Install smoke detectors: With these 3 tips it works everywhere

  • In Germany, new buildings and conversions are required to have smoke detectors in common rooms. Kitchens and bathrooms are excluded from this, as a detector there would quickly go off due to the development of steam.
  • Smoke detectors are traditionally screwed to the ceiling to ensure a secure hold. Alternatively, they can also be glued or attached with metal holders.
  • Compliance with all regulations regarding the installation of smoke detectors is not always possible due to certain conditions in the room. Special regulations therefore apply to sloping ceilings, narrow rooms and ceilings with vents.

Smoke detector mounted on the ceiling

Since 2021, smoke detectors have been required in apartments in all federal states in Germany, with Berlin at the bottom. This applies to both rented living space and property that you live in yourself. If you don’t have a smoke detector in your home yet, it’s time to get one for your safety. We will explain to you in which rooms smoke detectors should be installed, what mounting options are available to you, and how the smoke detectors can be installed in difficult corners such as slopes or beamed ceilings.

1. Install smoke detectors: They are mandatory in common rooms

Fire vs. smoke detectors

By the way, fire and smoke detectors are not the same. While smoke detectors serve as an early warning system and sound an alarm if smoke develops, fire detectors have to be triggered manually. They are directly connected to the emergency control center, so they alert the fire department as soon as they are activated.

The Regulations for mandatory smoke detectors can vary slightly from state to state, but the general rule is that One smoke detector is sufficient for a room of approx. 60 m². In larger rooms you will need several smoke detectors. The same applies if rooms are interrupted by partitions or partial walls, then one smoke detector is required for each area.

In most federal states there is a requirement Install smoke detectors in all common rooms, excluding kitchens and bathrooms. Accordingly, smoke detectors are required in bedrooms, living rooms, but also in hallways and offices. Kitchens and bathrooms are excluded from the obligation because the development of water vapor and harmless smoke during cooking can repeatedly trigger false alarms from the smoke detectors in the rooms.

In stairwells, on the other hand, there is no requirement for smoke detectors, although they are considered extremely useful here. The stairwell usually serves as an escape route in apartment buildings, and fire can spread particularly quickly here due to the open construction. Using smoke detectors, residents of the house can quickly be made aware of dangers and can call for help if necessary.

Tip: For particularly large stairwells, it makes sense to use radio smoke detectors on every floor. As soon as a detector triggers an alarm, it is passed on to the networked smoke detectors, triggering an alert on every floor and ensuring that every resident can hear the shrill beep.

Because they are often required in larger quantities, it is worthwhile High-quality smoke detectors in a set with three or more devices. What is important is that these are high-quality devices, which you can recognize by the Q certification. The quality mark “Q-Label” indicates the CE certification and the fulfillment of additional requirements of the smoke detectors, making such devices suitable for safe long-term operation.

Smoke detector next to screwdrivers and fire regulations

Choose high-quality models for your smoke detectors that, at best, have Q certification.

2. Mounting options for smoke detectors: drilling, gluing or mounting with a magnet

There are various mounting options available to install smoke detectors in rented apartments or in the house. Which variant you choose depends, for example, on whether you want to avoid drilling holes, but also on the condition and material of the ceiling. We will briefly introduce you to the most common methods for installing smoke detectors with their advantages and disadvantages and will then explain in more detail how you can screw or glue smoke detectors to the ceiling.

Fastening type Advantages and disadvantages
Screw the mounting base to the ceiling particularly stable

possible on most surfaces

x Drill holes in the ceiling

x Drill required

Glue the mounting base to the ceiling Assembly possible without tools and without drilling

The ceiling and any power lines underneath are not damaged

x less stability guaranteed

x Glue does not stick to all surfaces

Attach the mounting base using magnetic holders Stable adhesive pads are included

Fastening also possible without drilling

x Metal plate on the ceiling cannot be removed without leaving any residue

x Stability does not come close to the screw method

2.1. Screwing on smoke detectors offers maximum security

The classic way to mount a smoke detector is with screws. This method is therefore so common because it is the most stable type of fastening. A conventional smoke detector usually consists of two parts: the actual device and a corresponding mounting base. The mounting base is held in the desired position for attachment, i.e. ideally in the middle of the ceiling.

Markings for the drill holes can be set through recesses in the base. In the next step The corresponding holes are drilled, the dowels are inserted and the mounting base is secured with the screws. Screws and dowels are included with most smoke detectors. The associated detector can then be snapped into the base with a rotary movement and is then immediately ready for use in most cases.

A notice: Depending on the device and brand, the different installation procedures may vary slightly. For all types of mounting, the corresponding operating instructions for the respective device provide further detailed information on how to mount the smoke detector stably on the wall or ceiling. Ideally, this should be included in the product accessories.

