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Fire Detectors/Alarms - Wired or Battery? Smart or dumb?


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Our alarms are a little older than 10 years. Okay, a lot. So it's probably time to replace them.

Is there any real reason to get smart alarms other than everything seems to be made smart these days just because?

Shouldn't I just get a 6-Pack of First Alert hardwired smoke alarms for $60 and be done with it?

I have separate CO detectors, so I don't NEED to buy a 2in1 fire/CO detectors - although that's an option too. 

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I have Nest smoke detectors but I wouldn't recommend them for how much they cost. I do like how they audibly tell you which room triggered the alarm if they go off so you know where the trouble is ("smoke in the kitchen"). But the only reason I bought them if that I like to know if something happens while I'm not home. A friend told me of a neighbor's house that burned down while the neighbors were on vacation and it gives me some peace of mind to be able to call 9-11 from wherever I am if something happens while we're gone. Maybe that's be the difference in saving the house. Anyway, that's why I did it, but for most people ifi say just get the cheapo ones. 

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13 minutes ago, FBG26 said:

I have Nest smoke detectors but I wouldn't recommend them for how much they cost. I do like how they audibly tell you which room triggered the alarm if they go off so you know where the trouble is ("smoke in the kitchen"). But the only reason I bought them if that I like to know if something happens while I'm not home. A friend told me of a neighbor's house that burned down while the neighbors were on vacation and it gives me some peace of mind to be able to call 9-11 from wherever I am if something happens while we're gone. Maybe that's be the difference in saving the house. Anyway, that's why I did it, but for most people ifi say just get the cheapo ones. 

Yeah, ours are tied into our alarm system so that it can be monitored remotely.  You obviously don't get that with simple wired detectors that cost $60.  But that's fine and not truly necessary for most.  I think it depends on family and lifestyle for it to matter. 

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Get the inexpensive, hardwired smoke/co2 alarms. 

I've got the usual spec I use at my desk..I'll update this post when I'm back. 

These aren't things off beauty

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Some systems (I think certain Echo devices and perhaps Simplisafe) can listen for smoke alarms and handle the remote notification part.  I wish the cheapos had a room indicator for battery changes or alarms though.

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Mine are around 18 years old and starting to fail. I bought these a while back on Amazon but have procrastinated in installing them. No CO2 detector. I guess i need something seperate there? Never had them before.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O8MVW44/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fabc_WKBA6YCGCX2R88CFVWKY?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

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Built house this past year. Only down fall with the wired smoke detectors is when one goes off you don’t know what room. 
 

We had bad detector and it kept setting the entire house off where whole house just keeps saying fire. 
 

Solution is I unplugged all of them and ran them all on batteries to find out the bad one. Found it last month. Still running them in batteries. 
 

If I were to do it again I’d just leave them on their own and battery. Not integrated all into one system. Unless the system can tell me what smoke detector is going off. 

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Y'all with old alarms: keep an eye on their expiration date.  I think the smoke sensor had a 1/2 life or something...they generally go bad after 7-10 years.

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13 hours ago, Andy Dufresne said:

Our alarms are a little older than 10 years. Okay, a lot. So it's probably time to replace them.

Is there any real reason to get smart alarms other than everything seems to be made smart these days just because?

Shouldn't I just get a 6-Pack of First Alert hardwired smoke alarms for $60 and be done with it?

I have separate CO detectors, so I don't NEED to buy a 2in1 fire/CO detectors - although that's an option too. 

I'm a PM so I deal with these things by the hundreds.  The smoke/CO detectors seem to crap the bed much more often than smoke alone.  I'd do the plug in CO detector and have the ceiling alarms be smoke only.  You can get them separate for a total of $25-$30 but they are closer to $50 in combo form.  Nothing like tossing $50 drop the drain when one function fails.

I'm also a big fan of the 10 year battery that you don't have to replace.  Freaking 9v batts run close to $5 a piece these days.  If you replace once a year that's $50 in batts over the life of the alarm.

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17 hours ago, El Floppo said:

Get the inexpensive, hardwired smoke/co2 alarms. 

I've got the usual spec I use at my desk..I'll update this post when I'm back. 

These aren't things off beauty

This. We have them in our house and all the Wyze cams have audio so in an instance that an alarm is sounding, we know about it right away if we’re not there. 

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7 hours ago, BassNBrew said:

I'm a PM so I deal with these things by the hundreds.  The smoke/CO detectors seem to crap the bed much more often than smoke alone.  I'd do the plug in CO detector and have the ceiling alarms be smoke only.  You can get them separate for a total of $25-$30 but they are closer to $50 in combo form.  Nothing like tossing $50 drop the drain when one function fails.

I'm also a big fan of the 10 year battery that you don't have to replace.  Freaking 9v batts run close to $5 a piece these days.  If you replace once a year that's $50 in batts over the life of the alarm.

 

6 hours ago, Andy Dufresne said:

So get the smoke detector only unit with the 10 year battery (I.e NOT hardwired).

Something like this, then?

Sorry I forgot, andy.

I'll check when I get in to the office.

