Smoke Detector Batteries

It’s the end of this year’s Daylight Saving Time this weekend and that means that it’s also “change the batteries in your smoke detector” weekend. I’m not sure how long this has been a tradition, but it’s not one I typically follow. Here’s why.

I have a repeating item on my (digital) todo list to test the smoke detectors. Now, I’m not sure what exactly is being tested, but I do know that quite often after the test the detector will start emitting periodic beeps to indicate a low battery. I normally use this to determine when to replace the batteries, thus not feeling the need to replace them on a set schedule.

However, over the last few years I’ve noticed that the beeps often subside after a few minutes. I’m uncertain what this means. I had previously decided that this indicated that the battery wasn’t all that low afterall and only registered as low immediately after being tested. So, I stopped changing them with the presumption that the warning would last longer as the battery got worse and it would become incessant enough to replace. After all, this has happened without the test.

I let this go for a while and it didn’t leave me feeling very confident. So, last DST change (I think), I (had the kids) replace all of the batteries. Several of the detectors immediately started chirping their battery warnings. Annoying.

I’ve decided this whole thing is a scam being perpetrated by some sort of collusion between the detector manufacturers and the battery manufacturers. The detectors are connected into the house’s power anyway (aren’t they? Those wires aren’t just for hooking with the alarm system, are they?), so why can’t they simply include a capacitor that will hold enough charge to run the detector during a power outage? Perhaps the power needed to actually sound the alarm is too much.

By the way, even though the 9-volt batteries required by the detectors are a bit expensive, it isn’t actually the cost that prevents me from simply changing them on a schedule (okay, there might be someone reading this who knows about my cheapness for non-entertainment, so let me say that the cost isn’t the only factor), but rather the trouble of actually changing them. Getting out the ladder, removing the detector from the ceiling, prying that dang battery cover off, detaching the battery from the overly tight coupling and then reversing all of that. Times nine. Not fun.

Oh, right — I can just have the kids do it. Problem solved! 🙂

  1. #1 by Poppy on November 5, 2010 - 6:17 pm

    Collusion, hehehehe.

    You’ll be horrified to know we’ve changed our batteries exactly one time since moving here, and we’ve been here over 2 years now. Time to change.


    • #2 by Ren on November 5, 2010 - 6:34 pm

      It also just occurred to me to wonder when the detectors themselves should be replaced.


      • #3 by Ken on November 8, 2010 - 9:49 am

        I believe the recommendation is 10 years…

        I can’t recall if that’s from the information on the device itself or from seeing something online.


  2. #4 by DutchBitch on November 7, 2010 - 3:39 am

    That’s what kids are for…


    • #5 by Ren on November 7, 2010 - 11:15 am

      Indeed! 🙂


  3. #6 by martymankins on November 8, 2010 - 12:39 pm

    Thanks to this post, I found the extra 9-volt battery i had (new) and did the replacement over the weekend.


    • #7 by Ren on November 8, 2010 - 12:46 pm

      You’re welcome. 🙂


  4. #8 by Lisa on November 12, 2010 - 10:56 am

    My smoke detector has jumped on the crazy train and needs to be replaced. It started going off for no reason whatsoever, and now its battery is disconnected. I really need to get on that.


    • #9 by Ren on November 12, 2010 - 10:58 am

      Yes! Avoid the unnecessary risk.

      Of course, if everyone else’s regulations are like ours, there’s a detector both inside and outside of each bedroom, so one being broken probably isn’t that big a problem.


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