Aico Mains Powered Smoke, Heat and RF Alarms, FAQ, part 2

Continuing to answer some of the most frequently asked questions concerning the Aico Mains Powered Smoke alarms, Heat alarms, Fire alarms, etc, below are the last 18 questions(the whole set of questions are also on fire-detect.co.uk). The first set, the first 17 questions, can be found here.

17. What cable do I need for the Aico Mains connections and where should the supply be taken from?
18. What cable do I need for the interconnect line?
19. How do I mount the Aico Alarms on the ceiling?
20. Can I fit the Aico Smoke or Heat Alarm on the wall?
21. How many Aico Smoke and Heat Alarms can I link together?
22. Can I use a relay to signal other devices?
23. Can I use the relay to connect to a 24 Volt Fire Alarm System?
24. How often should they be tested?
25. Should they be tested with smoke/heat?
26. What maintenance schedule is recommended?
27. How long will the battery last?
28. How will I know if the battery has failed?
29. How long do Aico Smoke Alarms last?
30. How do I stop nuisance alarms?
31. What is the radiation risk from Aico Ionisation Smoke Alarms?
32. How do I dispose of redundant Aico Ei alarms that contain a NiCad battery?
33. Are the Aico Ei alarms with rechargeable Lithium Cells compatible with previous models?
34. Why choose Aico Ei Professional Smoke Alarms?

17. What cable do I need for the Aico Mains connections and where should the supply be taken from?

Fitting

We recommend the use of 6243Y 3 core and earth PVC insulated cable to BS6004 standard. Building Regulations and BS 5839: Pt 6 state that mains only alarms with back-up, can be wired from a dedicated circuit at the distribution board, or they can be wired from a regularly used lighting circuit. In both cases, all hard wired alarms should be on a single final circuit.

18. What cable do I need for the interconnect line?

Use the third core of 6243Y cable as stated above. Do NOT use the earth wire of twin and earth cable as this could cause problems of mistaken identity at a later date.

19. How do I mount the Aico Alarms on the ceiling?

The Aico Ei140 and Aico Ei160 series Smoke and Heat Alarms have an Easi-fit mounting plate,which incorporates an enclosure for the electrical connections, so no back box or mounting kit would normally be required.

20. Can I fit the Aico Smoke or the Aico Heat Alarm on the wall?

All of the Aico Ei alarms are designed for ceiling mounting and will under most circumstances perform better if sited in this position. If it really is not practical to mount them on the ceiling, a Smoke Alarm can be wall mounted with the top edge 15-30cm from the ceiling. Ensure that it is 30cm away from any corner or obstruction which may impede the movement of smoke to the alarm. Do not wall mount heat alarms.

21. How many Smoke and Heat Alarms can I link together?

We recommend that under normal circumstances Smoke and Heat Alarms should only be interconnected within the confines of a single family dwelling. If they are connected between different units, there may be excessive nuisance alarms and it can be difficult to locate and silence the unit causing the alarm. However, there is no technical reason why up to 20 alarms cannot be interconnected in a single system that encompasses a number of individual dwellings – such as may be required in an HMO, for instance. In circumstances such as these, a very high level of system design, management and maintenance is necessary to reduce the level of nuisance alarm.

The minimum requirement should be to install a System Remote Control Switch Ei1529RC on each floor of the property. By pressing the locate switch, all alarms in the system are silenced, for a period of approx. 8 – 10 minutes, except for the unit initiating the alarm state. This allows time to rectify the problem before the system is automatically reinstated to full working order.

22. Can I use a relay to signal other devices?

There are a number of options available for using a relay with Aico Ei Smoke and Heat Alarms. All the relays have volt-free output contacts rated at up to 240V and have both Normally Open and Normally Closed connections. There are relay options available for use with mains operated devices such as bells, sounders and door closers. In addition, there are relays available with a battery back-up for use with devices that will operate even in the event of a mains failure, such as Warden Call Systems. The relay can be mounted under an alarm, or can be remotely sited using the optional cover for electrical safety.

23. Can I use the relay to connect to a 24 Volt Fire Alarm System?

Technically it can be used but if the system has to comply to BS 5839: Pt 1 it may not meet all the requirements. For example, it is not possible to silence the sounder in the smoke alarm from the control panel. Many regulatory bodies now recognise that a dual system (smoke/heat alarms in the individual occupancies and a Pt.1 system in the communal areas) in HMOs can be an extremely effective means of reducing the incidence of false alarms. In this instance, subject to approval, it could be an advantage to have this link.

