10 Best Smoke Detectors Reviewed & Rated
According to the USFA, that it the United States Fire Administration, 60% of all residential fire deaths are in homesteads without working fire alarms. Moreover, half of 30% to 50% of these are in properties without working smoke alarms. Therefore, we can deduce that a functional and well-maintained smoke alarm can cut residential fire deaths by half. However, remember that smoke alarms aren’t the be all do all of fire safety, and should be used as a part of a more extensive fire safety system.
Our Top 3 Picks
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However, with the many smoke detectors in the market, it is easy to be cheated. Below is a guide that will help you when making purchases. Also, we have included some of the best smoke detectors if you are looking for recommendations.
10 Best Smoke Detectors
1. Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
First, it is a bit larger than traditional sensors and has a sleek square design with rounded circles. Installing it is a walk in the park as all that’s needed is first screwing the base plate onto the ceiling or wall and connecting the main body to it. Connect the unit to the Nest app and specify the room it is in among other things. Our best features though were the performance and voice alerts.
Voice alerts – A siren will only alert you of the emergency, but it will not tell you of its nature. Through voice alerts on the Nest app, the Nest unit will inform you of the kind of threat and the room it is in.
Performance – There is not a single smoke sensor that can surpass the Nest Protect. First, it is a split-spectrum sensor and can detect both flaming and smoldering fires. However, it doesn’t use the same tech as a dual sensor. Primarily, it is a photoelectric detector and thus perfect for detecting smoldering flames, but it also has a second wavelength that is superb at picking up flaming fires.
Moreover, the unit has sensors to pick CO, occupancy, humidity, and heat. You will also appreciate the circular LED at the center as it tells you the nature of the threat. If it’s green, all is well. When it turns yellow, it means there is CO or smoke but not at critical levels. However, when it goes red, it’s time to get out of there.
Ten year lifetime
Omnidirectional microphone and a 2-watt speaker
Who is it for?
If you are often away from home, we recommend the Nest Protect owing to the alerts. However, this is a unit that’s perfect for all homeowners who are on a generous budget.
The unit can be hardwired or battery powered; the hardwired unit has 2 AA batteries for back up while the battery powered unit is perfect for old houses
The circular LED lights up at night if it senses motion
The unit self-checks to ensure that everything is okay
You can silence the unit from the app in case of a false alarm
The price of the unit is slightly crazy and has a short 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
2. First Alert BRK 3120B
The BRK 3120B is a hardwired unit and connects to your wiring. However, it has some backup batteries that will keep the device working in the event of an outage. Moreover, the gadget has a 10-year warranty which is unrivaled.
Dual-sensor- Photoelectric sensors are suitable for smoldering fires while ionization smoke detectors are for flaming fires. The First Alert BRK 3120B combines both technologies such that the unit can detect both flaming and smoldering fires. Additionally, there is the Optipath 360 tech that enables the appliance to identify smoke from all directions.
Interconnectability – One smoke detector isn’t enough to cover a multi-level house. There is a high likelihood that people in the farthest corner cannot hear the siren. The First Alert BRK can connect with 18 other devices increasing the safety. It can connect with 12 smoke sensors and six different devices (heat sensors, humidity sensors, and CO sensors) expanding versatility.
Has a silence button in case of a false alarm
The silence button is also a test button to check if the unit is working
Flashing LED to inform you that the batteries have to be replaced
Has an 85db siren
Who is it for?
This is for homeowners who want to protect themselves from both types of fires and are looking for the interconnectability.
It has a super 10-year warranty
It has dual technology and can connect to 18 other devices increasing the overall safety
The alarm has an 85db siren which is above acceptable
It is effortless to install
There are no standards for dual-sensors, and thus you can’t tell if they meet the criteria
3. Kidde KN-COSM-IBA
Kidde happens to be one of the largest manufacturers of fire safety products in the United States, and the Kidde KN-COSM-BA is one of their top products. It is an ionization smoke detector, and though the IAFF advices against solely using ionization smoke alarms, the 4.3-star rating on Amazon from more than 1,900 reviews show that customers trust the product. Our best features though are the voice alarm and the silencing button.
Silencing button – Nothing is as irritating as a smoke alarm siren, especially after a false alarm and having to disable the detector to silence it only exacerbates the situation. Also, there are instances where individuals fail to put the batteries back in, which is a fatal mistake. The silencing button allows you to hush the unit in the event of a false alarm. Moreover, the unit will check after 10 minutes for the conditions that triggered it the first time.
