Three best smoke detectors
Every home needs effective smoke detectors to monitor the conditions and alert you when smoke is present. But with so many smoke detectors on the market, finding the right model for your home can be tricky. You have to know what power option is best and what type of sensor you prefer, as well as what other features will offer your home the best protection in the event of a fire. Considering all the options you have to sort through, shopping can get a little frustrating.
If you're tired of the frustration, we're here to help. Our handy shopping guide will help you find the best smoke detectors for your home, so you can rest assured that your family is protected. If you're still feeling a little overwhelmed, take a look at our specific product recommendations for the easiest shopping.
Considerations when choosing smoke detectors
Before purchasing smoke detectors for your home, it's important to consider where you'll place them to know how many you'll need. You should have at least one smoke detector per floor in your home, including the attic and basement. However, for the most protection, you may also want to have a detector for each bedroom.
A ceiling-mounted smoke detector should be placed at least four inches away from all walls at the highest part of the ceiling to account for rising smoke. Wall-mounted smoke detectors should be installed several inches to one foot from the ceiling.
Smoke detectors are either battery-operated or hardwired to your home's electrical wiring. While both types can work well, hardwired units should also have battery backup to ensure that they'll still work if your home loses power.
To be sure you can trust your smoke detectors, only choose models that are certified by a reputable testing authority like Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Most detectors are clearly labeled with the certifications that they've earned so you can be sure you're choosing an effective model.
Smoke detectors are available with two sensor types: photoelectric and ionization sensors.
A photoelectric sensor is most effective at detecting smoldering fires, such as those that occur when a match or cigarette comes into contact with upholstery. An ionization sensor works well to detect fires with flames like those started by burning paper.
Some detectors feature only one type of sensor, while others feature both. For the most protection, choose a detector that has both sensor types, or install a combination of both types of single-sensor detectors throughout your home.
Carbon monoxide detection
Many modern smoke detectors are also able to detect carbon monoxide in your home. If you have a fuel-burning stove, fireplace, or boiler, choose a combination detector so you can protect your family from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning with a single device.
Some higher-end and smart smoke detectors are equipped with a voice notification feature, which audibly alerts you to a threat. Most models will indicate which unit has detected the threat and what type of threat it is if you have a combination detector.
A smoke detector with voice notifications is the best option for a home with a visually impaired person.
Since you'll probably have multiple smoke detectors in your home, some models allow you to link detectors that are compatible. All the units will sound when one unit detects a threat, so even if there is a problem in an area of the house that doesn't see much traffic, you'll be alerted to the possible danger.
Many smoke detectors have a silence feature that allows you to temporarily turn off the alarm for a specific period of time. This can be an important feature if you don't want to disturb the household with false alarms.
To make sure that your smoke detector is in good working order, it should have a testing feature that allows you to press a button to easily test the system.
Smart smoke detectors can send alerts to your smartphone or other connected device. That means you'll be notified even if you aren't at home when a threat occurs, and you'll also receive alerts for low battery warnings.
Q. How often should I replace the smoke detectors in my home?
A. In most cases, it's recommended that you replace the smoke detectors in your home every 10 years. But you should test them once a month to make sure that they're still working properly. If a detector is no longer functional, replace it immediately.
Q. Can I install a smoke detector myself?
A. If you opt for a battery-operated smoke detector, you can usually install it yourself without any issues. A hardwired model, though, is usually best installed by a licensed electrician.
Smoke detectors we recommend
Best of the best: Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Our take: An outstanding smart smoke detector that offers plenty of features and reliable monitoring.
What we like: This unit offers a variety of smart features and is compatible with other smart home devices. It also monitors carbon monoxide levels and sends alerts to your smartphone. This attractive smoke detector can last up to 10 years.
What we dislike: It's pricier than other options. You must be somewhat tech-savvy to install and use it. Some users experience issues with the app and WiFi connectivity.
Best bang for your buck: Kidde Firex I4618 Hardwired Smoke Alarm
Our take: A budget-friendly smoke detector that offers very easy installation, though some users experience regular false alarms due to humidity changes.
What we like: It includes an LED indicator light to alert you to a low battery. This unit can connect to other Firex smoke detectors, too.
What we dislike: This unit has no advanced smart features. Frequent false alarms due to weather changes can be annoying.
Our take: Dual sensors allow this smoke detector to detect both flames and smoldering fires.
What we like: It's easy to install and includes both photoelectric and ionization smoke sensors. Uses AA batteries, which are easy to replace.
What we dislike: Batteries may require more frequent replacing. Some users experience detector failure or false alarms after a few months of use.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
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