Smoke Detector Review

smokedetector

We spent over 36 hours researching and testing 15 different types of smoke detectors and found that sensor type, audio alarm level, and battery size were most important. The Kidde Battery Operated Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detector scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. This combination alarm protects your home and family from smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning. The voice warning was a great feature of this unit and can make 4 different announcements. The battery safeguard prevented the alarm from being put on the wall without batteries in it. Installation is very easy.


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Best Smoke Detector

Smoke detectors are very important products to have in your home or business to protect you and your family from dangerous fires. Fires can start for all kinds of reasons from cooking accidents to bad wiring and having reliable smoke detectors installed can be the difference between life and death.

Many people put off buying smoke detectors because they don’t know which ones to get or they say they’ll do it later. An alarming amount of the fires that occur yearly where people have been injured or perished have been reported to not have working smoke detectors in the home. We want to help you ensure that your home and family is safe by giving you all the information you need to choose the right smoke detectors for your home.

These top rated smoke detectors are customer favorites for many reasons and we will tell you what it is about these models that make them outshine the others. We’ll also provide a buyer’s guide that will give you even more information about smoke detectors so you understand, not only what makes one better than another but how to maintain the, and keep your family safe year round.


Top 10 List

RankPictureDetectorSensor TypeWarranty
(Years)
1
Kidde
Ionization,
Electrochemical
5
2
First Alert
Ionization,
Photoelectric
7
3
X-Sense
Ionization,
Photoelectric
10
4
First Alert 9120
Ionization7
5
Kidde 4618
Ionization5
6
First Alert BRKSC
Ionization7
7
Kidde 12040
Ionization10
8
First Alert 710
Photoelectric10
9
First Alert 3120
Ionization,
Photoelectric
10
10
Kidde 9040
Ionization3

Kidde KN-COSM-BA Battery-Operated Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Voice Warning

If you’re looking for a way to take care of two worries at once, this Kidde COSM-BA Combo Smoke/CO alarm with voice warning will cover your needs.

Instead of having to install two units in each location you will only need this one and you will get protection from fire AND carbon monoxide poisoning.  This unit comes with a test/reset button that will test the circuitry of the unit and triggers the voice announcement so you can make sure it is still working.

There is a safety feature that this unit has called the Battery Safeguard.  This ensures that you can’t install the combo unit without batteries in it.

The smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in this combo unit both meet the UL requirements.   This unit has a talking alarm that announces the hazard the detector is going off about. This talking alarm speeds up the reaction time of the people in the home more than just a beeping sound does.  The alarm is able to make four different announcements: fire, low battery carbon monoxide or smart hush activation.

Ionization sensing technology is responsible for detecting fire and smoke and can also sense invisible fire particles sooner than photoelectric alarms can. To get complete protection, it’s recommended that home owners installing both ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors which will give maximum detection no matter what kind of fire it is that starts.

This is a standalone detector for both smoke and carbon monoxide that is easily installed wherever you want to install it and no wiring is needed.  Your home and family will be protected from two major dangers and you will go to sleep each night with the peace of mind that you have protection for your family that will keep them safe even when everyone is asleep.


First Alert SA320CN Dual Sensor Battery-Powered Smoke and Fire Alarm

Using both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors, you will have coverage over all types of fires that can start in a home.  It features an intelligent sensing technology that reduces the amount of non emergency alarms for things like smoky cooking, etc.  When fire or smoke is detected, an 85 decibel alarm goes off, that is easy to hear throughout the house.

Photoelectric sensors are more sensitive than ionization sensors at detecting smoldering fires which can be very common. A fire may smolder for hours before it bursts into flames.

Having detectors that will catch the smoldering fires BEFORE they turn into flaming fires provides even more protection for your family.

Features like a easy, front loading door for the batteries enables you to change the batteries without having to take the smoke detector down; the mute button that tests the unit and also silences it when pressed, and the smart technology that can prevent the alarm from going off every time the kitchen gets a little smoky from cooking dinner.


[1-Pack] X-Sense DS31 10-Year Lifetime Smoke Detector Fire Alarm with Photoelectric Sensor

Equipped with a photoelectric sensor that can detect smoldering fires as well as timely detection of flaming fires, this X-sense smoke alarm will help keep your family and home safe.

The alarm is 85 decibels which is plenty loud enough to alert all family members when smoke or fire is detected.  When non-emergency smoke causes the alarm to go off, you can easily and quickly silence it by pressing the test button which is also a silence button as well.

This smoke detector will not sense heat, flames or carbon monoxide so if you want full and complete protection from all these hazards you may want to consider getting a CO detector and an ionization smoke alarm as well. The built in lithium-ion battery comes with the unit and the smoke alarm has a 10 year lifespan in the standby condition but this doesn’t eliminate the need to test it on a weekly basis.

