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your 2 cents on my smoke alarm setup with elk m1


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#31 Photon

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 09:19 AM

Part of the code is the system is required to be a permanent fixture of the home and must be maintained under a service contract etc.


If this is correct, I hope it applies only to systems where smokes are powered by, and monitored at, a central panel substituting for the usual 117VAC smokes with battery backup as usually found in residential construction. My Elk M1 system has no connection to the smokes and is primarily intended for intrusion detection. It is not monitored by a central station, and has no service contract. Since there is no code requirement for such a system in my area, I don't anticipate I'm guilty of any code violation.

#32 ano

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:12 AM

The difference here is that the vast majority of peopel with central alarm systems have a service that will automatically be summoned when the 12v needs replacing. In fact, most cities have it as code that if you have an alarm system, you are required to have it monitored. At least here they do. If your alarm goes off and the neighbor calls, they give you a ticket (maybe they won't if it is actually on fire???)


Wait a minute here. I have a panel, sell my home to another family. You are saying they are required by law to have it monitored? You guys are pretty tough in Austin.

Part of the code is the system is required to be a permanent fixture of the home and must be maintained under a service contract etc.


And NY doesn't sound much better. I need to purchase a service contract for someone to maintain my smoke alarms?

I don't live in NY, but I'm guessing what you are saying is that if you have an alarm panel, you are required to have a permit, and part of that permit is the requirement to have a service contract. But that doesn't stop anyone from ripping out the battery of their panel. No alarm, no permit required. No service contract.

Edited by ano, 06 May 2011 - 11:20 AM.


#33 ano

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:28 AM

If this is correct, I hope it applies only to systems where smokes are powered by, and monitored at, a central panel substituting for the usual 117VAC smokes with battery backup as usually found in residential construction. My Elk M1 system has no connection to the smokes and is primarily intended for intrusion detection. It is not monitored by a central station, and has no service contract. Since there is no code requirement for such a system in my area, I don't anticipate I'm guilty of any code violation.


Its possible you may be. Typically when you have an alarm, monitored or not, you need a permit, and also have to maintain that alarm. The thinking is, if your alarm is in disrepair, it could falsely trigger, in which case your siren goes off, neighbors call the police, and police resources are used. So, local governments want to make sure you don't have false alarms.

Where I live, I am required to have the alarm checked yearly, but there is nothing saying that I myself, the homeowner, can't be the one to check it. Nothing states that it has to be a professional that checks it.

Edited by ano, 06 May 2011 - 11:28 AM.


#34 Digger

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 12:29 PM

I dont know if NY is requiring to meet the IRC but right now we are dealing with NJ and we are told many other localities want the IRC (there should be a database somewhere) and some have their own variation of it.

The local AHJ in NJ appears to be requiring that the premise have to have either Smoke Alarms (interconnected and connected to a FACP if the premise has one)or Smoke Detectors and audiable notification appliances (sirens etc) connected to a maintained FACP.

The confusion comes in where some AHJ's were saying smoke detectors are not permitted in place of smoke alarms and that is not what the code says, however, the AHJ can do what he wants but cant say the code does not permit it because it does. That is why I was involved working at an equipment mfg for alarms and our products were being shut out. Now it looks like several companies hardware (including where I work) is being accepted by the local AHJ's once we discussed the situation with the NJ State Fire Marshal's office who was very helpful to clarify the requirements that they intended.

The NJ version of the IRC is slightly different than the IRC (so why not call it NJRC?) and that complicates things more on a global discussion such as this.

Bottom line many localities allow smoke alarms to be connected to a FACP in place of smoke detectors and vice versa but even if allowed may be restricted by an AHJ (right or wrong). To blanketly say you cant not do something is really difficult because each locality can do what they want. If an AHJ wants purple smoke alarms then you have to use purple smoke alarms in that locality (or get a color blind AHJ).

#35 Lou Apo

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 01:24 PM

Wait a minute here. I have a panel, sell my home to another family. You are saying they are required by law to have it monitored? You guys are pretty tough in Austin.


There are no door to door inspections, but if your alarm goes off and they get called by the neighbor, they can ticket you. If you never have an alarm, no one will ever know. My old house had an unmonitored alarm, we never armed it, thus no alarms and no tickets.

#36 ano

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 01:32 PM

There are no door to door inspections, but if your alarm goes off and they get called by the neighbor, they can ticket you. If you never have an alarm, no one will ever know. My old house had an unmonitored alarm, we never armed it, thus no alarms and no tickets.


Sure, like anything else, if you get caught....

Here an alarm permit is $10/year. Not having an alarm permit, $50 fine.

#37 Digger

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 03:44 PM

In Suffolk County NY where I live there are no permits required (I called and checked plus I work PT installing so I needed to know). In the neighboring county they require permits and will fine you heavily and stop responding to burglar alarms if you have more than 3 false alarms in a year (at least they say they stop responding). We do not follow the IRC in either county but I cant say about other parts of NY State.

