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Smoke Alarms - A Life Saver


The Best Thing Since Man Discovered Fire

Cwood-fire2 smallIn recent years, quite a few tradegies have occurred in premises without smoke alarms, many of these fires occuring at night while occupants slept.

Smoke alarms, which are quite inexpensive, can often mean the difference between life and death, and in some instances their installation is mandatory (eg in rental properties). They sound an early warning in the event of fire, waking people before they are overcome by smoke and giving them time to escape.

Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping person. The toxic gases and smoke produced by a fire can numb the senses and set you into an even deeper sleep.

Short of actually preventing fires, smoke alarms are your first and best line of defense against fire and can cut the risk of tradegy occuring by almost 50%.

But, like the dog that doesn’t bark, a smoke alarm can’t save your life if it isn’t working.

Many household smoke alarms are battery powered, and studies show that dead, disconnected, or missing batteries are the principle cause of non-working smoke alarms. ACDC Electrical can install or replace smoke alarms. We also carry out regular on-site testing of your smoke alarms, ensuring that they are ready to work when required.


Ask us about programming your yearly testing, or you may click on this link to use our online facility to book a service request, or this link to our contact page, to request more information, or to discuss your requirements in more detail.


A Few Tips To Help Protect You, Your Family, and Your Investment

  • Test your smoke alarm’s batteries, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace any battery too weak to sound the alarm.
  • Most smoke alarms “chirp” to alert you when their battery power is low. When you hear the warning, replace the batteries. Don’t disconnect the unit.
  • Smoke alarms are not recommended for use in kitchens, bathrooms or garages – where cooking fumes, steam, or exhaust can set off the alarm when there is no fire.


Smoke Alarm Questions and Answers

smoke alarms QA

What type of smoke alarm do I need?

Many different types of smoke alarms are available. Some run on batteries and others on household current. Some detect smoke using an “ionization” sensor; others use a “photoelectric” detection system. All approved smoke alarms, regardless of
type, will offer adequate protection provided they are installed and maintained properly.

How many smoke alarms do I need?

Install a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. On floors without bedrooms, smoke alarms should be installed in or near living areas, such as living rooms or family rooms.

Home offices shold always have a smoke alarm installed, because of the presence of computers, printers, other electrical equipment (which is often left switched on), paper, and other materials.

Be sure everyone in your premises can hear your smoke alarms. If required, ACDC Electrical can install special smoke alarms which incorporate a flashing light in addition to sounding an audible alarm.

How do I install smoke alarms?

Most battery-powered smoke alarms can be simply installed by the handyman, using only a drill and a screwdriver, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

The more reliable option is to use smoke alarms which can be hard-wired into the buildings electrical system. This requires a qualified electrician and ACDC Electrical can do this for you.

Where do I install my smoke alarms?

Mount smoke alarms on the ceiling. The smoke alarm should be attached at least 30 centimetres from the nearest wall. In a room with a pitched ceiling, mount the smoke alarm at or near the ceiling’s highest point.

Don’t install a smoke alarm too near a window, door, or forced air register where drafts could interfere with the smoke alarms operation.


How Do Smoke Alarms Work  (for the technical or just curious) ?

smoke detector battery

Smoke alarms operate on one of two basic principles: ionization or photo electronic. Its interesting to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both types.


The ionization alarm uses a small amount of radioactive material to make the air within a sensing chamber conduct electricity. When very small smoke particles enter the sensing chamber, they interfere with the conduction of electricity, reducing the current and triggering the alarm. The particles to which the alarm responds are often smaller than can be seen with the human eye. Because flaming fires produce the greatest number of these invisible particles, ionization detectors respond slightly faster to open flaming fires than do photo electronic alarms.

Photo Electronic

The photoelectric alarm uses a small light source - either an incandescent bulb or light-emitting diode (LED) - that shines its light into a dark sensing chamber. The sensing chamber also contains an electrical, light-sensitive
component known as a photocell. The light source and photocell are arranged so that light from the source does not normally strike the photocell. When smoke particles enter the sensing chamber of the photoelectric alarm, the light is reflected off the surface of the smoke particle, allowing it to strike the photocell and increase the voltage from the photocell.

When the voltage reaches a predetermined level, the alarm activates.


Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service Regulations

nt fire rescue logoThe NT Government announced changes to the Fire and Emergency Regulations to mandate working smoke alarms in all NT residences as of 1 November 2011. Since then, all residential properties must have a working smoke alarm installed.

These regulations require all owners of residential property across the Territory to have working smoke alarms and the NTFRS prefer that domestic and commercial preoperties have photoelectric smoke alarms, rather than the older ionization type, although these are fine for the moment.

Although all working smoke alarms are better than nothing, the photoelectric type of alarm is strongly favoured by fire services worldwide, as they are able to detect smouldering fires that are not as quickly picked up by the ionization type of alarms.

If you are a home owner and already have a working ionization smoke alarm installed, you do not have to change to a photoelectric smoke alarm until one of the following occurs:

  • Your smoke alarm ceases to work - in which case you need to replace it with either a hardwired 240 volt photoelectric smoke alarm with 9 volt back-up battery OR a photoelectric smoke alarm with a sealed 10 year lithium battery;
  • you sell your home;
  • you rent out your premises or renew a tenancy;
  • or you hire out your caravan or movable dwelling.

All those who currently have ionization smoke alarms are required to replace them with photoelectric smoke alarms when their existing alarm ceases to work.

In the instance of a tenancy change, renewed lease or sale of property, a landlord or seller must ensure that a working photoelectric smoke alarm is installed.

The responsibility for ensuring the alarm in a tenanted property is maintained in working order is that of the tenant.

These new regulations apply to all residential dwellings and movable dwellings including caravans, and temporary accommodation including safari-style tents.

ACDC Electrical can supply and install all approved smoke alarms (in the case of hard wired alarms, these must be installed by a licensed electrician).   


Contact ACDC Electrical

ACDC Electrical staff  can advise you on the best options in terms of product, hard-wiring or battery operated, and also in the location placement of smoke alarms.

It is in all of our interests to ensure a safe community, safe buildings, and effective protection, so please give us a call on (08) 8972 2235 or mobile 0447 137 972.

Alternatively, you can click on this link to use our online facility to book a service request, or this link to our contact page, to request more information, or to discuss your requirements in more detail.