Smoke Detector Reviews
We spent 35 hours researching and testing different brands and types of smoke detectors. We rated them based on different categories and the best overall smoke detector is the Kiddie from Firex.
The statistics regarding home fires are staggering. Studies showed that almost 3000 people perished in home fires in 2014. Sadly, 60% of those deaths were in homes that did not have any smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are inexpensive to buy and easy to install. Maintenance is also very minimal and usually just involves checking the battery once a month. With so many injuries and deaths being preventable with the installation of smoke alarms in the home, there is no reason to take a chance by not having them. You can protect your family, pets and belongings from catastrophe by making sure that you have properly working smoke alarms installed in key places in your home. Most fire departments will even help with installation if you are not sure how to do it yourself. Most home security systems have smoke detectors included as well.
- Best Overall Smoke Detector
- Best Smoke Detector Sound
- Best Hardwired Smoke Detectors
- Best Wireless Smoke Detectors
- Best Photoelectric Smoke Detector
- We Also Tested…
- Determining Your Needs
- Types of Smoke Detectors
- Features of Smoke Detectors
- How to Change a Smoke Alarm Battery
- How to Turn Off A Smoke Alarm
- Read Next
We have provided reviews of three of the top rated smoke alarms on the market below. These reviews will give you detailed information about these excellent and life-saving products so you can learn about them and see if any one of them fit your needs.
Top Rated Smoke Detectors
We have also included a buyer’s guide that provides information on the features and types of smoke alarms that are available and even where to put them in your home.
|Best Overall Smoke Detector
Kidde i4618 (Firex)
|Best Smoke Detector Sound
Simplisafe Smoke Detector
|Best Hardwired Smoke Detector
Firex/Kidde i5000 Hardwire
|Best Wireless Smoke Detector
Nest Smoke Detector
|Best Photoelectric Smoke Detector
First Alert Z Wave
Kidde Sealed Battery Power
First Alert Dual Sensor
First Alert BRK
We Also Tested…
Smoke Detector Alarm Buyer’s Guide
Determining Your Needs
Before you start shopping around for a smoke detector make sure that you know exactly what your needs are. You can figure this out by asking yourself the questions below. These considerations will help direct you to the smoke detectors that fit your needs the best.
- How many smoke alarms do you need? – This is a very important question. Having one smoke alarm is better than having none, but one single smoke detector is not enough to keep your home and family safe. Fire departments recommend having one alarm outside every bedroom, and one on every floor at the very least. If you home is exceptionally large, you may need to have others as well.
- Do you want a combination detector? – There are detectors that only detect smoke and fires and those that also include carbon monoxide detection. Carbon monoxide is very dangerous and is odorless and clear so if there is a leak there is no way of knowing with the specialized detection of a CO detector. Combination detectors may be a little more expensive but they offer another layer of protection for your family that can’t be beat.
- Are you good at remembering things? – If you have a habit of forgetting things, it may be better to get a smoke detector that doesn’t require you to change the batteries. It is not complicated to change the smoke detector battery but if you have a lot going on, it’s easy to forget. Several of the choices we have reviewed above have 10 year batteries that are designed to last for the life of the unit itself. When the low life indicator sounds, it is time to replace the unit.
If you are very organized and have no trouble keeping up with maintenance tasks, you can choose battery operated smoke detectors. Many of the choices that we have listed above have 120v Power with battery backups. This is also an option for you to consider as there is no regular battery changes necessary, but you will need to make sure the battery backup is ready to go if needed.
- Is being able to be interconnected important? – If a smoke detector is inter-connectable, it can be connected with other smoke detectors in the home so when one goes off they ALL go off. This is beneficial for large homes and if you are a heavy sleeper. Lots of alarms going off at once are more likely to wake you than just one.
- What features are important to you? – Smoke detectors have many different features including LED indicators to alert you about different things (low batteries, alarm going off, etc) battery backups, hush buttons, Wi-Fi capability and much more. If there are specific features you want or need, keep these in mind when you start shopping and make sure that the models you are considering have the features you want.
