Smoke alarms save lives. Protect what matters most with the top fire and smoke alarms on the market. It’s easy to take smoke alarms for granted, but they can save your life—and your home. Below, you’ll find the best smoke detectors on the market, plus other fire safety information that can keep your family protected.
Nest Protect has transformed the standard for home safety products—making it our top smoke alarm pick. It comes with carbon monoxide detection, home automation capabilities, and a self-monitoring system that performs 400 safety checks per day.
Nest Protect is the smartest smoke detector on the market. Its app sends alerts to your phone so you can silence false alarms or call for help no matter where you are.
Split-Spectrum Smoke Detection: Nest created its own sensor, a photoelectric and LED hybrid, to eliminate radioactive material (found in ionization sensors) and enhance smoke detection.
Syncing: If you have multiple alarms, they’ll talk to each other. When one alarm sounds, they’ll all be triggered to tell you exactly where the danger is coming from.
Voice Alarm: Instead of a loud beep, you’ll hear a human voice if smoke is detected.
You get advanced protection and a bunch of extra features with Nest Protect, but they come with a higher price tag than most other smoke detectors.
Higher Price: You’ll pay more than $100 for a single Nest Protect smoke alarm, which can make installing multiple devices cost prohibitive.
First Alert Onelink is a smart alarm that detects both smoke and carbon monoxide. It also comes with voice alarm and a battery that has a ten-year life expectancy.
This smoke detector aims to eliminate the problem of dead batteries. Thanks to the included long-life battery, you don’t have to worry about late-night chirping or the added cost of changing out batteries.
Smart: You can use Apple’s HomeKit technology with the Onelink alarm. You’ll get mobile alerts if the smoke alarm sounds, and you can control it from your phone.
Self-Sufficient: This device does 400 safety checks per day to ensure it’s working properly.
Interconnectable: Because it’s compatible with most existing hardwired alarms on the market, you can make your whole smoke alarm system smart with just one First Alert Onelink device. And you don’t have to rewire, thanks to the included adapter plugs.
The battery is sealed within the device, so you’ll have to replace your entire smoke alarm when the battery dies.
Only Compatible with Apple Devices: First Alert Onelink only works with Apple devices, so if you want smart capabilities and have an Android, you’re out of luck.
This First Alert smoke alarm uses a dual sensor to detect multiple kinds of fires and decrease false alarms. It’s also hardwired with a battery backup, so you don’t have to worry about power failure.
Say goodbye to shrieking beeps while you’re cooking or after a hot shower. The First Alert BRK 3120B comes with a photoelectric sensor that’s sensitive enough to tell the difference between everyday activities and real threats like a smoldering fire.
Dual Sensor: First Alert’s smoke alarm comes with both ionization and photoelectric sensors to detect fast- and slow-burning fires.
One-Touch Silence Button: It’s easy to silence false alarms on the First Alert BRK 3120B. One touch of your finger is all that’s required to hush an alarm or test the unit.
Although this smoke detector has two smoke sensors, it doesn’t come with carbon monoxide detection.
Basic Design: This no-frills smoke alarm doesn’t come with smart capabilities, remote monitoring, or voice alert.
This is the second Kidde smoke alarm to make our list, and it’s the most affordable. The Firex is easy to install and can be interconnected with other alarms to create a full-house smoke detection system.
Changing batteries has never been easier. It’s simple to keep this smoke detector ready for action with the slide-load battery door on the front.
Affordable: You can protect your home for less than $15 with the Kidde i4618 Firex smoke alarm. The price makes it easy to add multiple detectors to protect every level of your home.
Interconnectable: The Firex can connect with up to twenty-four devices, including heat, CO, and smoke detectors. Best of all, it works with devices from different brands.
Equipped with False Alarm Control: Safely silence annoying alarms caused by non-emergency events like a steamy shower or burned dinner. When you press the hush button, you desensitize the alarm for a maximum of eight minutes, after which it will resume normal operation.
The Firex has only an ionization sensor. While this provides early detection for fire particles, which is useful in a flaming blaze, it doesn’t provide accurate detection for smoldering fires.
Not Compatible with Older Models: Users report issues connecting the Kidde i4618 Firex with older smoke detectors. If you’re not looking to replace all of your smoke alarms, this could be an issue.
