Nothing is more important for your safety than a reliable smoke detector. To help you make a wise choice, here are the best smoke detectors for your money.
Having adequate and working smoke alarms in your home isn’t just a personal preference. These gadgets are easy to take for granted. But they can mean the difference between life and death for you and your family, as well as neighbors and others around you. So which smoke detector is the best for your money?
There are many different brands, models, and types of smoke alarms on the market. This makes picking the right one for your home confusing, especially if you need to stay within a budget.
Luckily, we are making the process easier for you. We have combed through the options to bring you the best of the best in each possible smoke detector category, based on consumer reviews and features available. That way, you can ensure that your family is safe, no matter how much you can afford to spend.
What Your Home Needs
There’s no question: smoke detectors save lives. In fact, over 60% of fire-related home deaths between 2009 and 2014 involved houses without a working alarm. So, it’s easy to understand how using the right alarms can not only save your home but also your family in case of a fire.
The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends each home have a smoke detector on each level, in each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area, at a minimum. For an average two-story house with three bedrooms, this would mean at least 5 alarms. Depending on the configuration of your home, whether you have a basement, the height of your ceilings, and other factors, you may want to consider installing even more than that.
The NFPA recommends you install interconnected smoke alarms. That way when one alarm goes off, they all go off. Otherwise, you could have a fire in your basement but still not be alerted to the smoke in time because you couldn’t hear the alarm from the top floor. Even the most affordable smoke alarms today can often be programmed to connect with one another..
You should test your smoke alarms monthly to ensure that they are working properly and that the batteries are in good order. After 10 years, you should replace the detectors altogether, even if they seem to still be working fine.
Today’s smoke alarms offer a variety of additional features. The most common are carbon monoxide detection, WiFi connectivity, mobile and/or voice alerts, and home automation interface to work with systems like Amazon’s Alexa or the Nest system.
In 2010, fire departments in the U.S. responded to an average of nine calls per hour where homes had detectable levels of carbon monoxide (CO). Called the silent killer, CO is most often found in homes that burn fuels for heating or cooking. However, it can also spread from areas like the garage, where vehicles emit the odorless gas.
The NFPA recommends that each home have one carbon monoxide detector on each level, as well as one outside each sleeping area and any area where you use natural gases, wood, or other fuels for heat or cooking. Because of this, it’s often useful to purchase a smoke detector that is also a combination CO detector. This saves you both money and time for maintenance/installation/testing. In addition, it saves you wall and ceiling space!
Smoke detectors with mobile alerts will let you know when an alarm event has occurred, regardless of where you are. Even if you don’t have a smoke detector system through your home security system, you can still be in the loop with what’s going on in your home. You can even alert the fire department if there is a fire while you’re away. This can potentially save your home from serious damage!
Alarm systems with voice alerts will not only sound a shrill notification, but a voice will sound letting you know why the alarm is going off. This is useful if you have a combination smoke/CO detector. That way you know which alert is setting off the alarm. It’s also helpful if you need to decipher between an actual alert and a low battery notice.
Lastly, WiFi connectivity is popular. This allows you to connect your alarms to a system like Nest or Alexa, remotely monitoring your home in yet another way. You’ll get notifications when batteries are low, monitor alerts remotely, and silence false alarms from within the system’s smartphone app.
The Best Detectors on the Market
So, which smoke detectors are the best available? And which one will meet your needs and budget? Here are our favorite values based on the features offered, consumer reviews, and, of course, the price tag.
Nest Protect–Best Performance & Versatility
Whether or not you utilize the Nest home automation system, the Nest Protect smoke alarm is a great value. It’s a top-of-the-line detector that alerts you to the presence of both smoke and carbon monoxide. It has optional WiFi connectivity and gives voice alerts when it has low batteries or detects an event.
You can also link the Nest Protect system to Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Nexia, Vera, or Wink. No matter which home automation platform you prefer, this alarm is likely compatible.
You can hardwire Nest Protect or power it by battery, depending on your preferences. If you download the app, you can also control your alarms in addition to any other Nest products you may own. You can remotely monitor the alarm’s status and even conduct your monthly tests directly from your phone. No more climbing up a ladder just to push test buttons!
Lastly, and most importantly, is the fact that Nest Protect receives excellent ratings for its smoke and CO detectability. This alarm offers not only a user-friendly experience, but the peace of mind that you need for your family and your home.
You can purchase the Nest Protect for $119 from Amazon.
First Alert 3120B–Best Value
If you’re looking for a smoke alarm that is both affordable and has excellence performance ratings, look no further than the First Alert 3120B.
This alarm offers both ionization and photoelectric sensors. This means it detects both smoldering fires and fast-spreading, high burning ones. It can connect to other units, creating a system of alarms that will all sound when one senses danger.
The detector is hardwired but also includes a battery backup. Its lightning system offers additional information after an event. This lets you know which smoke detector sounded first in an emergency, or which alarm has a low battery that needs changing.
This system is much more affordable than the Nest Protect. While it doesn’t have voice alerts, Wifi connectivity, or an app, it offers protection from two different types of fires for a fraction of the cost.
You can purchase the First Alert 3120B for $32 from Amazon.
Kidde Combination Smoke/CO Detector–Best Combo Alarm Value
If you’re looking to stay within budget but want a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector, this Kidde alarm is perfect for you.
For a fraction of the cost of a smart detector, you can install the Kidde alarms throughout your house to protect against fires and CO poisoning. The alarm offers voice alerts so you’ll know which event has triggered the system. And you can connect multiple units to one another through your WiFi network.
The detectors are run entirely off of battery power, too. So they don’t need to be hardwired. While this means that you definitely need to stay vigilant about your monthly testing (and regular battery replacement), it also makes for a much easier installation process.
You can purchase the Kidde Combination Smoke+CO detector for $32 from Amazon.
First Alert P1010–Best Design
If you’re looking for a reliable smoke detector system with a more modern aesthetic, look no further than the First Alert P1010. These neat little alarms have a unique design. They move away from the ordinary flat detectors of the past few decades. Plus, they come in a number of colors and finishes. So you to match your decor while still protecting your home.
The P1010 isn’t just a pretty face, though. The detector comes with a slew of features. First off, it comes with an installed, 10-year lithium battery. This means that you don’t have to worry about constantly changing out 9V batteries from a step ladder. Instead, the battery will signal with an “end-of-life” tone after you’ve reached the end of its years. This tells you to replace the entire alarm.
The P1010 is also notorious for helping you avoid nuisance alarms, such as those caused by normal cooking smoke or even steam from showers. Its SmartClip system makes for easy installation. And an advanced smoke entry system gives you peace of mind that the detector is protecting your family against true threats at all times.
You can purchase the First Alert P1010 for $22 from Amazon.
We all know how important smoke detectors are in our homes. They constantly protect our families from smoke and fires. And today’s systems can even alert us to the danger of carbon monoxide.
No matter whether you choose a basic alarm or a smart detector that interfaces with a home automation system, it’s imperative to choose one that has great ratings and the features you need most. Then, be sure to install at least the minimum number recommended by the NFPA and test your alarms monthly.
Published or updated March 2, 2018.