Can Vaping Set off Smoke Detectors?

Vapes are far more socially acceptable than cigarettes, but there are still some places where vape pens are not welcome. Public spaces like restaurants, offices, and bars are notorious for having a zero-tolerance policy for vapes, and for a good reason. 

Vape pens produce everything from wispy tendrils to thick plumes of vapor, depending on the type of coils you choose. All it takes is one puff of vapor to set off alarm bells. 

So, can a vape set off a fire alarm?

Can Smoke Detectors Detect Vape?

Smoke detectors are designed to react to imminent threats, so you should be safe to take a few puffs on your device. Most detectors register the vapor, but they will class small amounts of vapor as false alarms. 

Beware, your office might be fitted with an extra sensitive smoke alarm. Even worse, you could find yourself in trouble in a public space. Students at Raleigh High School have created more than one false alarm by using their vape devices in the restrooms. 

Sub-ohm vapers are even more likely to Google the burning question, ‘can vapes set off smoke alarms?’ Remember, sub-ohm vape devices are designed to create much denser, larger clouds than regular devices. A few puffs on a vape pen might not set off your smoke alarm, but we would not bet against a sub-ohm mod. 

How Different Smoke Alarms React to Vapor

If you are wondering how to vape without setting off a smoke alarm, you might be interested to learn that there are different types of alarms. Some alarms are more reactive than others. Instead of changing your vape habits, you could invest in a new smoke alarm. 

Here are the main three types of smoke alarms. 

Optical Alarms

Optical alarms are also known as photo-electric smoke alarms. They use the light scatter principle. There is a pulsed infrared LED light inside each alarm. Every ten seconds, the LED light shines a beam of light into the chamber to search for smoke particles. 

This kind of alarm is likely to sound when it encounters vapor. 

Heat Alarms

Heat alarms react to their namesake. Each heat alarm contains a thermistor that reacts to temperatures above 136°F. These kinds of detectors do not react to smoke. A lot of kitchens use heat alarms because they do not respond to cooking fumes. 

This kind of alarm is unlikely to sound when it comes in contact with vapor. 

Ionization Alarms 

Ionization alarms contain two electrically charged plates. There is a small amount of radioactive material between the plates. The material ionizes the air, which causes the current to flow between the two plates. If any smoke or vapor comes into the chamber, it will throw the ions into disarray. When the ions are not flowing as expected, the alarm sounds. 

This kind of alarm is the most likely of all three alarms to react to vapor. 

Can a Vape Set Off a Fire Alarm at Any Time?

Technically, a vape pen can set off a smoke alarm at any time. But the likelihood of this happening is very low. There are lots of factors to think about, including the height of the ceilings in the room, the type of electronic cigarette, the VG/PG mixture, and much more. 

It is far more likely that smoke detectors will detect smoke. After all, that is what they are designed for. 

How to Vape Without Setting off a Smoke Alarm

You should never vape in areas that explicitly ban it. We understand – it can be tempting to take a quick drag on your vape pen. Pubs, restaurants, dentists, and many other public spaces have a no-tolerance policy on smoking and vaping. Using your vape pen could result in fines or even bans. 

Other public spaces do not explicitly ban vaping, but they still have smoke alarms. So, how do you vape without setting off a smoke alarm? Believe it or not, there are a few tips to help vapers with this exact dilemma. 

Just to be clear, we would never recommend disabling your fire alarm. According to the Centre for Disease Control, there is an average of 356,300 home-based fires in America. The disadvantages of disabling your alarm far outweigh the advantages. 

Fan the Smoke Away

Sometimes the simplest tips are the best. This is by far the easiest way to stop your smoke alarm from beeping. Simply stand far away from the alarm, or even use a desktop fan to blow vapor in the opposite direction. 

Stand Near a Window

Seasoned vapers will already be aware of this trick, but it is worth mentioning. Try opening a window and blowing your vapor outside. Most of the vapor will dissipate into the open air. 

Buy High-PG Vape Juice

If you are really concerned about how to vape without setting off a smoke alarm, you need to use low-PG e-liquids. It is widely accepted that PG (and even flavorings) create larger particles than other everyday items like kettles. For this reason, we recommend using high VG e-liquids in areas that have smoke alarms. 

Use a Specific Device

The type of device that you use makes all the difference. If you use a powerful sub-ohm mod, you will have to contend with massive plumes of vapor. For a more discrete vape, you should choose a low-powered pen-style device or pod system. 

There are lots of technical factors to think about. Coils, tanks, and vaping styles can seem overwhelming, especially for vapers who just want a discrete device. We have compiled a list of the the things to look out for. 

  • Pod system or pen-style device
  • Coil resistance above 1 ohm
  • Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) style 
  • Low-powered device

If you find a kit that hits all these marks, you should be able to vape without worrying about your fire alarm. 

Vapes Setting off Smoke Alarms: Case Studies

For every person who Googles ‘can a vape set off a fire alarm’ there is someone who laughs in the face of danger. It might seem as if those inoffensive, small white discs could never cause a stir, but you would be surprised by just how sensitive and loud some smoke alarms are. 

Recently, a passenger on an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Bangkok lit a cigarette in the toilet and set off the fire alarm. The situation only worsened when the frantic passenger attempted to put their cigarette out in the waste bin, which immediately caught fire. Fortunately, the flight made it safely to its destination. 

This is not an uncommon situation. Ambitious smokers and vapers all over the USA try their luck in public spaces. 

Can I Use My Vape Pen on a Plane?

The simple answer is no. 

There is a blanket ban on using vape devices of all kinds on planes. The fire alarms on planes are extremely sensitive, which means that it is not worth trying to take a sneaky puff. 

Using a vape on a flight will not land you in prison, but it could land you with a hefty fine. The fine for smoking or vaping on a plane ranges from $2,000 to $4,000. Before you activate your device, make sure that you have a spare few thousand dollars. 

Can I Vape in a Hotel Room?

Picture this, you are going on the trip of a lifetime. Sandy dunes, cocktails by the sea, and endless days await, but your hotel has a blanket ban on vapes. Some hotels explicitly ban vaping, whereas others only ban smoking. If you want to factor vaping into your holiday, it is worth finding a hotel that does not have a vape policy. 

Policies aside, you still have to think about the smoke alarm in your room. Hotels tend to invest in more sensitive smoke alarms than other establishments, and they often have hefty fines ready for people who wake their neighbors up. Firefighters rushed to Beachside Holiday Park at 8:34 pm to respond to a fire alarm. Luckily for the guests, it was a false alarm. Someone had activated their vape in the lavatory, which was enough to set off the smoke detector.  

If you really want to enjoy your hotel room, you could rent a room that has a balcony. This eliminates the problem of smoke alarms and allows you to vape without a care in the world. 

Our Conclusions

‘Can vapes set off smoke alarms’ is quickly becoming one of the most popular Google searches. More and more people are transitioning from smoking to vaping, which means that fire alarms are under scrutiny. 

Some fire alarms are more adept at recognizing false alarms than others. But it is difficult to spot the different types of fire alarms, which means that it is safer to just abstain from vaping in public spaces. In most cases, it is not worth the risk. 

More secluded areas like offices might be more understanding, especially if most of the staff are also vapers. Moving your desk away from the fire alarm and opening a window while you vape can make all the difference. 

As long as you are conscious of your vapor, you should have nothing to worry about.


Viki H
Viki H
Vicki is our quintessential flavor chaser. She is always testing new tanks and juices to find the perfect flavor setup. Vicki says ‘there’s no better feeling in the world than a fresh wick and new juice to vape on.’

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