I own a tenant-occupied, 2-story, 5 Bedroom, Colonial Style single family
detached home with an attached 2-car garage and an unfinished basement. The
home currently has individual battery powered smoke detectors and CO
detectors, but none of the detectors are interconnected. That meets the
current code for an existing single family home like this. So, under the
current code, I don't need to do anything.
However, I am considering installing a 110-volt interconnected alarm system
with battery backups so that if one detector alarm sounds, they all sound at
the same time.
I have two sets of questions.
The first is about how to wire a 110-volt interconnected alarm system.
And, the second is about whether there is such a thing as a battery powered
completely wireless interconnected alarm system that I could install so I
would not have to physically run wires to interconnect the detectors in the
new alarm system, but still have it function like an interconnected alarm
system where if one alarm goes off, they all go off.
1) Questions about wiring a 110-volt interconnected alarm system that is NOT
I know that one way to do the wiring is to run 14/2.from the electrical
panel to the first alarm, then 14/3 to the next alarm, then 14/3 to the next
alarm, and so on -- meaning that the wiring loop goes from the first alarm,
then to the next one, then the next one, until I get to the last one, in one
But, to do that, I think it would be difficult to fish the wires in a way so
that one loop goes to all of them one after the other.
My question is, can I junction off of the first one, for example, and split
that into two circuits -- one going to the alarms on the right side of the
house and one going to the alarms on the left side of the house? I have
been doing Google searches to see if I could find an example of this type of
wiring diagram but I can't find one.
2) Questions about WIRELESS interconnected alarms:
While researching this, I am seeing wireless smoke alarms that appear to be
able to communicate with each other so that if one goes off they all go off.
But, I can't quite tell if that means that it is possible to create a whole
new interconnected wireless alarm system for the whole house without having
to run any interconnecting wires through the walls and ceilings etc. That
sounds too good to be true, but is that really an option? -- an all wireless
interconnected alarm system?
Thanks for any help or suggestions.
Here is my question.
Alarms are generally quite loud. If one goes off, a tenant should be
able to hear it anywhere within the house.
Maybe you could test and verify because interconnected alarms may not be
A localized alarm has the advantage of letting the occupant know exactly
where the problem is.
BTW: Hopefully you do have fire extinguishers on all floors.
At my church, they put in two monoxide detectors.
As the physical facilities rep, I'd think I would
know about changes like that. But, no. I found out
only by asking very direct and pointed questions
of the paid guys when I saw them on the wall. I can
imagine some day the alarm goes off. No one in the
building has any idea what the device is, or what
to do when it sounds. So, they ignore it.
If you put in alarm and or extinguishers, it's a
good idea to have drills, so the tenants know what
to do, and how to do it.
Christopher A. Young
learn more about Jesus
I meant to reply earlier but then forgot to do so.
This is a unique situation which I didn't bother to try to explain in my
original post. It is a detached single family home, but the family that
lives there has some government funding which means that the home itself is
inspected by a representative from that funding source/agency. They
"recommended", but are not "requiring" an interconnected alarm system with a
control panel etc. I do not plan on doing what they "recommend" because it
is overkill, unnecessary, and not a code requirement etc. But, I have
thought about just putting in a 110-volt interconnected alarm system (no
alarm panel, no outside monitoring, etc) just as a way to please them and
show that we did more than what the code requires for existing single family
As far as what is there now -- the battery operated smoke and CO detectors
all operate independently and they are all loud when they go off. They are
all loud enough for anyone anywhere it the home to easily hear the alarm no
matter which one goes off.
Meanwhile, I just read in another post where someone said that "philo" is an
electrician. If that is correct, and if you do happen to know the answer to
my original question about how to wire a 110-volt interconnected alarm
system, that would be great. I think that I may already have that question
figured out, but if you know the answer, that would be helpful information.
to interconnect the alarms, you need a third wire run between the alarms.
The third wire is usually in the 14/3 i,e usually the "red" wire. It does not matter how the wire is routed, it does not have to be directly between the alarms, as long as it gets connected.
The hard part is that you probably have 14/2 running to the alarms and that would have to be replaced with 14/3. The third wires from each alarm could then be connected together wherever they meet. i.e in the breaker panel.
