• Fire alarm with LED read-out?

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  • Last night, at 1am, everyone in the house was woken up by the loud beep of our networked fire alarms. A single beep means something different from a short sequence of 2 or 3 beeps (which is different from the constant beeping I assume you hear when there's an actual fire). The problem is, at 1am it's hard to remember what a single beep means. Does anyone know of a fire alarm that has some kind of display that would tell you what the issue is? EG, it beeps once and the display says "unit 3 -- low battery".

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    Question by Camille Cloutier

Yes, get a "real" alarm system with wireless or smart hardwired smoke detectors. An esay to install residential system could include:

http://www.security.honeywell.com/hsc/products/wireless/sm/201968.html http://www.security.honeywell.com/hsc/products/control/wi/ly/283765.html

Answer by sdirge

Quoted from Consumer Reports:

Although none of the smoke or CO alarms we tested did everything well individually, you can combine various types for optimal protection. Here are the types of alarms to consider.

CO alarms We found wide variations in performance, with some models responding almost twice as quickly as others in our tests. But any CO detector is better than none at all.

Ionization smoke alarms The ones we tested were all excellent at detecting the small particles typical of fast, flaming fires, but all were poor at detecting smoky, smoldering fires. Ionization units are generally prone to false alarms from burnt food and steam, so don't mount them near a kitchen or bath.

Photoelectric smoke alarms The ones we tested were all excellent at detecting the large particles typical of smoky, smoldering fires, but all were poor at detecting fast, flaming fires. Photoelectric units are less prone to false alarms from burnt food and steam, so you can use them around the kitchen or bath.

Dual-sensor smoke alarms These combine ionization and photoelectric technology to save you the hassle of installing two separate smoke detectors. All the ones we tested were excellent at detecting smoldering and flaming fires. But you'll still need separate CO units.

Combination smoke/CO alarms These can detect smoke as well as CO. But those we tested were excellent at detecting either a flaming or a smoldering fire, but not both. If you buy a combination CO and ionization alarm, we recommend that you also get a separate photoelectric unit, or vice versa.

Power source Hard-wired smoke and CO alarms tie into your home's wiring and require professional installation (about $250 per unit). Battery-only alarms are simple to install, and they work during a power failure, but most batteries require yearly replacement. Lithium batteries may last the life of the alarm. There are also plug-in smoke alarms. The drawback there is that electric outlets are typically low on the wall, while the optimal placement is on or near the ceiling.

Battery backup A backup battery for hard-wired smoke and CO alarms offers security in case of a power failure.

Low-battery warning All battery-powered smoke and CO units warn you when the battery is low. Some provide warning chirps, a "low battery" voice message, or a visual display.

Interconnectability You can link some smoke and CO alarms so that all go on when any one is triggered. If a fire starts or CO rises to an unsafe level anywhere, the alarms will alert people throughout the house. Some newer homes have wiring already in place to link the alarms. In a home without such wiring, you can buy alarms that interconnect wirelessly. Interconnecting alarms are a vital safety feature in a home with multiple levels. A standalone alarm may be adequate for a small, single-level home.

Digital CO display This important feature displays CO concentrations in parts per million, even when the concentrations are below the level that triggers the alarm. CO alarms certified by UL must go off at no less than 70 ppm, but as little as 30 ppm may harm heart patients, pregnant women, and children. The display can give you an early heads up if the CO level is inching up or is higher than usual. Some also show the peak level since they were reset, warning you of any spikes that occurred while you were away. Expect to pay a little extra for this feature: $5 or $10 for standalone units, slightly more for units that can be interconnected.

Hush button To silence a nuisance smoke alarm, pressing a hush button is more convenient than disabling the unit, and it precludes the possibility of forgetting to turn the power back on. All the smoke alarms we tested had this feature.

Strobe alarm Strobe lights are the best warning for the hearing impaired. Some smoke alarms have an integral strobe light, and some accept add-on strobes.

Voice alarm Children tend to sleep deeper than adults and may not awaken to a beeping sound. Some smoke and combination CO/smoke alarms use a voice command, but it's not clear whether that's the most effective way to wake children. According to one study, many pre-teenagers who slept through tone alarms awoke to the sound of their mother's prerecorded voice. But more research is needed.

Remote-control mute Some CO and combination CO/smoke alarms can work with a television remote control to silence a nuisance alarm.

Safety lights Some smoke alarms provide path illumination, a plus in the dark.

Overall security system You can incorporate some smoke and CO detectors into a system that sounds an alarm outside and inside the house. It can also have a monitoring service notify the police or fire department or even call your cell phone.or even call your cell phone.


  • First Alert OneLInk SCO501CN $70
  • First Alert CO615 $40
  • Kidde PI2000 $30
  • First Alert SA9120BCN $15
Answer by courtney ostaff
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