Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: January 14, 2021
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A smoke detector might not prevent a fire, but it can save your life from engulfing fires or smoldering smoke. The device is designed to sound off when smoke is detected in the air. If you’re looking to buy one, know that there different types of smoke detectors on the market. Each type is classified according to its power source and a few popular examples include the battery-operated, hardwired & smart detector.
We’ve rounded up our top recommendations in this guide to the best smoke detector to aid in your selection process. Only the top smoke detector brands were included on our list based on a look at their major specs. Important features we’ve compared include the type of sensor and power source. Does it require batteries to function or it should be hardwired? These features determine a number of factors including the operational lifespan. Some models can detect carbon monoxide (CO) and we’ve also included them in this review to broaden your options. Based on these features, we’ve voted the First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave Wireless Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm as our Editor’s choice.
We spends weeks conducting an in-depth analysis of different customer reviews who’ve had first-hand experience with the products. We visited some of the manufacturers’ sites to get a better understanding of how the devices function, as well as consulting with experts. Information gathered was used to compile a product comparison table, detailed reviews of each smoke alarm, and a buying guide. All you need to do after reading this review is to pick the best smoked detector for your needs.
Here we have the First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave Wireless Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm which we’ve voted our Editor’s choice. It’s battery-operated and this type is generally less expensive & easier to install.
Not only does the device detect smoke, but carbon dioxide as well which is equally hazardous to you and your family’s health.
You’ll appreciate how this Z-wave smoke detector is compatible with other alarms and hubs from the same brand. But note that you’ll have to purchase these additional alarms separately.
You’ll receive alarm activation mobile alerts keeping you aware of any potential danger in your home even if you’re away. This is thanks to the integrated wireless alarm system which is Iris compatible.
The device features photoelectric sensing technology which is designed to detect large smoke particles that are produced by smoldering fires. This same sensor can differentiate between real smoke danger and harmless cooking or shower steam thereby minimizing false alarms.
This unit comes complete with a silence button and side access battery door for easy installation. The manufacturer also included a tamper resistant battery drawer and pins to keep the unit securely in place.
Unfortunately the battery doesn’t have a long operational life. It tends to start chirping after about a year. Also, with time you’ll start getting frequent false alarms when the battery starts wearing out. But you can always replace it with a new one to cancel out that problem.
Like the model reviewed above, this First Alert Safe & Sound smoke detector is also designed to detect both smoke and carbon monoxide. This great unit is Alexa-enabled so you enjoy the smart features offered by Alexa including controlling your other smart home devices. This detector is hard-wired and features a state-of-the-art omni-directional speaker for enhanced sound.
The mobile controls are pretty effective and reliable; you’ll receive remote notifications of any emergency in your home 24/7.
You don’t have to worry about false emergency beeps associated with a low or fault battery. This smoke detector is designed to track battery levels in the app so you’re always aware when they need replacing.
Another impressive functionality found on this device is that it features voice location technology which announces the exact type and location of the danger in your home.
Thanks to the optical ceiling placement functionality, the acoustic quality of the device is enhanced.
Being a hardwired device, setup may take slightly longer but the manufacturer included AC adapter plugs to replace existing hardware alarms without the need for rewiring. This makes installation a little easier.
You’ll appreciate how this model can connect with other hardwired alarms in your home which isn’t common with other smart smoke detector systems.
A few users have noted that the night light may turn on by itself. If this happens feel free to contact the customer service department for assistance on the matter.
This model from Kidde is another great smart smoke detector, and it can interconnect up to 24 kiddie devices.
Though it’s a hardwire system, you’ll appreciate that it comes with two back-up batteries. You’re still guaranteed smoke detection even in power outage situations. Batteries can be replaced without disconnecting the unit from its mounting bracket.
No one will steal or tamper with your smoke detector system because it features an Alarm-Tamper Resist functionality.
Thanks to the adjustable mounting brackets, you’ll find installation of this unit quick and easy. It’s generally a versatile device that works well with existing smoke, combination smoke and CO mounting brackets.
Another of its unique features includes the Peak Level Memory Announces designed to detect carbon monoxide levels. This feature helps prevent the smoke detector from sounding off accidental alarms.
The kiddies smoke detector features Ionization sensor technology which detects fast flames and other types of fires. You’ll need this to know the severity of the fire outbreak to take the relevant precautions.
The unit shows a green LED light if it’s using AC power. When using battery power, the light flashes every 60 seconds.
If there’s a dangerous level of smoke or carbon monoxide, the light will flash red and sound every 30 seconds. The alarm also gives voice indications of the hazard type and where the fire is located.
Some users have expressed concerns regarding durability of the unit. In addition, after some time the unit will have low battery issues. When this happens, at least you can rely on the AC power.