If I understand what you mean, it is not correct. The alarms now are
individual battery operated alarms that are not connected to each other. So
there is no 14/2 running to them or between them. 14/2 would go from the
panel to the first detector, so there would be no third red wire in the
panel to connect to anything. From the first detector to all of the other
detectors, there would be 14/3 wire. And those red wires would all be
connected to re, the black wires connected to black, and the white wires
connected to white.
On Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 2:42:29 PM UTC-4, TomR wrote:
Sounds like you have it right. IDK how you can figure out which
detectors are good ones. I have a house with ones that are about
8 years old, that are both AC powered and battery powered. They
are a real pain in the ass. You would think that with AC, the
battery would only be used if AC drops out. But the damn things
start beeping for a battery change in less than a year and with
a whole bunch of them, it gets annoying real fast. If it
were up to me, I'd get ones that are AC only, but that probably isn't
sufficient in many places today.
Thanks. I think my plan is going to be to get the ones that are AC powered
with a battery back-up, but ones where the battery is a built-in 10-year
(allegedly) lithium battery. Also, I want them all to have a "Hush Button"
feature to silence the alarm triggered by a known cause such as cooking or
shower mist/"steam". I am not sure, but I think the battery back-up feature
in AC powered detectors is either the code (in locations where
interconnected alarms are required), or are at least recommended. I guess
the theory is that if a fire is started by an electrical malfunction and/or
arcing etc., which also causes the AC power to go out (what are the odds?),
then the alarm system will still work with the battery back-up.
And, I think the detectors are supposed to be changed every 10 years anyway
(especially CO detectors, I think), then changing the detectors when the
lithium battery dies would make sense anyway. Yes, that costs more money,
but that's okay with me. Also, in the promotional literature for the more
expensive lithium battery back-up models, they claim that the increased cost
is offset by not having to pay the cost of replacing regular 9-volt
batteries every year for 10 years.
Yes, I think you understand the complexities of this.
My area manages 415 buildings, all of them multiple occupancy, all of them alarmed, many of them sprinkled. I know the pain of some well intentioned person deciding to go beyond the minimum and step into a quagmire of regulation and oversight.
Since you mentioned sprinkler systems, my first thought is, "don't get me
started on that one."
For exactly the same issue of not wanting to get myself caught up in a whole
new quagmire of excessive regulation etc., I decided to forego an
opportunity that I had to add a sprinkler system to one apartment while I
was re-doing all of the plumbing. What happened was that in the 3-family
residential rental that I mentioned earlier I was completely re-doing the
bottom level apartment -- all new everything, completely gutted down to the
bare walls and open ceiling and then back up, with all new electric,
plumbing, etc. And, I actually took that opportunity to separate out the
water supply for each of the 3 apartments. I changed it in a way that I can
later just have 3 separate water meters easily installed if I want to,
although I left it with just the one existing water meter for all 3
apartments. While doing that, I considered adding a sprinkler system to
just that one apartment. Definitely not required, but I thought that it
would be a nice safety feature to add since I could easily do that while
doing the other work. But then I researched what types of regulations and
testing requirements etc. come along with having a sprinkler system and
decided that there was no way I was going to sign myself up for that. So,
what could have been a nice safety feature just ended up not getting done.
It just would not have been worth all of the future aggravation to go ahead
with that idea.
On Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 11:04:56 PM UTC-4, TomR wrote:
I would be cautious about this strategy.
You would think doing more would be better, but when you do that you have t
o meet complete code requirements for the extra, even if the extra isn't re
quired. That exposes you to all sorts of liabilities and may fail an inspe
ction. Since this is government work, they will understand meeting the min
imum requirement, and they will be anal about meeting EVERY spec if you do
more than the minimum.
I looked at that recommended wiring diagram. That absolutely would not mee
t code in any of my projects. (but we only do commercial where I work) A
break at one alarm disables everything downstream. We are required to do r
edundant loops so one failure is just that, a single failure.
Now, with your single wire, when it breaks, how are you going to find and f
On Friday, March 25, 2016 at 8:23:43 AM UTC-4, TimR wrote:
to meet complete code requirements for the extra, even if the extra isn't
required. That exposes you to all sorts of liabilities and may fail an ins
pection. Since this is government work, they will understand meeting the m
inimum requirement, and they will be anal about meeting EVERY spec if you d
o more than the minimum.
eet code in any of my projects. (but we only do commercial where I work)
A break at one alarm disables everything downstream. We are required to do
redundant loops so one failure is just that, a single failure.
I guess the same way that people find and fix a broken interconnect wire in
the many millions of homes that have been wired that way now for decades.
