Do Smoke Detectors Detect Vapes?


Although vaping creates water vapor and not smoke, a smoke alarm or fire alarm sometimes detects vapes. This is because modern smoke detectors are far more sensitive than older ones. After all, most public buildings now prohibit smoking indoors.

Smoke detectors detect vapes depending on the type of smoke detector, the intensity of the vapor, and proximity to the smoke detector. You could likely set smoke or fire alarms at home, work, or other public places.

The consequences usually range from embarrassment and public disruption to stern warnings or fines. While you should avoid vaping where it is not allowed, it is also useful to understand how you can prevent setting off smoke detectors.

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Why Do Vapes Set Off Smoke Detectors?

For many vapers, vaping or electronic cigarettes are a great alternative to smoking tobacco because of the decreased health risks. Instead of smoke, it produces a tar-free vapor cloud, which could even have a pleasant aroma.

However, this vapor can trigger smoke detectors. But why does this happen, since it is not smoke?

Unlike old smoke detectors, modern ones are designed to detect particles in the air. So, it all comes down to how the vapor particles trigger the sensors in the detector. These devices cannot differentiate between smoke and vapor and trigger their alarm whenever there is a fire risk.

You can set off the smoke detector if you vape directly under it or if many people are vaping in the same room. It is also possible that the smoke detector is very sensitive. Still, the detector should go off for any particle that could be smoke instead of not going off at all during an emergency. 

Types of Smoke Detectors

Whether the vapor from your vape pen will set off a smoke detector also depends on the type of device. There are different types of smoke detectors and different methods of detection. Some are triggered by vapors, while others are not. The most common types are:

Heat-sensitive detectors

An increase in temperatures triggers these types of detectors. They are used in kitchens, where there are usually lots of particles in the air, to prevent frequent false alarms. These types are unsuitable for other places because they have slow response times.

These detectors are unlikely to be set off by vaping unless you are blowing very hot vapor directly towards them.

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Ionization detectors

Ionization smoke detectors work by emitting small amounts of radiation that ionize the air and generate a current between two charged plates. If smoke enters the detector, it will change the current and trigger the alarm. This is the cheapest type of smoke detector, so they are commonly used in apartment blocks and hotels.

They are designed to be triggered by only smoke particles, so they are unlikely to be triggered by vapes. But it is possible to set off ionization detectors, especially if you are vaping close to the device. These are most common in hotel rooms.

Photoelectric detectors

They are also known as optical smoke detectors and work by emitting infrared light beams. Once the device detects any particle thick enough to disrupt the light beam, it will trigger the alarm. The optical light beams are sensitive and can detect smoke instantly.

Photoelectric detectors cannot tell the difference between smoke and vapor. So it is very likely that your vapes will set it off. 

How to Vape Without Setting Off a Smoke Detector Alarm

disposable vape pen

It would be quite inconvenient and annoying to constantly set off the smoke detector alarm in your home whenever you wanted to vape. Here are some tips to help you avoid setting the alarm off during your vape sessions.

Do not vape directly under the smoke detector

This is the most effective way to prevent setting off your smoke detector. Even if your vape produces a very small amount of vapor, avoid vaping close to the device, as the vapor can trigger the sensor.

Blow the vapor away from the smoke detector

This tip is a no-brainer since vapor doesn’t rise like smoke. Vapor evaporates and settles, so blowing the vapor down and away will prevent it from reaching the detector where it is placed on the ceiling.

Blow the vapor into your shirt

Although this will make your clothes smell, it can come in handy if you are in a small room or have a very sensitive smoke detector.

Vape near an open window or door

Vaping near an open window or door is one of the best ways to avoid setting off a detector. This is because the airflow will move the vapor outside.

Vape at low temperatures

If you have an optical smoke detector in your house, vaping at low temperatures can avoid triggering the device. Low temperatures mean thin vapors, which are harder to detect. Although this is not a guarantee, it is a great idea if you also enjoy cool vapor and find it difficult to avoid setting off your detector. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Vapes Set Off Smoke Alarms on Airplanes?

Yes. Vaping on an airplane is strictly prohibited. You could face large fines or even be banned from flying permanently.

Do Vapes Set Off Smoke Alarms in Hotels?

It is possible to set off a hotel’s smoke detector, especially if it is an optical or ionized detector. If you want to vape in a hotel, book a room that allows smoking. You can also go outside the building to their designated smoking or vaping areas to prevent the risk of fines.

Should You Turn Off a Smoke Detector to Vape?

No. It doesn’t matter whether you are in your house or a hotel. Never turn off a smoke detector because you want to vape. It is extremely dangerous and puts your life and others at risk.

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READ: What is a Vape Battery?

Do Smoke Detectors Detect Vapes - Final Thoughts

Smoke detectors can detect vapes, so it is best to avoid vaping when unsure. This is especially true in places where e-cigarettes are prohibited, like hotels and airplanes. However, there are tips that you can follow to avoid false alarms.