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! 🙂