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How Much Do Smoke Alarms And Carbon Monoxide Detectors Cost To Install?

Typical Range: $10 - $165

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CO and smoke alarms and CO detectors sell for broad range of prices but remain a necessity for all properties. People pay about $10 for a simple alarm. Average models range from $20 to $30, while high-quality devices cost about $65. Alarms cost less than general CO detectors, which start at $20 and can be priced as much as $165. The average price for is $65 per alarm for residential installation.
Some of the factors that affect the price include the model installed, how many are necessary, how dusty the area is, and the circuitry involved. Every home should have a unit to prevent injury and property damage from fires, smoke, and poisoning from CO. Installation of complex systems should be left to a pro because of the electrical work involved. A professional ensures the unit is operating and installed correctly. It’s important to consult an expert when choosing a product because there are many types.

Smoke Detector Prices

Most homes in the United States have at least one smoke detector. These devices cost $10 for a basic unit and up to $65 for one with specialized features.
A single smoke detector is a small device that notices the presence of smoke through ionization or photoelectric systems. Smoke detectors sit on ceilings and usually have interchangeable batteries. Smoke detectors form one part of a fire system. When the product finds smoke, it will sound alarms throughout the building through its connection to the electrical system of the property. The three main types for homes are ionization, photoelectric or optical, and a combination of the two.

Ionization

Ionization devices hold a small amount of radioactive material that goes through an ionization chamber. This chamber features two electrodes and a constant current between them. Smoke which enters the chamber will reduce what is known as the ionization of the area. This triggers the alarm. Ionization devices belong in kitchens and other areas where smoky fires occur.
ProsCons
  • Inexpensive at $10 for a basic model
  • Respond quickly to fast-moving fires
  • Has a tough time sensing smoky fires

Photoelectric or Optical

A photoelectric detector uses a setup composed of a light source, a photoelectric sensor, and something known as a light beam collimating system. Smoke which enters this system will scatter the light source. Some of this light will land on the photoelectric sensor and trigger the alarm. Residential and commercial areas use these systems.
ProsCons
  • Quick to respond to the most common type of fire in homes
  • More expensive at $60 each
  • Does not respond as fast to flame-heavy blazes

Combination

A combination system uses ionization and photoelectric processes.
Note:The National Fire Protection Association recommends that homes have both types of smoke detectors.

Fire Alarm Monitoring System Costs Per Square Foot

Installing as part of a new construction will typically cost $2 to $3 per square foot. Retrofitting an existing area can cost anywhere between $4 and $12 for each square foot. The average household spends between $650 and $950 for a full fire alarm system.
A fire alarm system is a complete collection of devices with various functions designed to sense and warn people about a fire. A smoke detector is a single part of this system. The price of fire alarm monitoring systems will vary depending on whether the installation is in a new or old building.
Fire alarm systems typically include a monitoring service. A monitoring service or central station consists of a company or group that watches the detectors and alarms and know when they go off. The service will notify the local fire department and first responders about the situation.
You typically need to sign a contract with monitoring services. These contracts typically last for a preset period of 24 to 36 months. Depending on which business you use, the size of your system, and the complexity of your service, you pay between $600 and $1500 each year for monitoring.Other important pieces of equipment in a fire system include:
  • Sprinklers
  • A primary power supply
  • A secondary power supply
  • Lights
  • Ventilation

Common Designs

Alarm systems come in a variety of designs that can combine with one another for increased protection. The three common types used are the:
  • L2: This style protects life by monitoring escape routes and the connecting rooms through cameras, sensors, and smoke detectors. The system informs individuals whether a route is safe to use.
  • Addressable Panel/System: This style costs between $400 and $2,500 for a single building. It features an accessible central panel which informs users and the monitoring service where a fire is found using cameras and smoke detectors. Individuals see the information on the panel.
  • 4 Zone: This style divides a building into four zones. Smoke detectors and cameras detect fires and inform the central panel where the fire is located. The parts need to be purchased separately. The panel costs between $300 and $500 while the detectors sell at $65 each. Most people pay between $1,000 and $1,500 for a full set of equipment.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Prices

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors sense quantities of the compound in the air. CO is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that causes death when inhaled in significant amounts. It’s important to note that a smoke detector is a different device. A smoke detector will not notice the hazardous gas in the air. Therefore, it’s important to have one of each. There are three main types of CO detectors available on the market today: biomimetic, electrochemical, and ones which use a metal oxide semiconductor.
  • Biomimetic: A biomimetic detector is filled with synthetic hemoglobin. Infrared light passes through it. When CO enters the machine, it darkens the hemoglobin. The alarm sounds when the light struggles to pass through the changed material.
    • This product costs between $15 and $50.
  • Electrochemical: CO reacts with the combination of a platinum electrode and acid inside the detector. This reaction creates an electric current that triggers the alarm.
    • You can find these for $50 to $130.
  • Metal Oxide Semiconductor: Inside each of these products is a tin dioxide semiconductor heated by an electric current. The semiconductor senses the presence of CO and can change its chemical resistance. The change sets off the alarm when the resistance reaches a specific threshold.
    • These appliances are rare and difficult to find. Most models cost between $75 and $150.
The most common types of detectors found in residences are biomimetic and electrochemical. Both serve the same function, so it comes down to personal preference when choosing one. Electrochemical products stay more sensitive but cost more.
CO detector monitoring services are available and are usually part of a package deal with smoke detector monitoring. These services cost between $600 and $1500 a year because they are combined with one another.

