- 1 The Tireless Watchdog
- 2 Quick Look: Top 5 Smoke Detectors
- 3 First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm
- 4 Alert Plus Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Combo Detector
- 5 Nest Protect 2nd Gen Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- 6 Kidde FireX AC Hardwired Combination Carbon Monoxide & Photoelectric Smoke Alarm
- 7 First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm BRK PRC710
- 8 Overall thoughts
The Tireless Watchdog
The prospect of a fire ravaging your house is one of the most terrifying things any homeowner needs to consider – and prepare for. Fires can cause a great deal of damage to your property, not to mention harm or even kill people, so prevention is a priority. There’s a number of measures you can take, like properly insulating your electronics, using alternatives to gas for heating and cooking and using fire-retardant materials in your house. However, if the worst does come to pass, there’s usually still time to be notified of and then contain a fire before it does too much harm – this is where Smoke Alarms come in. Of course they can also save your life.
Fires produce smoke, which might be the only warning you get before it becomes a real blaze, letting you quell the flames with an extinguisher in time or get out. Smoke carries other dangers as well, as it is toxic and can impede breathing while decreasing visibility. If a smoke alarm gives you enough of a heads up, it becomes much easier to avoid any harm coming to people, gives more time for emergency services to arrive on the scene, and the overall damage can be significantly mitigated.
These benefits make smoke alarms a necessity in every household – but you need to be sure you have the right one. They’re not particularly expensive and grabbing a few to install in several rooms throughout your home will make it much safer for all residents. It’s not difficult to find smoke detectors online – in fact, there are so many readily available that picking which one to buy is the real challenge here.
When looking at smoke alarms, a few key features to consider are how long the battery life of the detector is (with longer battery lives obviously being preferable), the volume of the alarm (which should be a high as possible), whether the device has a built-in malfunction warning, how easy it is to install and whether customer reviews indicate that the sensor itself is reliable.
If a smoke alarm is too quiet to rouse you from your sleep, for example, it borders on being useless – fires don’t wait for you to wake up on your own. It’s also important that you can hear it from the garden if you have one, and while it may be bothersome in the case of false alarms, it doesn’t hurt if it’s loud enough for neighbors to hear, in case it goes off when you’re away from home.
Malfunction warnings are helpful since they let you know that the alarm needs to be replaced, without you having to find out the hard way. Unless you manually test devices with no malfunction warning of their own, you run the risk of losing precious time in case disaster strikes but the alarm doesn’t go off.
Ease of installation will go a long way with avoiding extra costs on having a professional install the devices, and contributes to convenience all-round.
All modern smoke detectors double as carbon monoxide detectors as well. While carbon monoxide doesn’t cause property damage, it is a silent killer. A colourless and odourless gas which can cause death, carbon monoxide (CO) is omnipresent in the air in low quantities, but under certain conditions it’s saturation in an enclosed space can dangerously increase. These detectors will allow you to avoid any harm caused by CO as well as smoke.
Here are the top 5 smoke detectors you can buy.
Quick Look: Top 5 Smoke Detectors
|1||Kidde FireX||• Hybrid hardwired/battery operated|
• 85-decibel siren
|• Hybrid installation|
• Voice feature
|• Lifespan could be longer|
|2||First Alert BRK PRC710||• 10 year lifespan|
• Built in lithium-ion battery
|• Long lifespan|
• Ease of installation
|• Prone to malfunction|
|3||Nest Protect 2nd Gen||• Smart Connectivity |
• 10 year lifespan
|• Mobile notifications|
• Extra functions
• Quality control
|4||First Detector Alarm||• Photoelectric & Electrochemical sensor|
• 5-7 year lifespan
|• 7-year warranty|
• Reliable sensors
|• Short battery life|
• Short lifespan
|5||Alert Plus||• Shockproof|
• 85-decibel siren
|• Shockproof design ideal for vehicles|
• 5-year warranty
|• Different alarms not differentiated|
• Short lifespan
First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm
First Alert’s basic smoke and carbon monoxide detector is a very popular choice. This device uses both photoelectric and electrochemical sensors to detect high CO saturation as well as large particles in the air that indicate smoke.
