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Security & Fire Protection Systems/Switching off installed alarm system issue with circuit breaker


I have moved to a simpler alarm system (that uses cellular) from the one built into my home (that is based on a landline that I want to drop).  It's a Ranger American DSC. when I asked the current provider how to power it down, I was told to do two things:  1. look for the "transformer" and unplug it, and 2. go into the system panel that is a box in the wall with a heavy metal cover and unplug the back-up battery.  When I explained there was no "transformer" plugged in anywhere, because the system was built into the house when it was built, the "tech" was unable to help me - she evidently had never heard of such.  I suggested checking the circuit breaker, and sure enough, there was one labeled "smokes and alarm."  When I turned it off, the system powered down.

So here's my question:  Since all my smoke alarms have back-up batteries, am I OK to leave it that way (since I can count on the batteries to work), or is there a way to disconnect the alarm system inside the system box that would allow me to turn the circuit breaker, and smoke alarms, back on?  I know that when the main back up battery gets low, the smoke alarm in the bedroom starts beeping and won't stop until I replace the back-up battery, so the system is wired into that smoke alarm at least.

If it would help, I can send a photo of the inside of the system box.

Thanks for anything you can tell me!  Carol Johnston

Hello Carol, and thanks for your question. Also, my apologies for being so tardy in responding -- every once in a while the notification that I have a pending question does not work as it should.

But to your issue ...

Yes, you can power down the system without turning off the circuit breaker. If you open the control panel where the backup battery is, you'll note a terminal strip on the main board where all the wiring is connected. The AC power (about 16.5 volts)from the transformer is connected to that terminal strip. It should be terminals 1 and 2 at the left of the strip. Verify that be looking at the hookup diagram on the inside of the cover.

All you need to do is disconnect either terminal 1 or 2, and ensure that the exposed wiring doesn't contact anything else. It's best to wrap the exposed wiring with electrical tape.

That, along with unplugging the backup battery, will power down the system with the circuit breaker on.

To the point about the smoke detectors, you seem to have one that is connected to the alarm system, and all the others apparently are separate.

At a minimum, after powering down the alarm system, I wan you to test every smoke detector in the house to ensure that they sound an alarm.

Of course, if the bedroom smoke was powered by your alarm system, that one won't work.

If that's the case, you should have it replaced with one that's compatible with the other detectors. I can help you find a compatible model if you can get the brand and model number from one of the other working detectors, but you'll likely need an electrician to wire the new one for you.

Please write back if you have any trouble or have additional questions.

Best Regards,


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Dave Neuweiler


The design and application of burglary and fire systems for homes and businesses. Helping alarm owners understand how their system works. Helping to troubleshoot false alarm problems. Questions about monitoring issues.


Over a quarter century in the industry. Experience in installation, service, and monitoring centers. Training manager for a national protective services company; director of education and training for a national trade organization for for alarm dealers.


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