Hard Wired Smoke Alarms | What You Need to Know

A hardwired smoke alarm is now compulsory in many places. The smoke detector or alarm issues an audible or visual alarm, and more than one detector can be linked throughout the house. This gives all the occupants warning of a fire and time to evacuate.

If you live in a large apartment block the alarm notifies a central control panel enabling an automatic call out to the fire service. Often this can be a false alarm, but at law, the fire service is required to attend.

Benefits of a Hardwired Smoke Alarm

If you live in a house with hardwired smoke detectors it decreases your risk of dying in a fire by 50%. Unfortunately, we often hear that people die in a fire because there were no working batteries in the fire alarm.

If you wonder what a smoke detector looks like they are small round plastic disks about 6 inches in diameter that senses smoke through photoelectric or ionization. The hardwired units have battery backup, as in a fire usually the power is out. If you have an interlinked unit in your home once smoke is detected, all the alarms will trigger, and at this stage, it is important to evacuate your family.

Types of Smoke Detector

Ionization Smoke alarm

The smoke detector consists of two ionization chambers, with one open to the air. An electrical charge on the ions allows a current between the chambers. This is what detects the smoke when there is a fire in your house. Ionization doesn’t draw a huge current, and you only need to insert a small battery for a backup power supply, and this should be changed twice a year. The ionization smoke detectors are the cheapest option.

A photoelectric smoke detector

A photoelectric smoke detector projects a beam of infrared light and is a bit more complicated than the ionization detector. Photoelectric detectors are usually used in larger areas. They are highly responsive to smoldering fires, like a cigarette in a rubbish bin, and give an adequate warning for all fires.

Differences in Detectors

The Canadian Fire Alarm Association says that an ionization alarm is best at detecting fires with smaller particles and flames. The sort of fire that may start in your home if the kids are playing with a lighter or matches. While the photoelectric smoke detector responds to smoldering fires where a high airflow may be present. This means that photoelectric smoke alarms are going to be more suitable for Residential Care facilities where early evacuation of residents is essential in saving lives.

Manufacturers are now designing multi-criteria devices because it was proven that sometimes ionization alarms are not prompt enough in issuing a warning to the household. Some households with larger areas may need to install both photoelectric and ionization alarms, or even laser alarms.

Where to Purchase a Hardwired Smoke Alarm

If you want to purchase a simple ionization smoke detector you can do so in a hardware store where many different brands are available.

However, to properly protect your family you should get an expert assessment from a smoke alarm company who will come to your house, assess needs and install hardwired smoke alarms. The alarms will be correctly positioned in different parts of your home based on legislated requirements using interconnected and photoelectric smoke alarms.

After the alarms are installed the company will arrange a maintenance schedule to properly maintain the alarms. Your smoke alarm must apply with the necessary standards. If you live in a large apartment block they attend regularly to check the alarms and fire doors in your building. Annually they also conduct an evacuation to see how fast the residents are able to leave the building in case of fire.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hardwired Smoke Alarms

1. Does my smoke alarm need to be hardwired?

Yes, to comply with recent building standards smoke alarms must be hardwired.

2. How do I maintain my hardwired smoke alarm?

  • Test the alarm weekly
  • Clean it every month.
  • Replace the backup battery twice a year.
  • Upgrade the entire alarm every ten years.

3. Do Hardwired smoke alarms need a special box?

Depending on the fire rating of the surface you are attaching to, you may need a plastic box, like a single gang box, or a round box if you can find one. However, if the experts are installing it they will determine your needs.