• RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    Seems like only way to be sure is to test it with canned smoke or similar. If there's a way for a smoke detector to automatically test itself without that, then that would be awesome. The Nest Protect says it tests itself 400 times a day, but as I wrote earlier: what does that really mean? For instance, only just that it can communicate with the sensor? If so, that would be a pretty weak test. Ideally you'd like to know that the sensor is actually working as intended and able to detect smoke in accordance with its specs. Maybe by detecting dust particles in the air it would have some insight into whether it's functioning or not? So, maybe a particle detector would make a superior smoke detector? It probably would have to run off of mains power though.

    posted in General Discussion
  • RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    No problem. I had to look into this for my own situation anyway.

    I'm not sure what to think of the Consumer Reports test results. It may be true that some detectors detect certain kinds of fires faster than others, but if the price of that turned out to be enduring a high number of false alarms.... is that something that you'd really want? For instance, ionization smoke detectors are known to be much better at detecting fast developing fires, but they are also known to be much more prone to false alarms. AFAIK, Consumer Reports doesn't test the propensity of different smoke detectors to have false alarms. From what I've read, Nest Protect's 2nd generation smoke detector was designed to avoid some of the frequent causes of false alarms (such as insects and shower steam) that other smoke alarms may falsely trigger on, and that's something that the Consumer Reports rating doesn't factor into its numeric rating. i think I like the nest approach of giving a gentle "heads up" when it first starts to detect low levels of smoke rather than doing what most other smoke detectors do, which is doing nothing at all until a higher threshold is reached and then going straight to emergency alarm mode with sirens blaring.

    posted in General Discussion
  • RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    Much to my surprise, Cosumer Reports gave its highest rating of 93 to the First Alert SCO501CN, whereas it scored the Nest Protect at merely 62, because it did not perform well on either carbon monoxide or fast flame spread detection. The SCO501CN is the battery powered, wirelessly interconnected smoke and carbon monoxide detector with Voice location that I had referenced above. I think if the trade-off is between better sensors (First Alert) or better firmware (Nest Protect), I'd lean toward the better sensors, because that is more mission critical.

    Except... Gotcha. The SCO501CN it warranteed for only 7 years, and the listing says it should be replaced every 5 years to ensure an effective CO sensor: https://www.firstalertstore.com/store/products/sco501cn-3st-onelink-wireless-talking-battery-operated-smoke-and-co-alarm.htm
    which means buying two SCO501CN over a 10 year period instead one Nest Protect.

    posted in General Discussion
  • RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    Also, as you would expect, there are quite a few arduino alarm listening projects out there on the internet, such as:
    Simple Smoke Alarm Listening Circuit for Arduino – 11:13
    — Kevin Darrah

    I suppose the one thing to be sure about is that it triggers on the frequency of your smoke/CO alarm and not something else, like a car alarm or leak detector. If mounted nearby to the alarm siren on an interconnected system, then I'm guessing you might also want to include audio loudness as a discriminator.

    I see that you already found the mysensors opto-isolator project:
    How To - Smoke Alarm Monitoring with Arduino and MySensors – 11:01
    — Pete B

    Lastly, this is Nest Protect's argument for why they think their wireless interconnect is better than wired interconnection: https://support.google.com/googlenest/answer/9231654?hl=en

    So, though I haven't yet checked, it occurs to me that the following might work: have a single hardwired smoke alarm with wireless interconnect (BRK does make these), and maybe replace all the other smoke alarms with with battery powered wireles interconnect (BRK also makes those). Then, the question is: would the wirelessly interconnected smoke alarms trigger a BRK relay that's connected to the one hardwired smoke alarm that is also wirelessly interconnected? I'm pretty sure the answer to that would be "Yes". One possible gotcha (?) from that is that perhaps the one hardwired BRK that includes wireless interconection maybe wouldn't relay its location to the other smoke alarms if it were triggered, but, if so, maybe you could utilize that information to identify it as the triggering alarm since it would be the one occasion when the other alarms might not be able to verbally identify the source. Obviously, this is speculative and would need to be confirmed. It would be a shame if BRK disabled all the location information just because there was a single hardwired (but wirelessly interconnected) smoke detector in the mix.