Types of Smoke Detectors
There are three types of smoke detectors to choose from. Some types work better in specific places within the home than others do. We will list the different types below and give you some information on where it is best to place them so they provide the most protection for your home and family. You may wonder how smoke detectors work. We will explain a little bit of the technology that goes into the different types of alarms.
This type of smoke detector has a small strobe light that is inside and stays on at all times. When there are smoke particles present the light from this strobe is disturbed, causing the detector to set off an alarm immediately. These smoke detectors are more expensive than ionization detectors which are another type of smoke alarm that we will describe for you.
The benefit of using a photoelectric smoke detector is that they are much less likely to be set off by accident. Photoelectric smoke detectors are much better at detecting smoldering fires that may not have erupted into flames yet.
Catching the fire at this stage can reduce the amount of damage done to the home and its furnishings and reduces the chances of injuries as well. Use photoelectric smoke detectors in dens, hallways, and bedrooms. They are also good for the upstairs landing area and in home offices.
Ionization smoke detectors detect fires that have flames. There is a radioactive element inside that ionizes the air inside the smoke detector. The electric current that is inside the alarm is interrupted when smoke particles get inside the chamber.
When this current is disturbed, the alarm will go off. Although it sounds like it would take awhile for this process to develop, it actually happens very rapidly. Ionization smoke detectors are good for stairways, upstairs landings, offices and other similar places.
The best smoke detector you can get for your home is a dual detector which uses both ionization and photoelectric sensors. This allows the detector to cover all types of fires from smoldering, smoke only fires to ones that have already developed flames. Do not put dual smoke detectors in the kitchen. For your kitchen use a smoke detector that has a heat sensor which will not get contaminated by grease and oil the way other types of smoke detectors can.
Features of Smoke Detectors
Depending on the type of smoke detector you are considering, it may have numerous features that aide it in protecting your home from fire. If there are specific features you are looking for, make sure to keep them in the forefront of your mind when you are doing research.
If you are not sure what features you want, take a look at the list we have put together for you below. It lists all of the common features that smoke detectors can have. Not all of them will have all these features, but if you know and understand what is available, you can narrow your selection by eliminating the ones that don’t have the features you are looking for.
- Test/Silence Button – This is sometimes called the hush button and is used to silence the alarm in the event of the smoke detector alarm going off accidentally. These hush or silence buttons are also used to test the smoke detector and make sure it is working properly and that the batteries are good.
- Hearing Impaired Alerts – If any of the people in the home are hearing impaired it is important to have additional means of alerts that will work for them in the event of a fire, especially if they are ever home alone. These features include pads that are placed under their sheets on the bed that will vibrate in the event of a fire. Other hearing impaired alerts include strobe lights and super loud alarms which could work for those hard of hearing and not completely deaf.
- Easy-access battery compartments – Front loading battery compartments are much easier to access than side compartments and usually don’t require the smoke detector to be removed from the wall or ceiling. This is much more convenient for the user.
- Low Battery Indicator – A low battery indicator lets you know when it is time to change the batteries. This indicator can be in the form of a flashing red light, a smoke detector alarm beeping or chirping sound or a combination of lights and sounds. These alerts prevent the batteries from dying and leaving your home unprotected. Most low battery chirping will sound every 15-90 seconds depending on the model and will continue to sound until the batteries are changed.
- UL Certified – This is very important to ensure a properly working smoke detector alarm that will truly protect your family. This certification states that the smoke detector meets and/or exceeds all of the regulations required. Never purchase a smoke detector alarm that does not have this UL certification.
- Insect Protection – Bugs can be drawn to the warmth of a smoke detector and get inside it, causing it to sound accidental and can also prevent it from working properly when you need it to. Look for smoke detector alarms that have screens or some type of stated protection from insects and other contaminants such as dust that will cause the unit to work improperly.
