house fire

A working smoke alarm is required on each level of all dwellings, and in caravans.

One of life’s most confronting and terrible truths is that one third to a half of house fire fatalities may have been prevented if the homes had a working smoke alarm, according to Fire Investigation and Research Unit case study research.

When it comes to smoke alarms, don’t cut corners. While battery powered smoke alarms are cheaper to buy, they are not as effective or as reliable as hard-wired smoke alarms.

Legislation requires all NSW residents must have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home, and NSW Fire and Rescue Service recommends that all homes have hard-wired smoke alarms, not battery powered smoke alarms.

The Difference Between Cheap and Quality Smoke Alarms

Cheap Smoke Alarms

Cheap smoke alarms are powered by a battery, and do not connect to the power supply in your home. This means they will still function in the event of a black out, provided the batteries are not flat.

However like most things in life, you get what you pay for. The battery will need to be changed at least every 6 to 12 months, and once its dead, the smoke alarm won’t work at all. This is an issue, as more than half of the Australian population do not change their smoke alarm battery as often as they should.smoke alarm


  • Has only one source of power.
  • Requires a battery change once every 6 to 12 months.
  • You may not notice that the battery is running low.
  • Not all battery operated smoke alarms have been tested by Australian safety authorities.

Hard-Wired Smoke Alarms

Hard-wired smoke alarms are connected to the power supply in your home. They also have a backup battery, so they will go off even if your home’s power supply is cut. You can even use a rechargeable lithium battery that never has to be changed, which means your smoke detector will require zero maintenance.

Although hard-wired smoke alarms are a little more expensive, and require professional installation, they are much safer and much more effective.

In fact, the NSW Fire and Rescue Service recommends that all homes have hard-wired smoke alarms, not battery powered smoke alarms.

Advantages of Hard-Wired Smoke Alarms

  • More reliable as they have two sources of power.
  • Require little to no maintenance.
  • More sensitive to signs of fire, so will alert occupants in the shortest time possible.
  • Can be interconnected, so when one alarm goes off, all will go off.

What Type of Alarm is Better – Photoelectric or Ionisation?

Did you know there are two types of smoke alarms? Yep – photoelectric and ionisation.

Photoelectric smoke alarms detect visible signs of fire, such as smoke particles. Photoelectric smoke alarms are incredibly responsive, especially to smouldering fires and thick smoke.

Ionisation smoke alarms detect invisible sings of fire. They go off very fast, but can sometimes go off even when there is no fire, e.g. when cooking steak, or burning toast.

We recommend photoelectric smoke alarms, as ionisation smoke alarms can be slow in responding to smouldering fires, which are common in the home.

Here’s a great video demonstrating the difference between photoelectric and ionised smoke alarms:

Get Your Alarm Installed ASAP

You will never ever know when a fire is going to happen, so we urge you to be prepared now. Next month might be too late.

Let us make your place safer by installing a hard wired smoke alarm system. Complete the enquiry form at right or give us a call on 1300 191 330 and we’ll get back to you asap with a fixed price quote.

Image credit: Michael W. May