Smoke Detectors in 2019
If you’re a developer, property manager or property owner, you need to stop using smoke detectors and smoke alarms with replaceable batteries.
Why you want the 10-year lithium battery
To put it bluntly, they force you to throw the smoke detector away when it stops working.
Now, don’t be fooled…just because the smoke detector beeps when you push the button doesn’t mean it can still detect smoke when there is a fire. All you’re testing is that the battery and speaker work – the part of the smoke detector that actually sets the alarm off without someone pushing the button has a lifespan.
It’s a small disc containing a radioactive substance that reacts with the smoke to trigger the alarm. Like everything radioactive, it has a half-life and gets weaker over time. At 10 years, manufacturers tell us that there isn’t enough of it left in there to cause the alarm to go off with any level of surety that it will work.
For carbon monoxide detectors (CO Detectors), the half-life is 7 years.
Replaceable batteries stink
If you manage or own properties, you need to understand that the cheap, $5 smoke alarm with a replaceable battery isn’t helping you save money.
- You have to buy batteries 1-2x per year (costing $2-5/yr in 2019)
- You have to install the batteries 1-2x per year and eat the labor cost for that
- You have to throw the alarm away after 10 years anyway
- Your tenants take the batteries out to put them in their kids toys or just to shut the alarm off
They are a bad deal, you need to stop using them. You’re increasing your liability and risk with removable batteries, and if you’re in a state that hasn’t mandated and inspected that 10 year lithium smoke alarms are installed, chances are good that you have 15-20 year old smoke detectors that don’t actually work (unless you press the button!).
Actually, even if you are in a state that mandates them, you probably have expired smoke detectors in your units if your managers buy smoke detectors out of state.