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SavvyCat 01-05-2014 03:08 PM

Install a Light in Place of Smoke Detector?
I don't have a volt meter, so I really don't know what the power level is going to my smoke detectors. However, they are old and past their useful life. I intend to replace them with battery operated. One of them in I an alcove outside my bedroom and near a storage closet that has no light.

Am I crazy to think I can install a ceiling light in place of the detector since there is already wiring there? I've been reading that many Hardwired units operated on 125 volts, but I can't measure it, and there is no breaker in the box that supports that idea. What do you think?

Wuzzat? 01-05-2014 04:09 PM

If no residential smoke detectors run on 24 vac or 240 vac then it's a good bet it's 120 vac which you can test with a 120 vac incand. bulb screwed into a socket with pigtail leads.

Depending on what the bulb does there are several possibilities. One is, if the bulb dies quickly, you have put it across 240 vac.

speedy petey 01-05-2014 05:12 PM

DO NOT remove a smoke detector to put a light in. That idea is nuts!

For one thing, the box will not be switched, so you are limited to a pull chain light. For another, you need the smoke.
IMO a straight battery unit is NOT an acceptable substitute for a hard wired one. If it's past it's useful life then replace it. In fact, if they are all over 12-15 years old replace them ALL. Besides the fact that you will be creating a serious code violation by removing the hard wired interconnected smokes.

If you really need the light then tap off that box and put in a pull chain light next to the smoke.

SavvyCat 01-05-2014 07:26 PM


Thanks for your concern. I already know I would need a pull chain unless I really wanted to delve into electrical work, which I don't. I don't dig in that closet often, but hate that I have to get a flashlight when I do.

Even when I was trying to find replacement hardwired units, I read all the pros and cons for wired and battery operated. Wired means they all go off at once, but not at all if the power goes out. Know what I mean? I can only assume these are original installs from 1982. They "work" in that shower steam will set them off, but a recent smokey oven fire did not (I don't want to talk about it). They are useless.

There are all kinds of codes for rental properties here, but none for owners. The only requirement is from my insurance company that I must have both smoke and CO detectors, and they don't care which kind. A firefighter friend of mine years ago gave me battery operated detectors for Christmas (also close to 1982, as I recall those years). Aw! So sentimental! ;) Anything is better than nothing, he said, and nothing is what I have now, as far as I'm concerned.

So fear not! I will have a smoke and fire alert system in my house no matter what. I just want to use some established wiring for a few more lights, thank you.

speedy petey 01-06-2014 05:20 AM

I cannot imagine the codes in suburban TX are any less stringent for rentals than homes, but who knows. Personally I think you'd be out of your mind taking out hard wired smokes and replacing them with battery-only units.
I regularly have to put them in to satisfy insurance and code people, so.....

The old units are nothing like today's as far as reliability goes. Like I said, smokes DO have a finite life, so replacing units from 1982 should have been done years ago. And also, MOST hard wired units are battery back up. I don't know where you were looking that said they won't work if power goes out. Also, you can get combo CO/SD units for the areas that require CO detectors as well as smoke.

I get the impression your mind is made up so I won't bother you with this any longer. Good luck.

bud16415 01-06-2014 07:03 AM

In another thread yesterday Neil suggested a new product that I liked a lot made by DuPont I believe. It's a smoke alarm that screws into a light socket and has all the functionality of a wired in unit with the addition of another light socket base in the bottom of it. You could have the best of both worlds with this and just add a pull chain adapter to it if you don't want to run a switch.

Take down your old unit mount a ceiling socket screw this in screw in a pull chain adapter and a bulb and you are done. I think the price was around $40.

nealtw 01-06-2014 06:03 PM

Bud that was an extra with a house that already had hardwired units installed. The OP should read the insurance papers, it likely says there that these things need to be changed a t 10 years. It is just to eazy to run a second box as suggested earlier.

bud16415 01-07-2014 08:30 AM

I would also add the second box but the OP was pretty set in his thinking as SP pointed out. I was just throwing that DuPont unit out as an option that would be better than his plan of getting rid of the smoke detector all together. He never said I don’t think if his hardwired units were all tied together into an alarm system. If they are I totally agree he should just update them all and add new lighting where he needs it. I would think a self-charging screw in unit would be better than a battery only unit and that’s where he is heading.

nealtw 01-07-2014 10:44 AM

As that light would only be used for closet lighting it may not get enough use to keep the battery charged.

bud16415 01-07-2014 11:01 AM

I was worried it might get too much seeing as how there is no switch it would be powered all the time and the light turned on with a pull cord. I don’t think they can over charge though.

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