Opinion on Smoke Detector Placement


Senior Member
I am putting in the last of my smoke detectors and was curious if anyone had an opinion or experience in the following situation:

I need to install one in my basement. Originally I was considering the spot at the highest point above the stairs, either on the wall or ceiling. My dilemna: It is hard to get wiring there (well I have to rip open the walls).

It is very easy to mount it on the wall, just before the stairs, or on the ceiling (basement level) you walk under right before it opens into the stairway up. I actually have a co2 detector at chest height at the same location.

I was looking at recommended NFPA 72 'Typical System Installation' diagrams (the summary diagrams that come with the equipment) and it actually displays it like the second scenario I noted above. Of course this could also be to make it clear it was for the basement.

I was thinking that any fire in the vicinity should have an equal chance of being detected (and actually may detect it faster in the latter placement).

This is a life safety device so I was curious if others had installed it like this (if it really makes sense to mount it higher then I may do that.

The other thing I noticed was a recommendation to put a detector in the room where the control connects to an AC source. I had missed that one, and will need to get another (the control is on the other end of the basement, inside another room).
Mike- the only thing I can rember aout placing a smoke detector is that you don't want it within 18 inches of a corner or on a side wall and ceiling. The reason is that the convection currents in the room may keep the smoke from getting to the detector.

When I put my smoke detectors in I left my old standalone units as a backup. There is no sense gettign rid of them. You might want to get a cheap $15 smoke detector (not a $2.99 special from Home Depot) and place it on the cieling at the top of the stairs so if you are at home and it happens to pick up something first (hopefully you will never have the need) you have more time to get out. That is the true intention of smoke detectors.

FYI a coworker had a house fire about a week ago where an old plastic dryer vent caught fire. ALWAYS use a metal duct and try and clean them once a year (its a real pain but worth it).
Actually, if I place the basement one by the panel as recommended and then get a caddx wireless one and put it at the top of the stairs I get the best of both.

Something like this:

That would get me the best of both, at an extra cost of about $75. I keep forgetting about wireless options. I have the controller card already so that makes it easier.

Scrambled, I had not noticed the corner part , but if you look at the following guide:


On page 10, it goes into not putting a detector within 4 inches of where the ceiling and wall meet (or the edge). It also notes putting it no more than 12 inches from the ceiling if it is being wall mounted. Is this similar to what you were referencing or should I try and dig further? It sounds (if I am understanding you correctly) to be real close, but I'm not sure that is what you are saying.

Digger/Scrambled > Thanks for the feedback, quite helpful.
Mike- that is what I was talking about. Since newer detectors are more sensitive, that may be why the distance has been reduced (just a quess).

Good enough. I keep excluding wireless as an option. Granted I am very pro wired in virtually every case, I keep neglecting to consider wireless in solutions.

That is twice Digger has saved me from that trap. If this keeps up I'm going to have to start buying him drinks...

You can send over a blond female to buy me drinks :)

This time I think someone else remembered the wireless. But I will still take the blond.
No one mentioned a blonde.

As one of the senior unmarried members, I feel it only fair that I get the first available blonde....

I would contact your local fire department and ask them about placement.

Up here (Ontario) they offer free in home visits with recommendations not just for detectors but for all fire safety.

nsisman said:

I would contact your local fire department and ask them about placement.

Up here (Ontario) they offer free in home visits with recommendations not just for detectors but for all fire safety.

That is a great idea. I had wondered if they would do that.