The device is easy to use as it has just one button, used for testing and silencing. It can be installed easily by yourself, there is no need to call a professional for it, and has an easily accessible battery tray allowing you to replace batteries without removing the device itself.
The dual sensors used by the First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm are designed to minimize any false alarms. The photoelectric smoke detector is calibrated to ignore any smoke that is produced during cooking, indoor smoking and steam. Particularly sensitive to signs of smoldering fires, you won’t have to worry about constant false alarms.
The electrochemical sensor that is used to detect carbon monoxide is highly reliable and can detect the dangerous gas no matter what its source is.
The First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm features an 85-decibel alarm, with different sirens used for smoke and CO alerts. These are further differentiated with various lights on the device itself.
Batteries last for an average of two years before they need to be changed, and the devices themselves generally last for 5-7 years before you’ll have to replace them. In the grand scheme of things, this product isn’t exactly long-lasting compared to others, but the price reflects this. It is covered by a 7-year warranty, however.
Different beeps are used to signal different alerts. If the siren is sounding constantly, you know that smoke has been detected, whereas four consecutive beeps followed by a pause indicate high carbon monoxide levels, in which case the authorities need to be alerted. 1 beep per minute indicates low battery, while 5 beeps per minute indicate the end of the unit’s lifespan.
The reason the First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm is a popular choice worldwide is due to its reliability and low price coupled, with the warranty and high review scores. If you need a quick and cheap solution that’s easy to hook up, look no further. The shorter lifespan and battery life, however, prevent it from being our number one pick.
- Keep your family safe with this battery operated smoke and carbon monoxide alarm; battery powered alarms provide continuous monitoring of CO levels, even if there's a power failure
- Features an electrochemical Carbon Monoxide sensing technology as well as a photoelectric sensor that detects the larger particles of a smoldering fire
- Indicator lights on the face of the unit display the presence of smoke or carbon monoxide, while an 85 decibel siren provides a clear, loud warning upon detection
- Battery operated unit installs quickly and easily without an electrician. Low battery signal mute, quiets low battery signal for up to 8 hours
- Simple to use, with a single test/silence button; EZ access battery drawer allows you to change battery without removing alarm from ceiling
Alert Plus Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Combo Detector
The Alert Plus Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Combo Detector is another budget solution that kills two birds with one stone, combining smoke detection with carbon monoxide detection. Similar in many ways to the previous device we reviewed, Alert Pro’s offering is a bit more feature-bare and comes in a lower price category.
While the Alert Plus Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Combo Detector is less capable in some areas, it has some unique features that may make it a better choice for some users than the slightly more expensive models found on our list.
The features that match other offerings include ease of installation and the 85-decibel siren.
The Alert Plus Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Combo Detector has a shockproof design which makes it ideally suited for use in vehicles. Most CO and smoke detectors would malfunction quicker if they’re constantly shaken and banged up from rough roads and the vibration going through the chassis, but this model will function just as well in a car as in a house.
While you’re less likely to not notice smoke when you’re driving, vehicles produce a lot of carbon monoxide (alongside other harmful gases) that can cause injury or death and are harder to notice. This can be especially dangerous if you’re on a particularly long drive and decide to take a nap in the car at some rest-stop.
Alert Pro has a 5-year warranty on the Alert Plus Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Combo Detector in case it malfunctions before its projected end-of-life. The timing of that warranty indicates that you should probably replace them as often.
The battery life is highly dependent on the quality of battery used, and we recommend picking up some better batteries, as while the Alert Plus Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Combo Detector comes with batteries included, they are rather low-quality and sometimes need replacement mere days after installation!
The Alert Plus Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Combo Detector is a cheap solution and delivers in accordance with that. It doesn’t have any fancy bells and whistles, but you shouldn’t expect any at this price point. As such, it can’t be our #1 pick, but even so, it’s worth grabbing at least one of these for your car!
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Combo Alarm Detector Photoelectric
- Photoelectric chamber for early detection from all directions loud 85dB decibel alarm
- Shockproof Design Suitable for vehicle use
- Easy to install with mounting hardware included ComesWith A 9V DC battery
- 5 YEARS WARRANTY
Nest Protect 2nd Gen Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm
And now for something completely different.