Or the same way you find and fix any open connection in any circuit, for
On Friday, March 25, 2016 at 8:29:11 AM UTC-4, trader_4 wrote:
With a couple of exceptions, though.
For one thing this wire isn't one branch circuit in a room or couple of rooms. It extends across the entire house, everywhere there's an alarm.
Secondly, we're not talking a porch light that doesn't come on - we're talking a life safety device, and in a rental where it's required to work.
Third, you probably won't know it broke until the house burns down - is there any kind of supervisory circuit on these?
On Friday, March 25, 2016 at 11:08:11 AM UTC-4, TimR wrote:
So, because it's longer, now it can't be debugged using the same
methods you would on any other circuit? There aren't lights,
receptacles at the far end of your house, where the circuit runs
the length of the house?
If the interconnect wire is broken, the alarms still work individually.
If the AC power connection is broken, you have the exact same vulnerability that
you do with any smoke detector that's powered by AC only. The ones here
in my house are like that, on one breaker. And if you want increased
reliability, there are dual AC and battery operated alarms, which are
required by code now in some places.
You're trying to impose requirements way beyond those that likely exist.
Is there any supervisory circuit in the many millions of smoke detectors
sold at HD, installed in millions of houses, including rentals?
There is no code requirement here in NJ for supervisory circuits in
a single family rental home. I doubt there is where he lives either.
I agree he should see what local code is and meet it, I'v said that
from the beginning. But to throw a lot of FUD into it about some alleged
inherent reliability problem with interconnected alarms in widespread use
doesn't make sense to me. In the overwhelming number of deaths from fire,
the smoke detectors didn't work not because of some interconnect problem,
loss of AC power, etc. They didn't work because they had dead batteries,
no batteries, or there was no smoke detector at all.
And it sounds like his issue with the govt, is probably section 8. They
require that a rental property meet very basic requirements, if you can get
a CO, then it almost certainly is Section 8 acceptable. They will look
for the existence of required smoke detectors, but they aren't going
to do an electrical inspection of how they are wired and they probably
don't care whether they are interconnected or not either.
On Friday, March 25, 2016 at 11:32:08 AM UTC-4, trader_4 wrote:
No. This is where you are 100% wrong.
Well, you are right from the common sense view.
But not from the regulatory view. You build a safety system that was bette
r than required, but then you were required to have it completely functiona
l. You are better off to not have it at all than to have it and not have i
t work exactly as designed. That may not make sense but that's the way cod
On Friday, March 25, 2016 at 1:45:37 PM UTC-4, TimR wrote:
I'm 100% right. I said if the interconnect wire is broken, the alarms
still work individually. THAT is 100% true.
What regulatory view changes that they still operate? None.
You build a safety system that was better than required, but then you were
required to have it completely functional. You are better off to not have
it at all than to have it and not have it work exactly as designed. That
may not make sense but that's the way code works.
If he puts in a system with an interconnect wire, ie the common type
that is already installed, used, sold at HD, etc, it may or not be
better than what code requires. Code may not require it to be interconnect
But if he puts it in, it works. It meets code. If a unit fails at
some point in the future, he replaces it. If the interconnect wire
fails, which is extremely unlikely, he fixes that. I don't see what
the big issue is. I have had interconnected smoke detectors in 3 homes
now. They work. They are widely used, so why all the FUD?
"You would think doing more would be better, but when you do that you have
to meet complete code requirements for the extra, even if the extra isn't r
equired. That exposes you to all sorts of liabilities and may fail an insp
All he's talking about doing is putting in an interconnected smoke
detector system in a single family house. These are widely used,
are code compliant, all across most of America. What are these "liabilitie
" Since this is government work, they will understand meeting the minimum r
equirement, and they will be anal about meeting EVERY spec if you do more t
han the minimum. "
It's not govt work. He said:
" It is a detached single family home, but the family that
lives there has some government funding which means that the home itself is
inspected by a representative from that funding source/agency. They
"recommended", but are not "requiring" an interconnected alarm system with
control panel etc. "
So, this sounds like Section 8. And they have told him that they don't
have any special requirements that he has to meet. Good grief.
"I looked at that recommended wiring diagram. That absolutely would not me
et code in any of my projects. (but we only do commercial where I work"
Well duh. He doesn't have to meet commercial requirements or rewuirements
for a rocket fuel factory either. He only has
to meet whatever the local code requirements are for single family rental
properties. And he can fill us in, but I bet if he looks up the local
fire code, basic interconnected smoke detectors like you see across
America are compliant. They are here in NJ. End of story.
