Tap Off Smoke Detector for PJ Outlet - Ok or not? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 02-25-2012, 07:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all -

Starting my planning for a media room redo which will include a ceiling-mounted projector setup. I've read on some other threads on here about the idea of tapping into a smoke detector for a ceiling-mounted electrical outlet.

However, when doing additional searching elsewhere, I see that some folks think it's a bad and unsafe idea. What's the consensus on AVSForum?

Tapping into the smoke detector would be most convenient as there is one about 8 feet from where I would want to projector outlet.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 17 Old 02-25-2012, 08:04 AM
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Personally if I was redoing the room I would put the projector on its own circuit and the same for the receiver.
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post #3 of 17 Old 02-25-2012, 08:05 AM
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There is nothing prohibiting it.

I don't see it as an issue unless the existing smoke alarm circuit cannot handle the additional load.

Typically the smoke alarms are tied to another circuit (lighting or receptacle).

Running a new, separate circuit to the PJ allows you to install a UPS to protect the bulb in the future, which may or may not be of interest to you.

Tim
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post #4 of 17 Old 02-25-2012, 08:46 AM
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My smoke detectors in our 2002 built home are on a 14/3 wire, the 3rd wire being trigger wire for whole home alarm when anyone goes off. When I added all the basement circuits, used that circuit for smoke alarms I added.

My code book is buried, look at mike holts forum for answer related to national code, I'm sure it there. As usual, local code needs checking.
(I hate searching when on iphone)

[edit]
The circuit also has 2 stairs lights on it as built and approved by my inspector, so that was ok for code in Michigan 2002.
Physically just checked.
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post #5 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies, everyone!

I didn't even think about running a separate circuit for the pj - I guess I should think about that. The media room happens to be just about as far away as possible from the garage where the circuit breaker is - it is upstairs and on the opposite side of the house as the garage, so running lines for another circuit would be challenging, not to mention something I'd probably rather leave for the pros. :-)

I just came down from the attic to scope things out, and I can see the existing romex going into the media room. I could not locate the smoke detector as I didn't go up prepared with something to dig through the insulation with. I'll do that tomorrow.

Do projector plugs have a ground prong? In other words, do I need to worry about grounding the outlet? In the event my smoke detectors were wired like mtbdudex's (my house was built around the same time in late 2001), I'm assuming I won't have a ground to tap into.

Would I be better off tapping into the romex for one of the existing outlets? This way I'd have a ground.

From a wiring technique and code standpoint, would I need to install a junction box if I end up splicing into the romex for the existing outlets in the room?

Thanks!
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post #6 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 12:50 AM
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Joelq;

You are asking basic elect q's.
If you are not comfortable, get an electrician, pls be careful.

Romex 14/3 wire has 4 wires, 3 insulated black/white/red and 4th is not, it's copper ground wire. 14/2 wire has just black/white plus the copper ground wire.
Wire has that ( the 14/3, or 12/2, etc) marked on the outside.

All plug receptacles of course need to be properly grounded, plus the load/hot wire (black) and neutral/return wire (white).

It's ok to tap into a circuit if you are not overloading it, you'd simply add another "blue box", and that must not be hidden behind drywall in final set- up, so inspector can see it.
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post #7 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, Mike!

Yes, although I am an avid DIYer, I've always deferred electrical matters to the pros. :-) In this case, however, I feel like adding an outlet from existing romex is something I can handle, but wanted to confirm with experts like you on here. I definitely don't want to do anything unsafe or non-compliant to code.

Having been up in the attic again to scope things out, I think it would actually be easier to tap/splice into the existing romex going into the room. From what I've read, this is what I would need to do:

1. Shut-off power at breaker
2. Cut into romex. The existing romex going into the room has no slack, so I will need to extend one of the ends with some new romex in order to have enough room to splice. Run wires into a junction box and tie together matching colors with wirenuts. Attach junction box to rafters.
3. Splice into the cut romex for the new outlet with wire nuts. Install in another junction box. Attach junction box to rafters.
4. Fish new romex into hole in ceiling for an "old work" box.
5. Turn power back on

Does that above sound right?

Thanks!
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post #8 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelq View Post

Thanks, Mike!

2. Cut into romex. The existing romex going into the room has no slack, so I will need to extend one of the ends with some new romex in order to have enough room to splice. Run wires into a junction box and tie together matching colors with wirenuts. Attach junction box to rafters.

Make sure that this junction box is accessible in the future (not drywalled over etc...).
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post #9 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by advertguy2 View Post

Make sure that this junction box is accessible in the future (not drywalled over etc...).


