Hushing Interlinked Smoke Alarms

Interlinked smoke alarms are becoming more and more popular as they quickly alert you to the event of a fire across larger houses, where there is a risk that you might not hear an alarm going off in the kitchen when you are, for example, in a bedroom upstairs.

Whether connected to each other with wire or wirelessly interlinked through radio frequency, interlinked smoke alarms allow you to connect multiple units – including different types of detectors – which will all sound at the same time when a single alarm detects a potential fire. The heat alarm in the kitchen, the ionisation alarm in your home office, and the specialist strobe and vibration alarm in your elderly parents’ bedroom, for example, will all go off at the same time, if just one alarm is triggered by fire.

Most of us are familiar with the test button on smoke alarms which allows residents to test their alarms regularly, to ensure the components are working and the power supply, whether battery or mains power, is working. On top of this, however, many alarms have a “hush” button which allows you to silence an alarm that has gone off, for example, due to burnt toast.

So how do hush buttons work when you have several interlinked alarms?

It’s easy to assume that, as they are all connected, hushing one alarm will silence all of them, but it is equally logical that only the unit on which you pressed the hush button should be silenced – after all, you don’t want people to assume it was a false alarm if there really is a fire raging downstairs.

Interestingly, not all interconnecting smoke alarms hush in the same way. Here is an overview explaining the different approaches employed by the three main smoke alarm manufacturers in the UK.

Kidde Slick Wireless Smoke and Heat AlarmsFor Kidde smoke alarms, the originating alarm (the unit which detected a potential fire and triggered all of your units) will have its warning light flash faster than all other units while the alarm is sounding – enabling you to identify the smoke alarm that caused the alarm. Pressing the hush button on ANY unit will silence the ENTIRE network.

Ei160e Series Smoke and Heat AlarmsIf you have interlinking Ei Electronics smoke alarms, only the originating unit’s hush button will be able to silence the ENTIRE network. The other units in the circuit can be individually silenced. To identify the originating unit you need to look for the alarm whose warning light is flashing every second, compared to every 40 or so seconds on the other units.

FireAngel WST600 Series Radio-Interlinked Smoke and Heat AlarmsFireAngel smoke alarms, however, deploy an improved silencing protocol. If you hush the originating smoke alarm then, as with the other brands, ALL connected units will be silenced. However, if you hush any other unit, the ORIGINATING alarm will continue to sound but ALL OTHER units will be silenced. This allows you to quickly identify the originating alarm which is very helpful both in case of a false alarm or a real emergency.

If you require support selecting the best smoke alarm system for yourself, please contact the friendly Safelincs support team either by emailing support@safelincs.co.uk or by ringing 0800 612 6537

Kidde stops smoke alarms beeping at night

Kidde Safety EuropeSmoke alarms have reduced the number of deaths and injuries related to fire in the UK dramatically over the last decades and are now an essential must-have in every household.
All these millions of smoke alarms, however, rely on batteries in one way or the other. Mains powered smoke alarms require a backup battery in case the mains power supply fails and battery powered smoke alarms use them, as the name suggests, as main source of power. When the battery comes to the end of its life the smoke alarm emits a regular beeping sound for several weeks before the battery finally expires. This gives the owner sufficient time to replace the battery.
As the voltage of a battery drops at lower temperatures, the first low battery warnings are usually emitted at night, when our houses are at the coolest, especially in autumn and winter. This can be very annoying as you are woken up in the middle of the night by a beep every 30 seconds. What can you do to avoid this? You should, of course, replace the batteries regularly before they are getting close to their expiry time and you should have spare batteries at home. However, when it comes to sealed longlife battery units, which last ten years. This situation is much harder to prepare for, as you cannot realistically have a set of complete smoke alarms in your drawer, just in case.
Kidde Fire Safety Products have come up with a brilliant concept to resolve this age old problem. Their longlife, sealed optical smoke alarm 10y29, which has a ten year lifespan, will detect the gradual weakening of its battery and then ensure that the alarm only starts beeping during daytime. This is achieved by monitoring the strengthening/weakening pattern of the battery voltage over a period of time as temperatures rise and fall during the day and nigh time. From this patterns the onboard chip of the smoke alarm will then define the day period and will only then raise the low battery alert during this time. An ingenious solution to a long standing problem.

