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Are you looking for a reliable WiFi-connected smoke detector or fire alarm?
Do you want to monitor your home remotely for smoke and fire emergencies?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this in-depth shopping guide, we review the best smart smoke detectors and fire alarms for your home.
All of the alarms we review are WiFi-connected, which means they can alert you to a fire or carbon monoxide leak through your phone, no matter where you are.
So let’s get started…
What’s In This Guide?
Return to this table of contents to jump to another section at any time.
- What’s In This Guide?
- Best Smart WiFi Smoke Detectors & Fire Alarms 2021
- 1. Best Smart Smoke Detector: Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- 2. Best Budget Smoke & CO Alarm: First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave
- 3. Best Alexa and HomeKit Smoke Alarm: Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert
- 4. Best Monitor for Existing Smoke and CO Alarms: Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener
- 5. Free Smoke/CO Alarm Monitor for Echo Smart Speaker: Alexa Guard
- What is a Smart Smoke Detector and How Does it Work?
- Benefits of a Smart Smoke Detector
- How to Prevent False Alarm From a Smart Smoke Detector?
- Features To Consider When Buying a Smart Smoke Detector & Fire Alarm
- Types of Smoke & Fire Detectors
- Where To Install A Smart Smoke Alarm / CO Detector
- Smoke Alarm Installation and Maintenance Tips
Best Smart WiFi Smoke Detectors & Fire Alarms 2021
- Best Smart Smoke Detector: Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- Best Budget Smoke & CO Alarm: First Alert 2-in-1 Z-wave
- Best Alexa and HomeKit Smoke Alarm: Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert
- Best Monitor for Existing Smoke and CO Alarms: Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener
- Free Smoke/CO Alarm Monitor for Echo Smart Speaker: Alexa Guard
Smoke detection sensor:
Ionization & photelectric
First Alert 2-in-1
Smoke detection sensor:
Onelink Safe & Sound
Best Alexa & HomeKit alarm
Smoke detection sensor:
Hardwired with backup battery
Best smoke/CO alarm monitor
Smoke detection sensor:
Free smoke/CO monitor for Echo speaker
Smoke detection sensor:
Echo smart speaker
1. Best Smart Smoke Detector: Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Nest Protect is the gold standard when it comes to smart smoke and fire alarms. The second generation Protect makes huge improvements to the initial model. It works more reliably without any false alarms.
The 2nd gen Nest Protect can detect smoke and carbon monoxide and immediately notify you via voice and phone alerts.
To do this, it uses a special type of sensor that can detect different types of fires to help you respond better to the emergency.
The alarm comes in two options: wired and battery-powered.
1. Split-spectrum sensor
The Nest Protect uses a unique sensor that puts it in a league above other smoke and fire sensors. They call it a Split-spectrum sensor.
The sensor can differentiate between slow and fast fires and alerts you appropriately for each type of emergency. It is also less prone to false alarms which were a problem with the first generation model.
2. Voice notifications and phone alerts
Rather than just beeping to alert you to a fire, the Nest Protect V2 smoke sensor talks to you and tells you which room the fire or smoke is in… like,
“There’s smoke in the kitchen.”
This is more helpful than a simple alarm. Knowing the location can shave a few seconds off your response – and make all the difference.
If it’s just your dinner burning, though, you can quickly hush the alarm using your phone.
3. Self-Test with advance low-battery warning
Nest Protect constantly carries out self-tests to detect any problems and alert you.
You don’t have to worry about that constant chirping or wonder what that blinking light means.
It also regularly checks the battery level and tells you well ahead of time to replace it. Nice.
One nice feature that Nest tucked into the alarm is a night light. Whenever you walk under it, a motion sensor triggers a soft light that lights your way in the dark.
Issues and Concerns
As smoke alarms go, the Nest Protect is a bit expensive. You’ll feel the pinch if you need multiple units.
On the other hand, it offers lots of convenience features to justify the price tag.
The other issue is that installation can be a bit of a chore. Expect to spend at least half an hour – or more if you are installing several. Or you can call a pro to do the installation for you.
The Nest Protect is the Best Smoke and Fire Alarm for You If…
You want the top-of-the-line WiFi smoke and carbon monoxide detector that works reliably and provides plenty of smart home features – and you’re willing to pay a premium for it.
2. Best Budget Smoke & CO Alarm: First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave
If you want a simple, smart smoke detector that will alert you if your house is about to burn down or there is a carbon monoxide leak, then the First Alert smoke and carbon monoxide detector may be exactly what you are looking for.
