Interconnected smoke detectors – Are they for your rig?

Interconnected smoke detectors – Are they for your rig?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Some time back we carried a story about setting up tool battery chargers in basement storage areas. In a note, we mentioned that it might be wise to include a smoke detector in the compartment, “just in case.” Some have inquired about this.

You’re no doubt familiar with smoke detectors— the RV industry requires them in all recreational vehicles, and most of us have struggled to keep them “shut up” when burning breakfast in the morning. Putting an additional smoke detector in a basement storage area is a simple thing to do — but if it goes off, will you hear it? A smoke detector with a “remote reporting” capability would sure be the ticket.

Well, there already are such critters. They’re called “interconnectable” smoke detectors, and they come in a couple of different flavors. One style is “hard wired,” so that each detector is linked by wiring to the others — if one alarm senses smoke, all of the alarms scream at the top of their electronic lungs. The other style is “wireless,” and work similarly without the need of running wires.

The sad fact is this: While most of the smoke detector manufacturers build and market these interconnectable alarms, none of them build them to meet recreational vehicle use standards. As background, some years back the RV industry approached UL (Underwriters Laboratories) about developing a standard for smoke detectors for RVs. The standard for testing required RV detectors include additional toughness in the form of withstanding vibration, temperature extremes and exposure to salt air— above what a standard, residential detector designed for stick-built homes would encounter.

One manufacturer representative told us he was sure his company’s interconnectable smoke detectors “would work” in an RV, but “They’re just not designed for it.”

Some folks reason that having the extra layer of safety of having smoke detectors in basement storage areas of their rigs — even if not “approved” for RV use — outweighs the dangers of not having any detection at all. At the same time, it would be foolhardy to replace your RV-approved detectors with those not strictly approved. So, for some, adding an additional set of interconnected smoke detectors to the approved one(s) could help you sleep better at night.

The marine industry has dealt with this in a creative, albeit expensive, way. One firm (Xintex) manufactures a line of interconnectable smoke detectors that meet marine standards, but each smoke detector costs around $64, and must be connected to a monitoring station — at a cost of nearly $300. See how much cheaper it is to RV?

Interconnected smoke detectors can be found at Amazon.

photo: R&T De Maris

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