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How many smoke detectors on a circuit breaker?

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Answered 2010-08-13 14:32:16

While smoke detectors draw very little power, you can only put a certain amount on a circuit. This is determined by the manufacturer's specifications which must ALWAYS be consulted. Some manufacturers only allow 9 per a circuit, others 11, and some brands may even be more. If you were to try to put more than the designated amount on that circuit, the detectors would not work as they were designed to, and most certainly would not pass a fire inspection. If it is a large house that a system is being installed in, a low-voltage system is always the best way to go.

As a side-note, just because a given device only uses so much power, the National Electrical Code (NEC) still has guidelines that MUST be followed. A "continuous load" as defined by the NEC is something that stays on for more than 3 hours at a time - and it states that you can't load a circuit more than 80% of its capacity.

Lighting is a perfect example, so let's use light bulbs as an analogy.

A 60-watt light bulb uses .5 amps at 120 volts (60 watts divided by 120 volts is .5 amps). Therefore, on a 15 amp circuit, you would think that you're able to put 30 of these 60-watt light fixtures on a circuit, right? Actually, no.

Lighting is most certainly considered a continuous load, because you definitely leave your lights on for more than 3 hours at a time. Therefore, per the Code, that circuit can only accept 80% of its capacity because of the continuous load, leaving you with 12 amps (80% of 15). This means that you can only use 24 of those 60 watt fixtures, not 30.

Wiring is not a hobby - always hire a licensed and qualified electrician.

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