Fig 1. Normal operation (showing the increasing and decreasing voltage pattern during daytime and night time)

kidde-10y29-info-1

Fig 2. Dropping voltage and the response of traditional smoke alarms which start beeping in the night

kidde-10y29-info-2

Fig 3. Kidde’s 10y29 smoke alarm, which records the night time lows but only starts beeping in the daytime

kidde-10y29-info-3

We have just made protecting yourself even more affordable

Kidde Smoke Alarm and CO Detector Special OffersNow that the heating season is truly under way it is time to review your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure you are fully protected. Smoke alarms and CO detectors should be tested once every half year but as a minimum one test per year should be carried out. To ensure that your alarms are not running out of battery power and to avoid that you get woken in the middle of the night by a low battery beep, alkaline batteries should preemptively changed once a year. The lifespan of your alarms also need checking. While smoke alarms are designed to last a full ten years, most CO detectors only last 5 to 7 years.

Any units that are out of date or fail their test need to be replaced. If you find any areas of the house that are not protected yet, you should consider purchasing new smoke and CO alarms to fill these blind spots. To make this more affordable, Safelincs, in partnership with Kidde Safety Europe, one of the leading manufacturers of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, have introduced two great special offers.

At entry level we are now offering a standard smoke alarm together with a 7 year life CO alarm for just £13.49+VAT.

To stop you having to purchase new alkaline batteries every year and to make sure you get the maximum life out of your alarms we are also offering a top of the range 10 year smoke alarm with sealed 10 year battery and a 10 year carbon monoxide detector with a sealed 10 year battery to give you maximum protection and convenience for only £27.49+VAT.

When you can protect your home and family for a decade at a cost of under £30.00 there really is no excuse for not taking action today!

We are also here to help you with your regular testing regime. We can remind you free of charge when your next test is due – at a test frequency chosen by you.

Smoke Alarms versus Fire Alarms in HMOs

flatsDefined under BS 5839: Pt. 6 a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) is “a house that is occupied by persons who do not form a single household.” These are typically large houses that have been converted into flats or bedsits. Many of our customers ask what type of smoke alarm system is suitable for this type of property. According to the British Standard, the recommendations are as follows:

For one or two storey HMOs where the individual floor area is no more than 200sqm, a Grade D, category LD3 smoke alarm system should be installed.  Grade D refers to mains powered smoke and heat alarms with a built-in back up battery power supply, and the alarms can be interconnected either by wire or by radio signal. That means that fire alarm panels are not required. Ei Electronics and Kidde offer both RF and wired mains powered alarm systems as well as a range of accessories that can help you to test, locate and hush alarms easily.

Category LD3 (level of coverage) is the minimum requirement and defines where alarms should be installed. LD3 requires smoke alarms in all circulation spaces that form part of the escape routes from the dwelling, i.e. hallways and landings. If justified during a fire risk assessment, the level of cover may be increased to LD2 which requires smoke or heat alarms to be installed in specified high fire risk rooms and areas. Dependent on the specifier, this can include living rooms, kitchens and possibly bedrooms.

For Grade D system it is becoming more and more acceptable (especially if retrofitted) to install radio-interlinked smoke and heat alarms with 10 year sealed batteries rather than mains powered smoke and heat alarms. This saves the cost for the electrician and systems like this can be installed very quickly. We still recommend that you ask for confirmation by building control or the relevant council department before installing these systems.

For HMOs of 3 storeys or higher, there are two options available.  The first is to have Grade A fire alarm system installed throughout the building.  Grade A consists of a conventional or addressable fire alarm panel, and then fire alarm detectors, call points, sounders and beacons are specified according to the layout and requirements of the property.  The second option is to have a mixed system.  This would comprise of  Grade D, category LD3 in the individual dwellings (see above) and a separate Grade A system in the communal areas.  Again, the category of cover in the individual dwellings can be upped to LD2 if needed.  Both of these options have pros and cons depending on the requirements and the owner’s access to each of the dwellings.  A mixed system appears to have become the preference, as it is likely to reduce the impact of nuisance alarms from individual flats on other occupants.