Types of Smoke Detectors
Fires happen every day. In 2016, a house fire was reported every ninety seconds.1 If you have smoke detectors in your home, you’ll have a better chance of getting everyone out safely. While any smoke detector is better than none, there are a number of models to choose from with varying pros and cons.
Some smoke detectors do more than detect fire. Many include carbon monoxide alarms too, giving you double protection in one device. Multifunctional alarms can be battery-operated, hardwired, or smart—so prices vary depending on the functions included.
Smart smoke detectors are the cutting edge in fire safety. They communicate through apps and deliver alerts to your phone or other mobile device if an alarm sounds. Smart alarms can talk to each other too, so you’ll know exactly where the fire is when an alarm is triggered. The only downside is that smart devices are more expensive, but you get a lot of safety for your buck.
Hardwired smoke detectors come with wires that hook into your home’s electrical system. Most come with a backup battery to prevent your device from becoming inactive due to a power outage. Hardwired smoke detectors are an extremely reliable option because the odds of losing power are low. One downside is that they can be trickier to install.
Smoke alarms typically have three types of sensors: ionization, photoelectric, and dual. Here are the main differences between the three.
Photoelectric smoke alarms use sensors that are better at detecting smoldering fires that generate lots of smoke. These sensors use a light to detect smoke and sound an alarm.
Ionization smoke alarms use sensors that are able to detect faster-burning fires with large flames. This is important because flaming fires produce small amounts of smoke that can be harder to detect. They’re equipped with two metal plates and a small amount of radioactive material to ionize air. When smoke passes through the device, it interrupts the ionization, which triggers the alarm.
Dual sensors include both photoelectric and ionization sensors. These are considered the safest smoke and fire detection devices. Because they detect both flaming fires and smaller, smoldering fires, it’s unlikely that any fire-related danger will get past these double-duty sensors.
Smoke alarms can save a life, but they have to be properly installed and maintained. Don’t risk your family’s safety—use these tips to keep your smoke detectors in tip-top shape.
Between 2009 and 2013, dead batteries caused 31% of smoke alarm failures in home fires where a battery-powered smoke alarm was present.2 Nest reports that nine out of ten people don’t check batteries. This is dangerous! A smoke detector won’t do you any good if it isn’t working, so make sure to check your batteries every month and use the “test“ button intermittently to ensure proper function.
Arm Every Level
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends putting a smoke detector on every level of your home: in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and in your basement. On floors without bedrooms, install alarms in the living area or near stairways. If you have a large home, consider adding even more to cover the whole footprint.
Smoke rises. It’s important to put your smoke detectors within a foot of your ceilings and ten feet from cooking areas. For vaulted ceilings, avoid putting smoke detectors in the “pitch” of the roofline. Instead, mount fire alarms three feet below the ceiling so they can accurately read smoke.
Never Run Out of Batteries
Set up recurring delivery for smoke alarm batteries on Amazon. That way, you’ll always be ready to replace a dead battery in your smoke alarm. Time the delivery schedule to match regular smoke alarm maintenance so you’ll never overlook changing out old batteries.
Keep It Clean
Dirt and debris interfere with the sensors on your smoke alarm. Dusty buildup can lead to false alarms or delayed detection during an emergency. Whether you have a photoelectric alarm or an ionization detector, regular cleaning will keep your smoke alarm in working order.
Keep smoke alarms away from windows, doors, and air ducts. Drafts can disrupt the operation of smoke detectors and increase the occurrence of nuisance alarms.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission found that interconnected smoke alarms do a better job of detecting fires and alerting all occupants to danger.3 When it comes to safety, taking the extra step to install and connect hardwired smoke detectors is definitely worth it.
A type of smoke alarm sensor that uses light to detect smoke. When smoke particles are suspended in the air (as with a smoldering fire) the particles scatter the beam of light in the sensory chamber, which sets off the alarm.
This type of smoke alarm sensor uses radiation and an ionization chamber to detect smoke. The ionizing radiation helps detect small amounts of smoke in the air, as with a flaming fire. When smoke enters the sensor chamber, the current of the ionizing radiation is disrupted, which triggers the alarm.
To determine the best smoke alarms of 2018, we scoured industry research and evaluated product features, performance, and specs. We consulted the National Fire Protection Association and US Consumer Product Safety Commission for guidance, and pored over expert ratings and real customer reviews. Our top five smoke alarms were selected from twelve different devices that were compared for reliability, effectiveness, price, and customer satisfaction.