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Do Fog Machines Set Off Smoke Alarms? (Quick Answers)

A versatile piece of modern equipment is the fog machine or the fogger as it’s commonly known. This machine can be used for a plethora of things, mostly helpful.

Although there are a lot of misconceptions about the product due to how little people know of its usages of it.

Today we’ll discuss those and answer any questions along the way with the question of whether they can set off smoke alarms or not in the center.

Do fog machines set off smoke alarms?

Fog machines will set off smoke alarms. This is due to the fact that many of the smoke detectors that are placed in buildings measure the density of the particles that are present in the air. Fog machines can fool these detectors into thinking there is a fire and go off.

Fog machines are industrial applications that are useful in many ways and not just to create simple fogs.

Some of the uses of fog machines can be the visualization of the flow of air, military service training, emergency service training, testing of leaks, highlighting drag over a surface in the wind tunnel, and many more.

Fog machines can get hot when they are functioning. To make sure there’s no fire risk we have to make sure to keep them clear of any flammable element. This will help them not catch something on fire.

However, these machines still put off the smoke detectors. This is because most of the common households use an Ionization system of fire smoke detectors. These, on the other hand, detect the smallest changes in the air.

In other words, smoke detectors can falsely set off the fire alarm due to the fog machines. That doesn’t mean they also set off the sprinklers though. The fog machines can only trigger smoke alarms.

There’s also the misconception of fog machines being harmful to us. However, the most common fog machines create fog using a water-based fluid. It contains only glycols or glycerol. This are the least expensive fog machines also. 

Why do some fog machines set off smoke alarms?

There’re a few different types of smoke alarms. There’s the Ionization type, this is the most common type of smoke detector out there.

Secondly, there’s the photoelectric system that’s not commonly used everywhere. Lastly, there’s another type of alarm system for fires, that’s the dual detector.

In general, most smoke detectors set off the alarm when they notice changes in the air particles. If they detect any kind of particles or any smoke particles in the air, even if it’s a light haze, they are enough to set the alarm off.

These detectors are known as Ionization smoke detectors. They tend to respond fast when there are flaming fires, unlike the slower photoelectric smoke alarms.

The photoelectric detects smoke that’s produced by the smoldering fires faster than the ionization detector. Ionization smoke detectors have a small amount of radioactive material in between two electrically charged plates.

Then it ionizes the air and causes current to flow in between these plates. Thus, when smoke enters the chamber of this detector, it also disrupts the flow of the ions while its way in. Ultimately it reduces the current flow and activates the alarm.

What type of fog machines set off smoke alarms?

There are mainly two different types of fog machines. The difference between them dictates the chances of the smoke alarms going off. It depends on which one we are going to use during occasions or indoor use.

Let’s take a look at the different types of fog machines below and briefly discuss why either of them will or will not set off the smoke alarm.

Cryogenic Fog Machine:

This is the one that will most likely set off the smoke alarm for us. The cryogenic fog machine uses liquids like the liquid CO2 gas. This type of smoke is a longer-lasting one.

Therefore, prolonged use of this machine will result in a smoke alarm going off.

Dry Ice Fog Machine:

This particular fog machine will not likely set off the smoke alarm. This is because the dry ice fog machine has a simpler method of making the smoke. It uses solid dry ice and water.

Therefore, it does not have a prolonged effect like that of the cryogenic one and disperses relatively quickly.

Which smoke detectors will set off for using a fog machine?

There are three distinctive types of smoke detectors. The difference between them can provide us the information of which one will be set off during the use of a fog machine.

Let’s look at these three different types of smoke detectors below and discuss briefly how they can or can not falsely set the alarm off for fog machines.

Ionization Smoke Detector:

This type of detector easily mistakes smoke from fog machines as fire smoke and sets off the alarm. It can’t distinguish between the subtle particles of the smoke due to the nature of its design.

This type of detector will set off the smoke alarm during the use of a fog machine.

Photoelectric Smoke Detector:

This type of detector is more responsive to smoldering fires. It uses a light beam over the sensor, when smoke enters the detector, the light beam will reflect on the sensor and the alarm will set off.

This type of detector will not set off the smoke alarm during the use of a fog machine.

Dual Sensor Smoke Detector:

This type of detector uses both mechanisms of detecting smokes from the previous ones. Thus, this one delivers the fastest possible way to know about fire smoke.

However, it also falsely sets off the alarm during the use of fog machines.

How to keep the fog machine from setting off a fire alarm?

Sometimes due to the smoke detectors falsely setting off, it automatically calls the fire department. Furthermore, later they charge people of the venue or the household for them coming out.

Since the most common fire detectors in our household and venues are the Ionization-type fire detector. Here are some basic tips on how to avoid such situations while using this detector.

Low Usage:

It might sound simple, but simply cutting down on the usage of the fog machine will help in not making the fire alarm go off.

Fog machines make dense clouds that can block light beams and also change the air particles easily. Thus, making the smoke detectors think there is a fire.

So, cutting down on the usage of it, will not allow the detectors to go off. This is because the fog will not clutter and stay around, since we know that water-based fog machine’s smoke disperses easily.

Hire Fire Marshal:

This rather another easy solution for countering false fire alarms. It’s almost always the fault of electronic smoke detectors for going off on fake smokes from fog machines.

Therefore, having a local off-duty fireman or local fire marshal monitor the situation of the venue and easily assess false fire alarms or even help in real fire scenarios.

Will a fog machine set off a sprinkler system?

Never will a sprinkler system set off during the use of a fog machine. This is because the system is not an early warning system like the smoke detectors are.

The sprinklers are designed to extinguish the fire and its source, unlike the smoke detectors that are only designed to alarm.

Fog machines produce smoke that disperses relatively easily unlike the hazers. This allows them to be used more frequently. Thus, they will never trigger the sprinkler system.

Is it safe to have a fog machine in your room or apartment?

It is relatively safe to use a fog machine in our room or apartment. There is a misconception that the fog machine’s fog can cause Asthma.

The chemicals that are used in the fog machines are harmless for us. The usual fog machines use water as the main source of the smoke.

However, overheating of the fog fluid will create unhealthy byproducts so we should be mindful of that. The fog machine also gets relatively hot, so keeping them away from anything flammable is also something that helps keep your homestead safe.

Does a fog machine leave residue?

Yes, fog machines leave residues. The smoke particles from the machine settle on all surfaces, which in turn leaves a residue. Usually, the density of the smoke itself determines if the residue is going to be a problem or not.

However, the prolonged use of the machine, the type of fluid used as well as the type of the fogger will also determine the consistency of the residue.

Final thoughts

When the smoke detector is an Ionization type, then it’s almost a certainty that the smoke detector will set off the alarm. This is because these types of detectors will go off when they notice any change in the air particles. They can’t differentiate between fog machines and actual fire smoke.