Do e-cigarettes set off fire alarms?


This is a common question new vapers ask us. As a vaper, you need to be aware that while your vape doesn’t pose the risk to colleagues, housemates, and family of cigarette smoke, there are other considerations. No one wants to have smoke alarms beeping at all times of the day or night because they live or work with a vaper!

Generally speaking, because you’re exhaling a vapor and not smoke, you’re e-cigarette shouldn’t set off smoke alarms. However, like everything else in the world, it’s never as simple as that.

Different types of smoke alarms

There are actually different types of smoke detectors on the market, and some may be set off by your e-cigarette. Check it out:

  • Heat alarms: These aren’t very common any longer, and they’re also unlikely to pose an issue for vapers. You’ll usually find heat alarms in kitchens, where they’re triggered by a rise in the heat level in the room. Although there’s no problem vaping around this kind of alarm, you probably shouldn’t be vaping in a kitchen where people are preparing food!
  • Photoelectric alarms: These are the most common type of alarm. Unfortunately, they’re also most likely to be triggered by e-cigarettes. A Photoelectric detector puts out an optical light beam. If there’s too much smoke around the unit, the beam is broken and the smoke alarm goes off. Vapor can also cause the beam to break, even though it’s less likely than with a cigarette.
  • Ionization alarms: These contain a small amount of radioactive material sitting between two electrically-charged plates. This ionizes the air inside the device and creates a current. If smoke passes through the current it will break it, which triggers the alarm.

Because vapor is not smoke, it shouldn’t set off this type of alarm. However, these alarms are extremely sensitive to changes in the environment, and enough vapor particles in the air have been known to set off ionization alarms.

How do I tell whether I can smoke under an alarm?

Unless you purchased the alarm or can get up to inspect how it works, it’s likely you won’t know which type of alarm you’re looking at. The best rule of thumb is to be sensible – don’t vape directly underneath smoke alarms, especially in crowded or sensitive areas. Speak to the owner of the home or business before vaping, and obey any non-vaping signage or rules.

However, if you’re in your own home or the home of a friend who’s happy for you to vape, as long as you blow your vape away from a smoke detector and don’t produce huge clouds, you’ll probably be fine. Even if the smoke alarm does go off, you’ll be able to shut it off without scaring anyone.

For more common questions, see Is vaping safe for my pets?, and am I using high-quality vape gear?

At NZVAPOR we stock a range of e-cigs and e-juices for you to choose from, so you can find the perfect mix and flavour for you.

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