Do vaping devices set off smoke detectors?

Vape devices produce vapour not smoke, so in theory an vape device won’t set off a smoke detector because there’s no smoke produced for it to detect. As a general rule, that is correct, but it’s not always as simple.

There are three commonly used smoke detectors available, and the likelihood of vapour being detected as smoke by them depends on which kind is being used. These models are:

  1. Heat Alarms
  2. Ionisation-Based Detectors
  3. Photoelectric-Based Detectors

Heat Alarms

The least commonly used type of detector is the Heat Alarm. These alarms are mainly used in kitchens. Heat Alarms are triggered by heat, and not smoke. As vape devices produce vape, rather than heat, there shouldn’t be any problems vapinging around this kind of alarm.

Ionisation-Based Detectors

Ionisation-based smoke detectors work around a small amount of radioactive material that sits between two electrically-charged plates. This ionises the air within the device and generates a current that smoke particles break, thus triggering the alarm.

As this kind of detector works on a particle level, it can be very sensitive to changes in environment. As vape devices produce vapour, and not smoke they contain a different kind of particle. Your vapour shouldn’t set off an ionisation-based detector. However, they have occasionally been known to.

Photoelectric-Based Detectors

The final kind of smoke detector is the most common and the most likely to be triggered by vape device . Photoelectric detectors use optical light beams to detect smoke in their vicinity. If there’s enough smoke surrounding the detector, the light beam is broken and the alarm is triggered.

There’s less risk of this happening with vapour than there is with smoke, but it’s still possible. If there’s enough vapour present to break the beam, the alarm will trigger, regardless of the fact it’s not actually smoke.

Using vaping devices around smoke detectors

There’s no firm rule for using vape devices around smoke detectors. Some detectors may be triggered, some may not.

If you produce a lot of vapour and you’re very close to a smoke detector in a crowded or sensitive area, it’s best to not vape. This way you’re less likely to trigger the alarm, causing problems for yourself and those around you.

If, you’re in your own home, the home of a family member or friend, or you’re not close to a smoke detector, there should be no problem. Try not to blow vapour near the detector if you are close to it. If the smoke detector does go off, you’re in a controlled space.

However, if you’re in an area that does not allow the use of vape devices, follow the rules and don’t vape.