Smoke alarms can help save lives by providing early warning signs that there is smoke or fire inside your home. That extra bit of time a smoke alarm provides can be vital in being able to get you, your family and your pets out of harm’s way.
But, which one should you choose and does it comply with the law?
There are three main types of smoke alarms available today which detect smoke and fires in different ways.
- 9v Battery powered
- Main powered with replaceable 9v battery backup (hardwired)
- Main powered with sealed lithium battery backup (hardwired)
Each state and territory in Australia has different rules and regulations regarding which smoke alarm to use, how many are required and where they need to be installed. Speak with your local O’Brien Electrical expert to help you comply with your local laws.
So, what are the differences between hard-wired and battery-operated smoke alarms?
9v Battery powered
The most common battery-operated smoke alarms can be powered by a 9V battery. They are cheaper to buy and easier to install compared with hard-wired alarms as they don’t require caballing work. However, you do need to change the battery annually.
You can also purchase smoke alarms that come with a pre-installed 10-year lithium battery, which means you don’t need to replace the battery each year. These types of smoke alarms will last as long as the battery and the whole unit should be replaced every 10 years.
Regardless of the battery life length, both types of battery-operated smoke alarms should be regularly tested.
Hardwired – with replaceable 9v battery backup
Hard-wired smoke alarms need to be connected to the 240V mains power in your home, but also come with a 9V battery as a back-up power supply. Having two sources of power make it a more reliable smoke alarm option compared with just the battery-operated version. The battery will still need to be replaced each year and tested regularly. Hard-wired alarms, therefore, are more expensive as they require installation by a qualified licenced electrician.
Hardwired – with sealed lithium battery backup
Hard-wired smoke alarms also come with a 10-year lithium back-up battery option. The battery is sealed inside so it can’t be changed but it should give you 10-years of continuous protection. Even though it still needs to be tested regularly.
While a hard-wired smoke alarm is powered by the electrical grid in your home, in the case of an outage it will still be powered by the backup battery. Hard-wired smoke alarms must be installed near an electrical source, therefore, if the unit cannot be patched into existing wires caballing will need to be run either behind or along a wall.
Fires can pose a serious risk so it’s important you make the right decisions to protect the things that you value the most. Have a look at our FAQ section below. If you have any other questions, please ask us.
FAQ’s for Smoke Alarms
What is the difference between ionisation and photoelectric smoke alarms?
There are two key types of smoke alarms available today which detect smoke and fires in different ways. Ionisation alarms are more responsive to fast-flaming fires that don’t produce a lot of smoke. Photoelectric alarms respond faster to fires that produce lots of smoke from smouldering fires. You can also purchase dual-sensor alarms which contain both ionisation and photoelectric sensors which will detect both types of fires.
What are the smoke alarm regulations?
Each state and territory in Australia has different rules and regulations regarding which smoke alarm to use, how many are required and where they need to be installed. Our team of Electricians have locally owned and operated businesses and keep up to date with the latest smoke alarm requirements in your state. So, if you’re in doubt, just ask us.
What can I do to help prevent a house fire?
Installing the right smoke alarm for you is a great step in helping to protect the safety of your home and family. However, preventing fires in the first instance is of course the best approach. Our team of electricians have pulled together a checklist for households to help you be more proactive.
- Don’t leave open flames unattended (inside or outside), whether that be the stovetop, burning candles, the fireplace, the BBQ etc.
- Avoid placing any items close to heaters or over heater outlets
- Turn off your power points when not in use.
- Regularly clean the lint in appliances like your clothes dryer and ceiling fans.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children.
- Have an escape plan for the family.
Do I need to maintain my smoke alarm?
Choosing the right alarm is just as important as putting a plan in place to test and check it regularly. Each smoke alarm is different, so it is best to check with your O’Brien Electrician on what to do for your alarm. However, some common things you could do are pushing the ‘test’ button on your smoke alarm monthly, vacuuming the dust away every 6 months and changing the battery annually.
Our experienced team of O’Brien Electricians are here to help. They will inspect your home to identify any potential electrical hazards, help you choose a smoke alarm that is the right fit for you, complete the installation and help with maintenance advice.