Many amateur lab workers have their darkroom in the basement or in the attic, but at least in places that are otherwise rarely used. In addition, there is often a lot of electrical equipment in a small-format-film-suitable darkroom, such as a heat plate, heated bain-marie, film dryer, sunlamp, lighting – and other things like e.g. an exhaust air system, a water lifting system, a radio or a water boiler.
A lot of tech for an often small place, a lot of it associated with “heating,” and thus potentially unfortunately highly dangerous.
In my darkroom, a heat plate recently turned itself on automatically after a short power outage, which fortunately only resulted in a melted chemistry tray (and unfathomable stench). Fortunately I noticed this before a disaster happened, but only because I was at home in that moment. This was the trigger for me to start looking for a good smoke alarm.
Well, unfortunately most smoke detectors have two conceptual flaws:
- They blink regularly. That’s a light source we really don’t want to have in our darkroom
- They are often not audible, e.g. when the darkroom door is closed and the darkroom is in the basement of a larger house. The annoying beeps they emit don’t wake anyone sleeping upstairs up.
After some searching, I found a model that, while slightly more expensive, is still considerably cheaper than a burnt house: The Ei650RF from the company Ei Electronics (available from Ebay, Amazon and others). This model doesn’t blink. Not even just once per hour. Only in the event of an alarm and during the setup, a few LEDs briefly blink. The “RF” model costs significantly more than the version without this addition, but connects reliably with identical smoke detectors in the same house!
I have another such detector mounted in the bedroom, now I reliably learn about fume or smoke in the darkroom (or elsewhere) before the house burns down.
That’s a good feeling, I highly recommend to install the same or similar protection!