An introduction to stove guard technology

Here you’ll find information on what a stove guard is, how it works, where it can be used and an overview of the different stove guards available.

Disclaimer: this website is owned and operated by Unicook Ltd.

What is a stove guard?

Sometimes called a "cooker cut-off device", a stove guard cuts the power to the cooker to prevent a fire. Depending on the brand, it may sense heat, or a combination of heat, cooking fumes (smoke & steam) and human presence.

There are two models available in the UK - the Safera Airis, and the Sona/Fire Angel/Firechief FSW1/SGK510/SGK5010/SGEL-SN-1.

With 50% of fires starting in the kitchen, stove guards can play a significant role in a fire strategy for all types of accommodation. They ensure that residents can cook normally but also remain safe.

Safera Airis Multisensor
Safera Airis - uses several sensors to monitor heat, rising temperature, steam, smoke and human presence. Also available is the Airis-C, which can be mounted on the ceiling.
Sona/Fire Angel/Firechief FSW1/SGK510/SGEL-SN-1 sensor
Sona/Fire Angel/Firechief FSW1/SGK510/SGEL-SN-1 - this model uses two sensors to monitor temperature.

How do stove guards work?

Stove guards have two components: a sensor and a power controller. The sensor is mounted above the hob on the wall, on the cooker hood, or on the ceiling. The power controller is typically installed behind the cooker. Stove guard sensors monitor the hob and send a radio command to instruct the power controller to turn off the electricity if a dangerous situation is detected.

The Sona/Fire Angel/Firechief device requires a high temperature to be reached, regardless of the circumstances, before reacting.

The Safera Airis uses more advanced technology, can intervene more quickly in most circumstances and is less likely to false alarm. This means significantly reduced smoke, less burning of food and less damage to pans. For a full list of the additional features of the Safera Airis device please see this PDF from Unicook.

All stove guards reduce smoke alarm activations and unnecessary calls to the fire service.

Additional features available

The Sona/Fire Angel/Firechief FSW1/SGK510/SGK5010/SGEL-SN-1 has an output compatible with most telecare systems to alert when the product intervenes to prevent a fire.

The Safera Airis can also be connected to telecare systems which can be independently set to alert if one or a combination of conditions are met - when cooking hasn't taken place for a given number of days, for example. It can also connect to building management systems to record fault conditions or report when one of the four optional leak sensors have detected water.

Are stove guards a viable alternative to suppression systems?

Unlike suppression hoods and sprinkler systems, stove guards prevent fires. Given that cooking fires account for approximately 50% of domestic fires, stove guards can potentially prevent 50% of sprinkler system activations, and 100% of suppression hood activations.

Stove guards are lower in cost and easier and quicker to install in existing and new kitchens. There are no maintenance or re-filling requirements, and no clean-up is required if they activate.

Stove guards have been specified in studio apartments where a cooker/hob fire would impede access to the fire exit.

Stove guard technology compared

How does Safera Airis compare with older stove guard technology?

Features 1st-gen stove guards Airis Notes
Radio link 433 MHz Analogue 2.4 GHz Digital The 433Mhz band is normally used for low-cost non-critical applications such as garage door remote controls, light dimmers and baby monitors.

The SAFERA RobustLink 2.4 GHz system provides for a range of 10 – 100m, depending on the building structure, and is designed to be fail-safe.
Fail-safe Two-way communication is critical for safety products. Without this, if the sensor fails, a fire could occur.

Older devices, which have only one-way communication, shut down only many hours after the sensor stops communicating. Even then, the kitchen user can simply reset the power at the wall and continue to cook. With Airis, this is not possible.
Works correctly out of the box Older devices require that the user responds to false alarms in order to help "calibrate" the sensor. This can be a major cause of frustration, especially for students and the elderly. Airis works correctly from the moment it is installed.
Battery 0.66 Wh

Coin cell type
9 Wh

2 x AA Industrial standard
The Airis multisensor has larger batteries because it does more. It monitors its many internal sensors every second and has sophisticated algorithms, built using AI to ensure there’s minimal smoke, no fire and no false alarms.

