We have 7 smoke detectors, 2 carbon monoxide detectors, in hallways. The acoustics in the hallways are such that it is difficult to determine which smoke detector is beeping. Standing on a ladder with your ear next to the detector can take up to 3 attempts before locating the ringing detector. Not the world’s most pressing problem, but aggravating enough. The common workaround is to replace all batteries once a year (daylight savings start is an oft suggested time). I do not like to throw about stuff before it is used up, so I wait for the alarms to beep.
First, a little background. If you want to skip to the idea for making this easier, scroll down past the horizontal line.
Why do smoke detectors beep so infrequently when their batteries are low, making the sound impossible to localize?
Here a take on solving the problem, in the case where you have a mix of hardwired and battery operated alarms:
Code in our area requires hard-wired smoke detectors with battery backup for multi unit dwellings. You can’t just turn these off like the above article does for battery only alarms.
This article hints at another problem.
Alarm Battery Chirps Aren’t Pre-Programmed to Interrupt Sleep. (Really??)
When one of the 7 starts beeping in the middle of the night, it is really annoying.
I could replace the 9 volt battery ones I have with a new one that has a sealed 10 year battery. But, they are not cheap to replace.
Worry Free Hardwired Inter Connectable 120-Volt Smoke Alarm with 10-Year Lithium Battery Back Up (3-Pack) $79.99
In addition, to the cost of an electrician time to swap out the old with the new.
So I had the brilliant idea of using my android phones sound meter app to help me detect which one is going off .
http://androidboy1.blogspot.com/2010/11/smart-sound-ver-10-manual.html Sound Meter (as well as a lot of other tools) by Android boy is available on Google Play.
There is a disclaimer about the accuracy of the meter:
If the measured value of a quiet room is between 35-45db, it should be accurate. For more accuracy, you have to compare the value with a REAL sound meter. By the way, do you have a REAL one? 🙂 Just use this app as an auxiliary tool.
Nevertheless, for measuring relative loudness, it should work just fine.
The sound meter has a very convenient logging function that tracks the decibels it records over time.
You do have a problem with background noises, so you might need to track the external none beeping noises against the every 30 second or so beeps.
Of course, I thought of this, right after I spent 15 minutes sitting in the hallway determining which smoke detectors battery I had to replace.
I will use the sound meter to locate the one going off, next time.
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