Installation Cost Factors

The average cost to install a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector is $65 for one unit. Each addition unit is $20. The installation of a full alarm system takes between $4 and $12 per each square foot in pre-existing building. If you would like to invest in extinguishers, blankets, and sprinklers, budget for an additional fire protection cost of roughly $670 for the average homeowner.

Stand Alone vs. Full Alarm Systems

A single alarm or detector typically costs $65 per unit installed. This installation lacks the safety seen in full alarm systems that cover an average area between 1,000 and 2,000 square foot. A property owner can expect to pay between $4,000 and $24,000 with an average price of $8,500. A project this size features 4 to 5 smoke and CO detectors and a panel which informs the user of the location of a fire. A complete structure will additionally include a monitoring service.

Number of Units

There is no set number of smoke and CO detectors to have per square foot. Although, the National Fire Protection Association has some guidelines. There should be a detector inside every bedroom, outside of standard sleeping areas, and on every floor of a home. Basements need devices as well. This means that an average home with three bedrooms and two stories needs at least 5 detectors.

Commercial vs. Residential

Numerous differences exist between the requirements for a commercial system and a residential one. Most residences only need one smoke detector by law. A commercial enterprise needs more and must invest in items like sprinklers, exit signs, and control panels.
Commercial systems have no set price and can take widely varying amounts of money. The number of devices needed, and the size of the property affect the amount the most. Businesses typically spend $1 to $12 per square foot for a full system. Increases in complexity result in higher prices but also more safety. Commercial properties must invest in regular monitoring services by. This adds another $50 to $60 a month.
If you would like to install a commercial network, it’s important to talk to a professional. Someone who works in the industry typically needs to evaluate a property to offer an accurate price quotes. They can also recommend products and figure out what is necessary.

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Smart Home Alarms

Smart home alarms send notifications to your electronic devices and allow you to silence the alarm from your phone or computer. These products are more expensive than traditional versions. They cost $100 per alarm for installation with low and high prices of $80 and $180. The increase in the installation price factors in the need to set up connections between the alarm and other devices. A smart home alarm uses the same sensing methods as traditional products as mentioned above, but it is usually longer lasting and needs less maintenance.

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Prices by Brand

Assorted brands range in price because of the internal systems of each product, the kind of technology used, and the complexity of the device. Some of the most popular options on the market are:
  • ADT: The company requires individuals to sign up for their monitoring services when buying products. There are no listed prices for either the smoke or CO detectors. ADT specializes in full home security and safety and therefore offers technologically advanced equipment for which people need contracts.
  • Nest: This business develops “smart” smoke and carbon monoxide detectors which can send alerts to clients’ phones. A typical smoke or CO alarm costs $90 to $120 for a product that notices both substances.
  • Simplex: This producer first began developing fire alarm systems in the 1970s and caters to commercial and health enterprises. It sells a few residential products. The company does not list prices but offers quotes.
  • Kidde: This firm produces smoke and CO detectors sold at major retailers. They range in price from $15 to $120 depending on complexity.
  • Siemens: This organization is one of the largest and oldest producers of smoke and CO detectors for commercial, industrial, and residential properties. They offer a broad range which cost between $20 and $200.
  • VESDA: VESDA stands for Very Early Smoke Detecting Apparatus and is a product sold by Siemens for $1,000 to $1,200 each. These products sense smoke much earlier than other apparatuses and are more sensitive than other models.
  • Honeywell: This business develops separate smoke and CO detectors which range in price from $20 to $70.

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Replacing Smoke & CO Detectors

Many factors affect the cost of replacement. You need to spend from $10 to $165 for new detectors. Owners of a connected alarm system need to replace all the battery-operated and hardwired alarms at the same time. You also need to pay the handyman. A professional charges between $80 and $120 per hour based on their level of experience and the complexity of the job. The best way to figure out how much you will pay is to contact a contractor for an estimate.

Replacing Parts

Detectors and alarms will need new parts over time. You should always check the battery to ensure it isn’t dead before buying new parts. Devices connected to a home’s energy system might have a broken connection. Call a professional to check the connection if you don’t have electrical experience. There aren't many replaceable parts in these detectors, so if something fails, you’ll need to buy a new appliance. Some of the most common parts to replace are:
  • CO Detector Sensor: The sensor notices CO. A replacement costs between $50 and $80.
  • Smoke Alarm Battery: Most of these alarms take a 9v battery at roughly $3 to $4 for one.
  • Fire Alarm Panel: The panel controls the alarm and forms a crucial part of the system that can cost up to $800.

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DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

Simple detector installation can be a DIY project because it involves little electrical work. The main hazards with DIY jobs include placing the device in the wrong area, screwing it into a ceiling beam, or putting it in a crucial section of the wall. Many people don’t know there are “dead” areas in their homes where a detector won’t notice a fire or CO in time. Avoid placing detectors in peaked ceilings or near appliances which will heat or produce steam. Research location before placing any device.
If you need to install or replace a large system, it’s better to call a professional. Working with these products and their related equipment requires thorough knowledge of electrical systems and safety precautions which a DIY person wouldn’t know. Amateurs risk electrocution if they try to DIY this project with no experience.
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