Nest is a well known manufacturer of various smart devices that don’t exactly fall on the lower end of the price spectrum, and their combined smoke and CO detector continues this trend. This high-end smart device gives all other detectors a run for their money.
The Nest Protect (2nd Gen) battery-operated alarm connects with your phone and can interact with other Nest products as well. It takes the functionality of smoke detectors to the next level, however at a considerable price hike – which has you paying for the brand more than the features.
The Nest Protect sets itself apart from other alarms by connecting to your smartphone with a companion app. You’ll get notifications in case the detectors sense any carbon monoxide or smoke. In the case of smoke, the Nest Protect sends heads-up notifications when it detects smoke that isn’t enough to trigger the alarm, but may develop into a fire – like a toaster running too long.
You can test and silence the alarm from your phone, get notifications when you’re not home, and control all of the settings from the app. When the alarm does go off, it will even indicate where the source of the CO or smoke is located. You can also view the parts-per-million saturation of CO via the app.
The Nest Protect uses a split-spectrum sensor that allegedly allows it to detect dangerous levels of smoke or CO much faster than regular alarms do, giving you a larger window of time to act thus minimizing damage and danger. Both the smoke and carbon monoxide detector has a 10-year lifespan.
While the lifespan of the device itself is 10 years, the batteries – which are included – will need to be replaced every 4-5 years.
An additional feature of the Nest Protect is that it doubles as a light source. The status indicator light is usually turned off, but when you walk past or under the unit it will detect your and activate, providing additional light. This can be useful if you need to investigate an alarm at night.
The Nest Protect 2nd Gen Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm is a very impressive and advanced device – so why isn’t it our number one pick? Simply put, while it does have a leg up over other models, the colossal pricetag simply isn’t justified by the features. Essentially, it’s a regular smoke detector with a phone app. It also doesn’t have a particularly peachy track record in terms of quality assurance.
- Phone Alerts: Nest Protect sends you a message when there's a problem or the batteries run low.
- Smoke and CO Locator: Nest Protect speaks up if there's smoke or CO and tells you where it is, so you know what to do.
- Detects CO: Carbon monoxide is an invisible, poisonous gas. Nest Protect tells you where it's hiding.
- A Light in the Dark: Usually Nest Protect has its light turned off, but when you walk underneath it, Pathlight can light your way.
- Fast Detection: Every second counts. The Split-Spectrum Sensor looks for both fast and slow burning fires.
Kidde FireX AC Hardwired Combination Carbon Monoxide & Photoelectric Smoke Alarm
The Kidde Firex AC Hardwired Combination Carbon Monoxide & Photoelectric Smoke Alarm settles into a significantly lower price category than the Nest device we reviewed above, but is an advanced and somewhat more expensive model than the other two preceding alarms.
With the Kidde FireX you get a more reserved model with none of the mobile connectivity or applications, and something that’s more focused on its original purpose. The vocal warnings are a step-up compared to the sirens of the other alarms we’ve looked at and some of the FireX’s features make it more versatile.
The Kidde FireX AC Hardwired Combination Carbon Monoxide & Photoelectric Smoke Alarm is a hybrid device, allowing you to pick between installing it as a hardwired device or as a battery-operated one, since it’s outfitted with the hardware necessary for either version. If you choose to hardwire it, you won’t ever need to worry about changing the batteries, however, you’ll need a professional to do it.
If you choose to operate it with batteries, on the other hand, installation is as easy as it is with any other battery-operated smoke alarm. The low-battery warning will let you know when it’s time to change them.
The Kidde FireX AC Hardwired Combination Carbon Monoxide & Photoelectric Smoke Alarm couples the beeping siren with a voice feature as well, so the device will verbally tell you whether the beeping is due to smoke, carbon monoxide or low-battery. When you’re under stress due to an ongoing alarm, it might be easy to forget or be unsure about which beeps mean what exactly, so the vocal clarification comes in handy.
The model also features an alarm memory, with a flashing light indicating a previous alarm. If you’re away from home when an event happens – in this case high CO, since chances are a fire would have other telltale signs – the flashing green light will inform you that something caused the alarm to trip while you were away.
