Installing a smoke alarm in an apartment

Published: July 03, 2023 by  Marguerite Cotter

It is important to place smoke alarms in the right place so that they detect a fire as quickly as possible.

Installing a smoke alarm is an essential safety measure to protect your apartment and home from potential fires keeping you and your family safe.


Attaching the smoke alarm should be done carefully

When a fire breaks out, it is important to be informed as soon as possible. Space solutions and ventilation play a major role in how smoke moves in the apartment when a fire breaks out and how it reaches the fire alarm. Therefore, it is important that there are a sufficient number of working smoke alarms in the room and that they are installed in the right places for maximum benefit. Smoke alarms should be installed especially in places with fire safety risks, such as apartment rooms with a lot of electrical appliances or exposure to cooking appliances such as kitchen areas.

Where to place smoke alarms

The smoke alarm is usually attached to the ceiling, and when choosing a place for attachment, it is of paramount importance to consider that the smoke moves in a circular motion from the bottom up. When the smoke continues its circular movement from the side of the wall towards the ceiling, there remains an air pocket on the border between the wall and the ceiling, where smoke does not enter.

If the smoke alarm is attached too close to the corner of the ceiling and wall, the smoke will not reach it and therefore the smoke alarm will not sound an alarm. A good rule of thumb is to install the smoke alarm on the ceiling about half a metre away from the corners of the ceiling and wall.

Do smoke alarms have to be on the ceiling?

Although the best place to attach a smoke alarm is the ceiling, sometimes, for example, in a roof-heated apartment, the smoke alarm has to be attached to the wall.

You need to be very careful with wall mounting smoke alarms, as a smoke alarm can be useless if it is attached too low on the wall or, for example, on top of kitchen cabinets. The smoke rises all the way up first, and if the smoke alarm is mounted too low on the wall, there must be a lot of smoke before the smoke alarm detects it. This means that there may already be a raging fire in the apartment.

If the smoke alarm is attached to the wall, a good place is usually 15 cm down from the ceiling line. You should also always read the attachment instructions that come with the smoke alarm. In general you should place it on the ceiling if possible.

Are smoke alarms required in bedrooms?

One should consider the number of electrical appliances in a bedroom to consider if it warrants investing in a smoke alarm for a bedroom and also where the nearest smoke alarm is situated. As apartments tend to have less square feed than houses, many apartment owners opt for one smoke alarm upstairs and one downstairs. If bedrooms are located near each other then a smoke alarm in the hallway between them can be sufficient to pick up smoke from a room provided the distance isn’t too large.

Other considerations on where to put smoke alarms in your apartment

In addition to the corners, it is also necessary to consider how the air moves in the apartment and how the smoke generated by the fire starts to circulate in a circle in the apartment. The movement of air is particularly affected by how the air source heat pumps and ventilation valves are positioned in the apartment. The smoke alarm should not be installed near any kind of ventilation, as the supply of air pushes smoke away from itself. For the smoke to reach the smoke alarm, there should be at least 50 cm left between air valves.

PhoneWatch’s monitored alarm system is an effective fire alarm system


PhoneWatch’s home alarm system includes a highly efficient fire alarm system as standard. Our home alarm system always includes at least one highly sensitive optical smoke detector that detects even the smallest amount of smoke. PhoneWatch’s alarm are professionally installed by our security engineers with due consideration to all the aspects that may affect its effectiveness.

In larger homes, PhoneWatch’s optical smoke detectors are connected in a series, and when an alarm is sounded, all smoke detectors in the home start alarming at the same time with a very loud sound. PhoneWatch’s alarm centre responds immediately to the alarm, even if the home is empty. The alarm centre worker checks the situation from the images taken by the camera sensor and, if necessary, calls the fire brigade.


From house alarm systems to tailored home security, PhoneWatch create and install alarm systems to match your budget and give you peace of mind. We are trusted by over 118,000 homes in Ireland to keep them safe every day. Get a personalised home security quote today.

Protect your home now!
All inclusive starter packs.