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Frequently Asked Questions about Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms and their legislation can be confusing, so we've compiled a list of resources for anyone who isn't sure about what system they need, or have.

Here are answers from our expert electricians to the most frequent questions about home safety and smoke alarm systems. If you don't see your answer here, be sure to contact us for more information! We answer calls 9-5 Mon-Fri.

Frequently Asked Questions About Smoke Alarms

Many home insurers will only want to insure homes that are fully up-to-speed with fire safety legislation, others may charge a premium for those yet to comply.

The only way to be sure is to upgrade!

There have been some horror stories in the past of homeowners realising they need their smoke alarms to be compliant with the new law for their home insurance to be valid. Don't get caught out!

Most home insurers will be put at ease by properties with stringent safety measures in place, the less hazards, the cheaper the premium! There can be many advantages to upgrading your smoke alarms.

Upgrade your system today for your peace of mind, your insurers will definitely thank you!


Last update: 05/11/2021

The short answer - No.

Many homes will already have one hardwired smoke alarm in the hallway. This was required in legislation a few years ago and so is especially common in rented properties and new-builds. If this is the only alarm in your home, your system will need to be upgraded. It is also likely that the alarm does not comply with regulations requiring all alarms to have sealed 10-year lithium batteries.

You have two options in this case, you can either upgrade your hardwired alarm and add a radio frequency module for £50. This will allow it to be interlinked with any other alarm we install. The other option is to replace it with a battery-powered (standalone) alarm while you upgrade your system to make your home compliant.

Many people are being told by local authorities, councils or other electrical firms that only hardwired alarms comply with the upcoming regulations: This is not the case. The new regulations are more concerned with the batteries in the alarms. As long as the alarms are interlinked and have sealed, 10-year lithium batteries, they comply.

The cheaper option is to replace your hardwired alarm with a battery-powered alarm when getting your home system upgraded to meet standards. Keeping a hardwired alarm is a more expensive installation, and the radio frequency module that is needed to link it with battery alarms also increases the cost.


Last update: 07/10/2021

An interlinked alarm system is a system in which every alarm is connected. If one alarm detects smoke, they sound in every room, even if smoke hasn't reached the detector. This is a requirement under new Scottish law for smoke & heat alarms that gives you precious seconds to take action.

It is highly important that alarms are linked throughout your property, a recent study showed that 27 out of 34 children will sleep through a smoke alarm that isn't in their room.

CO detectors do not need to be linked to your system but they do have to be in every room with a fuel-burning appliance and any room that a flue runs through. Smoke & Heat alarms can be linked either by the wires connecting them or by a radio-frequency module in battery-powered alarms.

Our Aico alarm systems come with a RadioLINK module which makes your smoke alarm system Interlinked. They use radio frequency to link alarms and have a wireless range of 30 metres in standard properties. Radio frequency signals are not affected by BlueTooth, WiFi or other wireless devices. For more info, check out Aico's description of its RadioLINK technology.

Hardwired systems can also be interlinked through cables but it is recommended to use radio frequency modules to link them in the case of a power outage.


Last update: 27/08/2021

Have you ever had a smoke alarm that would go off seemingly at random? Whenever you were making toast, even if you didn't burn anything? Chances are this was an ionisation sensor smoke alarm. Ionisation alarms are much more sensitive to steam and vapours and are prone to giving false alarms when installed near kitchens or showers.

If you are a landlord, this can be a danger since there have been many cases of tenants disabling the alarms due to their nuisance or over-sensitivity. Ionisation alarms are cheaper, but safety is priceless!

Optical sensors on the other hand detect larger particles of smoke and are the safer and more accurate option for your property, rental or owner-occupied. Optical sensors react less to steam and cooking vapours and more to things like cigarette smoke (ie: smoke from real fires). We only sell Aico Optical alarms as they are the best choice for compliance with New Scottish Government Legislation.

Don't wait for your tenants to disable all of their alarms, fit out your property with our high-quality Aico optical smoke alarms before new legislation comes into place in February 2022.


Last update: 03/08/2021

The short answer—10 years.

The long answer—it really depends on your alarms.

New Scottish Government legislation states that all alarms fitted in properties now need 10-year, tamper-proof sealed lithium batteries that last the entire life of the alarm. Replaceable battery-powered alarms are no longer appropriate for use in Scotland.

What Type of Alarm do I Have?

If you can easily remove the battery from your alarm and the battery is one you could buy in a shop, it needs to be replaced with a new compliant alarm.

If you cannot easily access/remove the battery from your alarm then it has a sealed battery that likely lasts the entire life of the unit. If you know when the alarm was installed, you'll know how long it will work until it needs to be replaced.

Replaceable battery alarms also have a 10-year use life but are often used long past that, due to the replaceable nature of the batteries. With a sealed battery, tenants cannot keep using the alarm after it has reached the end of its use-life and will need to replace it. This is a far safer option for landlords.