    posted in General Discussion
  • RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    @vecnar said in Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm:

    Everything is now being driven by batteries, unfortunately lithium batteries is just another thing that can create fire, that is just my association with lithium batteries after watching too many liveleak videos.
    I think the X-Sense comes with "3 V CR123A lithium battery" and they say should last for 5 years. Below is example of worst case scenario and doesn't look too bad compared to phone batteries.
    CR123A Lithium Battery Fire – 00:30
    — HabboX

    Interesting find. I haven't heard of any actual non-abused lithium primary cells doing that in real life though. Have you? It has me wondering now. There's no dendrites that I know of like there are with rechargeable lithium batteries, which is the main culprit in those disasters.

    Having smoke detector on battery for 5-10 years is good way of doing it as it allows you to place sensor anywhere you want and not to depend on AC wiring.
    The only thing to check if it is possible to link more than 1 remote control, 1 for each floor/location. Possibly as you would need to get to remote first before going to check originating sensor.
    According to below website it is best to use a combination of ionization and photoelectric sensors but not sure if any have 2, I looked on a few and only photoelectric was listed.
    X-sense also has smart wifi smoke detector, I assume it still operates internally between other smoke sensors over RF 868 or 915MHZ and uses 2.4GHZ wifi network and internet connection to get to their servers and notify you on the phone. If it would depend on wifi alone power loss to Access Point would cause communication breakdown between the sensors.
    Let me know which one you will go for and your findings.

    I suppose the argument in favor of hardwired smoke alarms is that people are lazy and may not replace batteries, or might remove the batteries altogether if they were battery powered to avoid the chirping but then remount the smoke alarm (for aesthetic reasons) and then forget about it. However, as long as one doesn't do that, I think an argument can be made that battery powered smokes are actually safer because they're immune to power surges that might damage them if they were wired to mains. If that were to occur, when would it be discovered? During a weekly test? Well, if laziness is a concern, I don't think doing a weekly test is very likely. In fact, I doubt if more than a tiny minority of people do a weekly smoke alarm test, and I'm not at all sure how thorough those tests really are in terms of discovering failure modes.

    So, out of the battery powered smoke alarms, the BRK battery powered wireless interconnected smoke alarm with voice location does seem to work as expected, even if the hardwired ones don't. The Nest Protect looks even better, but the price is more than 2x as much. If I could convince myself that the Nest Protect actually did a good job of self testing itself (as it claims to), then I probably would pay up for that. So far, though, all the reviews I've seen have been far too superficial to address that question other than to say something like "It tests itself 400 times a day" or some such. Yeah, but what does that really mean? How thorough is the test, and is it really good enough? It might just be marketing puffery.

    Neither of them work with a relay that I'm aware of. However, there is a Ring Listener that listens for a smoke alarm going off. It has the virtue of being rather inexpensive:


    I'm not sure if there are other listeners available. I suspect so, but I haven't looked. It might save the bother of DIYing a custom solution. Alternatively, the Nest probably sends a text to your phone in the event of a smoke detection, and that could perhaps be used to activate a separate home alarm through ITTT or similar. Maybe it can trigger something less indirect in the event of a smoke detection? If so, if it could avoid needing to DIY a solution, perhaps that might tilt the decision in favor of a Nest. However, I'd rather a solution didn't blithely assume that internet connectivity is working. Something more direct would certainly be preferable.

    P.S. BRK has OneLink, but the reviews on amazon, including nearly all recent reviews, have made it look like a terrible choice--far worse than I would have imagined, especially given its high price. For that reason, I wouldn't consider a OneLink until well after the issues raised are known to be fixed. For the price, people should be getting top quality, and it doesn't read like they are. Nearly all the most recent reviews are pretty consistently extremely negative and in stark contrast to the amazon reviews of the second generation Nest Protect, which has been on the market for quite some time now.

