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ArgMeMatey

join:2001-08-09
Milwaukee, WI
kudos:2
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How often to change smoke detector batteries

How often have you been changing your smoke detector batteries?

Do you do it on a schedule or wait until they chirp?

I have eleven hardwired interconnected smoke detectors in my house. Last week and this week, I started getting chirps and I replaced two Energizer batteries that were marked February 2005. So that's over seven years on a 9-volt.

NFPA says to do it once a year, apparently. No one in their right mind is going to argue with that since there are frequently stories about people dying in houses where the detectors were disabled or had dead batteries.
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Ken
Premium,MVM
join:2003-06-16
Markle, IN

1 recommendation

Yes you are supposed to test the detectors every month, change the batteries every year, and replace the detectors themselves every X years per the manufacturer. Typically I have seen 7-10 years on most of them. Now with that said, I don't know anyone that actually does all of that.


FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
Once a year and put in the good stuff (bunny or copper). Haven't had good experiences with el-cheapos.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
This is one thing I never understood - what's the use of having AC powered detectors (apart from linking) if you have to change the batteries every year?

I change ours when it chirps, and the detectors were changed last year... turns out they expired 1 year before we bought the house in 2007. So add that to your checklist if you buy a house - check and change (if necessary) the smoke detectors.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by fifty nine:

This is one thing I never understood - what's the use of having AC powered detectors (apart from linking) if you have to change the batteries every year?

Why does your alarm clock have a battery when it also plugs into a wall? Why do you have flashlights/candles when you have lamps that plug into a wall?

Two studies in the 80s and 90s found that in 69% of house fires where the alarm didn't sound, the cause was dead/missing battery or other power source issue. People "borrow" the 9V battery for other purposes, or it just dies and they forget about it. Neither of those things are an issue with AC powered smoke detectors. But AC powered smoke detectors aren't very useful if the power's out.


fphall
The Guardian
Premium
join:2003-11-01
Bristol, CT

1 recommendation

reply to ArgMeMatey
Twice a year, when we change the clocks forward or back.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
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1 recommendation

reply to ArgMeMatey
I'm guilty of waiting til they chirp. I do "test" them more often. I guess my cheapness won't allow me to throw away a good battery. I've found that since I switched to wired, the batteries last for several years.
--
...because I care.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
reply to ArgMeMatey
Feb 2005, you are about 8 months from needing replacement units.
--
...because I care.

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
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Reviews:
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reply to ArgMeMatey
Our smoke detectors which are wirelessly connected to our monitored alarm system have lithium batteries that are supposed to be good for 7 years.

If the batteries go low or the unit fails the system will let us know, as I believe it periodically checks the status of all detectors/sensors in the system to determine if they are still "alive".


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to ArgMeMatey
Most fire dept's recommend changing the batteries twice a year, at the start and end of daylight savings... Probably a little excessive, to be honest; but better that way, then the other. I keep the batteries I take out of the smoke detector, and use them in other things, as not to waste them...

There are some lithium batteries out now that last 7-10 years, as well.

No matter how they are powered, smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years at a minimum, 7 years for CO detectors... Some detectors now include a lifetime counter, and start chirping when 7-10 years (as appropriate) has elapsed...
Expand your moderator at work

ke4pym
Premium
join:2004-07-24
Charlotte, NC
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reply to ArgMeMatey

Re: How often to change smoke detector batteries

When they chirp. At the price of batteries these days? No way I'm replacing them 2x a year. I have 6 of the things in my house.

I've got neighbors who go YEARS (no joke, had to listen to it) without changing batteries AND they listen to the thing chirp every 45 seconds.


Jtmo
Premium
join:2001-05-20
Novato, CA
reply to ArgMeMatey
My families lives are worth more than a few lousy 9 volt batteries. Your family may not be as valuable.
That, and they ALWAYS fail in the middle of the night.
If you have an electrical outage that causes a fire, you will need that battery backup.

Since most fires are in the winter, I change them and the CO detector each fall change in time. And, I write the date on them.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to ke4pym
said by ke4pym:

When they chirp. At the price of batteries these days? No way I'm replacing them 2x a year. I have 6 of the things in my house.

