Smoke Alarm Comparison

Smoke alarm comparisons in Australia are few and far between. So we thought it was time to correct that short coming.

This post discusses what criteria professionals use when selecting alarms and compares those that make the grade and those that fall short. However, just because a professional uses a particular brand doesn’t mean that you should use it. You will probably have additional needs.

Selection criteria

The criteria used for selecting the brands for the smoke alarm comparison was as follows:

  • Photoelectric complying with Australian Standard AS 3786:2014 Smoke Alarms
  • Wire interconnected and wireless interconnected alarms. So as when combined, they communicate an active alarm across both wired and wireless networks at the same time
  • 240V mains powered and 10-year Lithium battery powered alarms
  • Alarm quality. Sound only when necessary and are simple to install and setup

Missed the cut

As a result, the following alarms were excluded from the smoke alarm comparison:

  • No ionisation alarms. While excelling in identifying burnt toast, they can be slow to react to a serious household fire!
  • Inflexible solutions. In other words, alarms that don’t offer a mix of interlinking and powering options. To clarify, brands are excluded if they cannot signal an active alarm on a mains powered, wire interconnected alarm network across to a 10-year Lithium battery powered, wireless alarm network. So this criteria will be important for you if your dwelling includes existing mains powered alarms and you want to add 10-year Lithium battery powered alarms. For example, you’ll need to add alarms if you renovate or to comply with legislation changes eg New Queensland Smoke Alarm Laws. For instance the Bunnings Quell smoke alarms don’t allow hybrid network, alarm interconnection.
  • Special needs alarms. That is, they require special facilities (WiFi), geek skills or mobile phone apps for setup. For instance the Nest Protect alarms fall into this category.
  • Installers curse. For instance mains powered alarms that don’t incorporate electrical terminals as part of the ceiling mounted base. These can be difficult for an electrician to make the wiring safe. It also means touching energised wiring if you need to remove the alarm! For example the China Siterwell alarms that are rebadged by multiple suppliers fall into this category (Bunnings Family First, Bunnings FirePro, Evadare, Optilife, IPESA, Voltex)
Smoke alarm missing mains terminals
Installers curse. Battery changes require touching wiring that may be energised. Ouch!
  • G String alarms. They don’t really cover all the bare surfaces. Their footprint is too small so if you need to replace an existing alarm chances are you will be left with an unpainted part of your ceiling.
  • Un-Australian proof. Alarms not designed by engineers familiar with, or a usage history greater than 5 years in, the Australian climate (humidity, temperature) and wildlife conditions, fall into this category (Emerald Planet, Red Smoke Alarms)
Australian insects cause nuisance alarms
Australian insects cause nuisance alarms

Brooks vs PSA vs Clipsal vs Redbusbar

So here we go:

FeatureBrooks EIB3000PSA LifeSaverClipsal Fire TekRedbusbar SmokeSight
Diameter mm150130140148
Height mm55454750
Wired interlink nodes12244040
Wireless interlink nodes12244024
Wireless interlink response time secs< 45< 5< 30< 5
Li Battery life years10101010
Mains backup battery life years1115
Alarm memory
Alarm Snooze
Whole of alarm, automatic testing
Escape lighting when alarming
Clap to silence
Simple wireless network setup
Remote Test / Hush
Family wide, same appearance
Lifetime sensitivity compensation
Obvious alarm removal instructions
Designed inIrelandChinaChinaAustralia
Made inIrelandChinaChinaAustralia
Warranty years51055

But what is best for you?

What about family safety and alarm servicing obligations? Important to you?

Once a professional has installed your smoke alarms, and provided that they don’t get called back, their job is done. So as a property owner you may have additional needs above and beyond what a smoke alarm installer considers essential.

Given this new perspective, what smoke alarms are best for you?

The truth is that most smoke alarms were much the same, until now.

SmokeSight interconnected smoke alarm
SmokeSight interconnected smoke alarm

Published by Chris Devine

Chris is an Electrician and holds a Bachelor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Associate Diploma of Electrical Engineering and is a Registered Practising Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ).

10 thoughts on “Smoke Alarm Comparison

  1. (Supplier Removed) say (Brand Removed) smoke alarms has 10 year warranty across entire range. Please clarify why your site says only 5 year warranty?
    Thank you.

    1. Thanks Brian for your comment. Yes suppliers attract different customers using different methods. For instance a longer warranty may be used instead of product features to tempt shoppers. It can even be used to give the illusion of quality. Suppliers recognise that the chance of a product failure after 5 years combined with a customer returning the item is pretty low, so they take the risk and offer a longer warranty. Suppliers tend to take this approach more so than manufacturers as the likelihood of them still being in business after 5 years is lower. Manufacturers have a lot more invested in their business and tend to be in it for the long hall. In that way they are more likely to be still in business if you were to need their support.

    2. Could you provide an estimate of current price of each brand of fire alarm to include only Brooks EIB3000, PSA Lifesaver, Clipsal Fire Tek, Redbusbar Smoke Sight.

      1. Hi Peter and thanks for your request. I haven’t gone down that rabbit hole in this post as it depends who is buying them and the quantity. It can vary 15-30%. For that reason I tried to give relative rather than absolute pricing ie $, $$ and $$$. Hope this is of some use.

    1. Hi Nola. Thanks for your question. Alarms were excluded if they didn’t meet all of the criteria that would make them suitable for selection by professionals. And yes the entire Evadare (China-Siterwell) family don’t qualify for this reason. To be helpful though I tried to find the manual to do some reading. No luck. Not sure why they hide it?

  2. HI Chris, Thanks for just talking to me re Heat alarms etc etc. I really appreciate the time you spent and think your whole website and attitude is very professional.
    cheers Nola

    1. Yes I know it can be confusing. What is frustrating is that it should be pretty simple. It doesn’t help that most manufacturers tend to be light on in terms of information

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