BRK First Alert smoke detectors have been around since 1958 or so, and can be found in millions of homes across the United States. First Alert made the first battery operated smoke detector in 1964, and now offers designs with many different options. If you’re a homeowner or renter, you most likely have seen (and heard) a First Alert smoke alarm somewhere in your travels.
First Alert smoke detectors aren’t designed for connection to standard home security systems. If you want smoke alarms tied to your home alarm system, System Sensor smoke detectors are a great choice. Their products are compatible with many brands of system, and are easy to connect and install.
First Alert does offer a wide range of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in “battery” and “hardwired” (110-volt) versions. Both types of smokes can be had with ionization or photoelectric technology, as well as units that combine both detection methods in a single unit.
Photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting large smoke particles, which are produced by smoldering material. Smoke from smoldering fires may be generated for hours before flames are even present. A cigarette dropped onto clothing or upholstery would tend to generate this kind of fire.
An ionization smoke detector is better for sensing small particles, which are usually produced by hot, rapidly burning fires. Burning paper and grease fires are good examples of this type of combustion.
First Alert carbon monoxide detectors are available as separate units, or combined with smoke detectors as another option. If you’re planning a system from “scratch”, you can use combination CO/smoke detectors in key areas to minimize the number of devices for a cleaner appearance.
Several years ago, adding a battery-powered smoke detector meant simply buying the unit and installing it. While that’s still an option today, advances in technology have given us other choices.
If you live in a small house or apartment, one or two smoke detectors may be all you need. With a smaller space, any home smoke alarm will be enough to awaken occupants in case of fire.
For larger homes, or for those with multiple levels, things get interesting. A smoke detector may sense fire and sound the alarm in the basement, but may not be heard two floors up in a bedroom.
Because of this, standard 110-volt smoke alarms are typically required by building code to trigger all other units in the house. This has always been easy to do with hardwired units, since they are connected together by wiring. First Alert’s One Link smoke detectors allow this same inter-connection using wireless technology.
One Link is a line of First Alert wireless smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These units use a “mesh network” technology, which allows all the detectors in your home to send fire alarm signals to each other. This prevents “dead spots” of wireless coverage from stopping a detector from activating the other units in the system.
One Link wireless smoke detectors are a good choice for do-it-yourself alarm systems. No wiring is needed, so smoke alarm placement is easy. A few simple steps are required to add each detector to the system. For more information on First Alert smoke detectors with the One Link feature, check out the First Alert FAQ page.
First Alert’s “Child Awakening” feature uses voice technology to signal alarms. According to the company, this is a more effective way to wake up small children than the standard shrill beep of most smoke detectors.
Many First Alert smoke detectors combine child awakening with a Voice Location feature. This allows all the detectors in the house to verbally identify where in the house smoke or CO has been detected. Here’s how it works:
During installation, each unit is coded with one of 11 pre-programmed locations found in typical homes. The 11 locations to choose from are:
In case of an alarm, the signal is sent to all detectors in the system, which each begin speaking the type and location of the smoke/CO alarm. You’ll know what has been detected (smoke or carbon monoxide), as well as where in the house it’s coming from.
Hardwired 110/120-volt First Alert smoke alarms are designed with an orange interconnect wire. This connection causes all the hardwired smoke detectors in the house to sound when any single unit detects smoke. Some First Alert models also integrate wireless technology. These units can send alarm signals to other wireless smokes using First Alert’s One Link technology. What does this mean?
Suppose you buy an existing home wired with standard 110-volt smoke alarms, and then decide to add on a spare bedroom and office. You could replace one existing detector with a 110-volt First Alert smoke detector with the One Link feature. Next, add two other battery-powered One Link detectors in the new areas. All of the new smoke alarms would then be interconnected to the existing alarms. In case of a fire, all units in the home would sound an alarm when any one of them was tripped.
By the way, all of the First Alert 110-volt smoke detectors I’ve seen also have battery back-up. Most use either a standard 9-volt unit or two “AA” batteries. Alkaline batteries are recommended.
Get more information on hardwired smoke detectors.
If you have a home security system, always try to use smoke and CO detectors designed to be connected to that alarm. When considering a remodel or addition, plan to have smoke detector wiring added from the main alarm panel to any new smoke and/or CO detectors. BRK and System Sensor smoke detectors are compatible with most home alarm systems, and can be installed by your alarm company after wiring is complete.
If you don’t have an alarm system, or if there is no way to add smoke/CO detectors to it, First Alert smoke detectors can give you much needed fire protection. The battery operated and hardwired OneLink detectors are a good choice, and are available with both the voice location and child awakening options.
The combination of 110-volt hardwired and battery operated units with the One Link option allow retrofitting additional fire protection for remodeling. Depending on the situation, little or no electrical wiring would need to be added. Simple replacement and installation of a few new smoke detectors would cover the entire house, both existing and new.
Check out this page on Kidde Smoke Detectors.
If you have old FireX alarms that need replacement, see this page on FireX Smoke Detectors for the best options.
For helpful tips on what to do for beeping or falsing fire alarms, see this article on "Smoke Detector Problems and How to Solve Them".
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