Question About Hard Wired Smoke Detectors


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Old 01-01-09, 05:25 PM
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Exclamation Question About Hard Wired Smoke Detectors

Hello All-

First off I just want to say happy new year to everyone & thanks for reading my question \ helping out.....

Properly installing hardwired smoke detectors w\ battery back-up????

I'm in the process of rewiring my home. So far I have 3 rooms completed, and in each room I installed a hardwired smoke detector.

I currently have the smoke detectors wired into the rooms circut. For example, the hallway smoke detector is on the hall circut, the livingroom smoke detector is on the livingroom circut, and so on. Each detector is stand alone, I didn't interconnect them.

At first I thought I was good because I was putting a hardwired smoke detector in every room. I searched and found that thier is multiple opinions on this subject. Some say they must be on a dedicated circut, others say it's find the way it is?

I live in new jersey and want to comply with all codes. I'm using arc fault breakers in my bedrooms, ground fault breakers for my bathrooms, everything is 20amp, switches \ receptacles
etc...... As far as code goes all my work is above par. I'm just left with this smoke detector delema. Rewiring the exsisting detectors will involve costly opening up of finished walls....

What should I do? Rewire all detectors on a dedicated 14\3 line and interconnect them all, or am I fine having each one independent per room?

Thanks to all who answer

Mike
 
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Old 01-01-09, 05:43 PM
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"What should I do? Rewire all detectors on a dedicated 14\3 line and interconnect them all". There ya go!
 
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Old 01-01-09, 05:50 PM
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Sorry, but as chandler said, the bad news you were expecting is indeed the news.

It does, however, make me wonder what you used as a source of code information. It seems it was seriously lacking and perhaps there are other issues.
 
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Old 01-01-09, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by M_Hillegas View Post
everything is 20amp, switches \ receptacles
etc......
Mike
You will need 12/3 if these are 20 amp circuits.
Is this a single story house? If so, you can fish the walls or access the boxes in the ceiling.

If they're in the walls, and you can't fish in the existing boxes, tear them out and use old work boxes.
 
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Old 01-01-09, 06:28 PM
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**new question at bottom of post**

"It does, however, make me wonder what you used as a source of code information. It seems it was seriously lacking and perhaps there are other issues."

ouch, thanks alot for the vote of confidence.

But hey thats why I'm on here asking the question, to make sure I get it right!

Besides being wrong with my smoke detector wiring, no clue what I said that would lead you to believe that other work was faulty. I have 10 years exp. in telecom. installs, I have 3 jones\ncti certs, I completed an electrical construction course at my local community college years back. I've totally rewired 3 houses over the last 10 years, and all have passed inspections. I may be out of the loop with these smoke detectors, but everything else is on point. Current electrical code is very easy to comply with, every apliance is on it's own breaker, kitchen lighting \ counter top outlets on thier own breakers, baths 20 amp & own breakers, etc...... I use gfci's in baths, afci in bedrooms, I basically run 12\2 to everything even though it's over kill for lighting. The h\w heater and a\c comp. get 10\3 30 amp, everything else is fine..... Thank you for your concern though, didn't mean to be jumpy just kinda took that as an insult.

In those homes I rewired in the past I never installed hardwired units, just used the battery operated detectors and never had a problem with the inspector.

I started this new project in my own home, without consulting my local inspector first. I actually didn't think it would matter but I'm aparently I was wrong.

Lucky for me I'm still in the project and only have to rewire 3 units.

I think it's stupid to interconnect the detectors, and have them on thier own circut but whatever is code and what they want is how it'll get done.

Thanks for the input-

It shouldn't be to bad, I have to pull flooring in the attic to access 2 detectors, the other detector I have acess to the back side of the wall.

Only thing that pisses me off is I stapled the lines to the studs, so I'm faced with cutting and leaving a dead line in the wall... or removing finished sheetrock to gain acess to remving the line in it's entirerty.

**question**

my living room detector, currently has it's feed from a wall outlet junc. box. If I pull the detector, and pull the outlet, cut the line on each end, removing it from the circut and pushing it back into the wall \ cieling.....

is it ok to have a dead line in the wall going to nothing?

I have access to all 3 detectors from the attic. My only gripe is removing the old wiring that ties the dectectors into each circut.

Thanks again guys

*edit* I will use a 15amp breaker when I rewire the detectors with 14\3. I know the 14\15 12\20 10\30 etc.... I'm aware of the amp\gauge requirements. Thanks-
 
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Old 01-01-09, 07:19 PM
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is it ok to have a dead line in the wall going to nothing?
Yes. Make sure both ends are disconnected. You might want to tag it too so someone knows it's not in use.


Also remember, to interconnect them, you are going to need 12/3 wire, not 12-2.

I think it's stupid to interconnect the detectors, and have them on thier own circut but whatever is code and what they want is how it'll get done.
Think it's stupid? So if a fire is roaring on one side of the house, you don't want all detectors letting you know?

Per NFPA, they don't have to be on a dedicated circuit. I like to tie them into a lighting circuit, so if my lights don't work, I will know my smokes dont either.
 