- Good Warranties – A good warranty is important to protect you from purchasing a sub-standard smoke detector. Smoke detector alarms don’t last forever but you do want to find models that are designed to last at least 5 to 10 years. Most smoke alarms that are sold to consumers will last at least 5 years.
- Built-in, 10 Year Batteries – A couple of the smoke detector alarms we have reviewed above have sealed, 10 years, lithium batteries. These smoke detectors are not designed to have the batteries changed. The battery comes with will last the entire life of the smoke detector. These smoke detector alarms have end of life alerts that will indicate that it is time to replace the smoke detector completely. This type of smoke alarm comes with a 10-year warranty.
- Inter-connectable – If you want your smoke detectors to all sound at the same time you will want to look for detectors that are inter-connectable. This means they are all connected to one another through hard-wiring or wirelessly. If one alarm goes off, they all go off. This is very good if you have a large home. A fire could start on one side of the house and no one would know until it was too late.
With interconnected smoke detectors, the smoke alarm that is set off by the fire will set off all the alarms so you know to check the entire house. Some models of smoke alarms will send alerts to your email or Smartphone letting you know where in the home the alarm was first initialized.
The drawback to interconnected smoke detectors is that you could end up disturbing the entire household if the kitchen gets smoky during cooking but it better to be safe than sorry. The positives of interconnected smoke detectors outweigh the inconvenience of having them all go off accidentally once in awhile.
- Dual Sensors – Dual sensor smoke detectors have both types of smoke alarms in one. This means that you will have the protection of ionization technology as well as photoelectric technology. These units may cost a little more but the extra protection they provide makes the cost well worth it.
- Carbon Monoxide Detection – Some of the smoke detector alarms we have reviewed above also can detect carbon monoxide. This colorless and odorless gas can be deadly so having the means to detect leaks is extremely important.
You can purchase CO detectors separately but many people like the convenience of having this protection all in one unit. In the case of the Nest Connect Smoke Detector (reviewed above) it will let you know where the gas leak is and not just that there is a leak.
- Battery Backup – This is a very important feature. Battery backups are usually via a 9 volt battery that will keep the smoke detector operating even if the power is out. This provides you with protection at all times.
How to Change a Smoke Alarm Battery
It is very easy to change the batteries in most smoke alarms. If you are unsure of what to do, the instructions that come with the smoke detector will give instructions. The process is very simple. Locate the battery compartment, open it and remove the old battery and replace it with a new battery. Close the compartment, press the test button and you’re done. If you have a 10 year battery smoke detector you will not have to replace the batteries at all.
How to Turn Off A Smoke Alarm
This is actually very easy. Most smoke detector alarms have a silence/test button that will shut off the alarm after it has gone off. Press this button and the alarm will silence. If there is still smoke in the air (in the instance of cooking for example) the alarm may go off again.
Some people will wave a towel in front of the alarm to get it to go off which clears the smoke from the sensors. Resetting the smoke alarm is not really something that you will have to worry much about. Pressing the silence button acts as a type of reset since the smoke detector alarm will be ready to go again once you have stopped it from sounding.
The majority of statistics show that injuries and deaths from fire are caused by not having sufficient and reliable detection. Having smoke detectors in your home can save the lives of you and your family and prevent you from losing your home completely in the event of a fire. Early detection is key.
Having the right type and number of smoke detectors is paramount in providing your family and home with the kind of protection that can save lives.
If you are unsure of where the best places to put smoke detectors are in your home, consider calling your local fire department and asking them if they will come to your home and provide advice for you. They are happy to help people properly protect their homes from fires.
Make sure that the children are aware of the smoke detectors and what they do. They need to respond every time the alarm goes off, even if it turns out to be an accident. It is better that they know to react right away and have it be nothing, than for them to ignore the alarm and put themselves at right for injury or worse. With all of the advanced technology available in smoke detector alarms, you can protect your family without having to spend a ton of money. The majority of smoke detectors are reasonably priced so people can afford to provide their homes and families with the protection they need.