For less than $50, you’ll get 2-in-1 protection, a 7-year warranty and compatibility with Z-Wave.
One thing you should note before buying this detector is that this unit only works with a Z-Wave hub and other Z-Wave devices. You cannot connect it directly to your router.
1. Z-Wave compatibility
Set up is fairly quick and easy. Once you have linked it to your hub, you can receive alerts on your phone wherever you are.
You can also connect it to other Z-Wave compatible devices and then trigger certain actions if the alarm goes off.
For example, you can trigger all the lights to come on when smoke or carbon monoxide is detected.
Or you can set up the alarm to ring through your connected speakers in case you are asleep.
If you have a connected a smart thermostat, then you can set it up to switch off the AC in case of an emergency.
2. Reliable smoke and CO sensors
This alarm uses a photoelectric smoke sensor to detect smoke and to reduce false alarms from cooking and shower steam.
There are very few customer complaints about false alarms w/ this one.
The detector also comes with a 7-year warranty, which is outstanding for an electronic appliance like this.
The detector is battery operated so you don’t have to hardwire it, saving you time and effort during installation.
Keep an ear for the low battery warning and replace them immediately.
Issues and Concerns
Though false alarms are not common with this unit, some customers have experienced them – usually after several months of use.
There are also a few complaints regarding the batteries. The alarm sometimes beeps a low battery warning even when the battery still contains plenty of juice. Re-inserting the batteries usually solves this problem.
The First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave detector is best for you if…
You want a cheap and reliable smoke and CO detector; or, you are looking for a Z-Wave-compatible smoke alarm.
The Onelink Safe & Sound is a multifunction smoke/CO detector as well as an Alexa and Homekit powered smart speaker.
In addition to alerting you when there’s smoke or carbon monoxide in your home, you can also ask it to play music or make a dinner announcement in your kids bedroom.
It is one of the most expensive smoke detectors, but when you consider it’s a 2-in-1 alarm and speaker, it’s worth it.
1. Smoke & CO Detector
The Onelink Safe & Sound detects both smoke and carbon monoxide. A photoelectric sensor detects smoke, while an electrochemical sensor detects CO gas.
Similar to Nest Protect, Safe & Sound produces both a loud (85dB) alarm and a voice anouncement. The anouncement tells you which room you should check. It also sends an alert to your smartphone.
If the alarms goes off by accident (e.g. you burn your dinner), you can quickly turn it off through the smartphone app.
Something else: you can link Safe & Sound with other hardwired smoke alarms, even those from other brands. When one alarm goes off, all others will, too.
2. Alexa Smart Speaker
The Onelink Safe & Sound is also a full fledged Alexa smart speaker. Any functionality you enjoy on any other Alexa speaker, you can enjoy with the Safe & Sound.
This includes playing music, making hands free calls, making voice announcements to other Alexa-enabled speakers in the house, and sending voice commands (microphones in the speaker pick up sound suprisingly well from the ceiling).
Now, don’t expect thumping bass or Sonos-level sound quality when playing music. But it’s decent enough for most people. If you have multiple Safe & Sound detectors installed, you can choose which one to play music through.
3. HomeKit Integration
OneLink Safe & Sound is one of the few smoke detectors that is compatible with Apple HomeKit. If you are in the Apple ecosystem and don’t fancy using a bridge or hub, Safe & Sound is a great choice.
And with the recent update to Safe & Sound, now you can enjoy multiroom audio with AirPlay 2.
4. Night Light
Similar to Nest Protect, Safe & Sound also doubles up as a night light. However, Safe & Sound lacks a motion sensor that automatically turns on the night light when you pass under it.
Instead, it stays on all the time. You can set the auto dim setting, and it’ll dim at night. But it’s still too bright especially for smoke detectors installed in bedrooms.
5. Easy DIY Installation
Even though it is hardwired, the Onelink Safe & Sound is designed for easy and quick DIY installation. Unless you are installing smoke detectors for the first time, you do not need to rewire your home.
Just remove the current alarm and bracket, and install the Safe & Sound. The detector comes with adaptors for easy connection to existing wiring.
Issues & Concerns
The Onelink Safe & Sound is pricey. It even costs more than Nest Protect. Costs quickly add up if you need several detectors. If you are shopping on a budget, Safe & Sound is probably not the best choice.
