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Upgrade to Smart Smoke Alarms: When, Why, & How

May 02, 2019|

The dialup tone, a foldable roadmap, the stiff cord of a landline. These things worked well enough in their time, but long ago we swapped them out for better, faster inventions that are far more reliable and convenient.

Of all the upgrades you’ve made, have you upgraded your home's fire detectors?

With GPS and smartphone technology, it's no wonder we don't rely on phone lines or physical roadmaps anymore. So with similar advancements made in the smoke alarm industry, why haven't more of us switched to smart fire detectors?

Perhaps this is due to the unquestionable authority of a smoke alarm that was drilled into our heads through countless fire drills and practiced safety procedures. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing; you obey the smoke alarm.

It may not be the prettiest or most impressive device, but it’s a reliable constant that can be trusted.


Not always.

Even old trusty smoke detectors have a limited lifespan, and it’s likely yours is about ready to retire. Instead of replacing it with another traditional smoke alarm, you may want to consider upgrading to a smart smoke detector.

Smoke Detector Isolated
Now is a great time to consider smart smoke detectors for your home.

Smart smoke alarms vs. traditional detectors

Fire prevention has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Check out the biggest differences between smart smoke alarms and old-school detectors.


Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell if a traditional fire alarm is working properly. You can press the test button, which tests the sound of the alarm itself, but that doesn’t mean the fire-detecting sensors within the device are fully operational.

As a smoke detector nears the end of its lifespan, it may start to malfunction and set off false alarms that are both frightening and aggravating. This may be an indicator that it’s time to get a new detector, but this isn't a foolproof strategy. It's possible for a smoke alarm to simply stop working without alerting homeowners.

The best smart smoke detectors were designed with this problem in mind. Modern-day advancements have made it easier to tell if a smart detector is fully operational. Rather than sounding an ear-piercing false alarm, a malfunctioning smart detector sends you a notification to your smartphone instead.

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Dated smoke alarms require regular maintenance in order to function properly. It's important to change the batteries every year (or just wait for the incessant chirping to start), vacuum out the chambers to remove a buildup of dust, and conduct regular testing of the internal sensors.

Smart smoke alarms are much easier to maintain. Not only are they easier to test and care for, but they also require maintenance less often than their dated predecessors. The modern tech is also capable of housing a more powerful battery that can last up to five years when paired with the aid of a wireless transmitter.

And when it's time to change those batteries on your smart fire alarm, it sends a notification to your phone. Easy.

Smoke Detector Ceiling White Room
Instead of annoying chirping, with a smart smoke alarm, you'll receive a notification when it's time to change your detector's battery.

Reaction time

The enhanced reaction time of a smart smoke detector is a massive benefit. These days, high-tech smoke alarms can detect a sudden rise in temperature before flames even break out, which can make all the difference in preventing a disaster.

Why does this matter? Susan McKelvey, of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), expressed the importance of a rapid reaction time. She explained that because more modern homes are being built with unprotected lightweight construction and are designed with high ceilings and open floor plans, they can go up in flames much faster than older homes.

A key part of salvaging your home in case of an emergency is the speed of your reaction. With smart smoke detectors, you'll be alerted of a fire much sooner than with traditional a smoke alarm, allowing you to get the help you need much quicker.

Smart home integrations

Smart smoke detectors can be integrated with other compatible smart home devices to improve the overall security of your home. Take the Vivint system, for example. When the Vivint smoke detector senses a fire, the alarm sounds, the smart locks unlock to allow access for emergency personnel, airflow is terminated in the HVAC system to slow the spread of the flames, and the authorities are notified immediately by our professional monitoring service, even if you're not home.

With smart home technology, it's easy to take full advantage of your smart smoke alarms to improve your family's safety.

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When should you upgrade?

There’s no better time than the present to upgrade your smoke detectors. However, you may prefer to wait until your current alarm is a little closer to its expiration date. If this is the case, here’s how you can tell when it’s time to upgrade to a new detector:

  • Your smoke alarms are nearing the ten-year mark, when the internal sensors typically begin to weaken.
  • Your detectors are setting off false alarms repeatedly.
  • The sensors are unresponsive to approved aerosol testing products.

What kind of smoke alarm should you get?

There are two different types of fire prevention devices to choose from: photoelectric smoke alarms or ionization smoke alarms. Both types operate a little differently and understanding how they work can help you know where to place them in your home and how to make sure they’re working properly.

Photoelectric smoke alarms detect smoke through the use of a light beam and a photocell that triggers the alarm when smoke scatters the light beam. This type of smoke detector is more susceptible to smoldering flames and is often found in smart detection technology.

Ionization alarms are more responsive to flaming fires and rely on the use of chemistry to detect traces of smoke. Because both types of alarms are better at detecting different types of fires, it’s not a bad idea to install both in your home.

The best smoke alarms for home use, in our opinion, are interconnected smoke alarms with photoelectric sensors, like Vivint smoke detectors. By choosing to equip your home with interconnected smart smoke alarms with photoelectric sensors, you’re opting for rapid reaction time and an effective alert system.

Smoke Detector Wood Ceiling Closeup
Smart smoke detectors give you rapid reaction time and reliable alerts, keeping your family safe.

Protect your home and family with the best smoke detectors

As you can see, upgrading to a reliable set of smart smoke detectors can make all the difference in the event of a fire. For a fast-acting fire prevention system, choose Vivint smoke detectors and discover how smart home security can give you some much-appreciated peace of mind.

Get your free quote today. Call our home security pros at 844.481.8630.

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