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theabk's avatar

Is it worth getting multiple hard-wired smoke detectors connected to an alarm system?

Asked by theabk (683 points ) August 5th, 2009

We recently moved into a house that has a high quality alarm system already installed, so we’re planning to activate it. Currently there is only one smoke detector installed, and this one is hard-wired and connected to the alarm company. It’s in the middle of the house, which is ~1300 sq ft. We are planning to put smoke detectors in the bedrooms and possibly the living room, but we have to decide whether to get inexpensive but high-quality battery-powered ones ($25 each) or additional hard-wired ones ($150 each). These options should be more or less equal if a fire started while we were in the house.

The question is this: if a fire started in one end of the house while we were away, how long would it likely take for the alarm in the center of the house to detect it? Would there be enough of a delay that having additional hard-wired alarms would be likely to lead to protection of more of the house by alerting the alarm company sooner?

Thanks for any help!

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6 Answers

PerryDolia's avatar

This is a tough question because it depends on how you feel about a very, very unlikely event (a fire starts at all, it is at the end of the house far from the central detector, we are away when it happens).

If I were making the decision, the cost vs. the very unlikely scenario would not be worth the extra expense of the $150 detectors.

Also, you may not stick with the alarm company, and then you would have wasted the money tying them all together.

I suggest going with independent detectors and save some money, too.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I’d have to agree with @PerryDolia .. unless you have a filthy habit of leaving oily rags by open flames or you fall asleep while smoking .. or you have a leaky gas stove… chances are there will never be a fire… then again… occasionally people win the lottery.

wlc's avatar

One side effect of multiple hard wired smoke detectors is that when they beep (for new back up batteries), you can’t tell which one has the old battery. One beeps, you replace the battery. Another beeps the same day, you replace it. Then you decide to replace them all, but another still beeps. We unplugged ours.

Darwin's avatar

Unless you travel a huge amount, I would opt for the cheaper ones if only because the primary function of a smoke alarm is to wake everyone up so they can get out of the house before they are injured, trapped or killed.

However, if you often go out of town or frequently indulge in long trips, then you might consider adding more hard-wired detectors.

We have one hard-wired detector that never went off, even when my son set fire to his room about 10 feet away from the darn thing, so we opted for cheap battery-powered detectors. Ours were actually free because the fire department was giving them away at Earth Day. Of course, so far none of them have gone off, but then my son hasn’t set any fires recently.

theabk's avatar

Thanks for all the advice! Anyone know how much the distance matters – that is, how close to the actual fire does a smoke detector have to be to detect?

Darwin's avatar

They recommend one on each floor of the house, but the thing is that the smoke has to actually contact the detector to set it off. Since fire tends to be hot, the smoke rises, so that is why detectors are on the ceiling. However, when I have watched firemen test detectors they hold a source of smoke within about 2 inches of the thing to get it to respond.

I would tend to put a detector in any rooms where you have a higher risk of fire, such as the kitchen, the furnace room, or other room where a heating element is activated, as well as the one on each floor.

In our house we made sure to put one in my son’s room. Just in case.

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