Why Does My Smoke Detector Chirp at Night?
It’s probably happened to you at some point – your peaceful sleep was interrupted by the piercing chirp of one of your smoke detectors. Obviously, it’s good to know your smoke detectors are still in working order, but the alert couldn’t come at a worse time. Why does it seem that your smoke detector keeps going off at night only? Believe it or not, there’s a scientific reason for this, and it has to do with your smoke detector battery.
Your smoke detector battery is most likely an alkaline battery, which produces electrical energy via a chemical reaction between zinc metal and manganese dioxide. Like most chemical reactions, this process can be affected by temperature. Even when they’re not placed into a device and providing a circuit with electricity, batteries stored at room temperature will self-discharge and lose a little less than two percent of their power per year. However, this number jumps up to five percent at 85° F, and a whopping 25 percent at 100° F. This is why it’s recommended that you store alkaline batteries in your freezer, but only if you live in an especially hot climate.
Similarly, temperature affects batteries once they’re installed and supplying electricity to devices. A battery at room temperature will discharge optimally, but one that’s been exposed to cold temperatures will have a weaker voltage output. As a rule of thumb, just remember that colder temperatures are good for storage and bad for performance, while warmer temperatures are bad for storage and good for performance.
Now that you know the science behind batteries and temperature, this brings us back to the issue of a smoke detector chirping at the worst possible time. Nighttime is obviously cooler than the day, and the temperature gap between the two depends on factors like your geographical location and the time of year. If the temperature drop is steep enough and your smoke detector battery is already losing power, this can result in a slight drop in voltage that is just barely significant enough to result in a low battery alarm. So while it may seem like your smoke detector has been programmed to disturb your sleep, it’s really just a simple chemical reaction being affected by the heat of your house.
Bryant Electric Offers the Next Step in Smoke Detection
Do you have additional concerns about your smoke detector or other electrical systems? If so, contact Bryant Electric Service today. We can also help you upgrade to better smoke detection systems, including smart smoke detectors that can be monitored from your smartphone. For comprehensive repair, maintenance, and safety assessments, we’re the company Central Texas has trusted since 1982.