It is also recommended that you or your tenants test the alarms weekly and gently clean the area around them every three months, to prevent dust or dirt from blocking their sensors.

If you are still unsure about whether or not your alarm system needs upgrading, please contact us and one of our electricians will advise.


Last update: 03/08/2021

No.

They do not meet the standards required by Scottish home safety legislation.

Nest Protect does not offer a heat sensor required for safety in kitchens in Scotland.

Google owns Nest Protect. You must create an account with Google and share your private data with them to use Nest Protect smoke alarms.

Nest Protect only comes with a 2-year warranty. Our Aico smoke alarms are guaranteed for 10 years.

Nest Protect batteries need to be changed regularly. Our Aico smoke alarms' sealed, tamper-proof Lithium batteries last 10-years. Guaranteed.

We install everything we sell for one fixed, low price. Nest Protect will usually cost you more without installation.


Last update: 03/08/2021

A Hardwired Smoke Alarm System differs from a Standalone Smoke Alarm System in that it is directly connected to your property's mains electricity supply.

Mains-powered systems are a bigger installation project, hence the extra cost. Our electricians are registered and fully certified for your peace of mind. Don't let an unregistered or "cheap" electrician install your alarms!

In the case of power outages, our hardwired alarms are also fitted with tamper-proof, 10-year lithium batteries, in compliance with new Scottish Government regulations.

If you are adding an extension to your property, you need a hardwired system.

If your property already has a hardwired system, it still may not comply with these regulations. For example: if your alarms are old or fitted with replaceable alkaline batteries. Smoke Alarms Edinburgh electricians will check all existing wiring when upgrading your hard-wired system.


Last update: 26/07/2021

A Standalone Smoke Alarm System differs from a Hardwired Smoke Alarm System in that the alarms run on batteries and are not connected via cables.

To comply with new Scottish Government Regulations, all homes need an interlinked smoke alarm system, meaning that if one alarm sounds, all other alarms also will sound. Our standalone alarms are fitted with RadioLINK modules which connect each alarm to every other alarm.

If you already have an interlinked alarm system in your property, it may still need upgrading: For example, if the alarms are fitted with replaceable batteries. Only tamper-proof 10-year lithium batteries comply.

Standalone alarm systems are a quicker and less intrusive installation and are recommended if the property doesn't have an existing hardwired system. Our electricians are registered and fully qualified for your peace of mind, don't let an unregistered or "cheap" electrician install your alarms!


Last update: 26/07/2021

Smoke Alarm installations can take different times depending on certain factors, such as: The number of alarms needed, the type of alarm system being installed and the layout of the property.

Hard-wired systems are a more complex installation and may take a full day, depending on the number of alarms and existing wire condition of the property. Upgrading a hard-wired system takes much less time than installing one. Since hard-wired systems are directly wired into your property's mains supply, power will need to be turned off in intervals during the installation.

Standalone systems are more straightforward to install and most properties can be fitted out in a matter of hours.

Unsure which alarms you need? Check out our FAQ page.


Last update: 26/07/2021
  • My HMO property has interlinked alarms in every room.
  • My new extension has an alarm hard-wired into my existing system.
  • My rental property has tamper-proof, 10-year lithium battery powered alarms in the hallway, living room & heat & CO detectors in the kitchen.
  • My two-storey home has tamper-proof, 10-year lithium battery powered alarms in the hallway, upstairs landing, living room & heat & CO detectors in the kitchen.  
  • My system was installed by a qualified, registered electrician who was aware of the new government guidelines.

If your system ticks these above boxes you probably don't need to upgrade. If you have any doubt or still don't know, please get in touch today!

  • I have to replace the batteries in my smoke alarms.
  • My gas boiler is in the garage and I only have a CO detector in the kitchen.
  • My standalone alarms are not fitted with radio-frequency modules to interlink them.
  • My alarms are hard-wired with an alkaline battery backup.
  • My new extension has a battery-powered alarm.
  • My HMO property doesn't have alarms in the bedrooms.
  • I'm a landlord and I think my system complies, but I don't have certification to prove it.

These are cases in which your system does not comply and you'll need to upgrade. Get in touch to arrange your installation!

Still Unsure?

Follow this link for more information on the new regulations which come into effect in February 2022.


Last update: 26/07/2021

Smoke Alarm Jargon Glossary

Here's a quick guide to some frequently used terms when referring to smoke alarm systems.
Standalone – a smoke alarm/system that runs on batteries.
Hardwired – a smoke alarm/system that runs on mains power.
Interlinked – an alarm system in which all alarms sound at once, every time one is triggered.
Optical – an alarm which is less sensitive to vapours and more to larger smoke particles, making it more accurate.
Ionisation – an alarm that is very sensitive to vapours and will often sound when there is no danger present.

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