Smoke Alarm DIY vs Smoke Alarm Contractor

Your choice of a Smoke Alarm DIY vs Contractor system involves considering:

Smoke alarm installation

While you will need an electrician to install mains powered smoke detectors, no special licenses are needed to install 10 year lithium battery powered alarms. So, you could DIY your entire wireless smoke alarm system. However, there are some laws surrounding when wireless smoke alarms can and can’t be used.

More information is available in How to install smoke alarms.

DIY installation pros and cons

Saving money and reducing the risks associated with contractor dealings are the main benefits of a DIY installation. In addition if you are a little handy then you get to understand the system and gain a sense of achievement once complete. But, you will need a little time to devote to the project.

Contractor installation pros and cons

Engaging a smoke alarm solution business to install smoke alarms in your property allows you to focus on other things. In addition, it may be a solution for owners and landlords who live remote from their properties.

However, engaging a contractor to fit detectors in your property does come at a cost.

Smoke alarm servicing

Servicing your detectors involves testing, cleaning and replacing backup batteries. Once again, no special licenses are necessary to service residential smoke alarms.

So you could DIY your alarm servicing as well.

More information is available in How to service smoke alarms.

DIY servicing pros and cons

Again, saving money and reducing the risks associated with contractor dealings are the main benefits of DIY servicing. However, you will need to be organised so as to remember when to service your own or your tenant’s smoke alarms.

Contractor servicing pros and cons

Employing a smoke alarm solution business to look after your property is intended to be a “set and forget” approach. So this approach helps landlords who live remote from their properties or for whom money is not so important.

In detail, the service contract normally covers annual/lease commencement testing, battery changes, cleaning, certificate issue and replacement of faulty smoke detectors.

But there are hidden traps.

For starters you will need to select a service provider and then monitor their ongoing performance. If you have problems you will have the hassle of terminating the contract and sourcing another supplier. Also consider the possibility of annoyed tenants as the contractor needs regular dwelling access, may miss appointments and some even leave a mess!

In addition, contracting a service company to look after smoke alarm servicing for you, also comes at extra cost.

Detector installation and servicing package

Some smoke alarm service companies offer to install and maintain smoke alarms in homes and units for a setup cost and annual fee. Installations are performed at the start of the contract so as to comply with current smoke alarm legislation.

So, engagement is normally a two step process.

Firstly, the maintenance company inspects the dwelling to ascertain smoke alarm compliance. As a result, problems are often identified and a price to rectify the installation is provided to the customer. For example problems can include detectors >10 years old, 9V battery powered and noncompliant to AS3786:2014. In addition, if a smoke alarm needs to be added to your home, chances are that your existing alarms will not interconnect to the new, contractor supplied detectors. Consequently, your home will need a full re-install. Note that these update costs are usually excluded from the annual maintenance fee.

Secondly, once the smoke alarm system within the property is updated, the annual maintenance contract and fee can begin.

Smart smoke alarm

A new, smart smoke alarm that increases safety, saves money and simplifies management by reducing manual servicing is SmokeSight. To explain, SmokeSight incorporates AutoTest and BatteryBliss.

AutoTest

Firtsly, AutoTest performs automatic smoke alarm testing. So, for you as the home owner, this enhances safety. If you were home during the 5 second test it would reassure you that the alarms were working without being annoying. But, if you were not home and the self-test failed it would chirp every so often to warn of the failure.

On the other hand, for you the landlord, it makes it easier to get confirmation from an estate agent that the smoke alarms are working, without you or a service company visiting the property.

To clarify, the estate agent would identify a faulty smoke alarm by its chirping upon entry to the room. Of course, the agent could also tap the test button to confirm operation.

As for cleaning, a vacuum is best to contain any disturbed material. However, a cobweb brush may be better than a vacuum to reach into the alarm to remove internal cobwebs. In addition, it is useful for pressing the test button without having to climb a ladder or use a chair. Once all testing and cleaning has been performed the agent would record this result on an entry condition report.

Beware though, some estate agents may be reluctant to offer this service fearing legal exposure. Though in reality, any smoke alarm clean or test only establishes that the smoke alarm was clean and working at that point in time. So, it provides no guarantee that it will remain clean and work into the future. In other words, so long as the servicing tasks were performed and recorded, your agent would be no more exposed than a landlord or a dedicated service company.

BatteryBliss

Secondly, BatteryBliss offers ultralow, battery consumption so don’t expect alarm beeping for years. And no beeping means no backup battery changes for years. Consequently, deliberate or accidental smoke alarm damage while changing batteries is less likely. In addition, ladder usage is minimised which means less fall injuries.

Smoke alarm service companies vs SmokeSight

Smoke detector maintenance businesses may, on occasions, make smoke alarm management simpler but at a significant cost.

The SmokeSight arrangement delivers a safe and simple solution. In addition, SmokeSight achieves a 57% to 73% cost saving over 10 years compared to using a smoke alarm solution company and normal smoke alarms.

YearService CompanySmokeSight
10Yr Li Batt
SmokeSight
Mains Power
1
Includes new alarm installation
$ 805$ 518$ 758
2$ 129$ 0$ 0
3$ 129$ 0$ 0
4$ 129$ 0$ 0
5$ 129$ 0$ 0
6$ 129$ 90$ 90
7$ 129$ 0$ 0
8$ 129$ 0$ 0
9$ 129$ 0$ 0
10$ 129$ 0$ 0
Lifecycle Cost$ 1,966$ 608$ 848
Saving of SmokeSight vs Service Company$ 1,358 or 69%$ 1,118 or 57%
Lifecycle Cost of Smoke Alarm Service Company vs SmokeSight Install+Property Manager Servicing over 10 years

Calculations based on:
1. Lifecycle cost includes new alarm installation in Year 1 in order to meet current legislation. In addition to 10 years of servicing for a three bedroom low set home or unit
2. Year 6 SmokeSight costs relate to an electrician visit to replace backup batteries
3. Service company pricing based on Smoke Alarm Solutions – Ultimate Annual Service Price
4. Electrician Rate = $80per hour. Minimum 1hr callout
5. Property Manager / Estate Agent cleaning, testing and recording the servicing of the smoke alarms in the entry condition report, at the start of each annual lease

Summary

Significant tasks involved in smoke alarm DIY vs smoke alarm service contractor approach are the installation and regular servicing of the system.

The good news is that you have options when it comes to smoke alarm DIY vs contractor solutions. The options differ significantly in terms of safety, cost and your ability or interest to devote some time.

Your task load can be reduced by engaging a smoke alarm servicing company or by installing an intelligent smoke detector system. In addition, expect cost savings by installing a smart smoke alarm. For example, SmokeSight was developed to minimise the need to manually service detectors.

So, if you want to increase safety, save money and simplify detector maintenance take a look at SmokeSight.

Published by Chris Devine

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