For additional guidance, please visit our Smoke Alarm Help and Information, BS 5839-6 and BS 5839-1 summary pages.

Finally! A 10 Year CO Alarm!

The first CO alarms that we sold only had a 5 year sensor life, quiet short in comparison to smoke alarms, which have a 10 year lifespan. Then in 2008, when we started to supply Kirklees Council with well over 100,000 CO alarms, we worked with Kidde, the manufacturer, to achieve a 7 year life span for the CO alarms we supplied. This was a large step forward and achieved significant savings for our customers.

Despite the 7 year lifespan of the CO alarm there was still the issue that batteries in the units had to be changed every year or so, as CO alarms are quite energy hungry.

Now at long last there is a CO alarm that goes much further than this.

We are introducing the brand new Kidde CO alarm 8LLCO with a guaranteed 10 year sensor life and battery life! This is an extra 40% lifespan and a tremendous saving for customers, never having to replace batteries again. The alarm is perfect for landlords, housing associations, Councils and of course anybody who wants to protect their household without having to think about their CO alarms for 10 years. Please note, though, that CO alarms should still be tested regularly.

Safelincs are the first official retailer to introduce this product in the UK before the roll-out in 2013. If you wish to order or have any questions, please ring 0800 612 6537.

Safelincs help promote CO awareness with CAPT

Safelincs has entered into an agreement with the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) to help it promote Carbon Monoxide awareness.
CAPT is the UK’s leading charity working to reduce the number of children and young people killed, disabled or seriously injured in accidents.

Two of the carbon monoxide alarms supplied by Safelincs will have £1 donated to CAPT for each sale.

Safelincs involvement with CAPT comes at a time when the charity is developing a DVD for parents, carers and other interested parties, focusing on the dangers of all types of poisoning. Safelincs is working with the charity to help ensure that CO poisoning is particularly highlighted and will help promote the DVD and other materials when they become available.
To help promote these important messages we have also created an information portal about carbon monoxide poisoning.

New Help Page For Replacing Discontinued Smoke Alarms

When smoke alarms reach about 10 years of age they need replacing to ensure full protection of the building. As smoke alarm manufacturers improve the technology of smoke alarms, they bring out new models every few years. This can be a problem, especially if a customer has networked smoke alarms and would like to replace just some of them.

It can sometimes be very difficult to know which alarm is compatible with your existing alarms, especially if the base is different or the new smoke alarm has a different interconnection. To help reduce the frustration for our customers we recently developed a chart for Kidde mains powered smoke alarms to show which new alarms were replacing discontinued or upgraded smoke alarms. The  feedback we got from our visitors was so strong, that we rolled this list out to Ei Electronics and Aico smoke alarms. Customers can now pin-point the best replacements for our main ranges of Ei and Kidde smoke alarms. There is no complicated table to navigate, just a very neat chart that clearly indicates which replacement alarm you need to buy.

Where possible we have tried to keep the replacement smoke alarms of the same shape and size but there are some that will need to have new bases fitted and may be of a different shape, which could mean that you will need to decorate around it.

If you have any further queries or cannot find your old smoke alarm model in our list, please contact us and we are happy to help and add the model to the list.

Replacement of old Kidde smoke alarms

As well as testing your smoke and heat alarms on a regular basis, it is important to make a note of when the units actually need to be replaced. Studies have shown that the functionality of smoke and heat alarms can start to deteriorate when they reach a lifespan of 10 years. Each smoke and heat alarm should have a “replace by date” visible on the outside of the unit and we recommend that you adhere to this guideline.

When replacing a smoke alarm it can be quite difficult to recognise a suitable replacement product. In some cases, you may find that the current alarm model has been discontinued. With battery operated alarms, as there is no wiring in place, it is much easier to replace the unit for another smoke alarm with like-for-like features. Mains powered alarms are hard wired and are most likely interconnected during installation. It is because of this that finding replacement detectors can be difficult.

Working with Kidde Safety Europe, Safelincs are able to provide a list of mains powered discontinued Kidde smoke and heat alarms, along with their suitable product equivalents.