The Airis power controller tells the multisensor when the cooker is using power (and how much). The multisensor uses this information to determine how much monitoring is required and what sort of cooking is taking place. The Airis multisensor batteries last 3-5 years, and a warning light and beep is given well before the battery expires.
Prevents smoke with early intervention
Detects food cooked or starting to burn
Comprehensive reporting to telecare/BMS
Prevents pans being ruined by excessive heat
Does not interfere with normal cooking
Boil-dry detection
Activation and no-cooking warning for telecare
Protects hobs up to 900mm wide, even with a standard height extraction hood

Airis has an array of capabilities that older generation stove guards don't.

Radio link

The SAFERA RobustLink 2.4 GHz system provides for a range of 10 – 100m, depending on the building structure, and is designed to be fail-safe. Other devices use the 433MHz band, normally used for low-cost non-critical applications such as garage door remote controls, light dimmers and baby monitors.

Fail-safe

Two-way communication is critical for safety products. Without this, if the sensor fails a fire could occur.

Older devices, which have only one-way communication, shut down only many hours after the sensor stops communicating. Even then, the kitchen user can simply reset the power at the wall and continue to cook. With Airis, this is not possible.

Works correctly out of the box

Older devices require that the user responds to false alarms in order to help "calibrate" the sensor. This can be a major source of frustration, especially for students and elderly people. Airis works correctly from the moment it is installed.

Battery

Older devices use a coin cell type battery. The Airis multisensor has larger, AA batteries because it does more. It monitors its many internal sensors every second and has sophisticated algorithms, built using AI to ensure there's minimal smoke, no fire and no false alarms.

The Airis power controller tells the multisensor when the cooker is using power (and how much). The multisensor uses this information to determine how much monitoring is required and what sort of cooking is taking place. The Airis multisensor batteries last 3-5 years, and a warning light and beep is given well before the battery expires.

Other features unique to Airis

  • Prevents smoke with early intervention
  • Detects food cooked or starting to burn
  • Comprehensive reporting to telecare/BMS
  • Prevents pans being ruined by excessive heat
  • Does not interfere with normal cooking
  • Boil-dry detection
  • Activation and no-cooking warning to telecare
  • Protects hobs up to 900mm wide, even with a standard height extraction hood

How stove guards compare to other safety measures for cooking fires:

Device/Method Prevents a stovetop fire? Minimises smoke produced? Notes
Fire blanket or extinguisher Fire services advise against tackling stove top fires.
Smoke alarm Smoke alarms do not prevent fires.
Heat sensor Heat sensors measure the air temperature and rely on a fire having started. By the time a heat sensor activates, the kitchen will be filled with toxic smoke and gases.
Suppression/extinguishing hood Suppression/extinguishing hoods rely on a fire starting. They do not reduce smoke that precedes ignition.
BS EN 50615 Part B devices (stove guards) Prevents fires and greatly reduces smoke.

Stove guards are the only cooking safety devices which will both prevent a stovetop fire and minimise the smoke produced. None of the below devices are able to do so:

  • Fire blanket and extinguisher - fire services advise against tackling stove top fires
  • Smoke alarm - also do not prevent fires
  • Heat sensor - measure the air temperature and rely on a fire having started. By the time a heat sensor activates, the kitchen will be filled with toxic smoke and gases
  • Extinguishing hood - rely on a fire starting. They do not reduce smoke that precedes ignition

BS EN 50615

The Sona/Fire Angel/Firechief FSW1/SGK510/SGK5010/SGEL-SN-1 and Safera Airis stove guards conform to BS EN 50615, part B. This standard ensures the efficacy of cooker shut-off devices. For compliance, devices must pass required tests which are carried out by an independent test laboratory.

Alternative products

Cooker timers, sometimes referred to as ‘runback’ timers, have been around for many years. They limit the time that the hob or cooker can be used.

Considerations:

  • Timers do not meet BS EN 50615 part B or any other standard related to fire prevention.
  • The slowest metal-plate cookers can ignite cooking oil in under seven minutes from cold.
  • An induction hob can ignite cooking oil in just over one minute from cold.
  • If a timer is used with a free-standing cooker, food in the oven may be undercooked.
  • Timers are invasive and a source of frustration for kitchen users.

The future

Kitchen fires in Norway have been cut by almost 50% since stove guards were mandated in 2010. Finland is now considering similar legislation. To date, over half a million stove guards have been installed across Europe.

In the UK, stove guards are installed in apartments, private and university student accommodation, local authority and housing association dwellings, retirement homes and extra care accommodation. Several UK fire services now recommend and install stove guards.