Voice alarm – A siren isn’t enough to tell you of the threat you are facing. And since this is a combination alarm, that is it checks for smoke and carbon monoxide; you want a unit that lets you know the exact problem. The voice alarm informs you if it’s a fire or CO, after which you can take the necessary precautions.
A combination sensor
Who is it for?
The Kidde KN-COSM-BA is for use in remote areas where there is no wiring. Also, it’s for picking up flaming fires.
Easy to install
Has a peak memory feature that announces if it senses CO level of 100ppm
The voice alarm will allow you to take the necessary precautions speedily
It’s a battery guzzler, it is difficult to reach the customer service, and will not protect you in case of a smoldering fire
4. Kidde i4618AC
The i4618 fire unit also happens to be an AC and DC powered unit and thus can be hardwired or work with batteries. The batteries are often back up in case of an outage and tend to last for about one year. Also, the unit has a low battery indicator which tells you when to replace the batteries. Our best features though are the interconnectability, and how user-friendly the device is.
User-friendly – As these are consumer units, you have to ensure you get a device that is user-friendly. The i4618 tops in this category. Seeing as it is interconnectable with 24 devices, it incorporates a flashing red light to indicate the initiating gadget. The unit also has an easy access front loading battery door which makes it a breeze to load backup batteries and a silence button in case of a false alarm. The feature gives you about 8 minutes before it checks for the condition again. You will also appreciate the sizeable mounting base that makes it easy to install the device while protecting the surface paint.
Interconnectability – The i4618 can connect to 24 gadgets, 18 smoke alarms, and six others. Could be heat sensors, CO sensors, or humidity sensors. This increases the unit’s resourcefulness.
Tamper resist shocking feature
Pre-stripped wiring harness
Low battery indicator light
AC and DC powered
Who is it for?
The Kidde 14618 is for people looking for ionization sensors to complement their photoelectric detectors.
The wires are pre-stripped saving you the need for a stripping tool
The tinned strands increase the conductivity of the unit as well as the wire grip
Only protects against flaming fires
5. First Alert SA511CN2-3ST
The two units will connect through a wireless connection and without the need for an app. You can link the units to 18 other appliances and increase the chances that individuals in the farthest corner of the house receive an early warning. You can also set each device to a particular location so that you can tell where an alarm went off. Moreover, all the units will indicate which room the fire is in making your work a breeze. Our best features though were the mesh network and voice alerts.
Voice alerts – Studies have revealed that children aged 4 to 12 respond better and faster to voice warnings as compared to sirens. Therefore, this is the best unit for the safety of your kids.
Mesh network – This is somewhat unique in this alarm, and it allows other sensors to reroute and resend the signal thereby increasing the chances that all alarms will receive the signal. This is unlike traditional linear network where the signal has to be sent from the first detector. The range on this unit is impressive too at 50 feet.
Retails in a pack of two
Has 11 programmable locations
Who is it for?
The First Alert SA511CN2-3ST is a unit for individuals with large homesteads (as it can connect to 18 other devices), and which are not wired to accommodate hardwire alarms.
Seeing as it is battery powered, they are easy to install
The mesh network increases the chances that all alarms receive the signal
Only the photoelectric sensors are wireless
6. Leeo Smart Alert Smoke/CO Remote Alarm
Smoke detectors and CO monitors all have a specific frequency when they are triggered. The Leeo Smart Alert monitors for these frequencies and sends an alert and ensures action is taken. The message incorporates a recording of the sound that triggered the alarm. Our top features were the robo-calls and nightlight.
Robo-calls - The Leeo Smart Alert ensures that action is taken. The message has a button that enables you to call 911 or shut down the alarms in the event it is a false alarm. However, it there is no response, it robo-calls all your emergency contacts until one picks up and takes action. They play the person the sound of the alarm going off to which one can press one if they think it’s a CO or smoke detector, two if they feel it’s a false alarm, and 3 to play the sound again.
Nightlight – The LED light will alert you in case of an emergency, and you can also use it to illuminate your steps at night.
It has a nightlight
Monitors existing CO and smoke sensors
Calls friends and family for back up
Who is it for?
We would recommend the Leeo for individuals who are outdoors a lot.
