Smoke alarm reviews

We test 15 battery-powered smoke alarms, including photoelectric, ionisation and dual-sensor models.
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03.What to look for

  • Standards Australia certification or ActivFire registration ensures the alarm complies with AS 3786. See Australian Standard for smoke alarms for more details.
  • 10-year lithium battery Some models come with a pre-installed 10-year lithium battery. This eliminates the need to replace the battery every year, since the lithium battery will last for the life of the smoke alarm. The Brooks alarms in this test have 10-year lithium batteries.
  • Test button This allows you to check the alarm is working. All the models in this test have one. Some models allow you to test by simply shining a torch on the alarm, eliminating the need to climb a ladder or reach up with a broom handle. The First Alert SA302CNAUS Ultimate Dual Sensor can be tested using most household remote controls, such as the remote for a TV.
  • Hush button Pressing this button silences false alarms for a few minutes — handy if you’ve burnt the toast and set off the alarm. The Kidde PI9000 Dual Sensor, Brooks PFS100TY and Quell SA702 have hush buttons; the First Alert SA302CNAUS Ultimate Dual Sensor can be silenced with a remote control.
  • Battery test Battery-powered models should monitor their own battery level and warn you when the battery needs changing by beeping every few seconds. All the tested models have this feature.
  • Escape light Some models have a light built in that turns on when the alarm is activated. This is helpful if there’s a power failure during a fire, as it can guide you out of the house. The Quell SA702 has this feature.
  • Interconnection Most mains-powered and some battery-powered alarms can be connected to each other, so that if one goes off, so do the rest. The Brooks alarms in this test are interconnectable, though this requires wiring.
  • For people with a hearing problem there are special products available, such ultraloud alarms, strobe lights and vibrating pads for your bed. For details, contact your state’s Deaf Society, Independent Living Centre or fire brigade.

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