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your 2 cents on my smoke alarm setup with elk m1


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#1 usuallyresourceful

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 12:03 PM

So, I'm addicted to my insteon system at this point and find myself throwing money at smarthome.

I am trying to figure out how to hookup AC 4 wire smoke alarms to the elk m1 for a reasonable price. Here is what I am come up with so far in doing the research.

As far as my setup goes I have four wire (red, black, white, gold) ran to each smoke alarm location. So they will all be wired up to AC and be able to set one another off if one trips.(by state code can't use DC, have to find ac alternative or else this would be easy just hook it up to elk m1)

So my potential smoke alarms will be 3 wire. These seem to be hard to find, can anyone chime in? These will have to have a dry contact AND the relay will have to pull on the backup battery if the power goes out.

Now I have to wire this setup to my elk m1. I called up first alert and they said the RM4 relay is available for their 3 wire alarms, but they said they have not tested this for my application and guarantee nothing.

So I am kinda stuck at this point on finding the right 3 wire system to hookup to the elk m1? Any suggestions?

#2 Lou Apo

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 12:48 PM

Are you sure your code says that smoke detectors need to be AC? I am not familiar with any monitored system that uses AC current for the smokes. All of the non-monitored ones are AC, presumbly becuase it is easier to wire since no transformers are required.

When I built my house the electricians asked if the security system would include the smokes. They laughed at how often they see builders who pay no attention to what is going on and then they get two smoke detectors at each location sitting side by side, the electricians model, and the alarm company model. They were quite clear that you only are required to have one or the other. Of course, I told them no smokes needed on their part.

They were quite clear that the smokes need to alarm everywhere and that there needs to be one in each bedroom and one outside of each sleeping area (the hallway to the bedrooms). They may have also said you need at least one on each floor but I forget. When I lived in Michigan many years ago, I recall the code being the same.

#3 usuallyresourceful

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 02:14 PM

Thanks for the input Lou Apo,

It seems that I might be able to get away with it, but the code says specifically AC powered smokes. I talked to the electrician to see what could be done. He said the wires are already ran into the breaker as well.

What you said about the bedrooms and levels is correct.

I looked into some AC smokes I could use from first alert. The wire that sends the signal for all the smokes to go off sends 9V down the line. So maybe I can use first alerts, and just tap into the traveler wire with a home made relay; if i cannot find something online that will work.

I wonder why there is not a lot of info on the internet about this. It seems like an issue that many people might run into. Please post if you know of some products that might help out. Thanks all.

Edited by usuallyresourceful, 27 April 2011 - 02:36 PM.


#4 PaulB

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 02:47 PM

Thanks for the input Lou Apo,

It seems that I might be able to get away with it, but the code says specifically AC powered smokes. I talked to the electrician to see what could be done. He said the wires are already ran into the breaker as well.

What you said about the bedrooms and levels is correct.

I looked into some AC smokes I could use from first alert. The wire that sends the signal for all the smokes to go off sends 9V down the line. So maybe I can use first alerts, and just tap into the traveler wire with a home made relay; if i cannot find something online that will work.

I wonder why there is not a lot of info on the internet about this. It seems like an issue that many people might run into. Please post if you know of some products that might help out. Thanks all.


There are several threads about smoke alarms in this forum. Following is just one of them.

Smoke alarms


Hope this helps it's pretty long but I found it interesting discussion.

#5 usuallyresourceful

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 03:57 PM

There are several threads about smoke alarms in this forum. Following is just one of them.

Smoke alarms


Hope this helps it's pretty long but I found it interesting discussion.



Thanks for the reply Paul.

I read the forums I could find and I realized that I found much better results with the keyword 'smokes'. This is a new slang term for me.

Anywayz, I got more confused over those discussions, but I know why! I thought that smoke 'detectors', and smoke 'alarms' were all the same thing until I called up System Sensor. That guy cleared everything up.

Smoke alarms are the 120V units that are made to be independant of an elk security panel. They make noise to get you out of the house and save your life. By code they are not allowed to be hooked up to anything like what I am trying to do, and you wouldn't want to. Thats why there is so little information or products out there to do this.

Smoke DETECTORS are the 12V-30V units that are completely separate from Smoke ALARMS, and are made to be easily hooked up to elk and many other brands of panels. This system is allowed to call you, email you, call a security company, etc. These systems use two or four low voltage wires.

With all this said. I am going with the i3 Smoke DETECTOR series from System Sensor. Here's the order.

2WTA-B - The 2WTA-B is a 2-wire, photoelectric i3 smoke detector with thermal sensor and built-in sounder. Have to figure out the quantity, i'll have to research where these should be placed.

RRS - MOD - The RRS-MOD is a reversing relay/synchronization module for use with i3 Series detectors with built-in sounder.

EOLR-1 - End-of-line epoxy encapsulated (SPST) relay


For the Smoke ALARMS, I'm just gonna go purchase a system from Lowes

Previously when Lou asked "Are you sure your code says that smoke detectors need to be AC?" I was thinking smoke alarms.

Thanks all for the help. This ones solved.

#6 ano

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 04:26 PM

Thanks for the reply Paul.

I read the forums I could find and I realized that I found much better results with the keyword 'smokes'. This is a new slang term for me.

Anywayz, I got more confused over those discussions, but I know why! I thought that smoke 'detectors', and smoke 'alarms' were all the same thing until I called up System Sensor. That guy cleared everything up.

Smoke alarms are the 120V units that are made to be independant of an elk security panel. They make noise to get you out of the house and save your life. By code they are not allowed to be hooked up to anything like what I am trying to do, and you wouldn't want to. Thats why there is so little information or products out there to do this.

