General Question

jca's avatar

Will candles make a hotel room's smoke detectors go off?

Asked by jca (29281 points ) October 11th, 2012

I’m referring to a few candles, like between 1 and 3. Not a whole bonfire!

I am not sure how sensitive hotel room smoke detectors are.

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15 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

Highly improbable. If you’re really that concerned just cut the wick down so there isnt any smoke and the flame is smaller.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I don’t think they are that sensitive. I know we helped deliver candles one night during a power outage in a hotel and no alarms went off. That was one candle to each room.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If it is a room where smoking is permitted you are safe. But, in a non-smoking room it is possible to have a smoke detector with a passive IR pickup that immediately sets an arming flag when it sees any hot spot in the room. Once armed, the slightest amount of smoke will set it off. You might be able to adjust its automatic gain control by putting the in-room coffee pot in plain sight and turning it on.
You can bring your own night lights to better enjoy your romantic evening.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

You could always just ask the front desk.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
hearkat's avatar

Trim the wicks to ¼” and there is a lot less smoke. But I agree that you should inquire at the front desk whether candles are permitted.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
jca's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl and @Adirondackwannabe: I thought of that before and I plan to do that later.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Y’all are so cute.

@jca No, a hotel room smoke detector will not go off if a few candles are used in the room with caution. Smoke detectors are not more sensitive in a designated non-smoking room than they are in a smoking room. Based upon the number of times a smoke detector goes off in a hotel room, candles are way down the list, if even on it.

As for asking a desk clerk, they are highly unlikely to know the answer. The response will be either based upon their own opinion or that of someone else on the team (like a manager). If they say “no candles allowed”, it is more likely to do with the fact that guests can be careless in a hotel room.

The bigger issues with candles have to do with wax residue left behind that the staff has to clean up. Burns on furniture is another, but even those are rare when it comes to candles. Cigarette burns are much more common. Even incense sticks rank higher, especially in carpet. Idiots Guests will use electrical outlets to use as an incense stick holder.

While the best action to take is not to bring any, the risk of setting off a smoke detector is minimal as long as caution is used. Even then, there may be risk of having to pay a fee for any lingering smell or minor damage in the room.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

If the room is a “NON SMOKING” unit, the fire / smoke detector may be tripped.
OPPSEE front desk will come and visit.

And candle smoke may trigger a cough or reaction from a person allergic to smoke.

jca's avatar

I just called and asked if candles will make the smoke detectors go off in the rooms and was told “yes they will. We don’t allow candles in the rooms.”

I had to wait to make this call when my coworkers left for the day, otherwise, their ears would perk up and they’d wonder what I’m up to. :)

El_Cadejo's avatar

I dont know that I’d believe that. It may just be a policy of the hotel to not allow burning candles for insurance reasons and they’re just telling you that to dissuade you from doing so. I know at my campus they say candles and incense will set off the alarms but they don’t. That said, I don’t know that I’d risk it cause I’d sure hate to have the sprinkler system kick on right when things are starting to get hot ;)

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d believe it. The new generation commercial detectors are much smarter than the old ionizing detectors that use a single trigger level. These are the units we buy for $8 and hang on our home ceiling. The new ones are built more like airbag sensors where two or more detectors need to trip within a set time period and each one is sensitive to something the others do not see. One can be heat, one can be passive IR and the third smoke. By monitoring 2 or 3 independent properties there are far fewer false alarms while simultaneously enabling the detector to trip at a much more sensitive level.
Treat a non-smoking room as non-smoking and enjoy your evening.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@LuckyGuy Thank you for the information on the latest commercial detectors. If I were still in the hotel business, I’d research it and share it with the person in charge of our company’s standards.

The fact is that hotel owners are generally slow to move on upgrading. It takes a standard change and/or a local ordinance regulation change to make it happen. Deadlines for the upgrade are often set for a reasonable time in the future. While there may be a handful of owners that go ahead with the effort of replacement prior to the deadline, the majority wait it out for budgeting purposes.

@jca While I am not a fan of candles and do not recommend using them in a hotel room for the reasons previously stated, I feel fairly confident that it will not be an issue should you decide to do so. With that said, since you called the hotel to inquire, and a staff member told you that they are not allowed, it would be prudent to base your decision on their statement. It’s a roll of the dice.

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