Smoke Alarms

Did you know that you are required by NSW law to have smoke alarms at least on every level of your home, and that all smoke alarms need to comply with the AS3786 standard?
Do you know what type of smoke alarms are in your home – hard-wired, interconnected, or lithium battery smoke alarms?

To find out if your smoke alarms are up to code and fully operational, or if you’re looking to install smoke alarms in your new home, simply give us a call at 0431 894 327. Waters Electrical and Solar has more than 40 years of experience in smoke alarm installation and maintenance across the Northern Beaches, and we’re happy to help!

Contact us today for the following Smoke Alarm services:

  1. Standard testing/battery replacements.
  2. All types of 240 volt alarm replacements including standard 240 volt with battery back up, heat alarms and lithium 12v alarms.
  3. Interconnected alarm systems – interconnected alarms are standard 240 volt alarms with an interconnecting cable linking all the alarms. It is highly effective as when one alarm sounds all sound. Ideal for large houses All smoke alarms should be checked regularly and have their batteries changed once a year.

Info about Smoke Alarms

Why are smoke alarms important?

smoke alarm wiresSmoke alarms save lives. When installed in the correct locations throughout your home and well maintained, smoke alarms serve as an early warning system, alerting us to any smoke or fire before it gets out of control. Did you know that when you are sleeping, you don’t actually smell smoke? That is why a smoke alarm system is so crucial to make sure you’re alerted. This buys you more precious time to get your family out of the house. Since smoke alarms are so vital to our survival, they are an absolute must-have in any home.

What Fire & Rescue NSW says

Fire & Rescue NSW responds to around 4500 residential fires each year. And their statistics show that up to 50% of these fires could have been prevented if the homes had working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan. This means that you’re basically twice as likely to die in a home fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm. 


Another interesting thing to note is that while half of all fires seem to start in the kitchen due to unattended cooking, electrical appliances and faults actually cause about 40% of all home fires. 

It’s easier to be disciplined about never leaving your cooking unattended, but since you can’t tell if you might have any faulty appliances or circuitry threatening to start a potential fire, it’s best that you get a professional electrician to do a thorough check. Here at Waters Electrical and Solar, we include a full electrical safety check for your entire home. 

What is the law regarding smoke alarm installation in New South Wales?

In NSW the Australian Standards state the miminum requirement is to have a working smoke alarm installed at every level.

Because smoke alarms are considered such life-saving devices that can provide critical seconds to save life and property, the government wants to make sure that all homes are properly fitted with smoke alarms. 

To that end, The Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 commenced in NSW on 1 May 2006. 

This legislation mandated that all residential dwellings in NSW must have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of the home.

Smoke alarms must comply with Australian Standard 3786 (AS3786). A person who does not comply with the legislation is guilty of an offence (maximum penalty $550). 

Fire & Rescue NSW believe that this NSW legislation only gives a home a very minimal level of protection though, and they always recommend having a higher level of protection, preferably with interconnected alarms installed in all bedrooms and living spaces (including hallways and stairways) and even the garage. 


Requirements for landlords: Where a smoke alarm is not working, the landlord and agent must ensure the alarm (this includes changing the battery) within 2 business days.

Landlords must check alarms every year and ensure they are in working order.

New Dwellings: Any new build or dwelling is required to have all smoke alarms interconnected.

How can I tell if a smoke alarm is approved for use?

smoke alarmAll smoke alarms must comply with the AS3786 standard. Here at Waters Electrical and Solar, we provide you the quality assurance that we only install smoke alarms that comply with this standard, as well as meet the Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 requirements.

If you’re purchasing your own smoke alarms, always make sure that they come with either the AS3786 or the Standards Australia ‘five ticks’ symbol on the packaging.

If you already have smoke alarms installed in your home and you’re unsure if they’re up to code, we can do a check for you to make sure everything is in order, so you can have peace of mind while you sleep.

What is the difference between a smoke alarm and a smoke detector?

A smoke detector, like the name suggests, only detects smoke, but does not have an in-built alarm system. All smoke detectors actually need to be connected to a building’s fire alarm system control panel. A smoke alarm has the advantage of being an all-in-one system that not only detects smoke but also sounds an immediate alarm. 

