Having a smart smoke detector in every home is the first key step toward your home’s safety. The smart technology doesn’t only sound the alarm, it will also notify your smartphone and other smart devices connected to it.
A traditional smoke detector will be able to warn you of danger, but not if you aren’t home to hear them. With a smart smoke detector, you can monitor and control your home even when you are away.
Smart smoke alarms are one of the most useful and crucial categories of smart home devices and for something so important to home and personal safety, they seem to lack attention compared to home security systems.
Did you know? The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that 40 percent of residential fire fatalities occur in homes without functioning smoke alarms. Having a properly working smoke alarm can lower the risk of death in a house fire by 55 percent. A reliable and effective smart smoke and CO detector system can alert you quickly to get you and your family to safety. And if you travel frequently or have multiple homes and premises to monitor, it will give you greater peace of mind.
What Is a Smart Smoke Detector?
Similar to regular smoke detectors, smart smoke alarm systems have sensors that will sound a warning alarm once smoke is detected. The biggest difference is that smart detectors are WiFi enabled which will communicate with your home security system and send voice alerts and notifications to your smart devices through their compatible app. By utilizing connective technology, homeowners can remotely monitor fire emergencies, receive status notifications, interconnect with other smart home devices and even shut off false alarms using voice commands. Smart smoke detectors are meant to increase effectiveness and reduce manual home alert system maintenance.
Benefits of Smart Smoke Detectors
Reliability and Battery Life
Smart detectors have automated self testing and low battery notifications so you can be assured that it is always working.
Ability to Detect Fire Faster
Compared to regular smoke detectors, smart smoke alarm systems have the ability to detect fire faster as they will identify when an area is too hot or shows a significant increase in temperature.
Interconnectivity and Notification Services
Anyone with access to the app connected with the smart smoke detector system will be able to receive a variety of different notifications and alerts to warn about a fire occurring even while being away from home.
Tells the Exact Location of the Fire
Smart detection can notify homeowners of the exact nature and location of any fire hazard detected in the home allowing users to guide family members to a safe exit without any panic.
Stop False Alarms with a Press of a Button
In case of false alarms, many smart smoke detector alarms can be easily silenced through the smartphone or other smart devices.
Common Types of Smart Smoke Detectors
Before deciding on the best smart smoke detector for your home, it is important to understand the different types of smart smoke alarm systems available in the market today.
Battery operated smoke detector systems which most commonly use a replaceable 9-volt battery, are the easiest to set up. These detectors are unaffected in the event of a power outage but require a regular check typically every six months to ensure they are operational. Newer smoke alarms are designed with lithium batteries that are known to last up to 10 years without needing to be replaced.
Hard wired smart smoke detectors are connected to the home’s electrical circuit, making it more dependable. As long as there is power, these detectors will work. Worry not, most hard wired detectors have a backup battery to ensure they continue working in the event of a power outage. Initial installation or maintenance of the unit is more challenging compared to the battery operated systems and would require the help of a professional electrician.
Ionization smoke alarms respond faster to flash fires but are less effective at detecting smoldering fires. Ionization sensors are more prone to produce false alarms triggered by cooking fumes, causing nuisance alarms to happen too easily. It is also important to note that the most common types of home fire are caused by flaming fires from the rapid burning of combustibles like newspapers and cooking grease.
Photoelectric smoke alarms use infrared light to detect smoke and respond quicker to smoldering, slow-burning fires. Electrical shortages, cigarettes, and fireplace embers are one of the most common causes of slow-burning fires. These fires produce a large amount of smoke and can burn for longer periods of time.
The USFA recommends equipping homes with both ionization and photoelectric sensors for maximum protection. The split spectrum system contains both. While they usually cost more, they provide a more comprehensive fire detection for additional safety.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Smart Smoke Detector
A reliable, safe and easy-to-use smart smoke alarm is a definite must-have in every home. But as a smoke alarm can range in price, you would want to make sure you are getting the best option for your dollar. The more features it has, the higher the price. Before you make a purchase, let’s dive into some of the most prominent features available.
Detects Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless type of gas produced by burning fuel in vehicles, fireplaces, furnaces, and other gas ranges. Carbon monoxide detection is an increasingly common feature on smart smoke detectors, allowing you to monitor both smoke and carbon monoxide threats for your home. Smart smoke alarms with built-in carbon monoxide detectors eliminate the need to maintain and monitor two separate detectors, offering you a safer and more efficient household.
Ease of Installation
As discussed earlier, a smart smoke detector comes in both hard wired and battery operated options. Hardwired alarms are more difficult to install as it most often requires the help of a professional electrician but is more dependable. Battery-operated alarms on the other hand can be installed easily and most modern smart smoke detectors come with in built lithium smart batteries that can last up to 10 years.
