I had a knock on the door last night from my friendly neighbour in the flat above asking if I could take a look at his smoke alarms. He said that they keep going off all the time and asked if there was anything I can do about it. As he was talking, he stopped himself mid sentence looked quizzically and asked, do electricians repair smoke alarms?
I thought this may make an interesting topic for a post, as a quick google search shows me he’s not the only person wondering this. I did some research asking colleagues and online communities to discover if other electricians install smoke alarms or just me when I get a knock on the door late at night!
All electricians install smoke alarms in domestic premises but most do not install smoke alarms in commercial properties. Domestic smoke alarm systems are straightforward but commercial systems require a higher degree of expertise and are left to specialist fire alarm installers.
This distinction between commercial and domestic properties may seem a tad confusing at first.
Most people reading this article I’m assuming will be homeowners wanting to have a smoke alarm installed in their property and wandering who to ring – so we’ll focus on domestic smoke alarm systems in this post.
Commercial smoke alarm systems are much more complex and work on a ‘closed protocol system’ This basically means that the fire alarm company who installed it have protection over the system so they are the only people allowed to work on it. (They basically lock the alarm panels with codes that only they know and claim intellectual property rights over the system)
Survey Asking Electricians, Do You Install Smoke Alarms in Domestic Properties?
|Number of Electricians
We can see from the results that all electricians polled said they install smoke alarms in customers houses if required. This is part of an electricians normal work in the same way we would install a lighting circuit or a cooker circuit.
Although electricians do install smoke alarms, it’s handy to know what the work involves and depending on the alarm type you may decided to do the work yourself.
Smoke Alarms Can be Battery Operated or Mains Powered
Homeowners can choose between battery powered or mains powered smoke alarms if retro fitting a system into an existing property. Battery powered alarms are simple to install but rely solely on the battery being charged. Newer build homes will always have mains powered alarms.
The regulation changes meant that new electrical installations must be fitted with a mains supplied smoke alarm system that is interlinked.
By having the alarms interlinked, if one alarm activates (say in the kitchen for example) then the other alarm will activate by default (say on the upstairs landing for example). This is a huge safety benefit as the chances of staying asleep in bed with all the alarms activating is very slim.
The below image shows the base plate of a mains powered alarm in my flat. The IC connection stands for interlink. Be warned all these cables shown are live.
If you are retro fitting some smoke alarms in a house, battery powered alarms are considered adequate in most cases and can save a lot of mess.
Many battery alarms now come with sealed 10 year life batteries and have the ability to be wirelessly interlinked so we still can get some of the benefits of the mains powered system without worrying if the electrician is going to re-plaster the walls afterwards.
Most electricians would be happy to come around and fit battery smoke alarms, or alternatively it is a simple job any handy man can do. The fire service may even be able to come around and fit alarms for free as part of a fire safety visit.
If you decide you want a mains wired system then this is a job for a qualified electrician.
Comparison Table for Different Smoke Alarm Types and Costs
|Type of Alarm Smoke Alarm
|Mains powered interlinked when hardwired
|Battery standalone alarm (replaceable battery)
|Mains powered interlinked via wireless (or hardwired)
|Battery standalone smoke alarm (10 year sealed battery)
|Battery interlinked via wireless (10 year sealed battery)
|Mains powered standalone, sends alert to phone (replaceable battery)
- We can see from the table that battery standalone alarms are the cheapest to purchase.
- Wireless interlinked alarms are some of the most expensive.
It may be worth considering the extra outlay on wireless interlinked alarms to prevent spending extra money on installation costs by the electrician. In some instances the amount of disruption caused to wire a cable between the alarms makes the wireless linked system a much better option.
I’ve never tried the Google nest alarms so I can’t comment on if they’re worth the additional expense. They do seem to have a loyal following on the reviews I read so I may have to take a closer look (not sure if I want a txt when there is a fire though, think I prefer a good old fashioned loud ringing sound!)
How Long it Takes an Electrician to Install a Smoke Alarm
It takes an electrician around 4 – 6 hours to install an interlinked smoke alarm system consisting of a heat alarm in the kitchen, a smoke alarm in the hallway and a smoke alarm on the first floor landing. The time increases depending upon how difficult it is to get the cables between each alarm.
As with any time estimates it depends a lot on the building layout; but this hopefully provides some idea.
The best option is to get some real quotes from electricians who can see the work in person and make an assessment. The electrician may advise that a wireless linked system is a better alternative to a hard wired interlinked system as it would cause much less disruption.
Is it Messy Work to Have a Smoke Alarm Installed in your House?
Installing a smoke alarm in a domestic property can be disruptive. Getting the cables from A to B is always a challenge and unfortunately there are no easy solutions. Occasionally floor boards need to be lifted and cables fished down wall cavities.
If we are simply replacing a smoke alarm on a like for like basis then this is a much more straightforward task. Sometimes we even get lucky and find the new smoke alarm fits onto the existing base that is already attached to the ceiling, wired and ready to go.
How Much Does it Cost to Have a Smoke Alarm Installed in a House?
The average cost to have a wired smoke alarm system installed in a home is £200 plus the cost of the alarms at around £20 each. Some homeowners may choose the cheaper option of having battery alarms fitted which costs an average of £50 with the costs of the alarms at around £15 each.
The data for these averages was sourced from this website. As before with the time estimate the best way to get an accurate quote is to post the job for free on one of the tradesmen websites, such as ratedpeople, and get accurate quotes from real electricians in your area.
A full mains interlinked system that is via a new circuit from the consumer unit can be much more costly, especially if the walls need chasing and repairing afterwards. Getting advice from a local electrician is the best idea.
This post is designed to provide some helpful info to get homeowners started, please get a professional electrician in to look at your exact property for a real risk assessment. We all know how dangerous fire is so be sure to do your research thoroughly!