How-To Geek

How Smoke Detectors Work [Science]

Smoke detectors are a common household fixture so small as to be almost unnoticeable, yet inside is a host of interesting technology and scientific principles at work. Check out this great video from Bill Hammack–the Engineer Guy–to see how they work.

We highlighted a video by Bill Hammack earlier this year–How and LED-lit Monitor Works–and now we’re back to highlight another, how smoke detectors work. Watch the video above to see how radioactive material, ionization, and simple circuits work together to alert you when a fire crops up.

How Smoke Detectors Work [Engineer Guy Video via Make]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/22/11

Comments (2)

  1. Radeon

    Awesome :D

  2. flapjack

    This is a very good representation of an ionizing smoke detector circuit. Can we get information on photoelectric smoke detectors? How about Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

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