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Old 20-03-2006, 18:37   #1
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Detector Detective

I'm told to put a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector on the boat. Suppose to be a great idea if you use any kind of heater, which we will this year in Maine. (survey items)

I've looked at the "marine" detectors and the ones for home. Seem to be about the same level of detection with one exception.

The exception is that the "marine" detectors detect much deeper into the pocket book.

Am I missing something?

By going with home units am I putting me and mine in dire danger or just saving a little money for other things?

Thanks - John

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Old 21-03-2006, 02:18   #2
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I recommend buying relatively inexpensive “RV” smoke & CO detectors. I am not aware of any reason to spend over $20 on a Smoke Detector/Alarm, nor over $75 on a CO

Marine Technologies Inc (MTI) #60-541 < $60
12 vdc Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Surface Mtd)

Note: CO Detectors have a “useful expected life”, and should be replaced approximately every 5 to 7 years.

As far as I know, there is no Marine standard currently available for smoke detectors, and there is no marine smoke detector listing in UL. The only smoke detector standard, I know of, is written for residential detectors. Nor are there ABYC, nor NMMA installation standards, for smoke detectors. This leaves us pretty much on our own.

* NFPA 302 now (2004) requires a mandatory RV smoke detector on all boats over 26 feet and with accommodation spaces. Section 12.3 reads: "Smoke Detection. All vessels 26 feet or more in length with accommodation spaces intended for sleeping shall be equipped with a single station smoke alarm that is listed to UL217 for recreational vehicles and is installed and maintained according to the device manufacturer's instructions."

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has promulgated, and enforced, smoke alarm rules*[b]* since about 1982 (and CO alarms since 1993).

** ANSI A119.2 - Fire & Life Safety
3-3.1 Smoke Detector
"At least one integral battery-operated smoke detector shall be installed in each travel trailer or motor home that has a sleeping area separated from the living and cooking area by a door.”
3-4.6 Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors
"All RVs equipped with an internal combustion engine or designed with features to accommodate future installation of an internal combustion engine and truck campers shall be equipped with a listed CO detector installed in accordance with its listing.

ABYC does have a standard for Carbon Monoxide Detectors (A-21), which I have not seen. I understand that there is considerable controversy over this standard, which requires shutting down ventilation under CO detected conditions.

UL 217: Single and Multiple Station Smoke Alarms:

See also:

CO Detector - CO Experts #2002

DIY Heat Detector Cct:

Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 21-03-2006, 12:05   #3
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Gord, I'm waiting for the day I read about Google hiring you to start a nautical search section!!

Thanks for the info
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Old 22-03-2006, 17:48   #4

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I don't have the info Gord does (few of us do!), but speaking from personal experience:

I have two "First Alert" home smoke/CO detectors installed. They work well, in that they have detected CO on about 7 occasions while we were cooking this winter while living aboard. Each time, we changed the air (opened everything up and let the 30mph winds do their thing for a few minutes). So, I can attest to their working well.

One feature I like is the battery light. It blinks a super-fast green flash every 30 seconds or so to let you know the thing is working. The "silence" button is nice too for when you don't want to hear the thing squawk.

We haven't seen any CO from our heating (wood stove), but frequenly get CO buildup from our cook stove. This happens when we forget to open up the companionway hatch to air things out while cooking. Shouldn't be so much of a problem when the warmer weather arrives!
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Old 23-03-2006, 04:04   #5
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Thanks Gord. We have been on the lookout for a good CO detector since we use our Honda portable generator to charge the batteries etc. when at anchor for extended periods.
Roger Rippy
SV Tin Cup
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