Average Cost to Install a Wired Smoke Detector
The average cost to have a professional install a wired smoke detector is $115. Because this is an electrical project, the majority of the cost is the installation labor rather than the smoke detector unit. If you hire an electrician or handyman to do the installation, all labor costs, prep work, smoke detector testing, and cleanup should be included. When the junction box for the detector is already in place, installation cost is on the low end of the price spectrum. When wiring and a box must be installed, costs are high on the range.
Overview of Installing a Wired Smoke Detector
What is a wired smoke detector, and what makes it different from a battery-powered smoke detector? A wired smoke detector (also known as a hardwired smoke detector) runs off of your home’s electrical system rather than batteries. Hardwired smoke detectors do have battery packs, but they are only used for a backup in case of a power outage.
Battery powered smoke detectors are considered less reliable than hardwired smoke detectors, because if the batteries die, the smoke detector won’t work. Battery powered smoke detectors also sound an annoying “chirp” when they start to get low on battery. Often, to stop the chirping, people will remove the battery from the smoke detector and not immediately replace it, creating a potentially dangerous situation if a fire starts. For these reasons, experts recommend hardwired smoke detectors as the most dependable option for your family’s safety.
Wired smoke detectors can be connected with others in the same house by putting them on the same circuit, so that if one goes off, the others all go off as well. This is a safety feature that can save time in the case of a fire by alerting every area of the home at once. This is especially helpful because the most fire-prone areas of a home, like the garage or attic, are often the farthest away from bedrooms and a fire may go unnoticed for some time by smoke detectors in the rest of the house.
This wired smoke detector cost estimate looks at the cost factors involved in installing wired smoke detectors, types of smoke detectors, when to hire a contractor and related projects.
Product and Supplies Cost Details
Smoke Detector Installation Cost Factors
Wired Smoke Detector Cost Factors
Installing a basic wired smoke detector can cost as little as $75 when the electrical box is already in place, or the total cost can exceed $150 for a high-tech wired smoke detector installation when a box has to be installed and wired. The list of cost factors below will help you get an accurate cost estimate of where your project will fall within this range.
- Whether the Electrical Box is In Place – If a junction box was installed when the house was built or remodeled, smoke detector installation cost is significantly lower than if a box and wiring have to be run off an existing circuit. When a new circuit must be added to the panel, cost will exceed those given here – the circuit installation is considered a separate cost.
- Finished or Unfinished Home – Wiring a box before the ceiling is drywalled is the easiest, so least expensive, project. When drywall is in place and needs to be cut into and repaired afterwards, cost can be twice as high.
- Type of Wired Smoke Detector – There is a wide variety of smoke detector types, even within the category of hardwired smoke detectors. The type of smoke detector you choose will have a big impact on the final cost of your project. For example, if you choose to install a “smart” wired smoke detector that can connect to other smart devices and use a text-alert system, the detector itself will cost $100 or more. On top of that, you will need to pay for installation and labor costs. Another popular choice among homeowners is to get a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector which start at about $40 per unit plus installation.
- Number of Smoke Detectors – The more smoke detectors you need to install, the higher the total cost – but cost per detector drops. The number of detectors you’ll need depends on the size of your house and the building codes where you live. NFTA has a great guide on where to install within your home. Make sure to check your local requirements to make sure you have enough smoke detectors in your home, and that they are in the right places. In Illinois for example, you are required to install a smoke detector within 15 feet of every bedroom or sleeping area, and on every story of the house including the basement. Fortunately, wired smoke detectors are often sold in packs of 4, 6, or 12 at a discounted price per unit.
Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time
Permits and Inspection Cost
- $20 – $100 | Any new construction residential project requires an electrical permit to install hardwired smoke detectors. If you are swapping out battery-powered smoke detectors for hardwired ones in an existing home, you may not need a permit. This will depend on how extensive the project is and how much the structural parts of the home need to be altered in order to reach the wiring. The cost of the permit is based on the number of detectors installed.
Approximate Installation Time
- 1 – 3 hours | The general rule of thumb is that an electrician will spend about 30-60 minutes installing each hardwired smoke detector.
Who Does the Installation?
This topic is fully explained in the DIY or Not section below. If you’ve got junction boxes in place and have ever switched out a light fixture, installing smoke detectors is just as easy. There’s a link to a tutorial video below that clearly explains the process.
If a circuit has to be run, drywall cut into and all that hassle, it’s really up to you based on the time you have and the skill set you’ve acquired through hands-on DIY work. Electrical inspectors like all the hardwired smoke alarms to be on a single circuit, so that if one goes off, they all go off. And they don’t like anything else, like a bedroom light, on the circuit. And by “don’t like,” we mean “won’t allow.”
For those who are just getting into DIY, this probably isn’t a good first project.
And once your smoke detectors are installed, remember to check the batteries as part of a checklist you complete when you set the clocks back or ahead during time changes.
Costs of Related Projects
- Circuit Breaker Installation Costs
- Home Backup Generator Costs
- GFCI Outlet Installation Cost
- Chimney Cleaning or Sweeping
- Gas Logs in Fireplace
- Clay Chimney Liner or Stainless Steel Chimney Liner Replacement
- Wood Pellet Stove Installation
DIY or Hire a Pro?
This is not a project that we recommend as DIY friendly when new wiring must be run and connected to an existing circuit or run to the electrical panel. When something goes wrong with electricity, it can go really wrong. For the safety of you and your household, we suggest that you leave this one to the pros!
For a full fire system professionally installed – all detectors, circuit run and connected to the electrical panel, Home Advisor suggests a cost of up to $950 – we think it could be a little higher depending on the size of your home, number of detectors and who does the work. The site How Much puts the price tag at about $90 per detector for installation, which is pretty accurate.
If the wiring and junction box are in place, then installing a detector is like installing a light fixture. Connect the wires using wire nuts – you might want to tape them too. If you’ve installed fixtures before with success, DIY smoke detector installation shouldn’t be a problem. Watching a useful tutorial is always a good idea before getting started.