While it doesn’t seem like a huge difference, it is important to note this especially if you’re having smoke alarm systems installed in a new home. Make sure that your contractor is installing the correct type of system – or hire us to do the job and you never have to worry you’re getting the wrong ones installed! 

Where do I need to install smoke alarms? 

The very minimum requirement is to have one smoke alarm on every level of the home. However, it is recommended to also install smoke alarms inside and outside every bedroom, in every hallway, staircase, and living space. 

It is important to note though, that there are certain “dead space” areas to avoid when installing your smoke alarms, as they will not go off in the event of a fire. Where you place a smoke alarm in a hallway also depends on where your bedrooms are situated, if they are together, or far apart from each other. Placement also matters especially if you have slanted or tilted walls, for example, in the top floor of your house. 

Are your alarms constantly beeping and driving you crazy? You shouldn’t have to jeopardise your safety to gain peace and quiet. Rather than removing the battery and run the risk, the installation location or type of alarm can play a huge factor in ‘false alarms’.

Heat alarms and best installed in a kitchen area with advanced technology to determine the difference between cooking and real fire.

If heat alarms are installed you must still have at least one photovoltaic alarm (regular alarm) on each level. Smoke alarms should be installed between the kitchen and the bedrooms.

To make sure that you are placing them in the correct locations, we recommend that you get a professional electrician to take care of the installation of smoke alarms. If you need any help with your smoke alarm installation, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 0431 894 327 for a completely free consultation.

What are the different types of smoke alarms available? 

Fire & Rescue NSW recommends that wherever possible, hard-wired smoke alarms and interconnected smoke alarms should be installed. 

Hard-wired smoke alarms are great because they’re not only connected to your home’s electrical system, they also have a back-up battery power supply, to make sure your smoke alarms are always operational. 

Interconnected smoke alarms mean that when one goes off, they all go off, to make sure you can hear the alarm even if you’re far away from the source of the smoke. This is especially important in bigger homes, or homes with many different rooms.

If this is not possible, then FRNSW recommends smoke alarms that rely on in-built 10-year lithium batteries, so that you can have peace of mind for a decade before having to think about replacing them. 

Battery-operated smoke alarms with lead or alkaline batteries are the least recommended type because they need to be replaced yearly. 

There are also smoke alarm systems available that are specially designed for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. These may incorporate some kind of strobe lighting or vibrating elements in addition to the audible alarm.

 How often do I need to test or maintain smoke alarms?

smoke alarm maintenanceYou should do smoke alarm testing every month. Smoke alarms come with a “test” button. Simply push this button to make sure it makes an audible alert signal. If you have an interconnected alarm system, make sure they all go off.

If your smoke alarm gives off a warning “beep” for example, the battery might be low. Depending on the type of smoke alarm you have, you might already need to replace the batteries.

Don’t forget that while hard-wired smoke alarms are connected to your electrical system, they also contain back-up batteries – these also need to be changed regularly. To find out if they need changing, you’ll have to isolate the power supply (via a main switch or your circuit breaker) before testing.

To find out what sort of smoke alarm batteries you need, make sure you refer to the smoke alarm manufacturer’s instructions manual or safety information.

Your smoke alarms will also require cleaning from time to time. Bugs and dust can compromise the integrity of your smoke alarms, or even lead to false alarms being sounded.

For added protection, you should have your smoke alarms regularly serviced. This contributes to the longevity of your smoke alarms, and makes sure that they will function when they are needed the most.

Smoke alarms have a shelf life of 10 years. Although they may continue to work past this, it is strongly recommended to replace by 10 years. The inside sticker on your alarm will state what year the alarm should be replaced by.

We highly recommend that you have a qualified smoke alarm electrician come and check your smoke alarm system on a regular basis, to inspect all are in working order and that all relevant legislation is being complied with. Checking alarm positioning, condition, function and expiry are some of the things we do when we service your smoke alarms to make sure they’re in tip-top working condition. 

If you are unsure or have any questions, feel free to ask us at 0431 894 327 and we will be happy to help. We can take care of your smoke alarm installation, maintenance of smoke alarms, or any emergency services you may have. 

Keeping our Northern Beaches clients safe is our number one priority! So trust Waters Electrical and Solar to make sure your home and family are well protected and safe with a dependable smoke alarm system, so you can enjoy peace of mind!