One limitation of the Onelink detector is that it has only a photoelectric sensor for smoke detection. Photoelectric sensors are good for slow fires, but take longer to detect fast burning fires with little smoke.
In contrast, the Nest Protect has two types of sensors (photelectric & ionization) to detect both slow and fast fires.
The Onelink Safe & Sound is Best For:
Anyone looking for a smart smoke and CO detector with Alexa or Apple HomeKit integration.
4. Best Monitor for Existing Smoke and CO Alarms: Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money replacing your non-WiFi smoke alarms, you can get the Ring Alarm smoke and CO Listener.
It monitors your smoke alarm and sends an alert to your phone (via the Ring alarm system), if the alarm goes off.
You need to buy one for every alarm, but it’s still cheaper than buying new smoke detectors.
Just make sure that your existing smoke detectors are not older than 10 years. If they are, we recommend replacing them with new smart detectors.
Also, you need to have the Ring alarm system. The Listener won’t work without it.
1. Cheaper Option to Buying New Detectors
If you have traditional smoke alarms and would like to be alerted on your phone when they go off, buying new smart detectors is pricey.
The Ring alarm listener greatly reduces your costs. Instead of buying new detectors, you buy a Ring listener for each detector. You enjoy remote notifications without spending thousands of dollars
2. Remote Phone Alert through Ring Alarm
Important to note is that the Ring smoke/CO alarm listener only works via the Ring alarm system. That’s why we recommend it only for homes with Ring alarm, or if you are planning to buy one.
Once you have Ring alarm, you’ll get notifications on your phone any time your smoke or CO alarm goes off. The Ring alarm will also go off.
If you have the optional professional monitoring service ( Ring Protect Plus Plan), the Ring alarm will also notify fire services.
3. Easy Installation & Long Life Battery
The Ring listener is easy to mount. It comes with a mounting plate, screws and anchors. Ring recommends buying a listener for each smoke alarm. Then mount the device within 3-6 inches of the smoke alarm for optimal performance.
The Ring listener is battery-powered, so you don’t need to wire it. The battery is good for 3 years.
Issues & Concerns
The biggest concern from users is the listener’s inability to discern between real and false alerts. Some homeowners have had the fire department notified when they tested their smoke alarm.
This is an issue only if you have professional monitoring as part of your Ring alarm system. However, similar to any other security alerts, a smoke alarm does not immediately trigger a dispatch. The monitoring company will call you or your emergency contacts first to confirm what’s happening.
However, in case of a CO alarm, the fire department will be dispatched immediately before notifying you or your emergency contacts. That’s because a CO leak is life threatening.
Another issue is that the Ring listener requires the Ring alarm system. Without it, it won’t sound the alarm or send you phone alerts.
The Ring Smoke and CO Alarm Listener is Best for:
Anyone who wants to get an alert on their phone when their smoke or CO alarm goes off. The Ring listener is also a great choice if you want to fire and CO monitoring to your Ring security system.
5. Free Smoke/CO Alarm Monitor for Echo Smart Speaker: Alexa Guard
If you already have an Echo smart speaker, you can get free smoke/CO alarm monitoring through Alexa Guard.
Alexa Guard is a feature available through Amazon Echo devices. It turns the smart speaker into a sentinel.
It can monitor for smoke/CO alarm, and alert you on your phone. Alexa Guard is another cheaper alternative to smart detectors if you have old fashioned smoke alarms and want phone alerts.
All you need is an Echo speaker. Amazon recommends placing an Echo speaker in each room or space that you want to monitor.
1. Alarm and Security Monitoring
Once you set Guard to Away mode (either through the app or saying ‘I’m leaving’), the speaker will start listening for specific sounds.
The free Alexa Guard service listens for two types of sounds: smoke/CO alarm and glass breaking. In either situation, it’ll send an alert immediately to your phone. You can listen to a voice recording of the event or drop in to get live audio.
In the case of glass breaking – signaling a possible break-in – Alexa can also turn connected smart lights on and off to make it seem like someone’s home.
If you upgrade to Alexa Guard Plus (monthly/yearly subscription), Alexa will also listen for activity sounds such as the door opening, footsteps and people talking. To deter burglars, it can turn smart lights on and off, make sounds of a dog barking or sound a siren.
Guard Plus also lets you call for emergency services from your Echo using just your voice.
Note: Alexa Guard Plus is available with some security plans such as Ring Protect Plus at no cost. Check if you have access to the service before subscribing.