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Old 01-01-09, 07:36 PM
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I didn't mean to insult--only express concern. I still, however, wonder what you used as a source of code information.
 
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Old 01-01-09, 08:53 PM
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what i meant by that comment about interconnecting the smoke detectors, is..... I have a small house, 1 story. If a smoke alarm goes off, I can hear which one is going off. That lets me know where and which room the fire \ smoke is in. Obviously if the room I'm in is ok, the detector isn't going off, but like said i'd hear the other one and know where the problem is. IE* attic, basement, kitchen etc..... I'll have 10 total when done. Basically one in every room minus the baths. Front porch, back porch, living room, 3bedrooms, hall, attic, basement etc...

I'd like some input on your opinions, this is off original topic, but I'll explain my set-up below. Please let me know if there is anything I missed or doesn't sound right.

"I still, however, wonder what you used as a source of code information."

my source of code information is whatever the inspector wants to see, and of course whatever is safe. I am however going by what i see on job sites on a daily basis. I'm always in and out of residental and commercial job sites all the time. I run cable, cat3, cat5, do networking, phone systems etc.... I have a wiring background, 10 years in, have electrical background, etc... but* I however am not liecenses nor have I read the "code book".

Heres my project-


I'm in an older house that at some point had a fuse panel swapped for a breaker panel. Mixed wiring throughout the house from previous "handy homeowner", very very shady things everywhere. Splices in wall with no junction boxes. I actually found orange extentioncord wire cord in the wall, was tapped off an outlet feeding the bathroom light switch. Dryer hooked up with 2hots, ground as netral and no ground, mostly old outlets with no ground, no ground fault anywheres. Things were bad, and to me unsafe.... just rigged everywhere.

Meter is updated and service comes into a new 100amp panel. I've broken circuts down per room. I have outlets every 6ft in regular rooms.

Kitchen has 2 counter outlets own breaker (12\2 20amp)
Stove own breaker (12\2 20amp)
Fridge own breaker (12\2 20amp)
Kitchen Lighting own breaker (12\2 20amp)
Livingroom own breaker (12\2 20amp)
Hallway own breaker (12\2 20amp)
Bed1 own afci breaker (12\2 20amp)
Bed2 own afci breaker (12\2 20amp)
Bed3 own afci breaker (12\2 20amp)
Front Porch own gfci breaker (12\2 20amp)
Back Porch own gfci breaker (12\2 20amp)
Basement own gfci breaker (12\2 20amp)
Sub-pump own gfci breaker (12\2 20amp)
Attic own breaker (14\2 15amp)
Garage own gfci breaker (14\2 15amp)
Hall bath own gfci breaker (12\2 20amp) *
Master bath own gfci breaker (12\2 20amp) *

*Each bath has 2 outlets, that are also gfci and independatly wired so if the outlet trips you still have lighting etc.. But Also have gfci breaker in panel-

I'm probly forgetting something, but thats the ballpark layout.
And of course I'll now be adding the smoke detector, which I'll use a 14\3 15 amp circut.


I would take the test for my state liecense but I don't meet my states requirements for application, requiring 5 years employment directly in the field or 4 years aprentice + 1 year on the job.
 
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Old 01-01-09, 09:17 PM
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It all sounds good. I think you're fine. In fact, your wiring is overkill in most situations--which is perfectly okay. You seem to have twice as many outlets as required, which should turn out to be quite useful. And you seem to have a lot more smoke detectors than required.

Many people might question wiring multiple GFCI in series (the one in the panel and the ones in the bathroom) since this means that you may have to check two places if it trips.

I will note that even electricians consult a code book occasionally. There are some unexpected codes. For example, some people don't realize that code requires a receptacle no farther than 36 inches from the rim of each bathroom sink?
 
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Old 01-01-09, 09:28 PM
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thanks john for the quick reply's-

I know I went overkill using all the 12\2, but I figured why not. I also bought all 20amp, switches & outlets. They were a little more expensive, but I figured better quality. I went over kill on the smoke detectors cause cause I figured it couldn't hurt. Also have a fire ext in the kitchen, basement, garage, etc.... Safety can't be bad.

I've heard by a couple electricians that if you have more then one outlet in a bathroom you have to have a gfci breaker. I don't like the idea of using standard outlets tied to a gfci breaker because if the circut trips you loose everything in the room. I wanted the outlets to trip independantly of each other, and also not kill the light \ fan which is on the same circut. The logical thing for me was to gfci protect the entire curcut with the breaker, then have the 2 outlets both independaly gfci?

make any sense? once again it's over kill, but I want everything there so there's no questions. Looks good in the bathroom, looks good in the panel.
 
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Old 01-01-09, 09:52 PM
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If the bathroom outlets are GFCI outlets, then the GFCI breaker is unnecessary. You could have used a standard breaker--in fact, it probably would have been better to use a standard breaker, especially based on your desire not to have a GFCI trip kill the entire room. If you have a ground fault in your bathroom, either the GFCI receptacle or the GFCI breaker or both would trip. So you still may darken your bathroom with a ground fault.