I've got neighbors who go YEARS (no joke, had to listen to it) without changing batteries AND they listen to the thing chirp every 45 seconds.

I've concluded using Duracell or Energizer batteries changing them once/year is fine and perhaps overkill. I have 5 and one of those has a light so it takes 2 batteries. I've yet had any of them chirp and all test ok.


SmokChsr
Who let the magic smoke out?
Premium
join:2006-03-17
Saint Augustine, FL

1 recommendation

reply to ArgMeMatey
Twice a year is overkill. Once a year is fine, recommended for when you "Fall back" (this also used to fall in October, which is Fire Safety month).

Personally, I test most of the detectors once a month, the one in the kitchen gets tested at least weekly by real smoke, and replace on chirps. I've got enough detectors that I'm not relying on any one device. I've checked several detectors that were chirping and found no degradation in their sensing capability, and each would alarm for at least 3 minutes. (sorry I don't know how long they would actually last, 3 minutes was all I could take).

My pet peeve with new units, that darn 3 slow beeps pause, repeat. The old ones that did the fast interrupted sonalert tone would wake me up in milliseconds. The new ones have a hard time even getting my attention.


cableties
Premium
join:2005-01-27
reply to TheMG
said by TheMG:

Our smoke detectors which are wirelessly connected to our monitored alarm system have lithium batteries that are supposed to be good for 7 years.
...

Lithium batteries (9v) have a shelf-life of 7-10years. But in use, it maybe less than half. Which, is still 3-5x longer than regular 9v.
I may try that option.

Which brings me too, how does one dispose of the lithium battery? Do you trash them, or take to recycler or disposal at home depot/lowes/Rshack?
--
Splat


cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
reply to ArgMeMatey
I change them when they chirp. They seem to last some 2-3 years. The detector downstairs gets a real test every few months as it's near the kitchen
When one chirps I change them all as the others are about to die soon.


tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
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reply to nunya
said by nunya:

I've found that since I switched to wired, the batteries last for several years.

I'm in the same boat. We have three wired units, About 5 years ago replaced them with combo wired battery backup units and added a CO sensor.

I try to follow the "Fall Back" battery change rule but don't always remember. Have not had them beep due to low battery.

/tom


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to cdru
said by cdru:

said by fifty nine:

This is one thing I never understood - what's the use of having AC powered detectors (apart from linking) if you have to change the batteries every year?

Why does your alarm clock have a battery when it also plugs into a wall? Why do you have flashlights/candles when you have lamps that plug into a wall?

Absolutely. Those are BACKUP batteries that you don't change every year.

Two studies in the 80s and 90s found that in 69% of house fires where the alarm didn't sound, the cause was dead/missing battery or other power source issue. People "borrow" the 9V battery for other purposes, or it just dies and they forget about it. Neither of those things are an issue with AC powered smoke detectors. But AC powered smoke detectors aren't very useful if the power's out.

Then you might as well just make them all battery powered and not go through the expense of having them wired.

If you "borrow" the 9v battery from a wired detector, the detector will keep chirping.

Changing it once a year seems acceptable. Changing the battery twice a year? Seems like duracell trying to drum up business.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to Jtmo
said by Jtmo:

My families lives are worth more than a few lousy 9 volt batteries. Your family may not be as valuable.
That, and they ALWAYS fail in the middle of the night.
If you have an electrical outage that causes a fire, you will need that battery backup.

Since most fires are in the winter, I change them and the CO detector each fall change in time. And, I write the date on them.

I have 8 smoke detectors in the house - one in each bedroom and one on each floor by the stairs. If all of them fail to sound, then I'm probably dead anyway.

Changing batteries twice a year IS overkill. You're doing nothing to enhance safety, and everything to fatten the pockets of battery manufacturers.

I test mine every month. They work.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to fifty nine
said by fifty nine:

Absolutely. Those are BACKUP batteries that you don't change every year.

