Smoke Cannon technology from PROTECT Security Systems of America, Marina del Rey, Calif., produces fog said to fill a 600-square-foot room within four seconds.
An intrusion technology used in Europe for a decade is being marketed in the United States. The concept is to immobilize intruders with impenetrable smoke that fills a room when a break-in occurs.

“None of the newer technologies that are coming out aim at the core of our business – reduction of insurance premiums and minimizing of property loss,” maintained Geof Petch, president/CEO of PROTECT Security Systems of America, Marina del Rey, Calif., one of several manufacturers that sell a smoke-fill product. “This technology does exactly that.

“CCTV cameras only do two things – give you a clearer picture of someone trying to steal something with a mask on or move information around,” Petch complained. “What are they doing to stop theft? Generally nothing. That’s really where our product comes in.

“Last year alone, over 20,000 of these were installed in Europe,” he said of his company’s product only. “Insurance and police departments are driving our business.”

Most of these systems produce a non-toxic smoke from sugar-based liquid glycol that is easily vented and leaves no residue. The smoke is produced from unobtrusive-looking devices. The concept is to direct the smoke towards intruders as they enter so they will exit to elude the smoke.

The fog can remain for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours with various systems if the area is unventilated. Smoke usually can be cleared intentionally within 15 minutes, the companies estimate.

The fog is produced to expand rapidly. “A glycol solution passes over a heat exchanger under pressure and hits our advanced nozzling mechanism, so this combination of elements presents density and speed of smoke,” Petch explained. “It’s much denser than ordinary fog and is heat-neutral.”

That heat neutrality means active infrared imaging devices will not be able to see through the fog, Petch maintained.