Is it safe to use lithium battery smoke detectors?
Keeping the house and the family safe should be a top priority. Smoke detectors are vital for ensuring timely action against any potential harm. Smoke alarms need to have a high successful detection ratio and for this using the right battery is absolutely necessary. Smoke alarms and their batteries should be checked consistently and battery replacement should be handled in a strict sense.
Lithium battery is used in various devices and is a part of everyday life. These batteries are generally safe, cost effective and easy to use. However, accurate usage, managing and storing is important to maintain safety. Lithium battery has lithium metal and is usually single-use and not rechargeable. This lithium metal is highly inflammable. It contains a high amount of energy in a relatively small size. It is usually used when recharging is not required or is not feasible. People using these batteries need to be aware of all potential dangers related to these batteries. Lithium batteries due to its highly inflammable nature need to be disposed properly.
Lithium batteries can produce high amount of energy and there is a risk of explosion and fire linked with them. Storage of high amount of energy has inherent dangers, be it in a large rechargeable battery or disposable one. Therefore, smoke detectors with lithium batteries have combustible and potentially harmful properties that need to be taken care of.
Lithium battery require a disciplined schedule for battery replacement, otherwise they may not be advised for smoke detectors. One of the main reason for is that lithium battery has a high voltage throughout its useful life. The smoke detector gives out a chirping, high-pitched sound if the battery need to be replaced. It is usually best advised to be proactive and keep consistent check on battery replacement warning every six months. It is advised to replace the battery when adjusting the clocks for daylight saving time. Due to the high voltage in lithium battery, the warning time span for “low battery” is reduced, giving the consumer a much lesser time to put on a new one.
There are sealed lithium-powered smoke detectors with tamper-proof feature available in the market with a long life durability of 10 years. This does not require any battery replacement, instead the whole alarm gets replaced after its 10-year durability has passed.
How long will a lithium battery last in a smoke detector?
The battery replacement requirement depends highly on the type of smoke detector being used. Battery life cycle is dependent on the specific design of the smoke detector and the place and its temperature where the smoke detector is being used. The battery capacity and long back it was manufactured also matters.
The life cycle of lithium battery when compared to its counterpart (alkaline) is generally longer. To ensure longevity of the batteries it is important to follow the instruction given on the device in which the batteries will be used. The high voltage and energy density stays stable throughout the battery use, giving lithium battery a longer life.
9-volt battery smoke detectors
Smoke detectors usually have a life span of 8 to 10 years, requiring a new battery every year. As mentioned above lithium battery will give a longer life but it is usually a good idea to change batteries every years. Since lithium batteries have a much longer life cycle than 1 year, these batteries can be used in devices which less critical than smoke detectors. For example, portable radio etc.
Hard-wired smoke detectors
Similar to 9-volt battery smoke detectors, these also require replacement every year along with regular testing.
10-year smoke detectors
These detectors with a lithium battery can last 10 years with no battery replacement, thus making it a popular choice amongst households. These smoke detectors have a useful life of 10 years after which the whole unit needs to be replaced.
However, there have been reviews coming up by the consumers claiming the 10 year battery life to be a myth. Consumers have stated that at time batteries need to be changed after 8 to 9 years. There have even been people who got a low battery warning just after 3 years. So the absolute durability can vary with the alarm lasting even up to 15 years. Still it is better off since battery replacement is not required in a short time span when compared to other 9V batteries.
What are the advantages and limitations to use lithium battery smoke detectors?
- Lithium batteries are designed to have a longer life, making it convenient for devices where battery replacement is troublesome. For example, Duracell claims its Ultra 9V (lithium powered) to be 80% more effective when compared to normal alkaline battery.
- Lithium battery is light weight.
- Since lithium battery hold its charge longer, it has a more stable energy discharge.
- These batteries are easier to use in extreme temperatures as opposed to alkaline battery. The consumers would not have to worry regarding its durability.
- Lithium battery gives out a higher voltage.
- Even with a higher price point, lithium batteries can be considered cost-effective due to its long life span and durability.
- Given the longer life, lithium battery is much more expensive then alkaline battery.
- Lithium battery is regarded as hazardous waste and require strict disposable measures. It cannot be normally discarded along with the household trash.
- Lithium battery contains lithium metal, which is highly combustible. The battery can explode due to fire exposure. There have been incidents where lithium batteries have caused fire at the recycling units and in garbage trucks and centers.
- Lithium battery discharges energy at a stable rate and can go dead before any prolonged warning period. Due to shorter warning time, smoke detectors operated by lithium battery need to be more consistent with testing. However, alkaline battery due its slower energy drop-off has a much longer “low battery” alarm.
Lithium batteries are highly toxic, making it less environment friendly.
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