Date Published: 2024/05/02

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Do I Need a Special Smoke Detector for My RV?

An image of a smoke detector attached to a wood paneled roof with smoke rising to it.

Your home likely has at least one smoke detector to warn you in a loud, shrill burst of sound if there’s a potential fire in your home. When you’re out on the road enjoying the RV life, you are pulling along most of the same types of elements that can cause a fire – cooking equipment and heating and cooling systems. Do you have a smoke detector for your RV? Do you know what to look for when purchasing the right type of RV smoke detector?

Smoke Detectors Save Lives

RV campfires are not uncommon. Each year, thousands of fires break out in RVs across the country. Many of these happen when the RV is parked, and occur as a result of kitchen fires or due to unattended outdoor fires that spread. An RV smoke detector is a critical tool to provide early warning for you and your family.

When smoke alarms detect smoke in the area, they beep loudly to wake you up from your sleep or alert you if you are outside. You should install them throughout your RV, depending on the size. You should place them close to the door and in bedroom areas.

What Type of Smoke Detector for Your RV Is Best?

When choosing a smoke detector, there are a few key things to look for. Specifically, you want to ensure this small device can do a lot of work for you! Look for those that are dual-sensor detectors. This type of detector uses two technologies: photoelectric and ionization.

  • Ionization: This type of smoke detector picks up on combustion particles. This includes fires brought on by burning materials, like burning food on the stovetop.
  • Photoelectric: This type of smoke comes from electrical-related fires. These are often hidden, behind walls or inside electric boxes. This could occur in any electrical equipment, tools, and appliances within your RV.

You don’t have to buy a smoke detector made specifically for an RV, but you should choose one that’s comprehensive enough to pick up on all the risks within this confined space.

Don’t Overlook Carbon Monoxide

While purchasing a smoke detector for your RV, look for those that incorporate a carbon monoxide detector as well. What makes carbon monoxide so much more dangerous is that it’s silent and has no scent. You’re less likely to know there’s a poisonous gas building up in your RV, and that means you could be at a higher risk for complicated health conditions and even death.

RVs are particularly at risk because they have appliances, such as ovens, water heaters, and furnaces that use 120-volt AC generators. Any type of fuel source, though, that’s not properly ventilated can cause deadly levels of CO in the air.

LP Detector Considerations

If you use propane in your RV, you should also invest in an LP detector. This measures the amount of propane gas within the RV, alerting you when it becomes dangerously high. Some are combined with carbon monoxide detectors.

Installing Smoke Detectors in Your RV

You have options when it comes to installing CO, LP, or smoke detectors in your RV. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose high-quality and recognized brands that are proven to be safe.
  • Consider hard-wiring them into your RV. However, choose one that also has a battery backup in case your RV loses power.
  • Position them throughout the space, especially in high-risk areas like the kitchen and bedrooms (where you’ll need to be awakened quickly if there’s a risk.)

Professional installation of an RV smoke detector is recommended. Many are inexpensive and can provide you with years of protection. Make sure you test it at least one time a year to ensure it is working as it should. Doing so should give you 5 to 10 years of protection from a high-quality smoke detector.

Get the Help You Need to Protect Your RV Investment

A smoke detector for your RV is the first step in keeping your investment safe. Now is a great time to take another step to protect your RV. Request a quote from Orbit Insurance Services for RV insurance you can rely on. 

If you’re already a customer and have questions about your RV insurance policy, contact an Orbit insurance broker