Smoke DETECTORS are the 12V-30V units that are completely separate from Smoke ALARMS, and are made to be easily hooked up to elk and many other brands of panels. This system is allowed to call you, email you, call a security company, etc. These systems use two or four low voltage wires.

With all this said. I am going with the i3 Smoke DETECTOR series from System Sensor. Here's the order.

2WTA-B - The 2WTA-B is a 2-wire, photoelectric i3 smoke detector with thermal sensor and built-in sounder. Have to figure out the quantity, i'll have to research where these should be placed.

RRS - MOD - The RRS-MOD is a reversing relay/synchronization module for use with i3 Series detectors with built-in sounder.

EOLR-1 - End-of-line epoxy encapsulated (SPST) relay


For the Smoke ALARMS, I'm just gonna go purchase a system from Lowes

Previously when Lou asked "Are you sure your code says that smoke detectors need to be AC?" I was thinking smoke alarms.

Thanks all for the help. This ones solved.


You've come to the correct conclusion. This is the correct solution that EVERYONE should follow when using 120V smokes and an alarm panel, but you'd be surprised how many stubborn people there are that claim to know better than the codes dictate.

Typically you you need a sensor outside of each sleeping area and at least one per floor, but local laws do vary. At least meet the minimums with the 120V smokes. Then you have fully met the code. Then add as many ELK wired smokes as you should need. I'd be a bit more liberal with these, and typically its also a really good idea to install heat sensors in the attic, garage and kitchen. DON'T install smoke detectors in these locations.

#7 Lou Apo

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 05:00 PM

I would see if you can't get a call into your building inspector and find out exactly what they want locally. I put these in my house http://www.amazon.co...3941080&sr=1-16 and only these and there were no inspection issues. They have built in sounders, supervising relays, are 4 wire, and do smoke and heat. And, unlike an AC system, they still work when the power goes out. And they call the fire department automatically.

I put a smoke detector sort of in the kitchen, it is just on the other side of a large arched opening into the adjacent room. The two feet or so of wall dropping off the ceiling holds back a small amount of smoke in the kitchen. Since kitchens are one of the most likely places to start a fire I wanted a smoke detector nearby, but didn't want a false alarm every time someone burnt some toast. So far, no false alarms. I want a little overkill on my smoke detecotrs with 12 in the house.

#8 usuallyresourceful

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 10:14 PM

As far as code goes, everything is legit. The smoke alarms are setup in every room. After talking with an inspector I found out that as long as the smoke alarms are up to code I am free to setup smoke detectors as I please.

Thanks for the products advice Lou, those are very well priced for the features. I may have to reconsider my plan.

Thanks for the tips ano. I hadn't though about heat sensors before, but that sounds like a smart idea.

#9 ano

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 04:46 PM

Heat detectors are important because many fires do start in the attic. Think about it, your gone and a fire starts in the attic, it may be a long time before a smoke alarm in the living areas triggers. My home has fire sprinklers, and even those are little help against attic fires. (They are considering requiring attic sprinklers, but those are pretty rare.)

#10 Work2Play

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 12:56 AM

My home has fire sprinklers, and even those are little help against attic fires. (They are considering requiring attic sprinklers, but those are pretty rare.)

I did notice my home (which also has sprinklers) has one above the furnace in the attic, but I think that was probably the only one. It's definitely smart to protect this area as well.

#11 tadr

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 01:47 PM

Is there any reason not to attach the Elk via a relay attached to the interconnect line? Does this create any code problems? For example, Kidde has a relay that you can connect to the interconnect line here: http://www.amazon.co...data/B001AYERC2 The relay has both normally-open and normally-closed connections.

It's trivial to hook the relay up straight to the Elk. Any reason why this is a no-no?

Edited by tadr, 02 May 2011 - 01:48 PM.


#12 Lou Apo

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 05:10 PM

I did notice my home (which also has sprinklers) has one above the furnace in the attic, but I think that was probably the only one. It's definitely smart to protect this area as well.



Better put a water detector up there as well. I can't imagine the disaster if an attic sprinkler went off. Even if you actually had a fire it would be good to shut the spinkler off ASAP (meaning that it put the fire out already). I suppose it would be a bad idea to shut your house water off routinely when you are not home or have the water sensor trigger a water closure, just have it send a signal only so you can investigate.

#13 Work2Play

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 11:53 PM

The fire sprinklers are fed off the main right where it enters the house with their own shutoff valve; the main then goes into the garage where there's an access panel - behind it is the PEX distribution manifold. As long as I keep the water shutoff there near the manifold and not out at the main, I should be fine... unfortunately if that sprinkler in the attic ever blows, I'll have a major disaster right down the center of my house in about 3 minutes; but I suppose that's better than a roof on fire.

#14 ano

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 01:19 AM

Is there any reason not to attach the Elk via a relay attached to the interconnect line? Does this create any code problems? For example, Kidde has a relay that you can connect to the interconnect line here: http://www.amazon.co...data/B001AYERC2 The relay has both normally-open and normally-closed connections.

It's trivial to hook the relay up straight to the Elk. Any reason why this is a no-no?


This has been discussed over and over so just search, but short answer no, its not good. First those relays aren't designed for that purpose, and if they power goes out, they will either trip the alarm when they shouldn't or not trip it when they should. If your alarm is monitored, you are sending the fire dept. to your house perhaps needlessly. And 120v smokes are ionization type, which if you notice 12V smokes aren't, and many times it IS against code to have a ionization type smoke on a monitored panel.

Just the fact that it won't work when the power goes out should be reason enough not to do it.

#15 Digger

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 06:11 AM

Can I ask where you are getting your facts/information?




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