Discontinued Alarm Replacement Alarm
123/9HI KEKF10
123i KEKF10
123/9HILL KEKF10R
223/9HI KEKF20
223/9HILL KEKF20R
1275H KEKF10
323/9HI KEKF30
323/9HILL KEKF30R

The new alarms will interlink with other, still working units of the previously installed smoke alarms. This means that there is no need to replace all of the units within a system if only some of the installed detectors have reached the end of their recommended lifespan. All new mains powered smoke and heat alarms are provided with a mounting bracket and a wiring connector. It is important to note that you need to replace the existing mounting base and re-connect the wiring to fit the new units. With any mains powered alarms, all electrical work should be carried out by a qualified electrician.

Safelincs offer a smoke alarm reminder service which allows customers to be notified when their smoke and heat alarms are due to be replaced, when the batteries need to be changed and reminds customers to test their alarms on a regular basis. The service is completely free and customers can choose if they wish to be reminded by email, SMS text message or by Twitter.

CO alarms in caravans

As we are getting closer to the caravan season starting again it is worthwhile thinking about how to protect yourself against carbon monoxide poisoning. Early in the camping year the temperatures at night are still chilly and there is a temptation to heat the caravan with the remaining ambers of the BBQ enjoyed earlier or to use the rings of your gas cooker to keep you warm. Both can be lethal. The BBQ, especially at low temperatures, produces large amounts of carbon monoxide which cannot be smelled or tasted. The CO gas renders you quickly unconscious and death can be the consequence.

Heating with your gas rings can also be dangerous. Kidde and one of the UK’s caravan manufacturers did some trials with cookers and partly blocked vents. While normal cooking activity with good ventilation only rose the CO levels in the caravan slightly, badly performing gas jets used in conjunction with oversize pans and and standard ventilation raised CO levels to over 100ppm!!!

When the ventilation was blocked the CO levels rose to 400ppm and the trials had to be abandoned for safety reasons!

Never take a BBQ into a caravan, do not heat your caravan with the gas cooker and always use correctly sized pans with correctly adjusted flames when cooking. Also make sure that your ventilation is working well when cooking with gas.

You should also install a CO alarm. It is important to install smoke alarms and CO alarms that have removable batteries fitted. This ensures that through the winter months when caravans are stored and the temperatures are low the batteries can be removed to prevent them from getting damaged and possibly leaking, causing the alarm to require replacement.

However, special care must be taken to place fresh batteries in the alarms at the start of the next season. Wrap your caravan keys in an envelope with a reminder to take new batteries with you!

The Kidde 900-0233 and 900-0230 CO alarms are good CO alarms that can be used in caravans. They have a 7 year warranty.

The alarm will sound if carbon monoxide is detected however, if you charge your car/caravan batteries inside the caravan, the hydrogen coming off the battery will set off the CO alarms, as the hydrogen behaves similar to CO! Never assume that when the alarm goes off it is a false alarm, always take precautions to investigate the cause and ventilate the caravan.

 

 

 

New radio-interlinked smoke alarms from Kidde

Kidde have added mains powered radio-interlinked smoke alarms to their range of 230V smoke alarms. The new slimline design offers customers an additional choice in our smoke alarm range. The alarms conform to BS5839-pt6 grade D, E and F and are installed in new residenatial conversions and extensions, small to medium offices and many HMOs.

The Kidde Slick smoke and heat alarms can be wired from the nearest light fitting, making them cheaper to install and less intrusive than other hard wired smoke alarms. They are fitted with an alkaline back up battery as standard but this can be upgraded to a 10 year lithium battery if required.  The alarms have a unique fast-fitting base and a screwless connection block making installation as easy as possible.

The units talk to each other through a wireless connection. This means that when one alarm detects fire all the alarms will be activated and begin to sound within seconds. Up to 15 alarms can be interlinked together in one system and the   house coding process is very simple.

With their new design Kidde have really thought of everything: the alarms are fitted with an LED that will enable you to identify the initiating smoke alarm.  The alarms also have a flashing LED that will give you silent notice for 30 days that the batteries are getting low. After this 30 day period the alarms will then give off the usual warning chirp.