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

Interlinking smoke alarms used in new equestrian holiday home

When Orchard Farm Equestrian Centre in Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire were getting ready to open the doors of their new luxury holiday let they decided to use the services of Safelincs to ensure that they had an interlinked smoke alarm system installed in time for the opening. The time scale of the installation was essential and Safelincs proposed the installation of a radio-interlinked system. This system requires far less installation time than standard wired alarm systems and our swift installation of the alarms meant that there was no delay in opening to the public.

Radio-interlinking smoke alarms and heat detectors do not require any wiring between units, as they communicate via radio-frequency, making this type of interlink very easy to install. When one of the alarms detects a fire it sends a radio signal to the other units making them sound. This means that no matter where you are in the building you will be alerted should a fire be detected.

Overview about radio-interlinked smoke alarms

For several years Safelincs has been offering Ei Electronics’ radio-interlinked smoke alarm ranges. Occasionally, we receive requests for a more detailed overview about how the radio-linked smoke alarms are grouped, as there are quite a few different models. Here a brief overview of the different products available:

Radio-interlinked smoke alarms (Ei calls them RadioLINK smoke alarms) can be grouped into battery operated and mains powered models. Both the battery operated smoke alarm series Ei3100RF and Ei600  as well as the mains powered ranges of the Ei140, Ei160 and Ei2110 series offer wireless connection between smoke and heat detectors. The Ei140, 160 and Ei2110 series require a RadioLINK base unit (provided by Safelincs when you order these units) to radio-link the alarms while the battery operated units have the RF (radio frequency) module already integrated into the actual smoke alarm.

The purpose of radio-interlinked alarms is to ensure that when a smoke alarm detects a fire in one part of the building it notifies all the other alarms in the house per radio signal, triggering them to activate their sounders as well, hence notifying the occupiers of the building accross the entire building – and without the need for interconnecting cables.

The RadioLINK technology deployed by Ei Electronics is split into two categories:

1) Basic RadioLINK interconnection (models Ei3100RF as well as Ei140 with radio base): If one alarm goes off, all alarms go off. There is also the possibility to test the alarms with a remote test device and to use manual break points connected also with radio-interlink. However, the customer cannot for example silence or locate sounding alarms remotely. One alarm in such a system can act as a repeater to increase the reach of the network.

2) As above but with Remote Control Functionality (models Ei600 as well as Ei160 and Ei2110 with radio-base). Remote Control Functionality offers the possibility to remote test, hush and locate the alarms. Each smoke alarm unit can also act as a repeater, allowing these systems to cover larger buildings.

All of the above units can be ‘housecoded’, meaning that the smoke alarms will only communicate with alarms from the same group and not with your neighbour’s system. This is achieved through simple housecoding of the units when you install the alarms.

Where is the power-supply coming from?

The radioLINK units have different sources of power-supply:

Ei3100RF series: 9V block batteries, which need to be changed every year

Ei600 series: Sealed longlife batteries which will last the full ten year life of the smoke alarms

Ei140 series: Mains powered (usually from nearest light fitting) plus a 9V block battery as backup. Again, the 9V battery should be replaced every year.

Ei160 series  and Ei2110: Mains powered (usually from nearest light fitting) plus a re-chargeable, longlife lithum battery which will last the full ten year life of the smoke alarm.