I'm a week late on this message but here goes anyhow.
We all hear the news that says "When you change the clocks, change the
batteries in your smoke detectors". That means they are changed twice
a year. I am not going to disagree, even though I only change mine
once a year, which is in fall around the time change. Anyhow, having
fresh batteries in the detectors is a great idea whether it's once or
twice a year. Safety is most important.
On the other hand, there is another issue and that's doing our part to
reduce pollution, and betteries do pollute. My point is this.
Batteries in smoke detectors do not get any use, unless the detector
is beeping all the time from a bad cook, fireplace, or some other
smoke. If the beeper never goes off, those batteries are darn near as
fresh as the day you bought them. Even if time does drain a small
amount from them, if they were newly stocked in the store and put in
your detector 6 months ago, they are likely not beyond the expiration
THerefore, DO NOT toss them in the trash. Put fresh ones in your
detector, but use the old ones on a pocket radio or some other device
that needs the square 9volt batteries. In other words, use them up
before you toss them. Some people might know this, but I know for
fact that others do not. My own elderly mother buys new ones when the
time is changed and has me install them. Then she tells me to toss
the old ones in the trash. Instead I take home all 4 of them from her
4 detectors, and can probably power my portable weather radio for the
next 6 months. Using her detector batteries, and the ones from my own
detectors, I never have to buy batteries for my weather radio, and may
have a few spares too.
Dont toss em' use em..... Smoke detectors are critical and should get
new batteries, but for a pocket radio or other small electronic
device, who cares if they dont last long as long as they get used
before they enter the landfill.
Never heard that.
I bought a smoke detector about 5 years ago.
About 3 weeks ago it starting beeping and saying the batteries
were low. That is when I replaced the 3 AA batteries.
If I started pulling them out every 6 months, I'd be accumulating
a bunch of partially discharged batteries.
True, but you know your smoke detectors will work when needed. That is why
the suggestion to use up those batteries in some other gadget that is not
going to make the difference of possible life or death in an emergency, like
an MP3 player.
Interesting they actually build in circuitry to indicate when they need
changing and the recommendation is to ignore it... :)
Not that changing early is going the wrong direction, but has also
always seemed somewhat overkill to me too unless have unit(s) that don't
have the warning or have been ignored (hard to do if can hear at all or
just yanked them) in the past.
When the circuitry decides the battery needs replacing at 3:00 AM, you'll
probably think it would have been a good idea to replace it last Saturday
night. You are also assuming the circuitry works and that it did not sound
for three days while you were away on vacation and now it is completely dead
but you don't know it. .
Or you take out the battery, because it's chirping, and then forget about
it, so when the fire starts there's no battery in it.
After we first installed smoke detectors, after some time I'm suddenly
aware of a chirping. Sporadic enough that I couldn't place it. It took
a fair amount of time to realize it was coming from the smoke detector,
though I guess then I realized it was a time for a battery change. Enough
time had elapsed since the installation that the instructions weren't around,
and I wasn't even aware that there was a low battery voltage chirp. It
just seemed logical that if it was making odd sounds, it would be smart
to change the battery.
I guess it's now common knowledge that the chirping is there to indicate
low battery voltage. But it wasn't back then.
And just because someone has replaced the batteries in their smoke detectors
doesn't mean they have to throw out the batteries. Just put them in something
that uses a 9v battery, you'll get a good life out of it.
You're right, the idea about changing the batteries with the clock change
is to ensure the detector will work when it's needed, not because the
batteries will wear down in such a short time.
I tend to do it once a year, which still seems fine. I also mark the
batteries with the date when I put them in, so I do have a means of
kowning how long they've been in service. So long as people don't forget,
one could even do it sequentially, every six months change one of the
batteries and so on, but that only works if people are good at
remembering, which I imagine is why the fire departments have thought
up the "change the battery with the clock"; it's easier to remember, and
easier to remind people at those times, than expect them to keep track of
the last time they changed their detector battery.
One way of looking at it all is that a smoke detector is a pretty useless
thing. It doens't do anything most of the time, and if you're lucky, it
will never serve its purpose throughout its life. But people do install
smoke detectors just in case a fire really does happen, and they presumably
are glad to have that bit of protection.
In that context, changing batteries prematurely isn't so odd either. Because
the whole project is spending money just in case you have that fire some
If you want to gamble that there never will be a fire, then don't buy
smoke detectors and don't buy batteries for them. But so long as
you don't want to take that risk, you install the detectors and
change the batteries regularly.
I think those that advocate changing twice a year are taking into account
some people buy batteries made in China and sold at the dollar store twelve
years after they were manufactured with sub-standard ingredients.
I further suspect that brand-name batteries bought at a high volume retailer
(Walmart, Home Depot, etc.) have a shelf-life of five years and in minimal
use in a smoke detector of almost that long.
I think the MAIN idea is to get people to LOOK AT and THINK ABOUT the
damn things twice a year, and battery refresh was the only excuse they
could think of. Note that some early detectors used weird batteries
(those multi-dollar ones), and also didn't have low-power alarms that
lasted more than an hour or two- so if you were out for the day, you may
Hopefully, they also blow out the dust bunnies while they have it open.
But having ranted all that- no, I don't change mine till they start
beeping. But if you do, you should definitely move the old ones into
some location where they can spend out the rest of their life usefully,
not the trash. My alarm clock seems to want a backup battery every 3
months. It still keeps time during outages, it just won't tell me what
that time is.
That's the first time I ever heard of a Smoke Det. that uses AA
batteries. Every one I ever saw was a 9volt. Actually you would
really not have partially discharged batts. They dont discharge in
the detector unless the beeper is going off regularly. They just die
from age, and you may have to replace the detector if you leave them
that long because all batts do eventually corrode and leak. Not to
mention that you may be risking your life if the detector is needed.
Personally I think twice a year is excessive unless the beeper goes
off regularly, but once a year is a good policy. The one good thing
is tht they are designed to "chirp" when the batts get weak. But what
good does that do if they just keep chirping? You'll probably ask
"who lets that happen"......
Well, years ago I worked for a rental company doing repair work for
their 80+ rental units. I'd say that one out of three of them would
have a detector chirping when I entered the apartment. These were low
income units in a "ghetto" area. The tenants often had no clue how to
change the battery. Many would complain that "something" keeps making
noise (did not even know what the detector was), or if they did know,
they just did not care. To them it was the landlords job to fix. Sad
but true !!!!
I used to carry a box of batts with me and just change them whether
they chirped or not. When I started working for him, I told him it
was cheap insurance and was actually required by law to keep them
working, not to mention that they really got on my nerves when I was
working there. He agreed and bought a whole box of batteries. What I
found is that about half of them had the battery removed. We also
soon learned that a few tenants would take the battery out as soon as
we replaced it. They would use them for personal use. I just passed
this on to the landlord who would send them a "scare notice" stating
that they could be evicted if they did it again. That helped quite a
bit. And then there were the tenants who would destroy the detector
to silence it. The landlord would add the replacement cost to their
next rent bill. We never wanted to hassle these people, but there had
to be some action taken to keep things working and keep them from
damaging them. Shortly after, he added a clause in their rental lease
about detectors, which made it clear what they were to and not to do
Yes, they do. Ionizing smoke detectors, the most common type, work by
generating a small current between in the ionized air between two
I agree with you that a good battery won't be drained by a smoke
detector in six months, but it's erroneous to claim that batteries in
smoke detectors don't get drained unless the detector goes off. Even
if the detector is never triggered, the battery will eventually
discharge, and not because it just wore out, but rather because it was
used up, slowly but surely.
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