Thinking of buying a new smoke detector for your bedroom? That’s a great idea, a working smoke detector in your bedroom might save your life and the life of your loved ones. But maybe, you have a ceiling fan and you’re worried that it might interfere with the smoke detector and you’re wondering where you should put it to ensure it works? This is what you need to know.

In any room with a ceiling fan, smoke detectors should be installed at least 3 feet away from the fan blades, but preferably still on the ceiling. This will help to avoid any interference with the proper function of the smoke alarm.

Types of Alarms

Heat Detectors

Heat detectors represent fairly old technology, and the first residential fire alarms were of this type. They feature a detecting component inside the unit that activates an alarm when it reaches a predetermined temperature. Heat detectors are sufficient for places where the speed of detection isn’t critical, or in small, confined spaces.
Heat detectors have a lower false alarm rate, but they are somewhat slower at detecting fires. In many household fires, smoke kills victims before fire.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms will detect most fires more quickly than heat detectors. They use a different technology entirely to sense a fire, and there are three types of smoke alarms currently sold:

Ionization smoke alarms contain bits of radioactive material that emit ions that create a faint electrical current between electrodes. When smoke of any amount enters the internal chamber, the current flow is interrupted and the alarm sounds. This type of alarm works best for very fast, fierce fires.
Photoelectric smoke alarms operate using a light source and a photoelectric sensor. When smoke enters the optical chamber and interrupts the path of the light, the light is scattered about by the smoke particles and causes a sensor to activate the alarm. This type of alarm works best for slow, smoldering fires.
Combination smoke alarms use both ionization and photoelectric technologies. The NFPA recommends using smoke alarms that combine both technologies for the best protection.

Where should smoke detectors be placed?

According to the NFPA, the best place for smoke detectors is inside and outside the bedrooms and on every level of your home, including the basement. Depending on the size of your home, you may need several smoke detectors. Dual-sensor smoke alarms throughout your interior would most effectively detect both types of early fires.

Smoke rises, so mounting smoke detectors high — usually on ceilings — is the best option. If you choose to mount a smoke alarm on a wall, placing it less than 12 inches from the ceiling would be best. Find a spot away from air ducts, windows or anywhere with a draft that could keep smoke from reaching the detector. Interconnecting all smoke alarms will provide you with more thorough protection, too — if one detector sounds, they all will.

How to install a smoke detector

Battery-operated smoke detectors are some of the simplest home security devices to install. They typically come ready to go right out of the box — all you need to do is mount it. You can follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to install your specific smoke detector, but generally, the steps are consistent.

– Unpack the detector and read the documentation.

– Install the battery or pull the protective tab out from the battery to activate the alarm.

– Choose a draft-free spot on the ceiling or on a wall 12 inches from the ceiling.

– Attach the mounting bracket.

– Connect the smoke detector.

– Test the smoke detector by pressing the “Test” button. It should make a loud sound that can be easily heard in the general vicinity.

Wired smoke alarms may require an electrician who is able to make the connections and interlink them.

Interconnected smoke alarms increase safety

In a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) survey of households with any fires, including fires in which the fire department was not called, interconnected smoke alarms were more likely to operate and alert occupants to a fire.1 People may know about a fire without hearing a smoke alarm.

When smoke alarms (interconnected or not) were on all floors, they sounded in 37% of fires and alerted occupants in 15%.
When smoke alarms were not on all floors, they sounded in only 4% of the fires and alerted occupants in only 2%.
In homes that had interconnected smoke alarms, the alarms sounded in half (53%) of the fires and alerted people in one-quarter (26%) of the fires.

Smoke detector maintenance

Smoke detectors don’t require much maintenance other than to periodically check the battery or electrical connection. Make it a habit to test your detectors once per month by pressing on the test button to ensure the smoke alarm sounds. If you hear chirping, the detector’s battery is probably low and should be replaced. Even if your alarm doesn’t chirp, replace the batteries on all your smoke detectors once per year.


Will incense set off a smoke detector? Under normal circumstances, no, incense won’t trigger your smoke detector because it won’t produce enough smoke to do so – though it is possible. Try to keep your incense burning as far away from your smoke alarms as possible, to keep the odds of triggering an alarm as low as possible.

The good news is that vape smoke, cigarette smoke, candle smoke, etc. all have an equally low chance of setting off your alarm (though burning food probably will set off your smoke detectors). Smoke won’t trigger your sprinkler system though unless it’s accompanied by a raging fire.