I am not sure on what the best or easiest place for me to chime in on this
aspect of the discussion is, but I'll start here.
1) TimR, I understand the points that you are making and I will explain why
I know what you mean below.
2) trader_4, I also understand and agree with your point of view on this,
with the only slight exception being that I have an and understanding of,
and some experience with, the somewhat subtle point that I think that TimR
is trying to make.
So, here it goes:
TimR, yes, what you are saying is probably correct in a commercial
location/application. But, this is not a commercial location/application.
And, no, the interconnected alarm system (if I do one, and whether
hard-wired or wireless), would not be a "supervised" alarm system -- meaning
no third party monitoring of the system, no power failure warning, etc.
Nevertheless, I do know what you mean about "mission creep", meaning that if
I do decide to do a change, upgrade, or improvement of the current
individual battery powered detectors alarm system, will that trigger some
governmental oversight entity to then want to enforce an even more complex
(even though not required) standard or "code" requirement? There are
reasons why I know this, which I will explain shortly.
However, in the interim, I would like to throw in some additional
information regarding my experience in this area. Completely unrelated to
this present situation, I happen to personally own a 3-family residential
rental property that I purchased maybe 8 years ago. It happens to be in New
Jersey, which I am mentioning since trader_4 mentioned New Jersey code
requirements. When I bought the 3-family residential rental property, it
already had an interconnected 110-volt with battery back-up alarm system.
That alarm system is on its own circuit with nothing else connected to it.
And, it does not have an "alarm panel" and it is not a supervised or third
party monitored system. It meets all of the current codes. One of the
local codes for that system is that I have to have the system tested and an
alarm certification done annually. So, I do know how such a system works
and what the code requirements are for such a system. And, again, that is a
residential, not a commercial, application. And, yes, if there were a break
in any of the connections, including a break in the interconnected signaling
wire, I would have to resolve that issue.
Now, back to the question of, if I decide to upgrade a system anywhere, will
"they" try to tell me that my upgrade may have to go even further to a much
more complex, supervised, system etc? I don't think so, but they may
"recommend" that. In fact, that is what happened to me in this case.
I don't want to go into too many specific details here on a public forum,
but I can say that I actually have 2 other single family homes that are
"similarly situated" with the home that I am writing about now being one of
the 3. All 3 have the same sort of "governmental funding" aspect to them
with regard to the occupants of each home -- although the actual source and
type is not Section 8. In the past, funding was made available to upgrade
or make capital improvements to the first two of the homes (before the third
home was purchased) about 10 years ago (or more). At that time, one of the
upgrades that I decided to do was to have a supervised interconnected fire
detection and alarm system installed in each of those two homes. It "seemed
like a good idea at the time". But, now I regret having done that. It was
overkill, unnecessary, and not a requirement for a single family home --
even a newly built single family home. It is a pain. It requires constant
monitoring for a fee, it results in unnecessary false alarms or accidental
alarms where the fire company has to respond, etc. And, of course, it
requires monthly monitoring fees, alarm system maintenance, etc. And, since
governmental funding helped pay for that system, (and even if it didn't), it
would be a liability (in my opinion) if I now decided to remove or downgrade
those two systems to just what the code requires if there were to be a fire
at any time in the future in one of those homes.
Now, what has happened is that the same governmental funding entity that
visits those first two homes (with the complete alarm systems in place),
also visits the third property which was later purchased and which does not
have the type of complex complete alarm system that the first two homes
have. That's what apparently eventually led to the "recommendation" that
this third home should have the complete complex alarm system installed --
even though it is not a code requirement.
So, for that reason, I have an understanding of the "no good deed goes
unpunished" aspect of this situation, and the possibility that agreeing to
do ANYTHING could prompt or trigger an expectation or request that
EVERYTHING be done -- meaning the whole new complex complete (not required)
type of alarm system.
Nevertheless, I am completely confident that if I do decide to just do the
interconnected hardwired 110-volt alarm system with a battery back-up as a
"compromise", I will not be subjected to any additional liability or risk
for not having done a whole new complete complex alarm system. But, that is
why I understand what you, TimR, are suggesting as a possible aspect of what
could happen by my deciding to do something (anything) rather than nothing.
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