If a Smoke Alarm or Detector are installed correctly they really should not false alarm. I have both in my house (8 Smoke Detectors and 3 smoke alarms as backup in case of an extended power outage). None have false alarmed and yes I have a wife that occasionally makes a well done dinner and once had a stove fire that I put out before the thermal tripped. I also have thermals in several areas of the house (kitchen, workshop, garage). I also have 5 CO detectors. My house is no mansion I just have a smoke detector in every living space except the kitchen and workshop because of seeing how fast and easy a fire can spread from working at UL (I added one to the garage when it became an excersise room and left the thermal there). I dont remember ever having to go back and move a smoke detector I have installed over the years because it is false alarming and I never heard of anyone having a fire where the detector did not go off where I had worked on the install. It is really not that common for a professionally installed device to false alarm if it is installed by a trained tech and maintained(I was trained in the 80's as a Commercial Fire Alarm Tech). Maintaining a detector is as easy as vacuuming every 6 months to a year. Also cover the detector temporarily if you are doing sheetrock work or painting.

I do know that a local Blackstone steakhouse had ton of false alarms after they installed a Seafood bar with a steam table that when opened tripped the PE detector above it from the steam. Not funny for the local FD but someone told me they changed the detector to a thermal after a heavy fine.

Ever drive by a Fire Station where there is a sign or banner saying "Smoke Detectors Save Lives" and they are giving them away for free? Guess what they are not smoke detectors they are smoke alarms. Even Professionals dont always know the difference.

#38 Spanky

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 12:09 PM

This is a life safety issue and most manufacturers will not touch it unless it is a UL listed solution.

#39 Digger

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 05:00 PM

There are many localities that require things not permitted by UL or NFPA.

In NYC they require that strobes turn off when the sounders are silenced. That violates the UL and NFPA requirements but is required on a NYC install. UL864 address's that by having the manufacture state in the installation instructions that it is not permitted by UL. But it is done. Personally I think it's crazy as people may stop evacuating.

Any locality can specify what they want. Installers have to abide by the local requirements or they will not get an AHJ sign off.

#40 video321

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 01:15 PM

Let me ask this about my 120V smokes...

As of now I have 120V interconnected smokes with 9V backup in every bedroom and parts of the house. I have an M1G with no smokes attached. Can I connected via relay off the last smoke just for personal notification, such as email? I'm not worried if the power goes out and I don't get the email or to have it monitored. At some other time I'll look to add a couple 12V smokes to be monitored by a central station.

So, is it feasible and, even if it isn't ideal, is there anything code wise to know about?

#41 Lou Apo

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 01:58 PM

These smoke detectors weren't designed for that. It is probabl electrically possible, but if you cause a malfunction in your system then you put you and your family at risk of fire.

I think you would do better to install the smokes that are designed for security systems.

#42 video321

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 02:05 PM

You're probably right, Lou.
If this can't be done safely with a low cost relay, then I'll just install 1 or 2 12V ones.

#43 Digger

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 03:58 PM

These smoke detectors weren't designed for that. It is probabl electrically possible, but if you cause a malfunction in your system then you put you and your family at risk of fire.

I think you would do better to install the smokes that are designed for security systems.


If a Smoke Alarm (these are alarms not detectors) has an accessory relay designed and listed to trip an alarm panel why is that a problem? Everyone assumes that this is not possibe, permitted and does not exist. BRK for one makes such a relay model RM-4 that is UL Listed to UL217, UL2304 and UL539.

Designed to activate an auxiliary device like a bell, siren, strobe light, exhaust fan, alarm panel, or door closer when alarm is sounded. Now works with "Smart Interconnect" BRK CO alarms. The RM4 has form-C contacts that, once connected to BRK 120volt AC alarms, automatically activate whenever the alarm sounds and will automatically deactivate when the alarm shuts off.


So if a mfg makes one and got it UL Listed and the IRC calls it out as a permissable method of installation what is the problem? The instructions describe how to connect it to an alarm panel when used with the BRK Smoke Alarms, Heat Detectors, or CO Alarms.

#44 ano

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 05:16 PM

You can dream over and over that a 120V relay is going to be UL approved to connect a 120V smoke to a FC Panel, but I can tell you it has never and it will never happen. Never. If you think such a relay exists, please post a link for us.

#45 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 07:43 PM

Let me ask this about my 120V smokes...

As of now I have 120V interconnected smokes with 9V backup in every bedroom and parts of the house. I have an M1G with no smokes attached. Can I connected via relay off the last smoke just for personal notification, such as email? I'm not worried if the power goes out and I don't get the email or to have it monitored. At some other time I'll look to add a couple 12V smokes to be monitored by a central station.

So, is it feasible and, even if it isn't ideal, is there anything code wise to know about?



First of all I make this recommendation based on your wanting 'notification only' statement! ;)

I would just replace ONE of your 120v smoke sensors with a Kiddie or GE 350 that has contact closures already built in to it! Those contacts will also close if ANY other smoke goes off as well as it's own sensor. Many posts are on these forums about them.

I did this for my home as I already have seven 120 volt smoke alarms installed in my home, and just wanted notification to my cell phone if they went off (Hooked the contact closure to an Ocelot/SECU16i combo and have HomeSeer send me an email). I also have lights go on and turn off magnetic lock on front gate as well.




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