24. How often should they be tested?

Maintenance
We recommend weekly testing by pressing the test button on the alarm/s for between 5 – 10 seconds, or until all interconnected alarms sound. The use of a low level System Control Switch sited at low level can be used to make this easier for the occupier.

25. Should they be tested with smoke/heat?

BS 5839: Pt.6: 2004 recommends that a smoke/heat test is preformed when the system is commissioned. Pressing the test button checks the electronics, interconnect and the horn are operational, so it is our view that it is not necessary to test with smoke or heat and a ‘variation’ can be invoked in order to comply with the standard. However, if it is considered that testing of smoke alarms is a necessity, we would only recommend the use of special purpose built equipment such as the SAT332 Smoke Alarm Tester with the SAA300 Synthetic Smoke Aerosol. This device ensures that sufficient synthetic ”smoke” enters the sensor chamber and remains long enough for the Smoke Alarm to respond. Other methods of smoke testing, e.g. a lighted taper or smoke pellets, can give misleading results. Testers for Heat Alarms are also available. Do Not test with a flame – this can be a hazard in itself.

26. What maintenance schedule is recommended?

The Aico Ei range of Smoke Alarms and Heat Alarms are suitable for use in Grades D, E and F systems as defined in the British Standard which covers alarm systems in domestic dwellings, BS 5839: Pt6: 2004. It states that these alarms “should be cleaned periodically in accordance with the manufacturers instructions”.
Our recommendations are as follows:

  • Regularly check to see that the green mains power light is on.
  • Press the test button weekly to check all alarms in the system.
  • Regularly check that the red light under the test button or on the cover flashes approx. every 40 seconds.
  • Clean the cover of the alarm regularly using a barely damp, lint free cloth.
  • On a monthly basis (at least) check the alarm for signs of contamination from dust, cobwebs or insects. Use a vacuum cleaner around the cover of the alarm to remove contamination.
  • Check (at least annually) that the alarm will operate on back-up battery power only by switching off the mains supply and pressing the test button.

27. How long will the battery last?

This will depend on a number of factors that will differ slightly according to the type of alarm in use. The Aico Ei140 series alarms are supplied with an Alkaline battery which, dependent on conditions, can provide up to 4 years standby supply, up to 2 years without mains power. The Aico Ei160 series alarms are fitted with rechargeable Lithium power cells which are continuously charged by the alarm circuitry. They have a life expectancy greater than that of the Smoke Alarm, i.e 10 years or more,which eliminates the need for replacement.

28. How will I know if the battery has failed?

If either, the voltage of the battery falls to a sufficiently low level, or the internal resistance of the battery reaches a predetermined state, the alarm unit will emit a warning beep every 40 seconds. In the case of the Aico Ei140 series alarms, it is probable that the alkaline battery in the unit requires replacement. Access to the battery is gained by removing the alarm from the Easi-fit mounting plate. The power cells on the Aico Ei160 series alarms are not replaceable. If these units emit a low battery warning beep it is probable that the mains supply has failed. The cables, fuses etc should be investigated and the fault rectified. If the beeping continues the alarm may have a fault and it should be returned for inspection.

29. How long do Smoke Alarms last?

Miscellaneous
There is no technical reason why a Smoke or Heat Alarm should not last up to 10 years, but the actual lifespan will depend to a large extent on where and how the alarm has been sited, installed and maintained. The most common cause of alarm failure is due to contamination of the sensor chamber and/or electronics. In certain circumstances, even with regular cleaning, contamination can build up in the smoke sensing chamber causing the alarm to sound. If this happens the alarm must be returned for servicing or repair. All manufacturers of smoke alarms recommend that their products are replaced after 10 years use.

