Feeling the heat

Recommending and installing carbon monoxide (CO), smoke and heat alarms for customers will not only keep them safe, but is an easy business win for the contractor too. But what’s the difference and where to fit them? Here Emma Segelov from Honeywell explains.

Despite the efforts of numerous campaigns, home safety is still a big issue. For installers, this means talking to customers about alarm systems is more important than ever to ensure their properties are guarded against dangers such as fires and CO leaks.

However, whilst the actual installation of CO, smoke and heat alarms can be extremely simple, the task of assessing the needs of a property and appropriately locating each alarm is a serious one. Below is our quick guide to getting it right first time.

Smoke alarms

For proper protection, there should be an alarm within 1.5 metres of the entrance to all habitable rooms and any cupboards that pose a fire risk – especially those within the path of an escape route.

When it comes to siting these alarms, the unit should be as central as possible, whether this is in an entrance hall or a room. The alarm should also be at least 30 centimetres (12 inches) away from any wall or light fitting.

Furthermore, installers should take into account any residents of differing abilities when advising on the most appropriate alarm system. For example, choosing alarms which have clear LED display lights alongside an audible alert to cater for the hearing impaired.

CO alarms

Public awareness of CO risk is growing, but there are still many households with no CO alarm, leaving residents vulnerable to what is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’.

In some situations, customers who only have a colour change ‘spot’ detector with no audible alarm are running the risk of missing a leak, simply by not noticing the visual alert as they go about their daily routine. In these circumstances, installers should strongly recommend an approved audible alarm to ensure the home is as safe as possible.

For full protection, a CO alarm should be placed in any room containing a fuel burning appliance – including gas boilers, cookers and solid fuel burners – but also in any bedrooms which may be located above these areas.

Once you’ve assessed the property and determined how many alarms are necessary, it’s crucial to locate them appropriately. Ideally, the alarm should be positioned high up in the room typically 30 centimetres from the ceiling, and a metre away from boilers, fires, cookers or heaters. It can either be fixed to a wall or free-standing on a shelf, as long as the recommended positioning requirements are met.

Heat alarms

When selecting a heat alarm, installers must remember that they are required in areas like kitchens and garages based on the type of hazard most likely to arise in these areas of the home.

Generally, there are two types of fire – fast-flaming and slow-starting, smouldering fires. In a kitchen environment, fast-flaming is most common.

Fast-flaming fires, unlike slow-starting, produce little smoke, but plenty of heat. This is where a heat alarm is a better solution than a smoke alarm. In a kitchen, where these fires are common, a heat alarm is the required option to alert and evacuate residents.

In terms of location, a heat alarm should be placed as close to the centre of the ceiling as possible whilst avoiding anything which could obstruct the alarm and prevent heat from entering the unit and triggering the alert.

Interconnected alarms

An interconnected system offers full scale protection by linking every CO, smoke and heat alarm in the building together, so that if one is triggered all the others will also activate. This ensures that every occupant is alerted to the danger no matter where in the building they are.

Honeywell’s wireless system, for example, uses a flood type network; ensuring interconnected alarms send and receive information from each alarm in the network. Therefore, the time taken for every alarm to sound is significantly reduced, allowing more time to evacuate in an emergency.


When working on a project, offering to assess a customer’s home safety is a quick and easy add-on. By recommending and correctly installing a high quality system, installers could well be saving lives whilst also enhancing their reputation and boosting their business.

For more information on Honeywell’s CO, smoke and heat alarms, visit www.homesafety.honeywell.com