Everyone has them. They are one of those things you don’t think about until you really need them. I have lived in many different places, every one of them had smoke detectors. Of course, I’ve never had a house burn down around me yet, thank God, so I’ve never actually used one.
Well, that is not entirely correct. I’ve had to interact with them multiple times. Which brings me to the reason for this post. Why in the hell is it that it is ALWAYS the middle of the friggin night that they start the slow beeping to tell you the battery is dying? WHY!? I have had this happen at least a half a dozen times, including 3:30am this very morning. It is that one-beep-a-minute deal that is just slow enough that you don’t awake fully and rocket out of bed, but just loud and annoying enough to keep you from actually sleeping. Usually, you spend a good hour or two in and out of sleep, not fully registering that something is going on, but knowing you’re not sleeping very well. Maybe that random beep is reflected in your dreams somehow very strangely.
Why does this NEVER happen say 5pm on a Tuesday, or noon on a Saturday… you know, when you could actually do something about it? Who built this hidden clock into the detector, and why did they think it would be funny? I would seriously like an answer to that.
Another question I have is why in my tiny ass, 550 sq.ft. apartment do I have two smoke detectors that are not 10 feet apart? You have all heard those things… they could wake the dead. I truly think that one could suffice the whole apartment… but what to do I know? I don’t have the lucrative government smoke detector racket in my pocket.
I have some thoughts on smoke detector design as well. Now, I’m no electrical engineer or anything, but here are my observations. Way back when, smoke detectors ran on battery power. Ok… makes sense. However, every place that I have lived in in the past 8-10 years has the detectors wired to the house current (as well as each other to sound all alarms when one goes off), yet these devices still have battery backup. Ok, I understand that… they will function even if the power is out. Great idea. Of course, in some houses I’ve seen, like my ex-laws house in New Meadows has a smoke detector near the ceiling… all well and good… but that ceiling is some 30 feet off the ground. How in blue blazes are you going to change that battery at 4 in the morning? Better them than me, thats for sure.
So here is my question. Electronic design has come a long ways. If your smoke detector is wired to current anyway, why couldn’t you simply build in a battery charger and a rechargeable battery? Wouldn’t that make sense? So, instead of replacing a regular old 9-volt every 6 months (like anyone really does that anyway… you’re all like me and wait till it start beeping at you at 2 in the morning), you could have a sturdy lithium-ion rechargeable in there that you might have to replace every 5 or 10 years. Sure, it would cost more, but when you’re building/remodeling, you’d never even notice. Besides, isn’t one less thing to worry about remembering to do worth a few extra bucks? You could make it a ‘smart’ charger that could test the current store on the battery and only charge when it gets low (which is probably every 6 months or so). The charger would bring the battery up to full charge and then shut off for the next 6, 8, 10 months. I fail to see the downside here.
Perhaps someone out there can explain to me why this hasn’t happened yet. Maybe there is some quirk of these devices I don’t know about. I fully admit, I’m no expert. I’m just a guy who got dragged out of bed this morning to rip one of these things off my ceiling just so I could attempt to go back to sleep. And frankly, I could happily live the rest of my life not having to do it again.