Curious from bnb if this is one of the units that fails. I generally never hear about lifespan and function of the things I spec on the front end, so this will be great info. 

I prefer the all in ones so they don't clutter the ceilings of very expensive homes with what are inherently ugly devices. Aside from the Nests...but locally, at least as of a couple years ago, the main insurers for art havent covered homes with Nest.

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I have the first alert z-wave detectors that work with my Smartthings hub. The only real benefits I can see to having a smart system is that it tells me when the battery is getting low without the need for the annoying chirp and I do have the option to turn them off from my phone when my wife sets them off cooking bacon (she really sucks at that after all these years...)

The beeping is pretty loud and high pitched. You will not sleep through it. Literally makes our one dog going into anxiety shakes if it goes off.

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1 hour ago, El Floppo said:

 

Sorry I forgot, andy.

I'll check when I get in to the office.

Curious from bnb if this is one of the units that fails. I generally never hear about lifespan and function of the things I spec on the front end, so this will be great info. 

I prefer the all in ones so they don't clutter the ceilings of very expensive homes with what are inherently ugly devices. Aside from the Nests...but locally, at least as of a couple years ago, the main insurers for art havent covered homes with Nest.

These are the combo ones I've had more issues with, not specifically this brand.https://www.homedepot.com/p/Kidde-Firex-Battery-Operated-Combination-Smoke-and-Carbon-Monoxide-Detector-with-Voice-Alarm-and-Front-Load-Battery-Door-21029923/204741459  I've had maybe a 0.5% fail rate of the combo units over the years inside of 10 years and can't remember a non-combo unit failing inside of 10 years.

@Andy Dufresne I like the hardwired with the 10 yr battery https://www.homedepot.com/p/Kidde-10-Year-Worry-Free-Hardwired-Smoke-Detector-with-Ionization-Sensor-and-Battery-Backup-21029878/205422307  Plug in CO detector (Lowes has cheaper options than HD) https://www.lowes.com/pd/First-Alert-CO605-2-Pack-Carbon-Monoxide-Detector-with-Battery-Back-Up/1000992028

Here's the cheapest option for hardwired with battery backup https://www.lowes.com/pd/First-Alert-6-Pack-AC-Hardwired-120-Volt-Smoke-Detector/3031840  I just prefer the opening the extra $20 on the front end and not having to deal with changing batteries after every tenant for 10 years.

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3 hours ago, El Floppo said:
10 hours ago, Andy Dufresne said:

So get the smoke detector only unit with the 10 year battery (I.e NOT hardwired).

Something like this, then?

Sorry I forgot, andy.

I'll check when I get in to the office.

BRK sc9120b is the model I've used a go-to.

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4 hours ago, Shatner! said:

Wish I had known about the 10 year battery ones when I bought. Changing detector batteries is annoying.

The worst. And it seems like theyre made to always expire in the middle of the night, just to #### with us.

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1 hour ago, El Floppo said:

The worst. And it seems like theyre made to always expire in the middle of the night, just to #### with us.

Yeah and pulling the battery doesn’t shut them up. Some type of memory will keep them beeping for hours

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7 hours ago, El Floppo said:

I'd be interested in @BassNBrew opinion, tbh.

 

Fwiw...the prettier one I use that flush mounts- Bosch fcp-500

Those are the cheapies we use. Don’t look sexy but I have homes with 8 detectors. A $40 detector with $25 labor charge doesn’t please a lot of my clients. I try to move them towards the 10 yr to avoid an $80 charge between every tenant.   I’d imagine in your field you would need a solution that is more flush mount or at least has a better shape

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I had a CO2 detector in the house already when I bought it, since it's required by code.

At some point, I replaced the smoke detector next to it with a smart one that also included CO2 sensors on the side. So I ended up with two CO2 detectors in the same area.

 

One night, in the middle of the night of course, the old one that came with the house started chirping weirdly. I yanked it and the guide on the back of the thing said it was just a low battery. It just chirped in a different pattern than I'd heard before because it was some off-brand model. I pulled out the battery and figured I'd replace it in the morning when I felt like scrounging through the supply closet for the right size. 

Except an hour later... the other detector next to it also started chirping. So now it's 3AM and I'm getting my second CO2 warning of the night. Yanked the second detector and, yep, low battery warning chirp. 

Wasn't sure if I should believe in the improbability and go back to sleep, or, open all the windows and vent the house. I was too tired, so I just went back to sleep. I woke up and didn't die, so, guess there was no CO2 leak. It was just a wildly improbable series of events. Changed the batteries in both in the AM and neither made a peep after that. 

 

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44 minutes ago, BassNBrew said:

Those are the cheapies we use. Don’t look sexy but I have homes with 8 detectors. A $40 detector with $25 labor charge doesn’t please a lot of my clients. I try to move them towards the 10 yr to avoid an $80 charge between every tenant.   I’d imagine in your field you would need a solution that is more flush mount or at least has a better shape

I haven't researched them in a bit...but I found that aside from the Nest and that Bosch I memtioned, they're all basically dogs. Put them in a corner of the ceiling and be done with it...pretend they're not there.

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