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Beeping smoke detectors: telling the difference between your security system sensors and other smoke sensors

I often get calls asking about beeping smoke detectors, and one of today’s biggest challenges is finding out what’s beeping...

I often get calls asking about beeping smoke detectors, and one of today’s biggest challenges is finding out what’s beeping: your household smoke detectors or ones installed by your security company. There are a few distinct differences between these two styles of smoke sensors – monitored and non-monitored – that can help you easily tell them apart.

The easiest way to tell the difference between a monitored smoke detector and a non-monitored smoke detector is that monitored smoke detectors have a red LED light. Another defining characteristic of a battery-powered monitored smoke detector is its double layer structure. This style of battery-operated alarm smoke detector also has an audible alarm built into it for notification purposes. A high decibel alert will activate when the device detects smoke. This type of device will also beep to notify you when batteries get low.

One of the characteristics of your standard unmonitored household smoke detectors – which are wired to your home’s power supply – is the shape. They are typically a single layer structure. Another characteristic of these styles of smoke detectors is that they will typically have a green LED blinking power light and a back-up battery. This will allow the smoke detector to continue operating if there is a power failure in the home. These styles of smoke detectors have alarms that will notify you if a fire occurs. The alarm also activates when the back-up battery is low, notifying you that the battery needs changing.

One of many advantages to having a monitored smoke detector is the fact that monitored smoke sensors will notify the alarm system of changing conditions. The security system will acknowledge when smoke is detected by a sensor or if battery power is low. Then the alarm system will transmit the condition of the sensor to the monitoring center. Typically, when you have a beeping smoke detector, a sure way to tell if it’s an alarm system smoke is by checking the status at the keypad on the security system. Hardwired monitored smoke sensors are also backed up for power outages by the alarm system back up battery.

If you still have questions about whether your smoke sensors are part of your alarm system, you can refer to your original security system paperwork or contact your security provider to confirm what equipment was originally installed. Also, remember to test your alarm system regularly for proper function and operation.

If one of your smoke sensors is beeping, try changing the batteries. If you’ve determined that is WH Security monitored smoke sensor and the beeping persists after changing the batteries, please call or email a WH Security technician at (763) 477-3664 or at