Here we have yet another model designed to detect both smoke and carbon monoxide. But the manufacturers took it a step further by adding a display screen. The unit not only tracks carbon monoxide but displays the reading on the screen. This way you can always monitor carbon monoxide levels and be aware of the severity of the emergency situation at all times.
The model uses a highly accurate electrochemical sensor that alerts you of any impending carbon monoxide danger.
It also features a photoelectric sensor that detects smoke and minimizes the occurrence of false alarms. This smoke operator CO operated unit is pretty easy to set up. You won’t need an electrician for the installation job.
The alarm is quite loud. You can easily hear it from any part of your home regardless of where it’s located.
Unfortunately in some cases, it may arrive without the battery cover. But you can always call the manufacturer to get it replaced.
The battery life isn’t long, so you’ll have to replace it frequently. But you’ll appreciate that the unit doesn’t cost much so you’ll be getting value for your money if you pick this product.
Are you working on a budget but need a high-performance smoke detector? Consider this model from Alert Pro which we’ve voted as our budget pick.
For such a lowly-priced unit you’ll appreciate the impressive features it offers including the long 10 year operational lifespan. The device’s longevity is one of its major selling points.
One of the reasons for the unit’s long lifespan is that it doesn’t consume much power.
This smoke detector is battery powered and installation of the unit is a breeze. You don’t need any wires to set it up. The manufacturer included screws and plugs necessary for mounting.
Unlike other units, the battery is sealed in, so you don’t have to worry about constantly replacing it.
Moving onto its core function, this unit can detect smoke coming from both slow hidden and fast burning fires. The detector features a loud sounding alarm that can be heard throughout your entire home.
Other unique functions found on this device include the malfunction warning, low battery and hush mode enabled functionalities.
Those who’re environmentally conscious will appreciate how this unit operates without giving off a smell or radiation.
Some users have noticed that it gives false alarms. But this may be because of a defective model so simply contact the manufacturer for a replacement.
Also, the device may arrive with missing parts so always check your package as soon as it arrives.
By picking this model, you’ll get not one, but three smoke detectors. So consider this brand if you want value for your money and ensure your entire home is monitored and safe at all times. The compact units utilize photoelectric technology designed to detect even the lightest smoke. This is because light smoke is generated for hours before suddenly bursting into flames. With this unit you can always monitor smoke levels before the situation gets out of hand.
When this detector senses smoke, it immediately sounds the alarm and starts flashing red. The alarm will continue to sound up until the smoke has cleared up or the test button is released. And the test button is easily within reach.
You’ll appreciate how installation of this smoke alarm is hassle free. The unit comes with all the mounting hardware necessary, so you don’t have to make any additional purchases.
This detector is powered by one lithium battery which is included by the manufacturer. Power outage won’t affect operation of the device.
The detectors don’t contain any harmful radioactive elements and you can install them in most rooms except bathrooms and kitchens.
For optimum performance, it’s advisable that you clean dust from the device every six months.
Note that the battery may heat up in some cases. If this happens, be sure to replace the unit immediately to avoid damaging it.
Here we have another battery-operated smoke detector designed to detect smoke and carbon monoxide. Its battery is also sealed in so this eliminates the hassle of frequently changing it. The integrated design of the battery also means continuous power for the alarm.
Sound produced by this alarm is quite loud. This is evident from the 85db power level of the unit.
Thanks to the electrochemical carbon monoxide sensing technology and photoelectric sensor, larger smoke particles are detected. You don’t have to worry about frequent false alarms.
This unit comes with an impressive 10 year limited warranty. And the manufacturer included an end-of-life signal chip so you know when the detector is due for replacement. This significantly takes care of your safety concerns.
Still on the subject of safety, you’ll appreciate that the device went through rigorous testing to meet UL standards.
You’ll have to pay a little extra for the model compared to other brands, but for the performance it offers, it’s well worth it.
Installation of this device is relatively easy. Make use of the instruction manual provided regarding the set-up process.
What we liked:
Easy to install
Loud sounding alarm
What could be better:
Light may continuously flash
Things to Сonsider
When it comes to choosing the best smoke detector, there are countless options at your disposal so picking the right one won’t be easy. We’re going to give you a few tips that’ll help in your decision making.
Why is having a high-quality smoke detector essential?
Granted, a smoke detector will keep you and your family safe from fires. But we’d advise that you opt for a high quality unit because cheaper models don’t tend to be as effective.
Also, cheaper models aren’t made of the highest quality so they won’t last long. Aside from sub-standard construction, cheaper models aren’t made using high quality technology such as photoelectric sensors. As a result, they tend to go off randomly. It’s best to invest in quality units when it comes to home safety.
How does a smoke detector work?