The system learns and eliminates all possibilities of a false alarm
Has temperature, humidity, and ambient light sensors
Easy to set up; just plug it in, and you are good to go
It cannot work independently and needs existing CO detectors and smoke alarms
Doesn’t work with android phones and’s a bit pricey
7. First Alert SA320CN
Moreover, it is a battery powered unit, and thus it is easy to install as there is no need for wiring. It makes it one of the better detectors to use in remote areas. Though authorities recommend that smoke detectors be interconnected the 4.0-star rating after 900+ reviews on Amazon shows that customers are pleased with the product. Our top features though were the silence button and the smart sensors.
Smart sensors – Smoke detectors and especially ionization devices tend to go off even when there is no fire. The smart sensor helps to distinguish between real threats and nuisances. Thus, it only goes off in case of an emergency.
Silencing button – In the event of a false alarm, you can mute the device using the silencing button. It’s also helpful when testing the unit.
As for the alarm, it is an 85db siren that can wake up even the soundest sleepers.
Smart sensor to eliminate false alarms.
Low battery indicator
Who is it for?
We can only recommend this unit for use in remote areas of a home where it’s not cost effective to install a hardwired unit.
Seeing as the device is battery powered, it happens to be quite easy to install
It is affordable and ideal for those remote areas you might have missed when installing smoke detectors
The unit has a low battery indicator and a chirp that lets you know when it’s time to change the battery
You cannot connect the unit to other alarms, and thus there is a possibility of some home residents not getting the warning early
8. First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound
The unit can detect smoke and carbon monoxide and also happens to be Alexa powered (more on this later). As a photoelectric unit, it is ideal for smoldering fires, and you need other sensors for flaming fires. It is hardwired, but installation is effortless thanks to the AC adapter plugs provided with the unit. Our best features were that it’s Alexa powered and the performance.
Alexa powered – Though the migration to smart homes is slow, it is inevitable. And seeing as you have a smoke alarm in nearly every room, it only makes sense to install one that is Alexa powered, and you have a unit that not only protects you from smoke, but one that checks the weather, plays music, retrieves news, and controls your smart home.
Performance – Though it is relatively new, and it still has a long way to go, the Onelink performs pretty well. In case of a fire, there are three long beeps and a digital voice telling you the room the fire is in. In the event of a CO emergency, the beeps are short with a similar voice alert.
You will also get a push alert on your phone and call to action to either call 911 or disable the alarm if it is a false alarm.
Combination smoke and CO detector
Who is it for?
This unit is for individuals on the Alexa train, or who have an Apple homekit.
Has a high-quality sound that fills the room
Easy to install given you follow the instructions
It is an excellent combination of a speaker, Alexa, smoke, and CO detector
9. Kidde Battery Operated Smoke Alarm I9050
You will also appreciate the quality of this unit which is backed by a 10-year warranty. The device is also UL certified which is a testament to the quality. Our top features though are the LED light and easy installation.
Easy to set up – Seeing as it is a battery powered unit, the Kidde i9050 is thus a breeze to install. It is especially perfect for old homes without the necessary wiring.
Flashing LED – You want a unit that you can continuously monitor. The LED flashes to inform you that it is receiving power. Thus you will know when it is running low or the batteries have been depleted.
A battery powered unit (uses a 9V battery)
Has a tamper resist feature
Has a test button
Who is it for?
The Kidde i9050 is for homeowners on a budget, and for use only in remote areas of a house with a low likelihood of catching fire.
You will enjoy the test button as it allows you to test that the alarm is operational
The tamper resist feature protects the unit against theft or tampering
It’s an ionization sensor only and cannot be connected to other alarms
10. First Alert SCO501CN-3ST
The SC0501CN-3ST is a photoelectric sensor and thus best for smoldering fires.
It also incorporates an electrochemical alarm for sensing carbon monoxide. Furthermore, the unit is battery powered and therefore a breeze to install as you don’t have to hardwire the unit. The devices are also interconnectable, and you can connect it to 18 other units. Nevertheless, we appreciated the CO sensor and the mesh network most.
Mesh network – Most interconnected alarms use a linear network in that only the first triggered alarm can send a signal to any other detector. However, the SC0501CN-ST uses a mesh network in that any alarm can reroute and resend the signal. It increases the likelihood that the signal will get to all alarms.
CO detector – Also known as a silent killer, CO is odorless and a threat to human life. Having a CO indicator coupled with the mesh network increases the safety of the occupants.
A combination CO and smoke detector
It interconnects with other units through a wireless safety network
Who is it for?
If you are looking to save yourself the agony of getting a separate CO detector, we recommend you get the SC0501CN-3ST.