What you understood from what the electricians told you is incorrect.

Note that 20-amp receptacles are not necessarily better than 15-amp receptacles. A $2 version of each is the same quality.

Note also that code prohibits 20-amp receptacles on 15 amp circuits. So if you have any on 15-amp circuits (attic and garage), go buy some quality 15-amp receptacles. I found it a bit odd that you put the garage and attic on 15-amp circuits anyway since you used 20-amp circuits everywhere else. Why not just go 20-amp circuits all the way?

By the way, you didn't mention your laundry area. Code has special requirements for laundry areas.
 
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Old 01-01-09, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
By the way, you didn't mention your laundry area. Code has special requirements for laundry areas.
Yep that is a other hidden gotcha .,,

They do required GFCI for all the 120 volt circuit in the landury room and this circuit can not go to other rooms at all.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 01-02-09, 08:20 AM
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Gottcha-

Laundry is in the basement, the dryer is on it's own breaker, 10\3 wire with a 30 amp breaker. The Washer is on it's own breaker 20amp with 12\2 wire, the washer has a gfci outlet. I don't have a "laundry room" per say, it's just in the basement and both apliances are own thier own breaker. While on this subject, should I install a gfci breaker in the panel for the washer? Even though that circut has a gfci outlet that only feeds the washer?

I do use 15amp switches & outlets when using 15amp breakers and 14\2 wire.

I ran 14\2 to the attic, because that circut has 3 Lights, 1 outlet, and the exhaust fan. I never go in the attic, so I figured there would never be any significant draw on that circut. For the most part it's only got the fan going, and thats only in the summer.

The garage is detatched, I used the exsisting feed that is burried in a conduit from house to garage. The exsisting wire is
14\2, it was the newest line in the house, the heavy outdoor stuff with the thick grey coating. I would love to run 12\2 out to the garage, but I'll probably get around to digging up the old conduit, and running a new service with a sub panel out there.

The other issue is the smoke detectors themselfs. They all have to be the same brand. I had planned on throwing a few combo smoke \ carbon in the mix. Now I hear that won't work? I'll have to go all the same brand smokes, and then go back and add in sep carbon's
 
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Old 01-02-09, 10:04 AM
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Single-pole GFCI breakers are almost never necessary. In almost all cases, GFCI receptacles do the same job for much less money.

Smoke detectors all need to be compatible, usually but not necessarily the same brand. Smoke detector manufacturers provide a list for each of their units identifying which other detectors they are compatible with.
 
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Old 01-02-09, 04:26 PM
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Would the use of wireless AC smoke alarms be acceptable here?
 
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Old 01-02-09, 06:09 PM
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Terrific idea Joe! I think this might be the best answer.
 
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Old 01-02-09, 06:59 PM
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I wouldn't go wireless.

1- I still have to rewire the smoke so there on thier own circut. That alone requires running new wire. At that point I might as well just run the 14\3??? right.... cause they're wired per room circut, so each is on a different breaker with each room.

2- I'm one of those nut jobs that hard wires everything. I don't want any more wireless signals passing through my head then is already... lol, i don't even use a wireless router, nor would I use wireless alarm sensors, security camera feeds, basically anything. If it can be wired, i'd rather run the line.

I was at home depot today picking up my 14\3 line and a bunch of other things, not bad price 250ft $57 bux.

I asked the guy there just for the hell of it. He says it has to be on a lighting circut, and that it would fail for being on it's own. For reasons I'd heard stated, so that you know the breaker is tripped.

I'm putting them on thier own circut for now. I think thats my best best.

** but ** before i get started....... if i was to use all wireless smokes, they'd all be interconnected obviously- but would i then be ok with having each wired to different circuts??

I'm not sure if the interconnecting is more important, or the wiring to them is the bigger issue?
 
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Old 01-02-09, 08:11 PM
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I am not sure if you are in North East Maryland or not.

Maryland passed a State law also requiring a hard-wired CO detector also. I believe that this only affects homes with fuel fired appliances like water heaters, furnaces and fireplaces. An all electric house may not need a CO detector.
 
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Old 01-02-09, 08:27 PM
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I still have to rewire the smoke so there on thier own circut
No you don't.

would i then be ok with having each wired to different circuts?
Yes......
 
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Old 01-02-09, 08:35 PM
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Let me add little more to John's comment above if he don't mind it for a second.,,


It will be wise idea have smoke alarm circuit tied to common lighting circuit due the reason why if the lights don't come on then you know you have issue with the circuit.

However there is one gotcha I know some of you may overlooked this one but any smoke alarm that do go in the bedroom area if the bedroom circuits do have AFCI then unforetally the smoke alarm have to be AFCI'ed If your state or location do required then run the smoke alarm from bedroom circuit and work it way out.

{ becarefull some inspectors want to check this circuit where it start }

Now for the second thing here

to run the smoke alarm on diffrent circuits some area you can but a good gotcha is watch the interconnecion conductor { some states may not approve this methold }

Merci,Marc
 
 

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