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How to Install Smoke Detector Without Drilling (6 Steps)

In this article, you’ll learn how to install a smoke detector without drilling.

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you cannot find a power drill. You’ll need an alternative way to install the smoke detector when that happens. Here’s a simple and easy technique you can try at home to install smoke alarms without a drill.

In general, to install your smoke detector without a drill:

  • Buy a Suitable Smoke Detector.
  • Buy a pack of Velcro Brand Heavy-Duty Stick-On Coins.
  • Attach one coin to the ceiling.
  • Get another coin and attach it to the smoke detector.
  • Now hook the two coins together to mount the smoke detector on the ceiling.
  • Test the smoke detector.

You’ll find more detailed steps in the below guide.

6-Step Guide on How to Install Smoke Detector without Drilling

In this section, I’ll adequately explain this smoke detector installation process. For this process, you don’t need any tools. You only need a smoke alarm and a Velcro coin pack.

Quick Tip: This technique is simple and won’t damage your ceiling. Therefore, this is most suitable for those living in a rented house or apartment.

Step 1 – Buy a Suitable Smoke Detector

First and foremost, buy a suitable smoke detector for your house. Plenty of different types of smoke detectors are on the market. Here, I’ll show you the most popular ones.

Ionized Smoke Detectors

This type of smoke alarm uses a small number of radioactive materials. These materials can ionize the air molecules into negative and positive air molecules. Then, it will create a small electric current.

When the smoke combines with this ionized air, it will reduce the electric current and trigger the smoke alarm. This is a simple yet highly effective method to detect smoke. Typically, ionized detectors are much cheaper than other smoke alarms.

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

This type of smoke detector comes with a photosensitive cell and can detect any light source. When the smoke enters the smoke alarm, the light will start to scatter. Due to this change, the smoke alarm will sound off.

Ionized and Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

These smoke alarms come with dual sensors; an ionization sensor and a photoelectric sensor. Hence, they are the best protection for the house. However, due to their nature, these detectors are expensive.

Quick Tip: Apart from the above three types, you can find two more models in the market; intelligent multicriteria and voice smoke alarms.

I highly recommend researching before buying a smoke detector for your home. It will help you to choose the best smoke detector.

Step 2 – Buy a Velcro Brand Heavy-Duty Stick On Coins

Then, buy the pack of the Velcro Brand Heavy-Duty Stick On Coins. If you aren’t familiar with this sticky coin, here’s a simple explanation.

These coins come with two parts; hook and loop. Each of these coins comes with a side that has an adhesive, and the other side has a hook. When we go through steps 3 and 4, you’ll get a better idea about them.

Quick Tip: The side that has adhesive is known as the loop, and the other side is known as the hook.

Step 3 – Attach a Coin to the Ceiling

Now, choose a suitable location on the ceiling for the smoke detector. Remember to pick a place where smoke can get quickly to the detector. With less responsive time, the damage will be minimal.

Then, grab a Velcro coin and peel off the covering that protects the adhesive side. Attach the coin to the ceiling.

Step 4 – Attach a Coin to the Smoke Detector

Next, grab another coin and peel off the cover.

Attach it to the smoke detector. Remember to connect the coin to the middle of the smoke detector.

Step 5 – Hook the Two Coins

If you follow steps 3 and 4 correctly, both sides with a hook should be visible (both coins). You can easily connect the two coins with these hooks. Place the hook that is holding the smoke detector on the other hook that is located on the ceiling.

By doing this, you automatically connect the smoke detector to the ceiling.

Step 6 – Test the Smoke Alarm

Finally, test the smoke alarm using the test button. If you are confused about how to test a smoke alarm, follow these steps.

  1. Locate the test button on the smoke alarm. It should be located on the side or the bottom.
  2. Press and hold the button for a few seconds. The alarm will start.
  3. Some smoke detector turns off the alarm after a few seconds. And some don’t. If so, press the test button again.

The above 6-step guide is the quickest and easiest way for a smoke detector installation without drilling.

How Many Smoke Detectors Do You Need?

The number of smoke detectors depends entirely on your home’s layout. However, if you doubt, remember that a fire can start anytime. So, more smoke detectors mean more protection for you.

Where to Put Them?

If you are planning to get the minimum level of protection for your home, you should at least have one smoke detector. But for those looking for maximum protection, install a smoke detector in every room of your house (except for the bathroom).

Few Other Methods that You Can Try

Apart from the above method, three methods exist to install a smoke detector without drilling.

  • Use mounting tape
  • Use a magnetic holder
  • Use a mounting plate


Where Shouldn’t I Put Smoke Detector?

Some places in your home are not suitable to place a smoke detector. Here is the list.

– Close to fans
– Sliding glass doors
– Windows
– Ceiling corners
– Near vent, register, and supply grills
– In furnace and close to water heaters
– Near dishwashers

What Should be the Distance Between Smoke Detectors?

This is a question most people ask. But they never get a clear answer. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a smoke alarm can cover 21 feet radius, and roughly, it is 1385 square feet. Apart from that, the maximum distance between two smoke detectors should be 30 feet. (1)

However, if you own a hallway that measures more than 30 feet, you should install two smoke detectors at the two ends of the hallway.

Where Should I Place Smoke Detector in My Bedroom?

If you are concerned about your family’s protection, place one smoke detector in the bedroom and one outside. This way, you can hear the alarm even when you are sleeping. (2)

Can I Place Smoke Alarms on the Wall?

Yes, you can place a smoke detector on the wall. However, check the instruction before you do this. Most smoke detectors are suitable for wall-mount and ceiling-mount. But, some don’t come with the same qualities. So, read the instruction first.

If you place a smoke alarm on the wall, remember to mount it higher. Otherwise, you might end up damaging the smoke detector accidentally. Or your kids might reach it.

Quick Tip: Wall mounting a smoke detector in a kitchen is not a good idea. The alarm might go off accidentally due to steam or other reason.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) National Fire Protection Association – https://www.igi-global.com/dictionary/nfpa-the-national-fire-protection-association/100689
(2)family’s protection – https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2014/09/

Video References

Consumer Reports


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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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