2. No Installation
One of the best things about Alexa Guard is how easy it is to get started. As long as you are already using an Echo, there’s no installation to do or anything to download.
You simply go to the Alexa app and enable Guard.
3. It’s Free
If you don’t want to spend any money upgrading your smoke alarms to be able to alert you remotely, Alexa Guard is the best, and probably the only, option.
While you can upgrade to the Guard Plus subscription, the free Guard service is perfect for monitoring your smoke and CO alarms.
Issues & Concerns
Alexa Guard requires an Echo device. Any Echo device will do from the Echo Dot to the Echo Show. Note that Alexa Guard works only with Echo branded speakers. It doesn’t work with Alexa-enabled speakers from other brands.
Alexa Guard is Best For:
Anyone looking for a free way to get alerts on their phone when their smoke or CO alarm goes off.
What is a Smart Smoke Detector and How Does it Work?
The ‘smart’ in smart smoke detector simply means the device is connected to the internet. This allows it to send an alert to your smartphone (or emergency contacts, or security services) if it detects smoke or carbon monoxide.
A smart smoke detector works just like a traditional detector when it comes to detecting smoke and CO. The only difference is that a traditional detector will sound an alarm, while a smart detector will sound an alarm and send you an alert on your phone.
Some smart smoke detectors are actually monitors. They do not detect smoke or CO; instead, they alert you when your smoke and CO alarms go off. See further below for our explanation of the differerent types of fire and smoke alarms.
Benefits of a Smart Smoke Detector
The main benefit of a smart smoke/CO detector is that you get to know when there’s a fire or CO emergency wherever you are. So even if you are not home, you can call emergency services or have neighbors check what’s wrong.
A smart smoke detector is especially useful if you often leave your kids at home with a caretaker or you have a pet.
How to Prevent False Alarm From a Smart Smoke Detector?
First, make sure it is not a false alarm. Check all rooms in the house (some smart detectors will tells you which specific room to check) to make sure there’s no emergency. If it is a CO alarm, get everyone outside and call fire services to make sure your home is safe.
If you are not home, have a neighbor check if everything’s okay. If you have smart security cameras, you can check the live feed. If there’s no way to know whether it’s a real or false alarm, be safe and call emergency services.
If it is indeed a false alarm, silence the detector from the app and then find out why the alarm went off.
In most cases, false alarms from smoke detectors are as a result of where they are located. Exposure to an AC vent, outdoor air or direct sunlight can trigger the alarm.
Also check if the detectors need cleaning. Dust, bugs and debris can cause nuisance alarms.
In other cases, a low battery or electrical malfunction can be the issue. Make sure the detector’s battery is not running low and that it’s properly wired.
Features To Consider When Buying a Smart Smoke Detector & Fire Alarm
Not all smoke detectors are the same. Consider these features to help you choose the right one for your needs.
Battery-Powered vs. Hardwired
Battery-operated smoke detectors are the most common. They are cheap and easy to install. Maintenances tasks such as battery replacements are also easy and fast.
Hardwired smoke detectors, on the other hand, require a longer installation process.You also have to switch off power at the mains every time you want to do any maintenance work.
There are two big advantages to hardwired smoke detectors. One is that you don’t have to worry about a dead battery. Most even have a backup battery in case of a power outage.
The second advantage is that hardwired smoke detectors are often interconnected. If one goes off, it triggers all the others as well. This creates a quicker alert system.
But nowadays you can also buy battery-powered smoke detectors that are interconnected wirelessly either via WiFi or Bluetooth.
Most also have long-lasting batteries which can run for 5 to 10 years before you need to get new batteries.
If you already have an old hardwired alarm, it’s easy to replace it with a new hardwired one. If you are installing the alarm in a new place, a battery-operated one will be easier and faster to set up.
Interconnected vs. Stand-Alone
Interconnected smoke alarms operate as a group. If one goes off, all will start beeping. This is great for alerting everyone in the house to the emergency.
With stand-alone alarms, you may not hear the basement alarm ringing, or you could be asleep in the bedroom not hearing the kitchen smoke alarm.
Connected smoke detectors offer more safety and protection.
Finally, consider a smoke alarm that offers extra features. Here are some of the features that are worth paying a little extra for.
- Remote control and emergency alerts. Many modern smoke alarms are WiFi connected. That means you can control them and receive emergency alerts through your phone wherever you are. They are great for watching over your home when you are at work or on holiday. They are also ideal for vacation homes and rental properties.