The front-loading battery compartment makes replacing batteries easy and possible without removing the alarm. If you choose to install it in hardwired configuration, keeping a battery inside regardless will allow it to function without pause in the case of power outages.
This model’s CO sensor has a 7-year lifespan, which is average – though beaten by the Nest above.
Why It’s Our #1 Choice
The Kidde FireX AC Hardwired Combination Carbon Monoxide & Photoelectric Smoke Alarm is our preferred choice when it comes to protecting your home from fires and carbon monoxide, since it offers a higher standard of quality than the cheaper models without bloating itself with unnecessary features that cause the price to balloon. Packing useful features that actually fall in the same vein as smoke and CO detection mean paying a little extra for this unit is worth it.
This model is an ideal middle-ground between the unnecessarily expensive and some of the cheaper options out there, blending the best of both worlds while offering reliable sensors and the kinds of features you’d actually be looking for in a smoke and CO detector.
- Provides protection from fire and carbon monoxide in one unit with Photoelectric sensor.
- Fire Warning - The red LED will flash and be accompanied by three long alarm beeps followed by a verbal warning message "FIRE! FIRE!". The alarm will repeat pattern until unit is reset or smoke is...
- Carbon Monoxide Warning - Four short alarm beeps followed by a verbal warning "WARNING! CARBON MONOXIDE!" This continues until the unit is reset or the CO is eliminated.
- Low Battery Warning - One chirp followed by warning "LOW BATTERY". The red LED light will flash. This pattern will continue every minute for the first hour. After the first hour the red LED light will...
- Alarm Memory - The green LED will blink once every 16 seconds to alert a user when the unit has alarmed for smoke or has detected a concentration of CO. If the alarm has detected a CO level of 100ppm...
First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm BRK PRC710
Another First Alert device, the BRK PRC710 is unique in the sense that its a battery-operated unit with a built-in power source that doesn’t need to be – and in fact can’t be – replaced throughout the lifespan of the detector itself. We’ll see how this can be both an advantage and a drawback.
The unit is a combined CO and Smoke detector with an 85-decibel siren, utilizing a photoelectric sensor. It’s also a lot flatter than the other models on this list, which can be an aesthetic advantage – though when it comes to safety, looks should be the last thing on your mind.
This unit is certified for 10 years of operation, with both the CO and smoke sensors allegedly lasting that long. This feature is matched only by the significantly more expensive Nest detector, as all other sensors give out after 5-7 years.
The main selling point of the First Alert BRK PRC710, alongside the 10-year certification, is the built-in lithium-ion battery that also lasts the 10 years that the sensors do – allegedly. Since the battery is built-in, there is no way to remove and replace it, so a faulty battery means the whole unit is bricked. Based on testimonials that we’ve seen, this can happen quite often.
The installation process of the BRK PRC710 is simple and can be done by anyone, no contractors required, and the device is tamper-resistant. There are different sound-codes for the different kinds of alarms, so if you pay attention you’ll know whether you’re dealing with a smoke or CO alarm.
The First Alert BRK PRC710 is a great choice if you’re not keen on having to replace your detector units every 5-7 years. However you need to factor in the fact that a mere battery failure means you’ll need to replace these units more often than even the shorter lifespan models.
- Complies with all current 10 year legislation in U.S. states/cities where required
- Features electrochemical Carbon Monoxide sensing technology and photoelectric smoke sensor optimized to detect larger smoke particles produced by smoldering fires; helps minimize the number of false...
- A loud 85 decibel alarm sounds when Carbon Monoxide, and Smoke levels begin to rise
- Features a sleek, low profile design to blend more fully into the wall and out of sight
- 10 year limited warranty; equipped with end of life signal chirp, so you know when it's time to replace the unit for your safety; The Date printed on the item is manufactured date
Safety is one of the things that nobody should ever skimp on. Smoke detectors and CO alarms aren’t luxuries or conveniences, and they aren’t the sort of thing that you should put off on getting if you haven’t already. Keeping the features we’ve reviewed in mind, we urge everyone to outfit their homes with these devices, ideally one for each room, to ensure that we all can rest easy and live safely.