1) There are two basic types of smoke detectors available: The contractor style called an Ionization detector and a Photoelectric smoke detector.
2) Ionization detectors react to rapid changes in the ions in the air. They would more correctly be called a flaming fire detector (but that wouldn’t sell the product.) They do not react well to smoldering fires. The vast majority of home structure fires start by something smoldering for hours, sometimes days.
3) Photoelectric smoke detectors are much better in that they detect a true smoke condition. They are 3 to 4 times as expensive as the ionization detectors, but they are much more stabile. They don’t generally trip when you burn toast, unless the toaster is actually on fire. I just replaced the photoelectric smoke detectors that I installed in my house 20 years ago. And in 20 years, I had ZERO false alarms.
4) Another distinct advantage of photoelectric smoke detectors is this: hardwired detectors receive their power from the alarm panel which is equipped with a standby battery. Wireless photoelectric smokes have a lithium ion battery that lasts a minimum of five years. And they are supervised. When the battery does become depleted, it will alert you while there is still approximately 30 days life. You don’t have to replace the batteries every October like with the ionization detectors.
5) Personally, I am much more afraid of fire than even an armed felon. A burglar will take cash, jewelry and small electronics, etc. A fire is much more indiscriminate. It will take all of that, your house and even your life.
6) Not to beat the drum again about telephones going away, but when it comes to fire, time is of the essence. From the time there is visible flame in a home fire, the room can be engulfed in 30 seconds. Statistically if the FD isn’t dispatched in less than 3 minutes, you are likely to lose the structure.
7) With my systems, using a GSM radio, the customer’s information is on screen at the central station in less than 3 seconds.