30. How do I stop nuisance alarms?

False alarms are usually a result of incorrect siting of the Smoke Alarm, by contamination as a result of building/redecoration operation, or poor levels of maintenance. For instance, if Ionisation alarms are sited too close to a Kitchen, false alarm will often result due to invisible cooking fumes reaching the alarm. Optical alarms are liable to contamination from dust and fibres, often associated with building work being undertaken without the alarms being properly covered. The Aico Ei140 and Aico Ei160 series smoke alarms are supplied with a ‘hush button’ that can be pressed to desensitise them to allow time for the source of the problem to be investigated. Use of the ‘hush button’ will only silence the alarm for 8 – 10 minutes after which the alarm will automatically reset. If the cause of the false alarm is contamination, the only method of permanently silencing the alarm is to remove the contamination source. This may not be possible without removal and cleaning of the alarm itself. It can be difficult to reach the hush button in some instances, particularly for the elderly and infirm, so the installation of a wall mounted System Remote Control Switch Ei1529RC should be considered to overcome this problem.

31. What is the radiation risk from Ionisation Smoke Alarms?

The National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), UK have carried out extensive tests on Aico Ei professional Ionisation Smoke Alarms and have concluded that they are radiologically safe. They estimate that we receive 10,000 times as much radiation from our surroundings as we would from an ionisation alarm in normal use.

32. How do I dispose of redundant Aico Ei alarms that contain a NiCad battery?

The early 150 series alarms contained a NiCad battery and some may now be reaching their end of life. The Cadmium contained within the battery is a restricted substance under The Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 1994 and cannot be disposed of in normal waste. Aico / Ei Electronics take their responsibilities to the environment seriously, and will accept redundant Ei product back for recycling/disposal. The Aico Ei140 and Aico Ei160 series do not contain NiCAd batteries, so are not subject to disposal restrictions.

33. Are the Aico Ei alarms with rechargeable Lithium Cells compatible with previous models?

These have been designed to be fully compatible with previous Smoke and Heat Alarm models. Therefore if an old model 150 series mains powered alarm should require replacement, the equivalent model in the new 150 series can be easily and safely installed in it’s place. All Aico Ei140, 150 and 160 series alarms are also fully compatible with each other.

34. Why choose Ei Professional/Aico Ei Smoke Alarms?

Ei Professional Alarms are designed and manufactured by Europe’s largest producer of Smoke and Heat Alarms, with over 30 years experience in producing quality life safety devices. The latest techniques are used in the manufacturing process, with the highest quality and reliability standards (including BS EN ISO 9001:2000) being practised to ensure trouble-free performance. The Smoke Alarms and Heat Alarms are fully 3rd Party tested and Kitemarked to the relevant British Standard (BS 5446: Pt.1: 2000 for Smoke Alarms, BS 5446: Pt.2: 2003 for Heat Alarms). All the alarms are easily installed and come with comprehensive instruction leaflets and a 5 year guarantee.

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in set of articles is only a summary of some of the key points about our Smoke and Heat Alarms. It is not intended to replace the instruction leaflet supplied with the product. Smoke and Heat Alarms must be installed by a qualified person according to the recommendations contained in whichever of the following documents are relevant to the specific installation; BS 5839: Pt.6, Building Regulations and I.E.E. Wiring Regulations. The information supplied in these articles is believed to be in conformity with these codes. However, Ei Electronics / Aico Ltd or Sparks Electrical Wholesalers Ltd cannot be held responsible for ensuring the Smoke and Heat Alarms, as installed, are in compliance with these codes. This is the responsibility of the installer and we recommend that the original source documents are consulted to achieve this end.

Read the first set of the frequent asked questions(the first 16 questions) concerning the Aico alarms:

  1. What are the fire alarm requirements for New – Build properties?
  2. What is a Grade D system?
  3. What do LD2 and LD3 mean?
  4. What are the requirements for existing properties?
  5. What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
  6. If I install an LD2 level of cover can this remove my responsibilities to conduct a Fire Risk Assessment?
  7. What do I need to do to address the requirements of ‘special needs’ people or groups?
  8. What types of sensor are available?
  9. How do Aico Ei Ionisation and Optical Smoke Alarms work?
  10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both sensor types ?
  11. How do Aico Ei Heat Alarms work?
  12. Which Alarm should I use where?
  13. Where should alarms be sited?
  14. How many do I need?
  15. Where shouldn’t the Aico Smoke Alarms be sited?
  16. Will they always work?

Check out the available domestic fire alarm systems by visiting the Fire and Security section, Fire Alarms, Domestic Fire / Heat Alarms, where you can find an up-to-date selection of Aico smoke alarms, Aico Heat alarms, Aico CO alarms, etc. – buy online Aico fire alarms via SparksDirect.co.uk. This FAQ can also be found online herehere and on the sparksdirect blog.

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