Smoke alarm false alarms

Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 17, 2018

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We have 9 Kidde P12040 smoke alarms and have 3 false alarms in the last month, each time a different one of the 9 alarms

Does anyone have experience with the First Alert BRK 7010B smoke alarm?

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Called Kidde, was told to use only Energizer 522 or Duracell MN1604 and change every year, NOT long life Lithium batteries

I've used Lithium batteries for at least a dozen years, in 3 different houses, and have always thought they were better... now, I wonder ???

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 17, 2018

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How old are the detectors?

Were they false alarms or low battery indications?

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 17, 2018

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Detectors were all installed June 2015

New Lithium batteries installed February 2018 to replace original Kidde label batteries

Energizer L522 have 09-17 factory date on the bottom, and good until 2027 on the side

Lithium are "supposed" to last at least 5 years in a smoke alarm... February to October is 8 months

After Kidde said to NOT use Lithium in their P12040 alarms, my next step is going to buy a box of "approved" batteries and make a note to change once a year

I do find it interesting that the "battery industry" says use long life Lithium, but Kidde says no

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 17, 2018

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Are these 120V with battery backup or just battery?

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 17, 2018

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Building Code here is all smoke alarms are connected to 120v with a "center" wire so if one goes off they ALL go off

Also, after Kidde person on phone said NO Lithium I went to the user PDF for my model, and it says Lithium MAY be used

I am lots confused right now... and I also did a search for the First Alert model, and it does NOT have good reviews

I "suppose" it is possible that 2 Lithium batteries out of an order of 12 could have been "weak" so the smoke alarms went right from being happy with their backup batteries into screaming, without the normal "chirping" to warn of a low battery

I do know from my power tools with rechargeable Lithium batteries that when they reach the end of their charge they do not "gracefully" announce they are low, they just STOP

So it may be possible that my 2 false alarms in a week are from weak/dying/dead batteries... and the reason I was told not to use Lithium (even though the PDF says they may be used) is because an Alkaline battery has a "gradual" decline in power so the alarm is able to do a warning chirp, and my 2 Lithium batteries simply DIED and the alarm screamed

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 18, 2018

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of course you could test the batteries yourself instead of placing trust in a simple machine chirping... ime Lithium = best

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 18, 2018

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Ussnorway  wrote

of course you could test the batteries yourself

But you have to remember to do that.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 18, 2018

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A new "supposed to last for 5 years" battery should not need testing after only 8 months

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 18, 2018

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Agreed.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 18, 2018

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I brought my multi-tester in from the garage, and both of the "maybe failed" batteries show 9 volts

My tester does not show "flow rate" so I have no way to know if the batteries drop below 9v when under load

I'm still thinking that due to the nature of how a Lithium battery works (at least the ones in my power tools) the "under load" battery fell off a cliff instead of ramping down gently, so the warning chirp was bypassed and the 2 alarms went right to screaming mode

I'm going to have to get alkaline batteries, and make a note to change at the one year date

HOWEVER... the Kidde user guide does say that Lithium is allowed, so I'm still wondering why the telephone advisor told my wife to not use Lithium

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 18, 2018

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Ussnorway  wrote

of course you could test the batteries yourself instead of placing trust in a simple machine chirping... ime Lithium = best

They should provide pos and neg pads on the outside of the smoke detector spaced about an inch apart, so you could use the age old test method of shorting the terminals with your tongue.  The higher you jump, the better the battery. 

Aren't they supposed to have ten year batteries now?  It will be different country to country, and possibly State to State in the USA.  We have just finished a major house refurb and seem to have a lot of detectors dotted all over the place.  They are all of the micro size though, so not intrusive — not that you'd make that a deal breaker when it comes to saving your life.  They all have ten year batteries.  I asked the builder why there is an alarm in the kitchen, and another two  metres away  just outside the kitchen, and it turns out the kitchen is heat only.   This is a huge advantage, as every time we set the old detector off by burning toast, for instance, the battery would be pulled to cancel the alarm, and it would be days later that we realised the battery was still pulled out, and the alarm useless.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 18, 2018

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Is the small alarm you picture hard wired to 120volt with a common line so ALL alarms sound when ONE alarm goes off?

If not, I could not use what you show due to the local building code

As far as battery life, I'm still trying to figure out why the Kidde user guide (from 6 years ago) says Lithium, but the guy on the phone at Kidde told my wife NO Lithium

Looks like another call to Kidde may have to happen, to try and find out why the change

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 18, 2018

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Trevor.Dennis  wrote

.

Aren't they supposed to have ten year batteries now?  It will be different country to country, and possibly State to State in the USA. 

Here in New York State, the sale of smoke detectors with replaceable batteries has been prohibited, with the exception of a retailer's existing stock. 10 year non-replaceable batteries are required.  The ones I have seen are all lithium based.

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Guide ,
Oct 19, 2018

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I am not certain this is correct, but some of my recent reading (since seeing this thread) has indicated that there can be a voltage difference between an alkaline and a lithium battery of the same "size"; with the lithium coming in slightly lower than the alkaline. This could effect performance.

Certainly the smoke and CO2 detectors I have (not sure of the brand) specifically state to use ONLY alkaline batteries for the back-up.

--OB

Edit to add: @ Peru Bob: I like the idea of the ten year non-replaceable battery. Obviously those units (detector and battery) were designed to work together.I will have to look for those next time I upgrade. Thanks for the head-up.

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