device that detects smoke particles in the air, signalling the potential outbreak of a fire. These alarms work by either detecting the visible smoke particles or changes in air composition caused by combustion, triggering an alarm to alert occupants of the building. Smoke alarms are essential components of fire safety systems, providing early warning to residents and allowing them enough time to evacuate to safety.

Not only are smoke alarms important, they’re also a requirement under the NZ Building Code, which requires an approved smoke alarm to be fitted in every hallway and within three metres of every sleeping space. You can read more about smoke alarm requirements, for both residents and landlords, on NZ Fire and Emergency here.

Fireco and NZ Fire and Emergency recommend photoelectric smoke alarms, as they last much longer than traditional 9-volt battery smoke alarms, with a lifespan of about ten years without replacement. They’re also smaller and more aesthetically pleasing, as well as utilising new technology that reduces false alarms while ensuring early detection of smoke. Fireco’s photoelectric smoke alarms are designed to comply with the New Zealand Building Code, ensuring your safety. Find more information about our photoelectric smoke alarms here.


Carbon Monoxide Detectors: On the other hand, carbon monoxide detectors play a critical role in detecting the presence of carbon monoxide gas: a silent, unseen, deadly threat. Carbon monoxide is odourless, colourless, and tasteless, making it imperceptible without specialised detection equipment – and when CO gas is inhaled, it can interfere with the body’s ability to transport oxygen to vital organs, causing dizziness, headaches, nausea, and even death in high concentration.

Carbon monoxide detectors measure CO levels in your home and trigger an alarm before dangerous concentrations build up, providing occupants with ample warning to evacuate or ventilate the area safely. Fireco’s system-connected carbon monoxide detectors can even alert monitoring services to dispatch emergency services if needed, further enhancing the level of protection provided. Read more about our CO detection systems here.

The Importance of Having Both Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors:

While smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors serve different functions, their combined presence is essential for comprehensive home safety. Fires and carbon monoxide build-up both pose significant risks to occupants, and so early detection is crucial for mitigating these dangers. By installing both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home or business, you’re safeguarding against potential disasters and ensuring the safety of you and your family.


At Fireco, we provide state-of-the-art smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors designed to meet the highest safety standards. For more information, read our guide on the best smoke alarms here.

Invest in your safety by equipping your home or business with Fireco’s alarm systems. Contact the team today.

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