Manufacturers blanket suggestion is to replace them when you change clocks for daylight savings time. It's likely far more frequently then needed unless you routinely burn your dinner. It's merely a suggestion just like changing your oil at 3 months-3000 miles. You can probably go quite a bit longer, even years. But replacing them at some interval, even if the battery has significant usable life left in them is far better then forgetting to change them, relying on a chirp that may not happen, and living with the consequences.

Then you might as well just make them all battery powered and not go through the expense of having them wired.

And none of mine are. And I bet most aren't. But it's an option. It never hurts to have options and backups.

If you "borrow" the 9v battery from a wired detector, the detector will keep chirping.

Right...but if it's only a 9V detector and you borrow it, it doesn't. The end goal is to make sure that you're protected regardless if one of power source is non operational. They figure you'd notice if you don't have AC. And if the battery is missing or low, chirping to make you replace it.

Changing it once a year seems acceptable. Changing the battery twice a year? Seems like duracell trying to drum up business.

Possibly. But here's what First Alert says:
quote:
How long will the smoke detector battery last in my smoke alarm?

Actual battery service life depends on the particular design of your smoke or carbon monoxide detector and the environment in which it is installed. All kinds of detector batteries specified in the users manual are acceptable replacement batteries. Regardless of the manufacturer's suggested battery life, you MUST replace the batteries immediately once the unit starts "chirping" (the "low battery warning"). It is recommended that you change the batteries in your alarms when you change your clocks for daylight saving time.


workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to ArgMeMatey
said by ArgMeMatey:

How often have you been changing your smoke detector batteries?

Do you do it on a schedule or wait until they chirp?

I have eleven hardwired interconnected smoke detectors in my house. Last week and this week, I started getting chirps and I replaced two Energizer batteries that were marked February 2005. So that's over seven years on a 9-volt.

NFPA says to do it once a year, apparently. No one in their right mind is going to argue with that since there are frequently stories about people dying in houses where the detectors were disabled or had dead batteries.

Well, I would recommend...Wait What? 11?

Holy Cow what size house do you have?

Dave


workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to fifty nine
said by fifty nine:

Changing it once a year seems acceptable. Changing the battery twice a year? Seems like duracell trying to drum up business.

Yep, just like lube places saying we need to change the oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles. Pure FUD.

Dave


Draiman
Let me see those devil horns in the sky

join:2012-06-01
Kill Devil Hills, NC
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to LazMan
said by LazMan:

Most fire dept's recommend changing the batteries twice a year, at the start and end of daylight savings... Probably a little excessive, to be honest; but better that way, then the other. I keep the batteries I take out of the smoke detector, and use them in other things, as not to waste them...

There are some lithium batteries out now that last 7-10 years, as well.

No matter how they are powered, smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years at a minimum, 7 years for CO detectors... Some detectors now include a lifetime counter, and start chirping when 7-10 years (as appropriate) has elapsed...

That's is built into any unit after March 2007.

CO Alarm
"Seven (7) years after initial power up, this unit will chirpevery 30 seconds. This is an operational end of life feature which will indicate that it is time to replace the alarm. UL 2034, the independent standard applicable to CO alarms, requires CO alarms to have an end of life warning. This requirement went into effect in March 2007, meaning any CO alarm manufactured after April 2007 with a UL listing must have this feature. Most states that require CO alarms in residential dwellings mandate that the alarm meet the UL 2034 standard."

Smoke Alarm
"Rechargeable Batteries Save Money, Time, and Labor
The Kidde Silhouette Low-Profile Smoke Alarm features a rechargeable lithium battery sealed inside the unit that recharges automatically via central electricity. If there is a power outage, the battery will recharge once the electricity is restored. Over the span of the alarm's life, this no-fuss unit saves homeowners money, time, and labor on battery changes. For builders, landlords, hoteliers, and apartment managers, this innovative feature cuts down on callbacks, material, and labor costs.

The battery is designed to last the lifetime of the alarm, approximately 10 years. Once the alarm has reached the end of its life, it will chirp every 30 seconds, letting you know it's time for a replacement."

Note the new smoke detectors come with battery backup that lasts the life of the detector, 10 years. The unit is $13.79 so I'd guess it's cheaper to buy a new unit then replace batteries once a year for 10 years.

