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I have a first alert alarm with 2009 on it and have just put in a new battery and it chirps as low battery. This does not make sense.
I have had endless problems with First Alert smoke alarms. they seem to work ok, but then start becoming battery eaters. I had someone with a battery tester staying with me at one stage, and he established that the problem was that it had chewed through the new battery in a few days. The noise they make when they think they are low on fuel is unbearable, so I've thrown a lot away and have fewer in the house than I intended. It's a particular problem for me because I have concrete ceilings so installing a new type is hard to do. Have you tested for that sort of problem?
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.