In the standby condition you will notice that this smoke detector’s LED indicator flashes every 53 seconds.  This is one way to take note of it working. In addition to checking it weekly, if you notice the LED indicator NOT flashing, you should inspect it for problems.  When the battery needs to be changed, it will beep every 40 seconds, letting you know that it’s getting low.

The X-Sense smoke detector is easily installed and comes with a mounting bracket.  Smoke alarms should be installed outside sleeping areas and there should be alarms located on all floors as well.


Summary

Having the right smoke detector in your home is very important in keeping your family safe but it’s not enough to simply have the smoke alarms on the wall. You need to make sure you keep up with testing them and changing the batteries regularly as well.

A smoke alarm with a dead battery won’t help anyone. These top rated smoke detectors are some of the best on the market and they are consistent customer favorites due to factors like easy installation, loud, easy to hear alarms and performance.

We’ve provided a buyer’s guide that will give you even more information about smoke detectors in general. With this important and valuable information you will be able to research smoke detectors easily and choose the one that you want to purchase for your home. Since it is important to have more than just one smoke detector, you want to find the best one you can for the money. This buyer’s guide will help you do that.


Comparison Chart


Kidde
View

First
Alert
View

X-Sense
View

First
Alert
9120
View

Kidde
4618
View

First
Alert
BRKSC
View

Kidde
12040
View

First
Alert
710
View

First
Alert
3120
View

Kidde
9040
View
Alarm
Sensor Type
Ionization,
Electrochemical

Ionization,
Photoelectric
Ionization,

Photoelectric

IonizationIonizationIonizationIonization PhotoelectricIonization,

Photoelectric

Ionization
Alarm TypeCarbon Monoxide,
Smoke
SmokeSmokeSmokeSmokeCarbon Monoxide,

Smoke

SmokeSmokeSmokeSmoke
Battery
Size

2 AA2 AA2 AA1 AA1 AA1 AA1 AA2 AA1 AA2 AA
Voltage
(volts)
1.301.501.20120.00120.00120.00120.009.00120.009.00
Audio
Alarm
85dB at 10ft85dB at 10ft85dB at 10ft80dB at 10ft85dB at 10ft85dB at 10ft85dB at 10ft85dB at 10ft85dB at 10ft85dB at 10ft
Temperature Range
(Fahrenheit)

40 – 10045 – 10040 – 9535 – 9540 – 10045 – 9540 – 10045 – 9540 – 10040 – 95
Humidity Range10%-95%
relative humidity
non-condensing
10%-90%

relative humidity

non-condensing

10%-90%

relative humidity

non-condensing

10%-95%

relative humidity

non-condensing

Up to 85%
relative humidity
Up to 90%

relative humidity

5%-95%
relative humidity
10%-95%

relative humidity

non-condensing

Up to 85%

relative humidity

Up to 80%

relative humidity

Size
(Inches)
5.60 x 1.805.00 x 2.005.20 x 1.905.63 x 2.005.60 x 1.805.60 x 1.905.60 x 1.555.00 x 2.105.00 x 2.004.00 x 1.45
Weight
(Pounds)
13.000.906.4011.200.500.700.5010.4012.800.50
Warranty
(Years)
57107571010103

 


Buyer’s Guide

What is a Smoke Detector?

A smoke detector is a special device that is designed to emit a high, piercing signal or voice alarm when smoke or flames is detected. It is important to get the right kind for your home. There are actually specific places in the home that certain smoke detectors perform better. We will tell you want those places are.

Types

Smoke Detector1There are several different types of smoke detectors on the market today.  They are typically separated by the way they detect smoke or fire.  We have provided you information on each type below.

Ionization – An ionization smoke alarm is the best kind to detect flames and actual fire.  It works by using a radioactive element to ionize the air inside the detector.  An electric current is inside the detector that is interrupted when smoke particles enter the chamber. Once the current is disrupted, it sets off the alarm.  All of this happens in a surprisingly short amount of time.  These types of smoke detectors are best at detecting the sometimes invisible smoke particles that can come from quick-starting fires like grease fires and paper fires.

Photoelectric – This type of smoke detector uses a small strobe light that remains on. When smoke particles are detected, the light is broken and the alarm immediately goes off.  These units are more expensive than ionization smoke detectors but they are growing in popularity because they are much less likely to be set off by non emergency situations.  These units are better at detecting larger smoke particles that can be caused by clothing or bedding that catches fine and smolders before catching fire. Some fires that have started have actually smoldered for hours before bursting into flame.  When you have photoelectric smoke detectors, they are much more likely to detect the fire before it gets to the bursting into flame stage which can make a big difference in damage and injury.

Dual Sensor – These types of smoke detectors are actually the best kind you can purchase because they cover both ionization AND photoelectric sensing and covet the gambit of types of fires that can occur.  Whether it’s smoldering clothing or a rapid grease fire, the dial units will be able to detect both types and that increases your safety.  You can choose to get two separate types of smoke detectors, but having both types in one saves space and money too.

