Do Electricians Install Smoke Alarms?

Do smoke alarms need to be on their own individual circuit in the Uk? Can you use a standard battery-operated smoke alarm legally?

If your house was built in 1992 or after, you should have a smoke alarm on its own circuit to comply with building standards. The CIE (Control and Indicating Equipment) must have a backup power supply like a battery. You can use standard battery smoke alarms when it’s in addition to a wired smoke alarm.

Do smoke alarms have to be hardwired in the UK?

If the property was built in 1992 or after, it is a legal requirement that you have a wired-in smoke alarm.

The smoke alarm should be on its own dedicated circuit or spiced into, say, a lighting circuit; if the latter is the case, an isolation switch should be fitted for general maintenance of the smoke alarm.

Should hardwired smoke detectors be on their own circuit?

Domestic homes should have a smoke alarm on their own circuit with a breaker, but in addition, it would be good to have at least one lighting circuit connected to the same breaker.

If there is a lighting circuit sharing the smoke alarm breaker, the homeowner or occupier of the property would realise a fault has occurred if the lights trip out, which has also tripped the smoke alarm.

Interconnecting smoke alarms are normally wired in series using 14.3 or 12.3 cables. 

Do I need a certificate for smoke alarms?

Your electrician should supply an electrical installation certificate for any job they do in your home. But yes, your fire alarm needs a certificate that states it has been installed safely and inspected, according to BS5839.

Should anything untoward happen, like a fire in your home, you will need some evidence of building regulations compliance for your buildings and content insurance to be valid. Without the certificates, your insurance company could make your policies null and void.

Can anyone install a smoke alarm system?

Yes and no, installing a smoke alarm is a simple process. You can spur off a lighting circuit as long as you fit a switch to isolate the smoke alarm for maintenance purposes.

You will need to be deemed competent as laid out in the Regulatory form (Fire Safety) Order of 2005.

What do the building regulations say?

Here is a short extract that explains succinctly what is required:

All dwellings are to be fitted with fire detection and fire alarm systems in accordance with BS5839 – 6: 2004 – Grade D – category LD3 standard. 

System to be mains operated and must conform with BS EN 14604: 2005, Smoke alarm devices or BS 5446-2: 2003, Fire detection and fire alarm devices for dwellinghouses.

 Part 2 Specification for heat alarms, respectively. AND Must be battery backed up (either rechargeable or non-rechargeable). Where there is more than one smoke detector required, they should be interlinked together so that all sound the warning should one of the detectors operate

*Building Control Guidance Note Subject SMOKE DETECTORS IN DWELLINGS (2020 Version) 

Do smoke alarms need to be interlinked in the UK?

Yes, the smoke alarms must be interlinked, which forms the best practice policy as laid out in BS5839-6:2019.

Interestingly, BS standards are not legal requirements and are only guidelines but should be adhered to where possible.

Can you fit a smoke detector in your kitchen?

Yes, if you wish. However, it would need to be strategically placed, so it’s not alarming every time you burn a slice of toast. 

Smoke alarms in kitchens have a nuisance value, and due to their continual alarm alerts, homeowners often disconnect the smoke alarm.

It is advisable to fit a heat detector in the kitchen and comply with building regulations for your own safety.

Where should smoke and heat alarms be placed? 

The latest British Standards recommend that smoke and heat alarms are installed:

Do’s – make sure you:Don’ts – make sure you:
Placed within 3m of every escape door and bedroom door to ensure audibilityDo not install the alarms within 1500 mm (1.5 m) of a fluorescent light fitting and keep wiring at least 1000 mm (1 m) from these fittings.
Positioned between high-risk rooms and bedroomsDo not install alarms on circuits containing fluorescent light fittings or dimmer switches.
For peaked and sloped ceilings – make sure there is a maximum of 600mm vertically down from the apex for smoke alarms, and 150mm vertically down for heat alarmsDo not install alarms within 300 mm (12”) of light fittings or room corners.
Install heat alarms on the ceiling, ideally in the centre of the room/space e.g kitchen, garage and loft.Do not install smoke alarms in-wall positions that are less than 100 mm (4”) or more than 300 mm (12”) away from the ceiling.
Install sufficient alarms to compensate for closed doors and obstacles.Do not Locate the smoke alarm close to bathrooms or showers as it can be susceptible to nuisance alarms from steam.
Do not install heat alarms on a wall.

How many smoke alarms do I need?

There are no minimum or maximum requirements for the number of smoke alarms needed in a UK home.

However, it makes sense to place a smoke alarm in every room, hallways, and on the upstairs landing.

How do you turn off a hardwired smoke detector?

You should only turn a smoke alarm off for maintenance purposes. Tampering with smoke alarms is a criminal offence that could lead to prosecution.

  • Disconnect the alarm by flipping the breaker or fused switch if it has been spliced into a lighting circuit, and remove the backup battery
  • Hold the alarm securely at the edges and use a keyboard cleaner to remove any build-up of dust and grime from inside the smoke alarm.
  • It’s a good idea at this time to replace the backup battery.
  • Once reassembled and the circuit is live again, press the test button and wait 5 seconds. The smoke alarm should make a chirping sound to let you know it’s working.

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