• Best Smoke Alarm?

    Answers Given

    Answers Favorited

  • Typical Firex-type plastic smoke detectors bleep inexplicably, usually at 3 am, are hard to get to, to shut off. I end up removing them, leaving unsightly wires dangling, and with no protection. I want durability, maybe a remote to silence it? I know to use the ultra-life batteries, but that's not enough.

    8 0
    Question by maraiah

"... leaving unsightly wires dangling" which is your cue to CHANGE THE BATTERY.

You could go to Radio Shack and buy two 9V plugs and a simple switch. Solder the switch between the two 9V plugs and thread through the smoke alarm opening (maybe drill a hole). Plug on end into the battery, the other into the smoke alarm's 9V plug, close the smoke alarm. If it goes off, you can silence with the switch.

Answer by christopher

Thanks Christopher for trying to help, but the wires are dangling because I"ve removed the round box, in despair. I'm not up to soldering etc. I'm still hoping there is a good quality item I can simply buy! What I"ve got is supposed to run on house current, w battery back up, I think. All the more reason the battery should last for almost ever, I'd think. For now, I took one down, vacuum cleaned it, put in a fresh ultra battery 9v, and then the PLUG wouldn't stay in, to remount it to the eeiling fixture. I"m pretty good with gadgetry, but this just seems to have worn out, after 15 years of a peaceful life: flimsy plastic cheap construction.

Answer by maraiah

An alternative to soldering is to use wire nuts (get the grey ones at Home Depot, smallest blister pack you can find) then tape with electrical tape. But, if this isn't for you... that's fine.

I agree with your instinct: if it is powered by house current the battery backup should be ready at all times, and ideally a rechargeable battery at that. I've always wondered why thermostats weren't designed like that myself.


Answer by christopher

The best smoke detectors I know are made by Merten:


They have mains powered version as well, and they can even be networked, so they work together. You can also attach external alarms, such as sirens and such. They're not cheap though.

Answer by jeroen94704

Hey there Maraih

How old are the alarms? Looks like the requirement on replacement is 10 yrs (possibly sooner if the alarm / detector) has been exposed to lots of airborne dust / grease. The alarms I describe below will chirp every 30 seconds after 7 years of service indicating it is time to change the unit.

As an electrician I have been installing Kidde AC Hardwired Combination Smoke / Carbon Monoxide Alarms with 9V battery back up for a couple years and they work well. Should be relatively simple to install, 3 wire nuts/ marettes with connector per unit, with a base that will attach to the existing electrical box in your ceiling You can buy them at your local big box or electrical supplier, roughly $50 + tax. Do a search for "How to replace hardwired smoke co detectors" in your search engine of choice and you should be good to go.

Best of luck,


Answer by jon harris

Smoke alarms don't last forever. Cleaning may help a bit, but may not. The location is important because dust, steam (residue) and vaporised gunk build up over time. Wired-in is better from a safety point of view but this is basically because people remove the batteries of battery-only models when they go off and forget to replace the battery. Wired-in alarms only use the battery for backup in case of a power outage, but test the battery voltage every 30 minutes, or so.

No battery lasts for ever, so after several years a rechargeable battery will need to be replaced anyway. This means that a rechargeable is marginal value because you need the charge circuitry to the product. Rechargeables are most economic were they get a lot of charge cycles in their lifetime eg in a phone.

Answer by jimbirch

I'm working on this project myself right now. My smoke alarms reached their 5-7 year limit, which is from date of manufacturer, sometimes much earlier than date of purchase. After calling my local fire department for information, we opted to replace our combination alarms with dedicated smoke alarms, then added dedicated CO alarms in sleeping areas. We were told that the dedicated CO detectors are capable of detecting lower levels of CO. Our new ones plug into a power outlet and have battery backup.

The new smoke alarms we purchased are hard wired with battery backup, as were the ones we replaced. We were told by our firefighting expert that the better ones are dual sensor. The following is from the FEMA website:

"What Types of Smoke Alarms Are Available? There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric. Ionization alarms sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs. Photoelectric alarms are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires. There are also combination smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms. Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different yet potentially fatal fires, and because homeowners cannot predict what type of fire might start in a home, the USFA recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric or dual sensor smoke alarms."

Hope this helps.

Answer by xeniagaze

Note that fire alarms drain batteries very quickly where humidity is high (several months in some cases). Example locations include Hawaii, south-east US, etc. The only solution I can think of would be the mains-powered models.

I would guess it has something to do with the constant presence of moisture near the sensor, which somehow causes the alarm to always be in a high-drain state.

Answer by ariviera
« Back to Previous Page
Cool tools really work.

A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on this site are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. We post things we like and ignore the rest. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted.

Tell us what you love.