We have often answered the question of where you can vape in our blog, whether in the office, on the train, or in the pub and in restaurants. But what about hotels? And regardless of whether it is allowed in the hotel or not; can e-cigarettes actually trigger smoke detectors with their vapor, for example in hotel rooms? We have dealt with this question for you. And we would have liked to have answered: “No, smoke detectors, as the name suggests, only react to smoke and not to steam”, but unfortunately that is not the whole truth. Most recently, a passenger on a South West Airlines flight that departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, answered this question and whose nicotine cravings became so great that he secretly vaped on the toilet until the smoke alarm went off. This forced the pilot to make a daring emergency landing and led to an extremely high bill for the steamer. Quite apart from the shock on board.
Can e-cigarette vapor set off a smoke alarm?
The answer is very, very simple: yes, e-cigarettes can set off smoke detectors with their vapor, regardless of whether they are in a hotel room, at work, or in my home. Experts and even some fire experts like to disagree here, but a simple test has already proven the opposite several times. Although it is fair to say that the steam has to be blown very directly into the smoke detector. However, if you vape models with extra steam or prefer sub-ohm vaping, then a cloud of steam can arise that could trigger a smoke detector. Of course, this can be very uncomfortable, especially in public places like a hotel room. Especially when the hotel prohibits vaping. Basically, however, it can be said that normal vaping will not normally trigger a smoke detector. After all, even small amounts of cigarette smoke usually no longer trigger modern smoke detectors. This is intended to minimize the risk of a false and costly alarm, which is why smoke detectors in offices and hotels are not quite as sensitive. However, the general danger that an e-cigarette could set off a smoke alarm is definitely present and should be considered by vapers wherever they are. Because on board an aircraft in particular, this can very quickly lead to considerable costs, an emergency landing and panic on board. Then it’s better to wait until the steam can unfold in the open air or in a suitable place.
Related Read:E-cigarette Study 2022: Vape More Effective Than Substitute Products During Tobacco Stop
Which types of smoke detectors are particularly sensitive?
What most people may not realize is that there are several types of smoke alarms, and they also sound different alarm speeds and in different ways. Therefore, we would like to not only list those smoke detectors that are particularly sensitive, but also explain why this is so and which smoke detectors are suitable for e-cigarette vapers.
These smoke detectors work on the basis of alpha and beta rays that ionize between two metal plates. This creates a current flow. If smoke now penetrates the smoke detector, and even fine smoke particles are sufficient for this, this vapor binds the ions and the current flow decreases or is completely interrupted. Depending on the intensity of the interruption or decrease in the current flow, an alarm is then triggered. Since in principle even the smallest particles are sufficient, ionization smoke detectors are considered to be very sensitive and are therefore most likely to react to the vapor of the e-cigarette with an alarm. The good news: in Germany, ionization alarms are hardly used at all, especially in apartment buildings and public places.
Optical smoke detectors
These smoke detectors are among the types most commonly used in Germany. Like a remote control, these devices also work with an infrared beam. The principle is the same as with the ionization alarm, except that it is not the current flow that has to be interrupted to trigger the alarm, but an infrared light beam. A diode emits an infrared beam that hits a receiver on the other side. If smoke or the vapor from an e-cigarette collects directly in the housing of the smoke detector, as in the case of a house fire, the beam is interrupted and the receiver sounds the alarm. As already described above, the steam has to be blown directly into the housing. You can recognize them above all by the corresponding round lens, like on a remote control, or similar to the 360-degree surveillance cameras that hang in subways, for example.
This type of alarm is used in kitchens because the smoke and steam there would otherwise constantly set off the alarm. In apartments or hotel rooms, on the other hand, the heat alarm makes little sense because it would go off too late. In the event of a fire, the smoke usually develops first and then the big fire. At least at an intensity that its heat could set off an alarm. The good thing about these smoke alarms, at least as far as vapers and smokers go, is that vapor and smoke are pretty much irrelevant to this heat alarm. However, this is suboptimal for ensuring security within your own four walls.
This “smoke gas detector” is triggered when a predefined quantity of combustion gases such as carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide is measured. The CO detector is therefore often installed in dusty rooms. However, since no combustion process takes place in an e-cigarette, no combustion gases are formed. A CO alarm would therefore not be triggered when vaping.
wireless smoke detector
These smoke detectors connect to multiple smoke detectors and are best suited for large apartments. Up to 32 devices can be connected wirelessly. So if there is a fire in the kitchen, the smoke alarm device installed there sends a signal to the wireless smoke detector. That’s good for a fire, but if these smoke detectors set off a false alarm, for example from the vapor from an electronic cigarette, then it quickly becomes a big noise nuisance and a real shock. In principle, wireless detectors can be all types of smoke detectors. Here it is more a matter of knowing whether they are connected by radio or not, in order to be able to better assess the effects of a false alarm. It makes a very clear difference whether just one smoke alarm goes off or four or five.
What about smoke detectors & vaping in hotel rooms?
In principle, every hotel has its own steamer policy, just like every train station and every airline. In addition to general laws, these are also subject to the house rules/terms and conditions of the respective owner and this allows a lot of prohibitions as well as freedom for vapers and their electronic cigarettes. Regardless of whether vaping is legal or not, you should consider the following: Hotels usually use more sensitive smoke detectors than the commercial smoke detectors you use at home. Despite permission to vape, an evacuation can still occur if the smoke detector is triggered. The easiest way to handle it is therefore to refrain from vaping in hotel rooms unless it is expressly permitted, a window is available and the smoke detector is as far away as possible.