According to the National Fire Protection Association, having smoke detectors installed in your home reduces the chances of dying in a fire by 50%. To have an adequate fire alarm system, you must install smoke detectors inside and outside every bedroom and at least one on each floor, including the basement.
How much does it cost to install smoke detectors in your home? The average cost to have one new hard-wired smoke detector installed by a licensed electrician is approximately $150 to $200, depending on where you live. The actual installation cost depends on the number of detectors, the type of detectors, and the degree of difficulty of the installation.
The installation cost is calculated by the time it takes to complete the job, plus the materials used.
Installing more than one smoke detector may reduce the cost of each unit because some smoke detectors will be installed just a few feet from one room to another.
The cost to install new smoke detectors depends on a few factors:
1. The model you choose
Smoke detectors can be basic, or they can have more advanced features such as:
- Voice alert
- Visual alerts (built in Strobe) the for hearing impaired
- Combination units that contain both smoke and carbon monoxide detection
- Smart sensors that can connect to your homes Wi-Fi and alert you if the smoke detector needs to be cleaned or have the battery replaced.
2. How many smoke detectors do you need for adequate protection?
The number of detectors required depends on your local building codes and the size of your home, the number of bedrooms, and the number of floors.
Smoke detectors can only detect a fire when smoke enters its chamber, so it is essential to have enough coverage to detect a fire as quickly as possible because it only takes a few minutes for a fire to get out of control.
The placement of smoke detectors depends on your local building codes. For example, In New York, building codes require:
One smoke detector to be installed:
- In every bedroom
- Outside each sleeping area
- On every floor including the basement
3. The level of difficulty
Installing smoke detectors during the construction phase is easier because the walls are open for running the wiring.
Retrofitting a house requires cutting holes in the walls and ceilings, snaking wires through your ceilings, patching holes in your drywall, and painting.
4. Does it require a dedicated circuit?
Some building codes require that the smoke detectors be installed on a dedicated circuit, requiring the electrician to run a new feed from the electrical panel to the smoke detectors.
What is the cost of battery operated smoke detectors?
The cost of battery-operated smoke detectors is significantly lower because they don’t require you to hire an electrician. The only tool you will need is a screwdriver and a few minutes to install them. However, if you don’t feel comfortable climbing on a ladder, then you can hire a handyman for about $50 to $100 per hour to install them for you.
Who installs smoke detectors and how much do they charge?
Electricians: If you install 110-volt hard-wired smoke detectors, you should hire a licensed electrician.
Electricians Charge between $150 to $200 an hour. Even though most handymen perform small electrical projects, I wouldn’t take a chance when it comes to fire safety.
Alarm companies: You can hire your alarm company to install low voltage smoke detectors that connect to your security system.
The benefit of having this type of smoke detector installed is that your alarm company monitors them.
This means that your alarm company will dispatch the fire department when the fire alarm detects a fire.
Alarm companies usually charge a fixed price for installing smoke detectors. We charge a flat rate of $150 per smoke detector.
Your local fire department: Some fire departments offer free installation and replacement of battery-operated smoke detectors by contacting the non-emergency phone number of your local fire department.
Handyman: Installing battery-operated smoke detectors doesn’t require hiring a licensed electrician. Hiring a handyman is much cheaper than hiring an electrician, or you can just do it yourself.
The average hourly rate can range between $40 – $95.
How much does it cost to replace hard-wired smoke detectors?
Replacing or upgrading your existing wired smoke detectors is going to be much cheaper than installing new ones. An electrician can probably replace all of them in about one or two hours for about $150 to $200 an hour plus the cost of the smoke detectors.
One hundred ten volt wired smoke detectors cost between $25 to $60 each, depending on the model you choose. I would recommend purchasing them yourself and asking the electrician to install them for you because electricians will mark up the smoke detectors 20% to 50%.
How often do you need to replace smoke detectors?
Smoke detectors are designed to work for only about ten years before they start losing their sensitivity to detect smoke.
To check the age of the smoke detector, you must remove it from its base by turning it counterclockwise and checking the date it was manufactured on the back of the sensor. The detector needs to be replaced if it is more than ten years old.
There is no indication that your smoke detector has reached the end of its life in most instances, so it’s up to you to check it.
How are smoke detectors powered?
Hard-wired smoke detectors must be connected to your home’s electrical wiring. These smoke detectors can be wired individually or wired in tandem or interconnected, meaning that when one smoke detector senses smoke, all the other smoke detectors sound simultaneously.
For example, this is important because a smoke detector that detects a fire in the basement will cause all the smoke detectors throughout the house to ring to warn someone sleeping upstairs in a room that has the doors closed.
Hard wired smoke detectors also have a battery for backup in case of a power failure.
Alarm companies install low-voltage smoke detectors, and they are connected to your home security system.
A fire-rated wire connects each smoke detector to your security systems control panel. When one of them senses smoke, either the sounder on all the smoke detectors rings or the siren for your security system sounds to warn everyone in the house that there is a fire.
Wireless smoke detectors are also available to be connected to your home security system, requiring no wiring at all with replaceable batteries that last for about five years.
The great thing about these fire alarms is that your security system is connected to a central monitoring center, and the fire department is dispatched upon an alarm even when you’re not home.
Battery-operated smoke detectors use either 9 volt or AA batteries and are the easiest and least expensive smoke detectors to install.
You can get them on Amazon for about $9 – $65 and install them yourself or hire a handyman to install them for you.
Less expensive battery-operated smoke detectors do not have the tandem or interconnect feature that sounds all the smoke detectors when one unit senses a fire.
Still, there are models available that have this feature. I would spend a few more dollars and get the interconnected detectors.
What are the different types of smoke detectors?
There are two different types of smoke detectors, Ionization, and photoelectric smoke detectors, when it comes to detecting a fire.
Ionization smoke detectors, about 90% of smoke alarms used in homes are ionization smoke detectors, and they are generally more responsive to flaming fires. Flaming fires produce large amounts of flame and less visible smoke.
Ionization detectors use electrically charged plates to create a flow of ionized air inside the sensor. When smoke enters the ionization chamber, the smoke particles attach to the ions and neutralize them.
This disrupts the flow of current and puts the smoke detector into alarm.
Photoelectric smoke detectors are designed to detect slow and smoldering fires. These detectors use a light source inside the smoke chamber. When smoke enters the detector, it scatters the light causing the sensor to go into alarm.
How do I know if my smoke detectors are working?
It is essential to test your smoke detectors annually or semiannually to make sure that they’re in proper working order. There are two ways of testing your smoke detectors.
You can perform a test by pressing the test button located on the front of the smoke detector. Pushing the test button tests the detector’s battery, and it also rings the sounder built into the smoke detector.
How often do I need to replace my smoke detector batteries?
You will know that it’s time to replace your smoke detector’s battery when they start to chirp every few minutes, and as the battery gets weaker, they begin to chirp every 30 seconds.
Smoke detector batteries should be replaced using standard 9 V or AA batteries at least once a year. You can also use lithium-ion batteries that will last 2 to 3 years.
Do I need to clean my smoke detectors?
Yes, dust can collect inside your smoke detectors just like it collects anywhere else in your house and will cause the smoke detectors to go into alarm.
Photoelectric smoke detectors are affected by dust more than ionization smoke detectors because of the way they detect smoke.