Designer Smoke Alarms vs Regular Smoke Alarms – the difference

Designer smoke alarms are the perfect finishing touches to designer homes. Visual appeal deserves to be preserved, even as mandatory appliances like smoke alarms are installed. Until relatively recently, there wasn’t a lot of options when it came to protecting your home and your family while also preserving the clean lines and smooth surfaces so carefully designed into the interior space of your home.


Designer Smoke Alarms – how do I know?

The primary yardstick of good design is a number of key principles are followed. Using the design guide list created by, we have assessed our own CAVIUS designer smoke alarm. Pro Tip: with design, often it’s the things you don’t see!

Innovative Design

Innovative goes hand in hand with innovative technology rather than innovation for innovations sake. Creating a designer smoke alarm means redesigning aspects of old smoke alarm design that have been at a minimum frustrating, through to the extreme of being downright dangerous.


Useful Design

A useful smoke alarm is going to warn you as early as possible when there’s smoke or fire. That’s simple and we think that any smoke alarm, designer or not passes this design test as long as it’s photoelectric and not ionisation. Watch from 40 seconds onwards as the New Zealand Fire Service explains the difference between photoelectric and ionisation alarms and why photoelectric are so important.

Aesthetic Design

A designed smoke alarm should be beautiful. Your intent is that it is used often, daily even. Designer smoke alarms keep you protected every day, even if they are hardly seen and rarely heard. Aesthetics is a big factor for CAVIUS. We knew that small is beautiful, and much of the design work went into packing a lot of functionality into an alarm that is a fraction of the size of old smoke alarms.


Unobtrusive Design

Word for word from say “A product shouldn’t force itself on the user. It should be pleasing to look at, but not demand attention other than the fact that it is useful”. Too often we have seen stunningly renovated homes with the big size smoke alarms stuck to ceilings almost as an afterthought.


Some home owners can live with that, but the real obtrusiveness of old style smoke alarms is hidden inside; the 9V battery. Nothing is more obtrusive than a smoke alarm going off because of a low battery at 2am in the morning! Unobtrusive design means ensuring that a designer smoke alarm doesn’t false alarm and eliminates the need to change batteries every 6 – 12 months.

Environmentally Friendly

Designs should use as few resources as possible. But also, should product fit in with the environment it will be in. We’ve already covered many of these points above already, so I’ll hone in here on one where traditional smoke alarms nor designer smoke alarms get correct and that’s in the kitchen environment.

Kitchens are the source of over 23% of house fires, yet smoke alarms, designer or old style, don’t work properly there. Coincidence? No. If you’ve ever moved a smoke alarm because the alarm started beeping at your delicious frying or burnt toast, you’ll know what this means. Smoke alarms are too sensitive for kitchens. Thermal alarms however, solve the design problem of protecting your kitchen environment from being the source of house fires.


Honest Design

Products should look like what they are. They shouldn’t have a facade that makes them appear to be more or less than what they are meant to do. There are a few different designs out there for designer photoelectric smoke alarms, but none that we believe truly deliver on this design principle. A smoke alarm should still look like a smoke alarm we believe, not a wifi box or a security alarm. If you’ve got friends around for dinner who are wow’ed by the look of your home, you want them to be able to say ‘oh cool, you’ve got CAVIUS smoke alarms’ rather than ‘what are those boxes for?’.


Now that we’ve covered off designer smoke alarms, our next article will go deeper under surface as we go full geek mode in comparing photoelectric to ionisation smoke alarms. Yes, there is a difference and you’ll hope that you never get to find out in practice what the difference is! (hint: it has to do with how quickly an alarm warns you in the event of a realy fire)