Sensitivity and False Alarms
Some smoke detectors are designed to be more sensitive than others. Given that the alarm will only be triggered when something goes wrong, it is very difficult to know if it is functioning properly. Occasionally, some smoky conditions like a burning dish in the oven would set the alarm off, revealing how sensitive the detector is. As long as the smoke detector is located within the recommended area, tested regularly, and maintained dust free, it should function as expected.
Safety and Performance Certified
When choosing a smoke alarm system, an Underwriter Laboratories (UL) certified alarm is guaranteed to detect smoke and CO in the home. UL is a globally recognized, third-party certification company that tests the efficacy and safety of homes for more than 40 years.
It is recommended that homeowners should have multiple smoke detectors for different areas of the home, making interconnectivity an important specification for most smart homes. Many of the best smoke detectors offer an interconnectivity feature, so if one alarm goes off, all the units will go off as well even if only one detects smoke.
Types of Notification
Most smart smoke detectors will sound the siren and send alerts directly to the smartphone. These warnings can come in the form of voice alerts or push notifications through the app. Depending on the model of the smoke detector, users can customize and manage the level of information. They can tell users what type of hazard and the location of the hazard and how to respond. Smart batteries will send notifications when the battery is low and can also silence false alarms. There are also color-coded strobe light alarm notifications available in some models for the hearing-impaired.
It is crucial that you choose a system that supports multiple users. If more people receive a push notification that there is a fire in the house, the faster the response. Every house member should be granted access and temporary access could be given to neighbors or nearby family members when homeowners are out of town.
Smart Home Support
Integration is key. If you are beginning to build your smart home or already own multiple smart home devices, you would want to integrate your smoke detector with the rest of your home seamlessly. Having major smart home hubs like Alexa, Nest, SmartThings or HomeKit helps you reduce the need to maintain multiple apps on smart devices.
Smart Tech Compatibility
Most smart smoke detectors are now compatible with other smart home systems. While some models only work with specific types of smart hubs, there are other stand alone detectors that can work with any type of mobile device. Adding a smart listener to the existing traditional smoke alarm system can turn it into a smart device without costing too much.
Where to Place Smoke Detectors in Your Home
For optimum smoke detection, smoke alarms should be placed on the ceiling of every bedroom, passageway, kitchen, living area, and basement in the house. Having a sufficient number of properly installed smoke detectors is an important step in protecting your home. It is recommended that smoke detectors should be placed at least four inches away from ceiling corners as they need access to circulate air.
Placing smoke detectors in unfavorable locations can result in recurring false alarms. Most professionals do not recommend placing smoke alarms in these locations:
Our Top Picks
Selecting the best smart smoke detector for your home can make all the difference in safety and convenience for your household. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the different kinds of detectors available in the market, so you can choose the one that makes the most sense for your home.
Best Smart Smoke Detector: Google Nest Protect
The Google Nest Protect is an overwhelming home favorite – and it’s easy to see why. Using the split spectrum sensor, it detects fast-burning fires, smoldering fires, and CO, sends notifications to your mobile devices, tests itself regularly, and connects to your entire smart home. Not only would it send a clear voice alert when activated, but Nest Protect also uses colors to communicate through its integrated color-coded LED on the top of the device. It will even send a message to your mobile in case you’re not home and can be silenced from your mobile.
- Send alerts to your mobile devices
Nest Protect sends a notification to your devices when it is triggered or the batteries are running low.
- Tells you what, and where
Nest Protect delivers calm verbal instructions if there’s smoke or CO and tells you where it is so that you know what you should do next.
- Multi-purpose detector
It can detect both smoke and carbon monoxide. The Split Spectrum sensor detects both fast- and slow-burning fires.
- Color coded LED
Based on the type of threat, Nest Protect communicates through its integrated color coded LED on top of the device. Green, indicating that it has performed its self-check and everything is in order. Yellow for low levels of smoke or carbon monoxide and Red for high levels of danger.
- Motion Sensor
The in-built motion sensor activates the nightlight when you walk underneath it, and the Pathlight ambient light detector can light your way after you’ve turned out the lights.
- Easily silence a false alarm
To turn off a nuisance alarm, press the button on the top of the device, or easily silence the siren using the large and easy-to-press silence button on the mobile app.
- Steam Check
Reduces the number of false alarms caused by steam. Nest Protect uses a humidity sensor and custom algorithms to look for steam.
- Nest product integration
Nest Protect works best when paired with other Nest devices such as a Nest thermostat, Nest Cam, or even smart light bulbs connected to the Nest ecosystem. The device also supports a robust IFTTT (“If This, Then That”) ecosystem.
If you’re looking for a reliable and easy to use smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector, the Nest Protect is a great option to consider.
Best Integrated Smart Smoke Detector: First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound
This First Alert model is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector with built-in Alexa services. It comes with an Alexa voice assistant that can respond to voice commands and can be used to stream music. The second generation Safe & Sound now works with any smartphone and is compatible with Alexa as well as Apple HomeKit. This allows homeowners to silence or test the alarm, adjust the integrated nightlight, or control other entertainment features using a smartphone or tablet. The Safe & Sound only comes as a hardwired unit with a 10 year lithium backup battery.
- Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector
It is a combo smoke and CO detector that uses photoelectric smoke sensors and electrochemical carbon monoxide sensors.
- Embedded Alexa voice service
A device that is built not only to detect smoke, The Safe & Sound retrieves information and news, checks the weather, plays music and entertainment, and controls your smart home all in one. There’s really nothing more you could ask for.
- Hardwired alarm system
The Safe & Sound is an AC-powered unit that comes with a built-in 10 year sealed lithium backup battery. AC adapter plugs along with mounting brackets are provided in the package for easy installation.
- Built-in home speaker for audio and entertainment
The premium high-end speaker with omni-directional audio is loud and clear. The noise-canceling microphone is accurate and can hear you from any direction, even while the music is playing.
- Sends alerts to smart devices
Using First Alert’s Onelink Home app, users will be able to get alerts of an emergency, silence or test alarms, track CO levels, customize the nightlight, and control smart entertainment.
- Supports AirPlay 2
Safe & Sound supports AirPlay 2 and users can add the AirPlay 2-compatible speakers to the Home app on the iOS device.
Notably, Alexa integration is the biggest selling point for the Safe & Sound Smart Smoke alarm. For some, the hefty price tag is entirely justified as other smoke and carbon monoxide detectors do not offer as many features.
Best Smart Listener: Roost Smart Battery
The Roost Smart Battery is not a smart detector but a 9 volt battery that is WiFi enabled which can be plugged into the existing conventional smoke or carbon monoxide detector and turns it into a pseudo-smart detector. The Roost Smart battery links to the smartphone through the Roost app. It will send push notifications, low battery alerts, and remote silencing through the app.
- Simple Installation
Installation is simple and straightforward. Setup is as easy as putting a standard battery in a smoke detector.
- Connect Existing Alarms
It supports all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home and turns them into smart detectors, giving you more control over your smoke alarm.
- Send notifications to your mobile devices
When the alarm sounds, It will send notifications to your smartphone and allow you to silence them from the convenience of your device. The app will also notify you if the battery is getting low or if the battery has been disconnected from your home network.
- Include the Whole Family
The Roost app allows you to invite trusted friends and family members to receive smartphone notifications if the alarm sounds while you are away.
- Long Lasting
It has a significantly long battery life of 3-5 years. The Roost app will also send you a notification when it is time for a replacement.
- Activity History Log
The last activity log will show the last time each alarm was tested or triggered.
The Roost Smart Battery is a cheaper and simpler alternative to transform current conventional smoke and carbon monoxide alarms into smart detectors.
Best Budget Smart Smoke Detector: FIRST ALERT Z-Wave Smoke Detector
This FIRST ALERT device is a smoke and CO combination alarm that uses wireless Z-Wave technology. It looks like a standard detector but with a Z-Wave chip in it. This smoke detector works best in homes that have an existing Z-Wave compatible smart home hub like SmartThings Hub, Ring Alarm, or Nexia Home Intelligence. This battery-operated smoke detector is simple to set up and also features an 85-decibel horn, a single test/silence button, and a tamper-resistant battery door.
2-in-1 Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm
It features a photoelectric smoke sensor that detects the smoke most commonly produced by smoldering fires and an advanced electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor.
- Battery-Operated for Convenience
Replacement is easy as it only requires two AA batteries. It features a chirp and indicator light to let you know when they need replacing.
- Mobile Alerts for Peace of Mind
When an alarm is activated, the integrated wireless alarm system sends notifications and emails to your smartphone or tablet.
- Sounds loud 85dB siren
Once triggered, its 85dB siren and indicator lights on the face of the detector will definitely catch your attention.
- Convenient test/silence button
The alarm can be silenced through the notifications received from the compatible apps. A handy silence button located directly on the detector can also be found.
- Works with most Z-Wave controller
It works with almost all Z-Wave compatible smart home hubs, making it one of the most versatile smart smoke detectors in the market.
If you are looking to have multiple alarms throughout your home, this FIRST ALERT Z-Wave combination smoke detector is an affordable option.
A proper smart smoke detector is a worthwhile investment, as it gives you the peace of mind of knowing that the detector is always working and you won’t miss any critical alerts.
With the ability to contact authorities, shut down your HVAC system in an emergency, and more, smart smoke detectors are one of the single most important devices you should invest in, considering their impact in the event of an emergency.
Rodney is a full-time content researcher & writer at HomeSecurityHub. Prior to this, he has worked on different sites covering topics such as business, watches & computers. In recent years, he has been obsessed with all kinds of DIY smart home tech that that improves the convenience and the safety aspects of our everyday life and has been HSH’s go-to guy when it comes to DIY security tech.