This tutorial explains how to install a hardwired smoke alarm in a bedroom drywall ceiling. The branch circuit for the new smoke alarm is connected to the main junction box for power and signal. This project is continued from How to Install a Hardwired Smoke Alarm – Part 6.
Smoke Alarm Junction Box Wiring Diagram
Now I’ll make the final wiring connections to the main junction box in the unfinished area of the basement for the new smoke alarm circuit per the following wiring diagram. At present the new smoke detector NM-B 14/3 black, white and red wires are not connected to the junction box in the center of the diagram:
I double checked the circuit breaker serving the smoke alarm junction box was still Off, then verified my non-contact voltage detector was working by testing a live NM-B 14/2 cable for the basement lights which is on a different breaker to ensure the detector is working properly (i.e. not broken or dead batteries). You can also test the voltage detector with a wall outlet. The voltage detector lighted up and beeped repeatedly indicating a live wire:
Next I checked the junction box wires for voltage with the non-contact voltage detector; no light, no beeps means the electricity is Off and the wiring is safe to work on:
Smoke Alarm Branch Circuit Wire Spice
The new bedroom smoke alarm circuit is wired in parallel at the main junction box as follows:
- Match and wire like colors together: red (alarm signal), white (neutral) and black (hot).
- Remove the wire nut from the existing wires.
- Strip 3/4″ of insulation from the wire.
- Twist the new NM-B 14 gauge wire to the other wires of the same color with linesman pliers.
Linesman pliers have extra wide flat jaws especially suited for gripping and twisting wires.
- Trim the end of the new NM-B 14 gauge wire even with the existing wires if necessary.
- After twisting the NM-B 14 gauge copper wires together, hold the smoke alarm AC Quick Connector red wire even with the wires and twist on an appropriated sized nut. I’m using Ideal 76B Red Wire Nuts.
- The AC Quick Connector smoke alarm wire is soft stranded wire; twist this around the NM-B 14 gauge wires with your fingers, no need for linesman pliers.
- Strip 3/4 inch of insulation from the white (green box in photo) and black (light blue box in photo) wires.
- Connect the new NM-B 14 gauge white wire and AC Quick Connector white to the white junction box wires using the same method.
- In the next photo, the white (neutral) wires are connected.
Now I’m making the NM-B 14 gauge black (hot) wire connections.
Fold the wires in the octagon junction box after finishing the wiring connections. Ensure the AC Quick Connector is hanging out of the box:
Remount the smoke alarm trim plate and tighten the two screws:
Plug the AC Quick Connector into the smoke alarm unit and mount it to the trim plate with a twist until locked. Turn on the circuit breaker and observe the green light is illuminated on all smoke alarms.
Smoke Alarm Testing
Visit every smoke alarm in the home and press the Test button. ALL alarms should sound. I have seven interconnected smoke alarms in my home (basement, main floor and 2nd floor). The other alarms sounded slightly out of phase, sort of like a (very loud) echo. Everyone will be annoyed and fuss. Nice! Due to the distance between floors and quantity of smoke alarms, I asked my son to be on the other floors and called him on the cell phone to coordinate the tests and confirm each alarm was triggered.