Will Your E-Cigarette Set Off Smoke Alarms?

  • 16 Jun 2020

Will Your E-Cigarette Set Off Smoke Alarms?

Stories of passenger’s vaping in aeroplane bathrooms and setting off smoke alarms have been doing the rounds for a while, but fire experts have said that the chances of this happening on a regular basis are few and far between. There is however always a risk that you will trigger an alarm and some are more sensitive than others.

What Types of Alarms are Sensitive to Vapour?

There are different types of smoke alarms on the market and although all modern equipment is designed not to be triggered by only a small amount of interference, some are more susceptible to activation than others.

Heat alarms used in kitchens are the least likely to be affected by vaping. These alarms are triggered only by heat, not by smoke and thus vaping will have no effect on them whatsoever. Ionisation alarms make use of two electrically charged plates - when smoke disrupts the flow of electricity the alarm is triggered and even a small amount of smoke is enough to cause activation. As e-cigarettes release vapour these alarms may have more of a tendency to go off, but only if you vape within close proximity to them.

Of all the types of smoke detectors, optical alarms are the ones most likely to be triggered by vaping. These alarms utilise infrared light beams and light detectors and when smoke particles cross the beams they trigger the alarm. As only the tiniest particle of smoke can disrupt the beam, infrared alarms are the ones most likely to be triggered by electronic cigarettes.

What are the Chances of Triggering an Alarm?

Although highly publicised when it does happen, reports of setting off a smoke alarm whilst using an e-cigarette are rare. The consequences however can be dire, especially if an aeroplane is forced to make an emergency landing or a smoke alarm triggers a sprinkler system.

As e-cigarettes produce vapour rather than smoke the chances of setting off a smoke alarm are slim but it is advisable to steer clear of these detectors at all times. Vapour may dissipate far quicker than smoke but a sensitive alarm will still pick up on any interference. Studies show that PG e-liquid and sweet flavoured e-liquids produce a denser vapour and are far more likely to trigger an alarm, whilst those with VG produce lighter, thinner vapour that dissipates quickly.

It’s unlikely that your e-cigarette will set off smoke alarms but it’s always best to be safe and steer clear of detectors that can be triggered by interference of any kind.

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