    P.P.S. This article refers to a number of other alarm listeners:https://www.cnet.com/home/smart-home/devices-to-help-your-smart-home-guard-against-fire/ The article is from 2016, though, and I haven't confirmed whether all of those products are still on the market or not. I did check on Halo, and they went out of business in 2018. In contrast, the Roost Battery thing actually sounds kind of interesting: https://getroost.com/sensors/ [But is it even still available? Their webstore says it's sold out] Some ebay sellers have it, but at a much higher price. And if it hinges on using a special battery.....I don't know that I'd want to be chained to that except as maybe a short-term stopgap. ]

    There's probably somethig out there that I haven't seen that might do the job. Overall, it seems like a strangely stagnant market filled with products that aren't user friendly. I presume the stranglehold that BRK and Kidde have on the American market has probably stifled innovation, at least as far as what's available here that has regulatory approval. I'd be surprised if Europe doesn't have better options than we do here in the US.

    posted in General Discussion
  • RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    Unfortunately, it appears that the x-sense smokes I referenced may not be adequately tested:
    https://www.firemarshals.org/resources/Documents/NASFM Documents/NASFM News Release on Non UL 217 Listed Alarms 6 8 2016.pdf

    There don't seem to be many good choices available. It might be best to wait a few years and see if anything better comes onto the market.

    posted in General Discussion
  • RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    I have to check local code, but I may switch to wireless. You can get wireless smoke alarms with a 10 year battery life, which is the recommended life of an alarm sensor, so I think the requirement for AC power may be effectively obsolete because of technical innovation. Also, I kinda like this type of device:

    You press it once to turn off all of the alarms except for the initiating alarm. That way you can more quickly identify the initiating alarm. Then you can press it again to "snooze" the initiating alarm. No need to get on a ladder.

    The BRK alarms are fine.... until they go off. We've had numerous false alarms. I think I'm ready to switch to something better.

    posted in General Discussion
  • RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    I contacted First Alert technical support regarding SC7010BV, which is the hardwired voice location alarm, and to my surprise, they confirmed that the location is only announced on the initiating alarm, not on all the ones connected to it. This despite the fact that their actual product literature seems to imply otherwise. In fact, I read quite a few more amazon reviews for the SC7010BV-6, which is the six pack of the same version, and many of those reviews expressed great disappointment over this particular gotcha.

    This is confirmed by yet another amazon review: "I jut talked to First Alert. Although their advertisement clearly tells me that the location of the fire or CO is announced at each location of a unit: "you are alerted of the danger and where it originates throughout your house" and "tells you where … the threat is among up to 11 pre-programmed locations in your home", Fist Alert says it only announces location at the originating unit. The manual is even clearer stating that "all other installed" units give location. Very, very disappointed and feeling misled. see less
    By Kindle Customer on January 9, 2020"

    I share the disappointment, because I was nearly ready to buy some. It' surprisingly hard to find a consumer friendly hardwired smoke alarm at a reasonable price!

    posted in General Discussion
  • RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    Good point. If the hardwired variant works the way the amazon reviewer says it does, then it would make no sense it would be rather silly. I'll look into it. What' clear is that the wireless voice location alarms do report the source of the problem:
    Interconnecting First Alert Wireless Smoke and CO2 detectors – 03:18
    — Larry Hayes

    posted in General Discussion
  • RE: Connecting smoke detectors to house alarm

    From one of the amazon reviews, 'Only the one initiating the alarm speaks the programmed room name. The other interconnected units do not announce the room name; they only sound the alarm. It seems dumb, but I replaced 11 old units in my house with this design, and when one goes off, I have to run around the house listening for the unit speaking its room name to find the one that initiated the alarm.
    By Green Gofer on November 28, 2020"
    Well, if that's the case, it doesn't seem like a great design at all. A bright LED on the triggered alarm would seem to work just as well for identifying the triggered alarm if what the reviewer says about the voice located alarms is true.

    Anyhow, I just noticed that you can buy adapter cables which allow Kiddie alarms to be plugged into a BRK sytem: https://www.firstalertstore.com/store/products/brk-kidde-smoke-alarm-adapter-plug-adk-12.htm
    I may look into this, because in general I like the Kiddie alarms slightly better than the BRK alarms.

    posted in General Discussion