When most people think of smoke alarms, they think of the battery operated alarm units installed in their homes. However, while those are certainly the most common type of smoke alarm, there are also hardwired smoke alarm options that are much better suited to commercial and industrial applications.
Never Forget to Check or Change Batteries
One of the biggest benefits of a wired smoke alarm for a commercial building is that you never need to worry about checking or changing the batteries in the unit, since they run of the main power in the building. That having been said, most of these units also come with a long life backup battery, which means that they continue to work in the event of a power failure. Those batteries typically last for around ten years.
Hard-wired smoke alarm systems are ideally suited to installation in commercial building settings because the units can be linked, so that if the alarm sounds in one part of the building, it will sound elsewhere too. This is especially useful in large buildings where people are spread out over a large floor area.
Hard-wired systems can also be integrated with other systems in your building, such as a building management system.
Another benefit of hard wired smoke alarm systems is that they can be connected to commercially available strobe lights, that offer visual cues of an alarm to hard of hearing people or people working in noisy environments. In many cases, these types of systems are a health and safety requirement.
Installation, Repair and Replacement
Because hard-wired smoke alarms connect directly into the main power in your building, a qualified electrician must install them. This can either be done when your building is being constructed, or later on as a retrofit.
Likewise, if your smoke alarm requires repair or replacement, you will need to have a licensed electrician carry out the work for you, to ensure that your electrical is not damaged in the process.
Cost Versus Value
Hard-wired smoke detectors tend to be more expensive than portable battery powered versions. However, they are also usually better at detecting problems earlier on, which can be a big plus in a busy commercial setting where time is of the essence in an emergency.
These units also need less frequent maintenance and no annual checks, and in most cases, OSHA and insurance companies will require these types of units for safety and security reasons. In fact, the legal implications of a faulty smoke alarm, in the event of a fire, far outweigh the cost of a good system.
If you are still using battery powered smoke detectors in your building, or if you suspect that your hard wired system may not be working correctly, be sure to contact an electrician sooner rather than later. Your building safety relies on finding and fixing any issues as soon as possible.