Air Sampling – This type of smoke detector is not as prevalent and is mostly used in businesses and scientific environments.  The reason these are better used in warehouses and labs is due to the increased sensitivity of these units.  The design is created to be able to detect whether smoke is present or not. Due to their extreme sensitivity they are not usually used in homes.


Features

There are several different features that smoke detectors need to have to be good choices for your home.  When you’re researching smoke detectors check to make sure the ones you are considering have these features so your smoke detectors provide the best amount of protection for your home.

  • Dual Sensor – This type of unit has both ionization and photoelectric sensors which means they cover both smoldering fires and flames. This is the most all inclusive type of smoke detector to get that provides the most coverage for your home.
  • Test/Silence Button – This button has a double purpose; it checks to make sure the smoke detector is working and also quiets the alarm when it has gone off during non emergency situations. No more having to take it out of the ceiling or looking for something to wave in front of it.
  • Low battery Indicator – Any models that use battery power should come equipped with a low battery indicator that will alert you if the battery gets low. In most detectors, a beep will sound about every 40 seconds or so when it’s time to change the battery.
  • Escape Light – This feature activates a light that comes on when the detector goes off so that people can see enough to get out. This light works even if the power is off.
  • Interconnecting capable – Any unit that is hard wired into the electrical of the home can be part of an interconnect network of detectors. This means that when one goes off they all go off. Some battery operated units can have this capability as well.
  • Hearing impaired features – If you’re getting smoke detectors for a home of someone who doesn’t have good hearing or who is deaf completely, there are features available that can help. These include extra loud alarms, strobe lights and even pads that go under the sheets that vibrate in the event the detector goes off.
  • Insect Screens – Lots of the newer models of smoke detectors have insect screens that prevent bugs from getting into them and falsely setting off the detectors.
  • Smoke Detector2

  • 10 year lithium-ion built in battery – Some smoke detectors come with pre-installed and built in lithium-ion batteries that can last for the lifetime of the smoke detector. Others might require AA or 9 volt batteries.
  • UL certified – Only purchase smoke detectors that have been UL certified which means it meets all the regulations it needs to meet.
  • A Good Warranty – Make sure that the units you are considering come with good warranties. A smoke detector is not supposed to last forever but a good 5-10 year warranty is good. Most smoke detectors last anywhere from 5-10 years before they need to be changed.
  • Easy battery changing ability –Make sure that when it comes time to change the battery that you don’t have to struggle with how to do it. Many units have simple front loading battery compartments that don’t even require the unit to be taken off the wall.

Which Type Goes Where?

Certain types of smoke detectors do better in specific locations.  Below we have outlined which types do better in certain places so if you want to not purchase the combo units that have both types of sensors, you will know which types to buy and where to put them.

Ionization – This type of smoke detector is best installed in stairways, upstairs landings and in offices.

Photoelectric – These detectors are best installed in bedrooms, dens, hallways and also are good for offices and upstairs landings

Heat sensor – These types of detectors do best in kitchens and garages where a sudden change in temperature will set them off.

Dual Sensor – These units can be put in any place in the house EXCEPT the kitchen.  Always use a heat sensored detector for the kitchen because oil and grease can contaminate the sensor in a dual sensor unit and cause it to malfunction.


Maintenance

Smoke Detector3Most smoke detectors don’t last longer than 10 years and should be replaced if they have reached the 10 year mark or you don’t know how old they are, it is best to replace all of them.  There are some other things you can do to ensure that your smoke detectors are kept in good working order.

Cleaning the Detectors – Use the vacuum attachment and vacuum the sensor of the smoke detector every week to ensure dust does not get inside and mess with the sensors. If your home is not particularly dusty (some are dustier than others due to environmental factors) may only need vacuuming monthly.

Checking the Battery – Test the battery in your smoke detector once a week or at the very least, once a month.  Most have a test button that you can press that will set off the alarm. If it goes off then everything is working properly.  If it doesn’t go off then the batteries need to be replaced.


Conclusion

Having working smoke detectors can save you or your family’s life in the event of a fire. Fires are very unpredictable things and they can be caused by many different things. Having that protection can bring a lot of peace of mind. With the different choices available it can be a little confusing as to the type you should buy, but this buyer’s guide has taken care of that and given you the information you need to understand not only how they work but which ones work best.

With the right smoke detectors in your home you can go to sleep each night feeling much more peaceful about your family and home being safe. Don’t forget to go over fire escape routes with your family members regardless if how young they are. It is important that everyone knows where to go, how to follow the safety guidelines that will save them (such as crawling) and where to meet once they get outside. Most importantly, teach children that they should NEVER hide in closets or under beds.

With the right information, the right detectors and the right practice your home and family will be protected from danger in the event of a fire.

Resources

  1. Kidde – http://www.kidde.com/
  2. First Alert – http://www.firstalert.com/
  3. X-Sense – http://www.ozaccess.com/