Does anyone, anywhere, like their wired smoke detector?
November 7, 2019 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Our smoke/CO detectors are at the end of their lives. Time for new ones. The thing is, everyone hates their smoke/CO detector.

Here is what we would naturally get -- it's a newer model of the ones we have now.

They are wired directly into the ceiling with 9v back up, on a circuit -- so if one goes off, they all go off.

We have had arguments with these smoke detectors in the past, however I can't remember any smoke detectors in my life that haven't been some sort of problem.

Is this the kind of product that is 'yes, they are all a pain, but just buy it'?

If you do like a smoke/CO detector, have you had it for more than five years?
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
We have that sort of hardwired with battery back-up and it's a decidedly mixed bag. One went off for no good reason (dust? spiders? who knows) at 3am and they all did. Once we realized the house wasn't on fire it was a tremendous pain to get them to stop - pulling the battery out doesn't do it and pulling wires stopped the one but multiples kept going. And recently we realized that they were all at the end of their 10 year lifetime but the new ones weren't exactly the same form factor so reinstalling wasn't as simple as it should have been. If I had the choice going forward I'd avoid the wired ones - not convinced they are safer as long as one changes batteries regularly .
posted by leslies at 2:40 PM on November 7

We ended up replacing ours with the Nest Protect smoke alarms, because you can silence them from the app, which is something that sounds really, really nice after you discover at 3 in the morning that you don't own a ladder that allows you to reach the smoke alarm with the low battery chirp set into the 10' tray ceiling in your master bedroom.
posted by telophase at 2:50 PM on November 7 [6 favorites]

(We now own a ladder that tall, having purchased it at 9AM the next morning.)
posted by telophase at 2:51 PM on November 7 [10 favorites]

Just a consideration: new non-hardwired smoke detectors have a non-replaceable 10 year battery in them. By the time they expire, your options should be some kind of super future shit and you won't have to think about it until then.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:56 PM on November 7 [10 favorites]

new non-hardwired smoke detectors have a non-replaceable 10 year battery in them

I tried to install two different non-lithium (old fashioned AA) battery/wired combined smoke detectors the other week, both would not stop beeping “low battery” no matter which kind of new batteries we put in. Tried the non-wired smoke detector with the 10-year lithium battery (the only one they had at the hardware store) and it works perfectly (it was silent until I set it off with burned pizza this weekend).
posted by sallybrown at 3:03 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]

The manual for my wired smoke detectors said that you should blow the sensor out with compressed air annually. That was annoying, I bought 10-year battery operated detectors when it was time for new devices.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 3:51 PM on November 7

Last time I checked, which was quite a while ago, hardwired detectors were required, at least in new construction. So, it's not like a building inspector is going to be coming through your place to check, but if you already have them it's probably a code violation to have something else. I don't know if that would be something that comes up in an inspection if you decide to sell your place.
posted by LionIndex at 4:04 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]

My experience with the "ten year" lithium battery smoke detectors is that we were not able to achieve ten years; in one case it was something more like 3 - 4. I was in a situation much as yours and bought the replacement ones with the form factor that was slightly different for no real reason, and they have worked OK. (Your smoke detector is equipped with a safety feature in which it will randomly beep once it has detected that it has reached end-of-life! This beep will sound very similar to the low battery beep! is a poor design decision).
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:21 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]

We have hardwired detectors all through the house. The only downside that I have encountered is that they seem to be overly sensitive. For example, a plumber was soldering a new pipe connection and the alarms kept going off.

Other than that (and making sure I have 9-volt batteries handy in case one of them starts chirping, meaning its battery is dead) I really have no problems with them.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:02 PM on November 7

In addition to what others have mentioned above, I have found it difficult to find someone willing to address issues with hardwired detectors. One of mine kept going off and triggering all the others, and every electrician I spoke to pointed to the manufacturer as the problem ("it's probably a dud") and the manufacturer pointed to the electrical as the problem. Electricians were also unwilling to take such a small job. So I capped that fixture and now run a battery-only detector in its place.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:04 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]

I replaced ours a couple-three years ago. Lessons learned:

* There are two basic sensor technologies, ionization and photoelectric. We have a two-story house with about 10 detectors, so I chose to mix things up and ensure I had both types on each level. I wish I knew whether that was actually wise, but it made sense to me. Maybe somebody will chime in.

* I saved a couple bucks per unit by getting the ones without the front-side battery door. As it turns out, this was foolhardy, because the new units required an adapter to plug into the existing wiring harnesses, and the adapter partially occludes the battery door on the back side, so the adapter must be removed to replace the battery, which not only provides Bonus Annoyance during 3AM battery replacement, but tends to destroy the fragile plastic teeth on the adapter.
posted by Rat Spatula at 6:52 PM on November 7

The British Fire Service has some pretty clear advice, which says that you can use Optical, Ionisation or Heat sensors depending on where you locate them. They have a slight preference for Optical sensors, because they're less likely to be turned off by the occupants for false alarms when the toast gets burnt.
posted by Eleven at 8:03 AM on November 8

Your smoke detector is equipped with a safety feature in which it will randomly beep once it has detected that it has reached end-of-life!

:( Two beeps.

And there are four detectors.

It doesn't really sound like anyone loves theirs so I think we're just going to go with the next model of our current unloved model. I do like the 9V back up just because it forces us to pay them some mind on occasion. Re the app ones: we are accumulating an awful lot of app controlled or app-driven devices or task-assistants and I would just like something with a bit more immediate transparency in this case.

Thanks everyone for helping us figure this out.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:36 AM on November 8

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