Gotcha - yes, I plan to keep it out in the open. There's nothing up in the attic that could obscure it except for loose blown-in insulation. Do I also need to ensure the box doesn't get buried under insulation?
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post #10 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 10:11 AM
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Yes - You need to be able to see the junction box. You might remember that the box is there but if you sell the house in the future and there is a wiring problem in that box nobody is ever going to find it.
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post #11 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 12:15 PM
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The only thing I'll add if you really need to understand how important it is to correctly twist the wires together.
That will keep good contact of the stripped bare wire portion, and ensure in hot/cold/vibrations your connection is good over lifetime.

I don't pre-twist, rather use the connector to twist.
Discussed at length in Mike Holt forum
http://www.mikeholt.com/forum/Forum1/HTML/005609.html

Have fun, and learn about elect circuits in the process.

btw, when I did the whole basement 4 yrs ago...I got carpal tunnel, so much twisting, drilling holes to pull wire, etc....
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post #12 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 12:16 PM
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nothing against junction boxes, but if you know where the end of line outlet is in your room, it may be simpler to just tape onto it and then run that to your pj outlet.

if you are able to fish the wire back up the wall that is...
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post #13 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, again, everyone.

Goodness, Mike - no wonder you got carpal tunnel! That's quite the project you had there! Fortunately, mine is nowhere near as complicated! I'll make sure to check out your thread.

So I spent quite a bit of time up in the attic checking everything out. The switch for the light in the room is in a 2-gang box (two switches - one for the light, and the other for a ceiling fan). I was thinking that tapping into the source line for this switch might be a cleaner way to go, somewhat in line with what jp1979 suggested, except I'm tapping into a switch as opposed to an outlet.

Doing the above would avoid junction boxes altogether, but now a couple more questions:

1. Is there anything wrong with doing this, i.e., tapping into the source line of a light switch? I would drop molex down the wall into the 2-gang box and tap in right there.

2. What's the maximum number of wires I can hold in this 2-gang box? The box is 3" deep. It currently has 3 molex going into it right now (source, light, and ceiling fan), and I would like to add a 4th one (pj power).

Thanks, everyone!
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post #14 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 02:23 PM
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Perhaps I am missing something here but you need a slew of circuits for an HT build. Besides the PJ, you have all your a/v equipment which may include multiple STBs, DVD, game consoles, A/V receiver, a PC or two, various transformers for remote control base units, network switches, etc. Plus you need lighting, an outlet to drive your sub and some 110 outlets in the space.

Are you simply trying to connect one device to the smokes ckt. in the attic (where everything else is separately fed)?

If the main panel is distant, but has ample capacity, you can have an electrician mount a secondary panel in / near your HT and feed it from the main. You'll pay more for the sub-panel and conductor, but his labor is the same as running a ckt or two. Then you can run eqpt., lighting and other circuits to your HT build.

IMO, skimping on infrastructure is a mistake.
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post #15 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by punahou80 View Post

Perhaps I am missing something here but you need a slew of circuits for an HT build. Besides the PJ, you have all your a/v equipment which may include multiple STBs, DVD, game consoles, A/V receiver, a PC or two, various transformers for remote control base units, network switches, etc. Plus you need lighting, an outlet to drive your sub and some 110 outlets in the space.

Are you simply trying to connect one device to the smokes ckt. in the attic (where everything else is separately fed)?

If the main panel is distant, but has ample capacity, you can have an electrician mount a secondary panel in / near your HT and feed it from the main. You'll pay more for the sub-panel and conductor, but his labor is the same as running a ckt or two. Then you can run eqpt., lighting and other circuits to your HT build.

IMO, skimping on infrastructure is a mistake.


Thanks for the info! You're not really missing anything because I didn't sure the details when I started the thread. :-)

The room is actually already a functional home theater. I am just updating it by moving from a 57" RP to a ceiling-mounted projector. The AV Receiver + speakers and sub, DirecTV receiver, Xbox, BluRay, etc., are already in place and powered. I didn't think adding the PJ (and removing the RP) would appreciably change the power budgeting, but I could very well be wrong! :-)
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post #16 of 17 Old 02-28-2012, 01:33 PM
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Are you running all of this on the same circuit?
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post #17 of 17 Old 02-28-2012, 04:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchyfrogs View Post

Are you running all of this on the same circuit?

Yes, just one circuit - 20A breaker, 12ga wiring. It's been a few years, but last time I added up my consumption, I was just shy of 15A total. I expect the PJ to use less power than the RPTV, so power usage should go down.
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