Bob Vila Radio: Long Life Smoke Alarms

Every home a smoke detecter—in fact, more than one. But not every homeowner remains in the habit of testing and replacing the batteries of the smoke detectors installed. Enter the 10-year smoke detector, a breakthrough in safety being that its battery never needs to be changed.

By Roseann Foley Henry | Updated Sep 8, 2014 9:49 AM

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It’s not news that every home needs multiple smoke detectors—one for every sleeping area and one for every floor of your home, including the basement and attic. You probably also know that you should be testing all your smoke detectors monthly and replacing the batteries at least yearly.


Listen to BOB VILA ON LONG LIFE SMOKE ALARMS or read the text below:

Long Life Smoke Alarms


Unfortunately, not everyone replaces batteries on schedule, and a smoke detector with a dead battery is like having no smoke detector at all. That can be a fatal mistake in a fire—the National Fire Protection Association reports that two-thirds of all deaths from house fires were in homes that didn’t have working smoke alarms.

Smoke detectors that have 10-year batteries can provide some peace of mind. You still need to test them regularly, but you don’t ever have to replace the battery. At the end of the 10-year battery life, you replace the entire unit. And no, that’s not wasteful: Even smoke detectors that use 9-volt batteries should be completely replaced every 10 years.

Another idea is to have hard-wired smoke detectors installed. These run off your home’s electrical system, not batteries, but they do have backup batteries, so they’ll continue to function if your power is out. You still need to test those units regularly to make sure they’re in good working order.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.