Smoke Detectors Buying Guide

Smoke detectors are so crucial to have in our homes because they can save lives, keep our families and pets alert, and prevent injuries during a fire. They are especially helpful when you're asleep and may not be aware that a fire is nearby or engulfs your home. Smoke detectors give us a warning and some time for us to escape a potentially deadly catastrophe. Unfortunately, many people today have yet to properly install smoke alarms in their home. This guide is designed to help you find the best ones on the market, provide some essential information about fire safety, and keep your family protected.

What to Look for in Smoke Alarms

Believe it or not, fires take place everyday even when we don’t see it. Having smoke alarms properly installed in your home will give you a better chance of getting out safely and also helping your family members and pets out in time as well. When shopping for a smoke alarm, there are several things to look out for. A few things to consider include the following:

Multiple Functionality

Smart smoke detectors can often monitor for high levels of carbon monoxide and serve as a night light. If you want the most bang for the buck on the costlier smart smoke detectors, then make sure it provides added functionality.

Sensor Type

There are three sensor types – photoelectric, ionization, or dual. You'll want to check with your state's regulations to be sure you get the right sensor type.

Battery Life

Most smart smoke detectors will have 10 year battery life in conjunction with being hardwired. Some options however, will require changing the battery every 6 months (recommended) to 12 months to ensure your smoke detector is functioning properly.

Smart Features/Compatibility

You'll want to check if the smart smoke detector can send alerts to your phone, control the alarm sound, test the alarm from your app, monitor battery levels, and more. Monitored smoke detectors can be connected directly to the local fire department.


Smoke Alarms

Brand

Nest Protect

First Alert Onelink

Kidde KN-COSM-BA

First Alert BRK SC7010B

Halo Smart Smoke and CO Alarm

Leeo Smart Alert

Roost Smart Battery

Price

$120

/per

$95

/per

$25

/per

$45

/per

$100

/per

$50

/per

$35

/per

Sensor Type

Split-Spectrum Sensor - uses two wavelengths of light(Photoelectric and LED) to detect fast and slow burning fires

Photoelectric

Ionization

Photoelectric

Photoelectric and Ionization

Listens for your already installed smoke detectors to alert you via the phone app

Not a smoke detector. Battery that adds smart functionality to your traditional smoke detector.

Source Of PowerBattery(10yr life) and HardwiredBattery(10yr life) and HardwiredHardwired and Battery (change every 6 months)Hardwired and Battery (change every 6 months)Hardwired and Battery(10yr life)OutletN/A
Additional Functions

Carbon Monoxide detector, soft night light triggered by walking underneath,

Carbon Monoxide Detector, Night light

Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide Detector, low frequency horn that is easier for elderly with age related hearing loss to hear.

Carbon Monoxide Detector, night light

Night light

None

Smart Features

App support. Heads up warning from things like burning toast. Can turn off alarm with the app. Ability to sync with other nest alarms and tell you where the problem is when one is set off. Performs 400 safety checks per day to ensure functionality.

App Support - can tell you where the danger is located and sync with other First Alert alarms. Ability to receive danger notifications through the app, and can silence alarms from the app. Compatible with Siri.

Verbal warnings of "Fire!" or "Warning - carbon monoxide"

none

App Support - sends alerts when danger is detected and can contact first responders. Silence alarms via the app.

App support, sends alert to your phone whenever a smoke detector goes off and provides the number to the nearby first responders. If you do not respond, then the app will call friends and neighbors that you have entered in as emergency contacts.

A battery with a built in WiFi chip that adds app support to your smoke detector. Notifies you before battery runs out, no more chirping sounds. Sends alarms to your phone.

Pros

An impressive list of smart features and easy to set up and connect to other Nest products.

Multifunctional and can silence alarms by talking to Siri.

Very cheap, meets the basic needs of a smoke detector

Reliably and easy to set up. Traditional alarm sound and low battery chirping sound.

Uses a red ring of light to visually alert residents. 10 year battery life, excellent smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide sensors.

Possibly a cheaper way to add smart functionality to your home's smoke detector system, rather than replacing all the detectors you already have.

Can be an easy and cost efficient way to upgrade your smoke detectors.

Cons

The price is very high.

High price tag, reports of false alarms and unreliable app connectivity. iPhone only app.

No app support, no advanced features

No advanced features, more costly than other basic smoke detectors.

Not released out, expected to start shipping December 2017

This is NOT a smoke or CO detector. May not be cost efficient if you only need/have 1-3 detectors in your home.

If you have lots of alarms, it could be cheaper to try LEEO Smart Alert that will listen for multiple alarms, rather than needing this battery for each and every alarm to have smart functionality.

Amazon Rating

4.5/5 - > 5,000 Reviews

3/5 - > 80 reviews

4.5/5 - > 1,500

4.5/5 - > 250 reviews

N/A

4/5 - > 400 reviews

3/5 - > 200 reviews

Best For

Families and techies wanting a high performing smoke detector.

Single family homes that'd want a network of smart smoke detectors throughout the house.

Budget conscious individuals wanting smoke detectors that verbally alert the household of danger.

Elderly due to the alarm using a lower frequency, making it easier to hear.

New homes that have not had any alarms installed yet, and plans to have a fully automated home.

Homes with several non-smart detectors already installed.

Homes with 1-3 non-smart smoke detectors already installed.

Additional Fire Safety Tips

Know where to install smoke alarms

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your house, in every bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. Most fire alarms have an effective range of 35ft. Fire alarms should be mounted on the ceiling or high on the walls, where smoke will collect and can effectively set off the alarm in the event of a real danger issue.

Test your smoke alarms regularly

Smoke alarms won’t work if the batteries are dead. Be sure to check the battery levels of your smoke detectors frequently to avoid alarm failures.

Practice Fire Drills

In the event of a fire, you’ll want everyone in your household to be on the same page and know what to do. Create a fire escape plan and practice it a couple times a year, going over safety precautions such as low crawling to avoid heavy smoke inhalation.

Conclusion


There are so many smoke detectors out there with a plethora of features and options — it can be overwhelming to select the right one for your budget and lifestyle. Having any smoke alarm is better than having none, but it’s also nice to know that there are different ones out there for you to choose from.

Before buying any smoke detector, it’s smart to be informed of the different variables and weigh out the pros and cons between various devices so that you can feel confident that your purchase will serve its purpose and protect your family, pets, and home during any potential fires.