A smoke detector is designed to sense smoke in the air. When smoke in the air reaches the detector, sensors in the unit pick up the signal and it immediately sounds off to notify people about the impending danger. Ionization alarms ionize the air using harmless amounts of radioactive particles, which work to create an electrical current within the alarm. As soon as smoke reaches the detector and interrupts the flow of ions, the alarm goes off. Photoelectric models, on the other hand, make use of light reflection technology: when smoke reaches the detector, it reflects light onto the sensor, thus sounding the alarm.
Features to consider when choosing a smoke alarm
While smoke detectors’ core function is the same, these units have different specs and features depending on the brand you pick. We’re going to highlight a few major features you must consider before making your final purchase.
Type of sensor
There are different types of sensors and this relates to the amount of smoke that they pick up. We list the basic two types below:
Ionization smoke alarms: These types of sensors are designed to detect even the smallest smoke particles reminiscent of fast flaming fires. This makes ionization smoke detectors highly sensitive; they can be triggered by smoke from burnt foods or shower steam. If you’re planning on purchasing this type, make sure you don’t place it in your kitchen or shower. The Kidde Hardwire Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm is one such example that features an ionization sensor.
Photoelectric smoke alarms: This is arguably the most popular type of smoke detector on the market. It uses a photoelectric sensor which best detects larger smoke particles from smoldering fires which aren’t displaying visible flames. You can expect less false alarms if you pick this type. What can potentially set them off randomly is accumulation of dust in the unit. This is why regular cleaning of the device is highly recommended.
Smoke detectors are either hardwired or battery-operated. In some cases, they can have both power sources as evidenced by the number of units in our review that feature these two elements.
We’ll quickly point out that hardwired detectors are ideal if you want a reliable unit. Battery operated devices, though cheaper, tend to run out quicker.
Also, battery operated smoke detectors are much simpler to install. If you really want a battery-operated smoke detector but are worried about longevity, consider purchasing one with a lithium-ion battery. It can last you up to 10 years. The vitowell Combination Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector is one such example that’s designed to last you that long.
You want a smoke detector with a loud audio alarm you can hear clearly from any part of the room or building during an emergency. If it’s also accompanied by voice alerts and flashing lights, that’s even better. As mentioned earlier, some fires don’t show visible flames, but certain units are designed to give flashing signals if smoke is detected.
Some smoke detector manufacturers take it a step further by including smart functionality on their units. These detectors such as the Kiddies model can be connected to multiple alarms for your convenience.
With certain units such as the First Alert Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm, you can receive mobile alerts of fire emergencies if you aren’t at home.
Is it UL-listed?
You want a smoke detector that’s safe to use in your home. Opting for one that has undergone rigorous quality & safety tests and meets the UL standards is ideal. Be sure to look out for the UL rating on the model before purchase. The vitowell smoke detector is an example of a unit that’s UL listed.
Where are you planning to install it?
Before buying a smoke detector consider where you want to install it. Do you want to mount it in your home, office or RV?
Homes will require multiple units for additional safety and the Vitowell 3 Pack is an ideal option. This is because you need at least one for every room to ensure your entire home is protected. You may also need a smoke detector with back-up batteries for your home in case power outages occur.
RVs will need smaller units so compact battery operated devices will suffice.
It’s not uncommon for electrical devices to malfunction. This is why you must consider the warranty that comes with the smoke alarm before you buy. Some units such as the vitowell Combination Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector come with an impressive 10 year warranty. You don’t have to worry about repeat purchases if you pick such models.
Tips: smoke detector installation and maintenance
Below are a few smoke detector installation and maintenance tips:
Try and purchase a smoke detector for every level of your home
Mount each alarm on a flat surface: either the wall or ceiling, but it must be in the center of the room
The device must be a least 12 inches from the ceiling
It’s advisable to test out the alarms at least once a month to ensure they’re still functioning
Make a point of replacing battery-operated devices annually for optimum performance
Follow the manufacturer’s instruction when it comes to battery replacement
Make sure you install it at least 3 meters from a cooking appliance
Be sure to clean the unit frequently to avoid accumulation of dust
The general recommendation is that a three bed-roomed house needs at least five.
It’s time for our top three recommendations. First on our list is the First Alert 2-in-1 alarm which we gave a 9.8 rating. We like that it’s very easy to install and comes with an affordable price tag. Most importantly we appreciate that it sends out a mobile notification if a fire breaks out.
Second with a 9.7 rating is the First Onelink Safe & Sound smoke detector. We’re impressed with the loud alarm sound which you’ll hear clearly from any room in your home. We also love the voice alert functionality which notifies you when an emergency occurs. Above all, it’s compatible with hardwired alarms from other brands.
Lastly, we’ll go with the Kidde Hardwire detector alarm. What stood out with this unit is it comes with two backup batteries. The device comes complete with voice alerts and warning flashing lights.
So which of these units will you be purchasing for your home?