Best Fire and Smoke Alarms for the Home

Written by | Updated June 6, 2019
Best Overall
Nest ProtectNest Protect
  • Split-Spectrum smoke detection
  • Syncing
  • Voice alarm
  • Split-Spectrum smoke detection
  • Syncing
  • Voice alarm
Runner Up
First Alert Carbon Monoxide DetectorFirst Alert Onelink
  • Smart
  • Self-sufficient
  • Interconnectable
  • Smart
  • Self-sufficient
  • Interconnectable
Budget Pick
Kidde Smoke DetectorKidde Smoke Alarm
  • Affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Loud
  • Affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Loud

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.

Compare Smoke Detectors and Alarms

Pros
Cons
CO Detection
Alerts
Link
Nest Protect First Alert Onelink Kidde Smoke Detector First Alert BRK 312OB Kidde i4618
Nest Protect First Alert Carbon Monoxide Detector Kidde Smoke Detector First Alert BRK 312OB Kidde i4618 Smoke Detector
Split-Spectrum smoke detection
Syncing
Voice alarm
Smart
Self-sufficient
Interconnectable
Affordable
Easy to install
Loud
Dual sensor
One-touch silence button
Affordable
Interconnectable
Equipped with false alarm control
Higher price Only compatible with Apple devices Battery-operated only Basic design Not compatible with older models
Yes Yes Yes No No
Alarm/Voice/Mobile Alarm/Voice/Mobile Alarm/Voice Alarm Alarm
Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon

Smoke Alarm and Detectors Reviews

Nest Protect: Best Overall

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.

Pros

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.

Cons

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: Runner Up

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.

Pros

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.

Cons

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.

Kidde Smoke Alarm: Budget Pick

Kidde is the largest manufacturer of fire safety products in America, and customers trust them to provide top-notch protection.

Pros

The Kidde KN-COSM-BA smoke detector receives high praise from customers. We read review after review from people who credit this smoke alarm with saving their lives and homes.

  • Affordable: You can protect your home and family with this highly rated device that’s priced to work for most budgets.
  • Easy to Install: There is no wiring required, so it’s easy to install. All you need to do is open the box and this reliable detector is ready to go (batteries included!).
  • Loud: A smoke alarm doesn’t do you much good if you can’t hear it. Many customers report how loud the beeps and voice alerts are—even for those with hearing loss.

Cons

In a world of smart devices, this smoke detector is fairly basic. Although it does offer voice alarm, there are no home automation or remote monitoring capabilities.

  • Battery-Operated Only: This Kidde smoke alarm can’t be hardwired, so there’s no option to connect it with other alarms throughout your home.

First Alert BRK 312OB

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.

Pros

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.

Cons

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.

Kidde i4618

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.

Pros

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.

Cons

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.

Multifunctional

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

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

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 Sensors

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 Sensors

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

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.

Check Batteries
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.

Mount High
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.

Dodge Drafts
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.

Get Connected
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.

FAQs and Terminology

Photoelectric
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.

Ionization
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.

 

Our Approach

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.

1. National Fire Protection Association, “Fires in the US
2. National Fire Protection Association, “Smoke Alarms in US Home Fires, September 2015
3. US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “2004-2005 National Sample Survey of Unreported Residential Fires, July 2009