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A smoke detector is an imperative appliance to have in your home, and although they can be annoying when they beep all hours of the day when they need fresh batteries or are triggered when you’re trying to cook dinner, having one can mean the difference between life and death. three of every five residential fire deaths resulted from fires in homes where no smoke alarms were present.to the United States Fire Administration (USFA),
Stay one step ahead of danger by securing your home with one of our top-rated smoke detectors, and sleep soundly knowing you and your family are safe from smoke and carbon monoxide with one of our top picks. We’ve done the research to find the safest and most reliable picks for your home.
There are two main types of smoke detectors: those with ionization smoke detection, and those with photoelectric smoke detection. Photoelectric-type alarms aim a light source into a sensing chamber, and when smoke enters the chamber and the light is diffracted, the alarm is triggered. Ionization smoke detectors are more responsive to flaming fires and can be triggered by burnt food or steam from a shower, so they typically get more false alarms.
Photoelectric alarms are reported to detect certain types of smoke more quickly than ionization alarms. They're also recommended over ionization models by the International Association of Fire-Fighters. The National Fire Protection Association and the Underwriters' Laboratory (UL) Standard Technical Panel both recommend using both types of photoelectric and ionization detectors in your home. You can purchase dual-sensor devices, but the IAFF doesn't recommend them.
Smoke alarms can either be battery-powered or hardwired into your home’s electrical system. Most hardwired units are equipped with backup batteries for when the power goes out. If you opt for a battery-powered model, ensure you change the batteries every year or two. We also recommend spending the extra money on smoke detectors that can be interlinked with one another. This way, if a fire is detected in one room, alarms in other rooms will also go off to alert you of the hazard. Most of our picks also serve as carbon monoxide detectors. These dual-functioning alarms aren’t that much more expensive than alarms that only detect smoke.
Lastly, you should test your smoke detector at least once a month and replace its batteries once or twice a year. A good way to remember to do this is to change the batteries when you change your clocks for daylight saving time.
If you're outfitting your home with new smoke detectors, we think this option from First Alert is the best and safest option to buy.
It's a combination model that detects both smoke and carbon monoxide. It features a photoelectric smoke sensor, and you can link it with other First Alert smoke detectors. All alarms will sound when one of them detects smoke or carbon monoxide.
The detector is backed by a 7-year warranty, and it's equipped with a voice alarm and an 85-decibel siren that's loud enough to wake you.
Best Budget Buy
If you live alone or have a small studio apartment, you may not need a whole pack of smoke detectors. All you'll need is something like this — a single, straightforward, budget-friendly unit. Don't worry, it gets the job done. In fact, a unique dual-sensing design makes it perfect for picking up fires that either flame or smolder. This unit also comes with a test/reset button that makes sure the circuitry and voice announcements are working properly.
If you'd prefer a budget-friendly hardwired smoke alarm, consider this other offering from First Alert instead.
Best Smart Alarm
Don't have time to frequently check up on your smoke detector's status? No problem. This innovative Nest detector automatically runs diagnostics on itself, and an alert will go directly to your phone via Wi-Fi letting you know its current status.
If you're a fan of steaming-hot showers, feel free to crank up the heat without worrying about accidental triggers. That's because the Nest does an efficient job of differentiating between steam and smoke. It's also the preferred smart smoke alarm by Wirecutter, Tom's Guide, and Best Reviews.
Best for Voice Alerts
Communication is key to any healthy relationship, and that includes the one you have with your smoke detector ... and this unit does quite a bit of talking. Upon sensing a particular hazard, this unit literally tells you what's triggering it, so you can react accordingly.
The alarm announces “Fire!” or "Warning: carbon monoxide" when smoke or CO hazards are detected. It'll even holler at you when its battery is low. If a false alarm is detected, you can push the hush button to make things quiet again.
Best Bi-sensory Warning
This unique smoke detector uses distinct visual and audible alarms to alert you when either smoke or carbon monoxide is present. This alarm is a hardwired pick with a built-in backup battery in case of a power outage. As the battery wanes down, the unit starts to intermittently chirp to let you know it needs replacing.
Best for Monitoring Your Home While Out of the House
Know your home is out of harm's way, even when you're not there. Just sync up this smoke detector to your phone. Technology at its finest! This combo Wi-Fi-enabled smoke and carbon monoxide detector sends alerts to your trusty smartphone if there are any smoke or carbon monoxide issues at home.
Plus, you can turn off the alarm right from your smartphone if it's a false alarm. Easy! The battery will even last you up to 10 years, so no need to worry about having to replace it regularly. This smoke alarm is also the only Apple HomeKit-certified smart smoke alarm available.
If you have deep pockets and want to add Alexa functionality, First Alert sells a smoke alarm with a built-in speaker, but because your home probably has an Alexa device already, we don't think it's worth the splurge.
Best for Heavy Snoozers
If you're a deep sleeper known for snoozing through even the loudest storms, you're going to need a smoke detector that won't shy away from snapping you out of dreamland. If this unit's shrill, penetrating ring doesn't wake you up, nothing will.
Plus, no matter what happens to this appliance, you're covered by its 10-year warranty. We also appreciate its compact design. The detector measures in at just under 2 inches in diameter, and it's 62% smaller than standard smoke alarms.
Best for Seeing the Unseen
What's better than having a smoke detector in your home? How about three? This trio uses unique ionization-sensing technology to detect invisible fire particles, which are given off by the fire right after it starts. The smoke detectors' long-lasting lithium batteries survive up to a decade of use, so you won't have to worry about them suddenly not working when you need them most.
Keep every inch of your home or office covered by installing up to six of these smoke alarms. Their clean, one-button design makes them a no-brainer to use. Just press the test/reset button to make sure the detectors are working properly after installing. All six connected detectors will beep when one goes off, and they have a backup 9-volt battery to keep you safe during a power outage.