Ref:
CO Alarm
»www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00032···KIKX0DER

Smoke Alarm
»www.amazon.com/Kidde-KN-SMFM-i-S···5&sr=1-8


ArgMeMatey

join:2001-08-09
Milwaukee, WI
kudos:2
Reviews:
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reply to workablob
said by workablob:

Holy Cow what size house do you have?

1916 square feet. It's no mansion.

Four in bedrooms
Three in hall & stair areas
One each:
Living room
Rec room
Den
Laundry

As somebody suggested, I am overdue to replace the whole lot.
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workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
kudos:4
Reviews:
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1 edit
said by ArgMeMatey:

said by workablob:

Holy Cow what size house do you have?

1916 square feet. It's no mansion.

Four in bedrooms
Three in hall & stair areas
One each:
Living room
Rec room
Den
Laundry

As somebody suggested, I am overdue to replace the whole lot.

Overkill IMHO but TEHO.

Dave

EDIT. I think I am going to replace mine and get some additional ones.

Not that I am worried but it's an excuse to be geeky and it can only help.

Dave


ArgMeMatey

join:2001-08-09
Milwaukee, WI
kudos:2
Reviews:
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reply to Jtmo
said by Jtmo:

My families lives are worth more than a few lousy 9 volt batteries. Your family may not be as valuable.

That is commonly where it ends with emotional appeals.

For another approach, take note of the opportunity cost, especially when looked at on a macro level.

100 million households in the US
One detector per household
One dollar per replacement battery
= $100 million spent every time everybody replaces their battery.

What's not happening because we're spending $100 million on batteries?

If batteries are replaced once a year instead of twice a year, we collectively save a lot of money.

Now, not that it would ever happen, but let's say taxes were increased by $1 per household.

With that $100 million, every household gets a free battery per year (purchased at wholesale cost based on competitive supplier bid), $5 million is spent on program administration, and $45 million is made available to rewire houses where inspectors have found electrical fire hazards.

Is it now more likely there would be fewer fires? Yes.

Is it more likely that everybody has a good battery in their detector? Probably.
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ArgMeMatey

join:2001-08-09
Milwaukee, WI
kudos:2
Reviews:
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reply to workablob
said by workablob:

Overkill IMHO but TEHO.

Dave

EDIT. I think I am going to replace mine and get some additional ones.

Not that I am worried but it's an excuse to be geeky and it can only help.

Dave

In my case I was rewiring and the incremental cost to add the detectors was negligible; the cable was already passing by, so it would take one more box and a couple of hours of cutting plaster and lath.

Like you say, it can only help, although the one time a detector and the interconnection system functioned in the middle of the night, I just about went crazy. (It was apparently a spiderweb in the sensing chamber area.)
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Onemeg

join:2002-04-27
Grimsby, ON
reply to ArgMeMatey
You might want to check the new batteries you buy, as well.
I bought some last year from a major store and tested them on my meter at home. The 9v registered just over 8v. The ones I was going to replace registered just under 9v after a full year.

One year is more than enough. Change them in the fall, the same time I change my thermostat batteries.


Ken
Premium,MVM
join:2003-06-16
Markle, IN
reply to workablob
said by workablob:

said by ArgMeMatey:

1916 square feet. It's no mansion.

Four in bedrooms
Three in hall & stair areas
One each:
Living room
Rec room
Den
Laundry

Overkill IMHO but TEHO.

Current building code requires a lot more detectors than in the past. In the old days a new house would have 1 detector per floor. Today every bedroom gets one inside the bedroom, and one out in the hallway. If the bedrooms are close together then one detector in the hallway can be used as the detector in the hallway for each bedroom. So 3 bedrooms right next to each other would have one in each bedroom, and a one in the hallway. If you had 3 bedrooms spread out from each other you could end up with 6 detectors for just those 3 bedrooms. You also still also have to have a minimum of one detector per floor including the basement even if it's unfinished. All the detectors have to be hard wired together and with battery backup as well. Your average new home today has 5-15 smoke detectors depending on size and floor plan.