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In looking for more current advice than the Consumer 2010 report, I found that the fire service website has a good summary of aspects which appears to have been updated in Aug2011.
It recommends photoelectric, 10 year battery-life models. Install one per bedroom, one for the lounge, and one for the hall. I found some flamefighters for $30 each (google "10 year smoke alarm battery" to find similar) and they have proved to be great little units so far. No more battery changes for 10 years - ka rawe!
Has this photoelectric model been tested? The electrician lost my request for the First Alert SA710CN I had chosen based on your report and put this in without consulting me.
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We bought two of the recommended models but have had to change the batteries every couple of months or so. They have all been so-called long life batteries so should this be happening?
You explain that:
"The distributors have now released the OM588H model. This new model uses the same sensor as the OM PE210LL but comes with a cheaper one-year battery (the OM PE210LL comes with a 10-year long-life battery). Retail price is around $13. We have not tested this new model, but have inspected the unit and can see no reason why it shouldn't perform as well as the long-life version."
Your original "Test Results" and "We Recommend" pages reference "PE10LL" not "PE210LL" (the latter is the reference in your notes above) - maybe typos?
Bunnings (Wellington) have available the OM588HC-LL @ $29.45 which includes a "10 year lithium battery". Are you able to make any comment as to whether the OM588HC-LL is likely to be as effective as the PE10LL/PE210LL (ie along the lines of your sensor comments on the OM588H)?
I don't trust "test" buttons on equipment & want to be sure that the alarms I install will trigger with actual smoke. With ionisation alarms I have used in the past lighting a match & letting the smoke go into the sensor has been sufficient to set them off.
Last week I purchased a photo-electric alarm & found that this test was insufficient and even using a smoking piece of paper did not set it off.
Can you please advise a simple and safe test I can perform to give me the confirmation I am looking for.
Thanks for your report. I got these at just under $13 and also took out one that was in your bad list we had previously put in a childs bedroon, thinking we were doing the right thing...We now have a total of 8 alarms throughout our 2 storey house, so feel protected. I decided against the 10 year versions as they were a lot dearer and also the battery is sealed, meaning you have to literally chuck them out after 10 years. Which seems a waste if they are still working OK.
There is a big link on the homepage of the home and living section of this website saying '4 smoke alarms to avoid, you need to know' I do need to know, I want to know, but for he life of me can't find them within this report, am I being dumb.....
I think you missed a very important point in your report.
You should have pointed out that any properly installed and working smoke alarm, no matter how badly it performed in the test, is still better than having no smoke alarms installed at all.