2.2. Install the smoke detector without drilling: stick the base to the ceiling

In addition to the classic version, a popular option for attaching smoke detectors is to use adhesive pads or extremely strong adhesive such as assembly adhesive. The big advantage of avoiding drilling holes and requiring little work This method convinces many house and apartment owners.

Smoke detector is mounted on the ceiling

When installing using adhesive, make sure that the smoke detector is really firmly attached to the ceiling.

However, it should be noted that adhesives generally age and lose their adhesive strength over time, especially when temperatures fluctuate significantly. If the smoke detector falls from the ceiling, it can no longer safely fulfill its purpose and, in the worst case, ensures that a life-threatening danger from a fire is not detected in time.

If you still want to decide on this type of installation, it is very important choose a high-quality and particularly strong adhesive. Before attaching, you should also check whether the surface to which the mounting base is to be glued is clean and flat so that the adhesive does not lose its adhesion.

On some surfaces, such as flooring with a non-stick coating or on painted, veneered or raw wood, you will probably find reduced adhesion, which is why attaching with adhesive is not recommended in these cases.

2.3. Attach smoke detector with magnetic holder

A similar one, but A method that is considered to be somewhat more stable is attachment using magnetic holders. The magnetic holder consists of two parts, a ceiling element and a smoke detector element. With this procedure, the ceiling element, a metal plate, is also simply glued to the ceiling. However, the manufacturers supply particularly strong adhesive pads that are pressed down for several seconds and should also hold on rough and uneven surfaces.

The smoke detector element is a magnetic plate that is attached to the smoke detector mounting base in the same way. The base with the attached magnet can then be attached to the metal plate on the ceiling and the smoke detector can be snapped into place. According to the manufacturers, magnetic pads of this type last Depending on the surface, it can withstand loads of between 10 and 50 kg.

man screws smoke detector base to the ceiling

The safest way to install a smoke detector is to screw the base on in the classic way.

3. Position smoke detectors correctly: Special rules apply in sloping roofs, between beams and narrow spaces

When installing smoke alarms on a flat, conventional ceiling, the device should always be positioned as centrally and centrally as possible in the room because Fire smoke always rising upwards. A distance of at least 0.5 m must be maintained from the nearest wall, from beams and from various furnishings, such as ceiling lamps. In addition, smoke detectors are always installed horizontally, not vertically, and never near windows or air ducts.

3.1. Install smoke detectors in sloping roofs: up to 20 degrees possible

However, there are now and then exceptional cases in which it is necessary to deviate from the recommended installation method. For example, if the roof is sloping, it is not possible to mount the smoke detector horizontally on the wall. Manufacturers of smoke detectors provide information that an angle of inclination of the ceiling of a maximum of 20 degrees does not hinder the proper operation of the device, In such cases, installation is also possible in a slightly inclined position. If the ceiling slope is steeper, this can no longer be guaranteed and the smoke detector must be mounted hanging.

Danger: It is important that the smoke detector is installed on slopes at a distance of 0.5 – 1.0 m from the top of the roof. So-called heat cushions prevent smoke from reaching the top of the roof, so that a smoke detector would only detect a danger there very late.

In some sloping roofs there are horizontal middle parts. If there is one in your home and it is larger than 1 m, the smoke detector can easily be installed there.

3.2. Installation on beamed ceilings: Depends on the sum of the ceiling fields

If your ceiling is a beamed ceiling or other supports that stand out from the surface of the ceiling, this is only relevant for smoke detectors if the joist protrudes more than 20 cm downwards from the ceiling. In this case The sum of the ceiling fields that are separated by the beams is relevant.

  • If the total ceiling fields are larger than 36 m², a smoke detector must be installed between each joist.
  • For a total area of ​​up to 36 m², the smoke detector must be installed in the middle ceiling field or on the middle ceiling beam.

3.3. Smoke detectors in small, narrow hallways: wall mounting possible

man mounts smoke detector vertically above door

In exceptional cases, a vertical installation of the smoke detector is also permitted.

Another special case arises if, for example, the minimum distance of 0.5 m from the wall cannot be maintained in a hallway. For hallways with an area of Above 6 m², smoke detectors are still placed in the middle of the ceiling. However, if the hallway is smaller than 6 m², a smoke detector can exceptionally be mounted on the wall.

It should be noted that the smoke detector should be placed on the longest wall if possible and in the middle of its length. In some cases there are also detectors that have been specifically tested for such wall mounting. It is not recommended to simply do without the devices in small rooms, After all, every smoke detector can save lives.

Image credits: Kneschke,,,, Popov (chronologically or in order sorted by the images used in the buying guide)