2020 Update

Although this article is over a year old, all of the information is still relevant. It can be important to know how to replace a hard wired smoke detector; scroll down to find out how. 


Aside from the obvious benefit of never hearing the irritating and constant ‘chirping’ sound warning of a low or faulty battery, a hard-wired smoke detector provides a greater level of safety for your family.  A dead battery puts you at risk, while smoke detectors powered by electricity with battery backup will fulfill home safety and fire regulations. Another benefit is the ability of hard-wired smoke detectors to interface with or be linked into your monitored home security system. Monitored smoke detectors not only sound an alarm, but they will also contact the fire department. A quick response to household or business fires will save lives and property.

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    Continuous home monitoring by a professional security firm is one way to calm a parent’s mind for the safety of the entire family.  A Huffington Post study found the following statistics (numbers which can be quite alarming):

    A finger is pressing on the testing button of a white smoke detector installed on a white ceiling.

    Although there is no doubt that smoke alarms help to save lives, a study has shown that domestic smoke alarms fail to wake up 80% of sleeping children. Research is increasingly showing that children, and particularly boys, are not disturbed by the sound.

    Keep in mind that like all mechanical and electrical home products, they have a certain life-cycle and may fail eventually. The Consumer Reports Agency states that smoke detectors should be fully replaced after 10 years. The sensors will start to lose their sensitivity, putting your home at risk.

    Before Replacing Your Hard Wired Smoke Detector

    Replacing your hard wired smoke detector means you’re about to handle electrical work. Therefore, the procedure should be done with caution and thorough attention. If possible, refer to your smoke detector’s user manual. If you run into additional questions or are unsure about something, seek confirmation before continuing the task. You can also find guidance by calling your smoke detector’s manufacturer.

    How To Replace A Hard Wired Smoke Detector

    • Shut off the power to that circuit at the main electrical panel
    • Unscrew the old detector from it ceiling or wall mount
    • Take note of the three wires as you detach them from the old smoke detector
    • Black=120V Power, White=Neutral, and Red or Yellow are the interconnecting circuit wires
    • If the wires are contained within a plastic plug, detach the plug
    • Remove the old mounting plate and any wire harness connected to your home wiring
    • Install the new wire harness by matching the connections to the black, white, and red house wires
    • Be sure to twist the metal wires to make a good connection and secure with electrical tape or wire caps
    • NOTE: for two-wire detectors – connect the black to black, and white to white
    • Screw the new mounting plate in place and bring the newly attached wiring harness out
    • Attach the new smoke detector plug to its receptacle from the wall/ceiling
    • Install the backup batteries in the new smoke detector head and screw onto base
    • Turn the power back on and test the smoke detector via its “test” button

    A white smoke detector is installed on a light lime green wall.

    How Often Should Hard Wired Smoke Detectors Be Replaced?

    As mentioned before, smoke detectors should be replaced every ten years. After about a decade, your sensors will become weak and less efficient.

    This makes it less likely for them to perform their most basic function, which is, detecting smoke in your home. Even if your detector is older than 10 years and seems to respond to the routine test applications, you will still need to replace the device. The smoke detector’s test buttons may only be confirming that other components within the device (such as the battery, electronics and alert system) are working.

    If you just moved into a new home with a pre-existing smoke detector, call a technician to verify the age of your device.

    Complete Fire, Safety, and Theft Protection

    While replacing your hard-wired smoke detector is pretty straightforward, protecting your property, and family can seem like an overwhelming challenge. Also consider, if you have an elderly or disabled family member, the challenges become even more complicated. We at Protect America are answering the call for dependable and comprehensive home safety services. When you consider FEMA statistics which state that 3,400 people die and 17,500 are injured each year due to home fires, the urgency is made much clearer.

    Contact us to discuss a monitored home security system which can include monitored smoke detectors, 24/7 in-home surveillance, door and window sensors, and motion detectors – all delivered with an easy DIY installation package.