My Life In Tech: Why I Need Wi-Fi Smoke Alarms

Nest smoke + CO Alarm

Nest Smoke + CO Alarm

The people in charge of nagging us about testing our home smoke alarms don’t need to nag me.  In addition to testing the smoke alarm twice a year when we change the clocks, I conduct frequent unscheduled tests.

When we moved into this house, there was a smoke alarm in the hallway outside the doors to the three bedrooms and the main bathroom.  It’s as far away from the kitchen as you can possibly get.  Whoever installed it cut a hole in the ceiling and wired it up.

I removed that smoke alarm at some point when it failed the Daylight Saving test, capped the wires, and replaced it with a battery operated model.  I’ve replaced the smoke alarms several times over the years, but unless  I want to do some serious ceiling repair, I have to install the new alarm exactly where the old one was.  And I am ill-suited for serious ceiling repair.

It doesn’t matter what brand or model smoke alarm I install, the smoke alarm will always go off when I make chicken curry.  It will also go off when we cook a whole chicken in the oven in a cast iron fry pan, even though we have the stove fan on high. I’ve just come to expect it.

This thing is loud enough to wake the dead.

When the blaring starts, I walk the length of the house to the back room, drag a chair into the hallway, climb up and unmount the smoke alarm.  I then remove one of the batteries and leave everything on the chair in the hallway as a reminder to put it all back together and screw it into the ceiling again when the smoke clears.

I need these.



Lately the smoke alarm has started sounding when I’m in the shower.  Something about cooler weather, all the windows being closed, and science.  I know I can prevent this by turning on the bathroom fan and/or taking shorter showers.  The problem is that I usually shower first thing in the morning, before coffee.  I’m doing well if I can remember how to turn on the shower, never mind remember to turn on the fan.  And I am ill-suited for shorter showers.

Last week I got in the shower and was part way through the Shampoo Terminal Loop (Wash-Rinse-Repeat) when the smoke alarm went off.


I got out of the shower, wrapped a towel around me, and went for the chair.


The chair had the big old 3-in-1 printer that I was going to take to recycling on it.  I had to get a step stool from the laundry room at the other end of the house, and drag it back down the hallway to the smoke alarm.

By now the dog was up and howling along with the alarm.

Up on the top step of the step stool, I reached up to twist the smoke alarm off its base.  It turns out I don’t have quite enough going for me that I can reach both my hands over my head while standing on a step stool and also keep a towel on.  So at that point I was standing on a step stool with a towel around my feet and cursing at the smoke alarm while the dog stood there barking and looking at me the way dogs look at naked people.

That’s when my next door neighbor walked by, heard the smoke alarm and all the barking, and decided to look in the window to see if we needed any help.


“You folks all right?”

“Yeah, thanks.  I got this.”


The idea of being able to wave at the smoke alarm to tell it Shut up! I’m just taking a shower, dammit, is even more appealing now.  Also, you control it with a smartphone!  Is there anything not to like about this?

Right now … it’s vaporware.  But it’s coming.  You can pre-order.  I am holding out to see if my neighbor will just order it for me.  Until this thing is real, I’m going to try the shower cap trick.




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