Which Breaker Controls My Smoke Detector

man installing smoke detector

Smoke detectors are a vital part of both commercial and residential buildings. In most localities, they are mandated by the electrical code. The need for smoke detectors is apparent and not something anyone can argue about. According to research, smoke detectors are instrumental in saving lives in case of a fire outbreak.

Generally, a normal residential home can operate on a single smoke detector strategically located. However, more often, you will find people using more than one smoke detector.

Those who have large living spaces may want to consider installing two or even more smoke detectors. For instance, if you are living in a double-story house, you may want to consider a separate detector for the upstairs.

Types of Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors can easily be classified based on the type of power that keeps them operational. Although these gadgets are vital and can detect even the slightest presence of smoke, they rely on power. In other words, without electricity, the detectors will not function.

Based on their power source, smoke detectors can be classified into battery-powered and hard-wire powered. These two are the main types and vary only in the way they are powered. Besides the source of power, all smoke detectors are the same and work in the same way.

What Is a Hardwired Smoke Detector?

The term hardwired here means that an electric wire that powers the smoke detector runs directly into the electrical connection box. This is quite different from devices that are powered by plugging into the wall.

With hardwired devices, you do not get to see cable lines. The cables run behind the ceiling or the walls. They then deliver the power to the smoke detector. Without the power, the smoke detector could virtually become useless.

So Which Breaker Controls the Electric System

circuit breaker box

If you are a DIYer and trying to connect a smoke detector personally, you may run into various problems. Mostly, there are questions about where exactly the smoke detector should be connected.

In other situations, you have a problem if you are trying to repair a broken smoke detector. Unless you know which specific circuit breaker the detector is connected to, you may run into trouble.

Generally, there is no requirement to have the smoke detector connected to a specific circuit. The circuit to which the smoke detector is connected depends on the technician handling wiring. However, in more cases than not, residential smoke detectors are installed by splitting the general lighting circuit.

This can either be a 15-ap circuit wired with 14 gauge wires or a 20 amp circuit wired with 12 gauge cable. These are the acceptable standards for powering smoke detectors.

In some instances, especially in commercial buildings, the smoke detectors are connected to an independent circuit breaker. There are several reasons put forward to explain the different scenarios.

For residential wiring, it is generally assumed that for the smoke detector to remain on, it has to be connected to the lighting system. It is a fact that most people can't stay for long without lights. Asa result, it is easy to keep the smoke detectors on when connected to the lighting.

On the other hand, most experts recommend connecting smoke detectors to an independent breaker in commercial buildings. When this is done, there must be a label on the specified circuit breaker indicating that it is the smoke detector. This way, it keeps everyone aware that the circuit must never be turned off.

How to DIY Wire Smoke Detector

man installing smoke detector

Wiring a smoke detector is an easy and straightforward procedure. In most cases, old electrical boxes are installed in strategic locations where smoke detectors can easily be installed. However, even in the case where you want your smoke detector some distance from the box, it is still easy.

You may choose to use an independent circuit or share it with the other appliance, specifically lighting. Run a 2-wire cable from the power source to the first smoke detector. If you already have the first smoke detector in place, you can move to the next step.

The next step is to link the first smoke detector with the others in a sequence. Use a 3-wire cable to link their devices.

Bottom Line

In your case, it is not even necessary to know the source of power for your smoke detector. As long as you can locate your first smoke detector, use a 3-wire cable to link it to the other smoke detector. They will both be using the same circuit breaker.