Nose bleed smoke alarm/detectors

Does anyone know if a smoke alarm/dectector that is 20 feet above the floor “has” to have battery backup? My 80 year old, home alone, lady client doesn’t like changing the battery this high up.

Simple fix buy a new one and mount it lower down .
Roy Cooke

Must it have a battery? Only if the IRC applies to that dwelling. It seems that your choices are battery only, or commercial voltage with battery backup.

***R313.2 *In new construction, the required smoke alarms shall recieve their primary power from the building wiring when such wiring is served from a commercial source, and when primary power is interrupted, shall recieve power from a battery. Wiring shall be permanent and without a disconnecting switch other than those required for overcurrent protection. Smoke alarms shall be permitted to be battery operated when installed in buildings without commercial power or in buildings that undergo alterations, repairs, or additions regulated by Section R313.1.1

Smoke alarms are available with a remote battery source, such as those as the ADT type low voltage fire alarm systems that run to a central panel with a large battery backup for the whole system.

It just dawned on me that many local fire departments will come out and change the smoke detector batteries for older folks as a community service. They even provide the batteries. Maybe this person should just keep the non-emergency number for the fire house handy, and they can come out every once in a while and square her away?

I’m a little worried about the proposal to mount the detector lower, as the detectors are to be mounted within (12" ?) of the ceiling to function as they are intended.

Me too. I see quite a few vauted ceilings and the detectors are mounted quite high. 12-15 ft is not uncommon.

The lithium batteries in low-drain detectors are good for 10 years - at which point you ought to change out the detector anyway.

What makes ME crazy (I live in a house with cathedral ceilings) is trying to figure out *which *detector is producing a low-battery warning “beep” - “there outta’ be a law” requiring an LED to come and stay on when a low batter conditions is detected.

Good call Roy
If an alarm is mounted on an exterior wall or a ceiling below an unheated attic that is poorly insulated
(the surface gets noticeably cold in the winter and warm in the summer), the temperature difference
can prevent smoke from getting to the alarm. Placing the alarm on an inside wall avoids the problem.
In desert climates where evaporative coolers are being used, mount smoke alarms on walls 12 inches below the ceiling.
These coolers add moisture that can cause the smoke to drop.
Older adults may have difficulty reaching alarms on the ceiling to change batteries.
If hard-wired alarms are impractical, wall mounting 12 inches down should be considered.

The 12" requirement is modified for sloped or peaked ceilings:

Hum… now this is cool: a smoke alarm you can silence (including low-battery alert) using most TV remotes:

If there is any “code” on smoke detector mounting, it is in NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm Code.

There’s lots of information in ther about mounting heights and spacings of heat detectors, but oddly, very darned little about smoke detectors. The guidance basically given in NFPA 72 with regard to smoke detector placement is:
-Don’t install them in areas below 32°F, over 100[size=3]°F, over 93% humidity, and in places with more than 300 ft/min air velocity.[/size]
-In large rooms, space them no more than 30 feet apart.
-Follow manufacturer’s instructions.


My “Free Smoke Detector Installation” program offers battery operated smoke detectors that have 10 year batteries. So no battery changing, just smoke detector changing in 10 years.


I have argued with IAEI guys about this for years. They will say NFPA72 requires the detector up in the tray or on the ceiling of a vaulted ceiling near the peak, in spite of the fact that this is never going to be accessible to the homeowner.
It can cost up to $100 to get these batteries replaced and as often as not they will just have the guy take the detector down and put a blank cover over the hole. Now, in the effort to squeeze the last .01% of effectiveness out of the detector they have created a situation where they will likely end up with zero.
If I was an HI I would point out detectors that are not accessible as an issue they have to consider. That battery will die (if it has one in the first place) and it will be a pain to replace. Bear in mind, more people are killed and injured every year from falls than fires.

BTW I would call a smoke detector in a tray with a fan as a defect


Do you have a photo example of this specific configuration?

If you can’t post here please email:

Hi to all,

while we’re on this subject, this weekend the clocks move forward, many authorities suggest checking alarms and replacing batteries at this time.

It’s also a good excuse to email your former clients with a timely reminder.



[FONT=‘Comic Sans MS’]Daylight saving time will begin earlier this year, on March 11th. Many computer systems will require an update to change the time settings on your computer’s system clock. Visit[/FONT][FONT=‘Comic Sans MS’]]( [/FONT][FONT=‘Comic Sans MS’]or [/FONT][FONT=‘Comic Sans MS’]]( [/FONT][FONT=‘Comic Sans MS’]for a detailed update guide specific to your computer.[/FONT]

I don’t have a picture because my wife will not put a detector in a tray (coffered ceiling or whatever you folks call them). They are always wired for a light and very often end up with a fan in there. This will collect dust when the fan is running and plug up a smoke detector in short order.
Some inspectors still insist on it but that is a short sighted approach.