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How to wire a smoke detector to a drop ceiling?

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  • How to wire a smoke detector to a drop ceiling?

    I'd like to install a hardwired (with battery backup) smoke detector to a suspended ceiling. The SD will be on the occupant side, and the wires will be above the tiles and grid. I'm putting up the grid right now, and have an unswitched branch from my lighting circuit in the vicinity of where I want the SD.

    One option I've read says to staple the romex to a nearby overhead floor joist, and then wire nut onto the smoke detector. Another suggests a j-box. Are there any "code" rules on this?

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: How to wire a smoke detector to a drop ceiling?

    Sure there are. You can't just wirenut to the SD. They make twist on mounting hardware for a junction box. I suggest a small round pancake box. You do need a box. Then make up the connections and tuck them into the box and install the smoke detector. Sorry I have no picture of the grid ceiling mounting hardware. Just ask at the supply house or store. They will know what it is.
    Ask around as there may be a more up to date mounting method.
    Licensed Electrician

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    • #3
      Re: How to wire a smoke detector to a drop ceiling?

      Originally posted by John Valdes View Post
      Sure there are. You can't just wirenut to the SD. They make twist on mounting hardware for a junction box. I suggest a small round pancake box. You do need a box. Then make up the connections and tuck them into the box and install the smoke detector. Sorry I have no picture of the grid ceiling mounting hardware. Just ask at the supply house or store. They will know what it is.
      Ask around as there may be a more up to date mounting method.
      I'm trying to envision what you're talking about.

      Are you saying I should mount the small round pancake box to the backside of the ceiling tile, cut out the center, wire up with wire nuts, and then mount the SD to the box (the ceiling tile will be sandwiched)?

      Or could I use a grid mount rectangular box to house the wiring junction, and then have that mount right above the SD? The SD would be mounted to the tile with toggle bolts.

      Thanks.

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      • #4
        Re: How to wire a smoke detector to a drop ceiling?

        I would use a round plastic cut in box.
        Cut the box into the grid, run the wires, then mount the SD to the box and hook up the wires.

        Not grid, but the tile!
        Last edited by jbfan; 03-30-2011, 04:08 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: How to wire a smoke detector to a drop ceiling?

          Originally posted by jbfan View Post
          I would use a round plastic cut in box.
          Cut the box into the grid, run the wires, then mount the SD to the box and hook up the wires.
          This would be the newer method I mentioned. Thanks JB!
          Licensed Electrician

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          • #6
            Re: How to wire a smoke detector to a drop ceiling?

            Originally posted by John Valdes View Post
            This would be the newer method I mentioned. Thanks JB!
            This is the plan. I have a junction box on a nearby joist that is between the supply line and the round plastic box you mention, if that matters. The ceiling tile will be "sandwiched" between the smoke detector mount plate and the round plastic box.

            Edit: And I picked up a metal box and bracket used to hang things from a suspended ceiling. It attaches to the grid from above.
            Last edited by JoePolvino; 04-04-2011, 11:27 AM.

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            • #7
              Re: How to wire a smoke detector to a drop ceiling?

              Originally posted by JoePolvino View Post
              This is the plan. I have a junction box on a nearby joist that is between the supply line and the round plastic box you mention, if that matters. The ceiling tile will be "sandwiched" between the smoke detector mount plate and the round plastic box.

              Edit: And I picked up a metal box and bracket used to hang things from a suspended ceiling. It attaches to the grid from above.
              Do not sandwich the tile between the detector and box.
              Cut a hole in the tile so the box is flush.

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