It features voice alerts which are better at alarming kids between 4 and 12 years
It tells you the nature of the emergency enabling you to respond appropriately
The voice alerts too will tell you of the location of the threat
It is not effective at detecting flaming fires
Smoke Detector Types
There are three types of smoke detectors: an ionization smoke detector, a photoelectric smoke detector, and a dual sensor.
A photoelectric smoke detector has a light source (hence the name photoelectric), and a sensor. The light source directs light into a chamber at an angle away from the sensor. If there is a fire, smoke particles get into the chamber and will refract and reflect the light triggering the alarm. It is best for smoldering fires, i.e., fires with lots of smoke but no flames.
An ionization smoke detector – An ionization sensor is best for flaming fires, i.e., fires with small smoke particles. The sensor has Americium-24L which is a radioactive material and is between two charged plates. Under normal conditions, the Americium-24L ionizes the air between the plates creating a current. However, in the event of a fire, the smoke disrupts the current triggering the alarm. Nevertheless, it is predisposed to false alarms as it is easily triggered by smoke from burning food and steam.
Dual sensors – These combine photoelectric and ionization detectors. Some of these units require that both sensors be triggered before the alarm goes off, while some need only one. The former will prevent false alarms but might delay the alert, while the latter is susceptible to false alarms.
Most smoke detectors are made to produce a high-frequency sound to alert residents in case there is a fire. However, these aren’t effective in homes with hearing-impaired people. We recommend you get a sensor with a flashing light to alert such individuals of the impending danger. You can also get one that combines the two.
Smoke sensors can be battery powered or hardwired into the electrical system. The choice is entirely on you and what the law stipulates. Hardwired units are the best and often have a battery backup system in the event of a power outage. Furthermore, even though they require professional installation, they are easy to connect with other units (smoke alarms).
On the other hand, smoke alarms are easy to install. They are safer in case of a blackout, but the batteries need to be replaced semi-annually. Nevertheless, we recommend you get a unit that uses lithium batteries that will last for as long as the alarm continues.
We implore you to get units that can easily connect to others, mainly if you reside in storey house. One smoke alarm is not enough to alert all residents of the danger they are in and thus it is best you get units that can connect to others. That way, they are all triggered when one is triggered.
If we are being honest, the flashing lights and the chirping sound are somewhat of a nuisance. This is further aggravated if they tend to go off easily and if you have to disable the unit to silence it. A silence button will reduce the irritation as you can silence the units without having to disable it.
Some units have two silencing buttons: one in case of a false alarm, and the other in the event of a low-battery warning.
With technology advancements, we now have some additional features which you want to have, but you don’t need. You can pick a unit with remote control and alerts and some with voice hush to silence the alarm. Then again, these extra features will cost you more.
Whichever smoke alarm you pick, remember to follow the guide below. You can also choose one of the recommended gadgets below.
Where should I put the alarms?
You should install the alarm on every floor, room, and the hallways.
How should I maintain smoke detectors?
For longevity and safety of house occupants, regular maintenance of your smoke alarms is needed. At least once a month check if the devices are working by pressing the test buttons. If some are not working, try replacing the batteries and check again. If you are dealing with a hardwired unit, call an installer as it could be a problem with the wiring. If all else fails, we recommend you replace the alarms.
Moreover, replace the batteries once a year or whenever the alarm starts producing a chirping sound. However, some units use lithium-ion batteries that will last for the life of the alarm.
Finally, ensure to keep the sensor clean of dust, debris, cobwebs, etc. These tend to interfere and can give a false alarm or fail during an emergency.
Where should I not fit my smoke alarm?
Though you are required to install smoke detectors in almost every room, there are some areas where it’s best not to. Don’t put one in the kitchen, the bathroom, or in the garage. Installing in these rooms will result in many false alarms as cooking fumes, steam in the showers or exhaust fumes will trigger many false alarms. We recommend you install a heat sensor in these rooms.
How long will it last?
Smoke sensors are designed to last 8 to 10 years. Most units have a “replace by date,” after which the device is no longer useful.
Though smoke alarms can help protect you in the event of a fire, they should be used as part of a more extensive fire security system. Ensure you have photoelectric and ionization sensors as each has its pros and cons. One will protect you in case of a smoldering fire while the other guards you in the event of a flaming fire.
We recommend you get interconnected and hardwired alarms as they can alert people in the furthest corners of the house. Also, ensure you install the unit in every room of the house.