Where Should I Install Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms?

Fires can strike whether you’re awake, asleep, at home, or away. It’s important to place smoke detectors throughout your house or apartment to catch danger wherever it may strike.

Nest Protect
nest protect product
$116.39

*Amazon.com list price as of 09/22/2021 at 12:06 p.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

Standard smoke alarms (you know the ones) emit loud beeping when they sense danger. Smart smoke alarms like Nest Protect can alert you of danger even when you aren’t home.

Where should smoke detectors be placed throughout your home? Good question. We've researched the best places to place a smoke detector or fire alarm to catch a fire before it spreads.

Protect your property
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get the latest deals, home security tips, and in-depth reviews.

By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Each floor of your home 

Every level of your home should have at least one smoke detector ready to go. Attics and basements should have a smoke alarm with fresh batteries as well.

For bedrooms on the top floor, keep a fire escape ladder handy so everyone upstairs can get out safely should a fire strike.

In every bedroom 

If a fire starts in a bedroom while your family is sleeping, you’ll want the alarm to wake you up. We recommend installing a smoke detector in or outside of every bedroom, including the hallways connecting your rooms.

On stairways

Your stairs may be the fastest way out of your home during a fire. Placing a smoke alarm on the staircase can also alert other family members upstairs or downstairs if danger strikes. Each staircase, including those leading to the attic or basement, should have a smoke detector nearby.

Living areas and large rooms 

From the kitchen to the living room (especially if you have a fireplace), anywhere where your family gathers should have some level of protection. Because of leftover cooking grease, heat, and flammable materials like curtains and towels, your kitchen is the room most vulnerable to fire.

Learn what you should do if a fire starts in your home, and sit down with your family to create a fire emergency plan. Make it memorable for your little ones by physically practicing your fire drill.

Fire alarms and smoke detectors go a long way in preventing would-be fires. What about when a fire does creep in? Make sure to keep safety equipment like fire extinguishers on hand to stop a fire from spreading in your house.

Checklist
Smoke detector placement tips

Along with bedrooms and hallways, choose spots along your walls for the best protection. Smoke rises, so install smoke detectors within a foot of the ceiling.

Keep smoke detectors away from cooking appliances, windows, doors, air conditioning vents, and ducts. Drafts can interfere with the alarm's operation and leave you vulnerable to danger.

Smoke alarm types, installation, and maintenance

There are two main types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric.

Ionization alarms can better detect invisible particles from flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are better at detecting bigger fire particles, such as those from a slow, smoldering fire.

We recommend adding both types of smoke alarms to your home for maximum detection. Dual sensor smoke alarms combine ionization and photoelectric sensors into one powerful device.

Regardless of the type or brand of smoke alarm you pick, you’ll want to interconnect all your alarms so when one smoke alarm sounds, the other alarms will sound too. Many manufacturers offer interconnected smoke alarms which are easy to set up.

Be sure to test all the smoke alarms in your home once a month. When the battery runs low, replace it immediately. The best smoke detectors have a lifespan of around ten years, so be sure to replace the actual device once every decade.

Compare the best home security systems

Brand
Lowest monitoring price
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Installation
Smart home compatibilityIcon Tooltip  Dark
Learn more
Read review
Top pick
VivintVivint
$599.00
Icon Yes  LightNo *
ProAmazon, Google,
Z-Wave
Reader favorite
SimpliSafeSimpliSafe
$229.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
DIYAmazon, Google
Whole-property pick
FrontpointFrontpoint
$99.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
DIYAmazon, Google,
Z-Wave
Pro monitoring pick
ADTADT
$0.00
Icon No  LightYes
ProAmazon, Google,
Z-Wave
No-contract DIY pick
Blue by ADTBlue by ADT
$199.15
Icon Yes  LightNo
DIYAmazon, Google,
Z-Wave

Info current as of 09/22/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*$0 due up-front with consumer financing.
†No-contract options available with outright equipment purchase.
‡Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. (Full disclaimer)
**With $99 installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies. See full disclaimer for full offer details, terms, and conditions.

Disclaimer

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Google, Google Nest Secure, [any other related Google Products] and other related marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
As a renter, pet-owner, and woman living alone, Katie McEntire takes safety seriously. She’s tested devices like pet cameras, home security systems, and GPS trackers in her own home and devices in the name of safety. In addition to testing, writing, and reviewing for SafeWise, she also makes videos for the site’s YouTube channel. She’s been featured on publications like TechGuySmartBuy, Forbes, Healthy Moms, and Digital Care. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She’s held previous writing positions at Overstock.com and Top Ten Reviews.

Recent Articles

Large craftsman style house at twilight with lights on
Best Home Security Systems of 2021
After hundreds of hours of tests and research, plus a combined 50+ years of experience,...
beautiful mountain river scene at sunrise bc canada
The Best Home Security Systems in Canada
Find the best home alarm system to protect your house. We looked at price, features,...
watching camera feed on tablet
Best Wireless Security Systems
Wireless home security systems are more popular than ever. They’re easy to install and hard...
man pointing at smart home control app on a tablet
The Best Smart Home Security Systems
We’ve tested and researched smart home security systems to help you find the right DIY...