Thursday, April 22, 2010

Smoke Detectors: The Importance of Getting Yours Hardwired

Smoke Detector

The following is a guest post by Marcy Tate from

By now most Americans know the importance of installing smoke detectors.
Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, many states launched aggressive campaigns to
inform homeowners of the importance of smoke detectors. As house
fire-related deaths decreased due to the detectors’ effectiveness, Americans
got on board. Nowadays, smoke detectors have come a long way from the first battery-operated models in
the mid-1960s. Smoke detectors are now available with the option of a
hardwired installation – a feature which makes them safer and more effective
in the case of a fire.

What’s Hardwired?
Hardwired smoke detectors are wired into the electrical system in your home.
They are wired together so that if one detector warns of smoke or fire, the
others also go off. This way, all areas of your home are warned.
Additionally, hardwired smoke detectors include a battery backup feature. If
the power goes out, the battery starts working.

Why Hardwired?
Whether you have a large or small home, hardwired smoke detectors are the
way to go. Consider this scenario: You are cooking dinner on the stove and
go downstairs to the basement to change a load of laundry. You get
distracted, forget you have something cooking on the stove and a fire
starts. You are in the basement with the noise of the washing machine and
you are talking on the phone. You don’t hear the upstairs smoke alarm and
tragedy strikes. This scenario can be prevented if the smoke detectors are
hardwired. The basement smoke alarms will have sound and the fire will be

How to Install Hardwired Smoke Detectors
Installing hardwired smoke detectors should be left to a professional,
licensed electrician. Even if you are an experienced DIYer, smoke detectors
are too important to trust your own installation. Have an electrician guide
you if you insist on doing it yourself. It’s always better to be safe than
sorry: Have an electrician do it.

How to Choose a Smoke Detector
There are three kinds of smoke detectors:
• Ionization alarms- They sound very quickly when there is a flaming,
fast-moving fire.
• Photoelectric alarms- They are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires.

• Dual sensor smoke alarms- They combine ionization and photoelectric
sensing into one. In my opinion, this is the only way to go.

How Many Smoke Detectors do I Need?
The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that homeowners install smoke
detectors on every level of their home, including the basement. It’s
important to place a smoke alarm near bedrooms. In case of a fire, they will
provide an early warning to anyone sleeping.

Smoke Detector Maintenance
Your smoke detectors won’t work unless they are maintained properly. It is
crucial that you:
• Replace the batteries at least once a year.

• Replace the smoke detector every 8-10 years.

• For hardwired smoke detectors, batteries should be checked monthly and
replaced at least once a year.

• Pick a holiday, birthday or the day you switch the clocks as the day to
replace the batteries each year in your smoke detectors.

Learn more about fire safety and home fire prevention at the U.S. Fie Administration.

Marcy Tate is a home improvement blogger at Networx. She is also a featured writer at
Electricians Networks.


  1. Where to install a smoke detector and its positioning are as important as having this life saving device installed at all. Placing a smoke detector in a wrong location might delay its response to smoke or even prevent it from sounding an alarm at all.

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