- Voice hush. Some smoke and fire alarms now allow users to silence an alarm via voice. This saves you the trouble of having to climb up to silence the alarm when the only emergency was your burnt dinner. WiFi connected smoke alarms let you silence the alarm on your phone.
- Silence/snooze button. Because of their sensitivity, most smoke alarms will go off even if it’s just a little smoke from the pot or oven. Get a smoke alarm with a silence or snooze button. You can then disable the alarm – usually for a specific period of 15 minutes – until you finish cooking.
- Central home security monitoring. If you already have a home security monitoring service (or are planning to get one soon), consider adding smoke alarm monitoring. It will give you peace of mind knowing someone is monitoring your smoke alarm 24/7. But nowadays with smart WiFi smoke alarms that can alert you and your emergency contacts via phone to a fire or a CO leak, a central-monitored smoke alarm is usually not necessary.
- Carbon monoxide detection. This one is standard now with almost all smoke alarms. If you have any potential source of a CO leak at homes such as a clothes dryer, furnace or fireplace, get a 2-in-1 alarm that provides both smoke and carbon monoxide detection.
- Location identification. A ringing smoke alarm doesn’t exactly tell you where the emergency is. Interconnected alarms can be even more confusing. Those few seconds spent looking for the source of smoke can result in disaster. Some smart alarms such as Nest Protect don’t alert you to smoke or CO; they tell you where it is;e.g., Kitchen, basement or master bedroom.
Types of Smoke & Fire Detectors
The world of smoke alarms has be completely upturned by smart home technology. Today, it can be really confusing to pick the right one for your home.
There are three basic choices to make when selecting the right smart home smoke / CO / fire detector today: its functionality, its power source and its sensors.
Functionally, there are 3 types of smoke/fire detectors sold today:
- Smoke alarms – These are the traditional alarms that can only detect smoke.
- Multifunction alarms –These are alarms that can detect both smoke and carbon monoxide. Most modern smoke alarms are multifunction.
- Smart alarms –These are smoke detectors that can be connected to WiFi and send smoke/CO alerts remotely to your phone. Some smart smoke alarms can also be paired with smart devices and systems such as IFTTT and Z-Wave.
You can also categorize a smart smoke alarm by its power source:
- Battery-powered smoke detectors – These are the most common. They are usually powered by a 9V battery that requires regular replacement. Others are powered by longer lasting 120V or lithium batteries.
- Hardwired smoke detectors – Instead of a battery, these alarms are hardwired into your home’s electrical circuit. That means they don’t need battery replacements. Most hardwired smoke alarms come with a backup battery.
Finally, there are four kinds of sensors used in most smart smoke/fire detectors:
- Ionization sensors –These sensors use an ionization chamber to detect small amounts of smoke. If even a little smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the ionization process and sets off the alarm. Ionization sensors are good for fast burning fires which produce little smoke.
- Photoelectric sensors –These sensors use light beams to detect smoke particles. When smoke scatters the light, it triggers the alarm. Photoelectric sensors are better at detecting slow smoldering fires which produce more smoke. Nest Protect uses a special type of photoelectric sensor called a split-spectrum sensor that can detect both fast and slow fires.
- Audio sensors — Some smart fire detectors actually listen to other alarms, then alert you to their status. It is important that the sensor filter-out white background noise and be able to distinguish alarm patters of many devices.
- Combination sensors – These sensors contain both ionization and photoelectric sensors to detect all kinds of fires. They are the best for protecting your home from a fire.
Where To Install A Smart Smoke Alarm / CO Detector
When installing smoke detectors, your goal should be to cover the entire house. Any smoke arising from any corner of the house should be detected by a nearby alarm.
Here are the installation guidelines provided by the National FireProtection Association (NFPA):
- On every level of the house.
- In every bedroom or sleeping area and the hallways immediately outside the bedrooms.
- In large rooms and main living areas such as the living room and kitchen. Be careful to locate the alarm at least 10 feet away from directly above the cooking area.Smoke or steam from cooking can cause false fire alarms.
- In the basement ceiling at the bottom of the stairs.
- For a house with multiple levels, install a fire alarm at the top of every stairway leading to the next floor.
As a rule of thumb, smoke detectors should always be placed high (smoke always rises).The ideal position is on the ceiling away from a cooking appliance, AC ducts, and windows.
If you install the smoke detector on the wall, make sure it is at most a feet away from the ceiling.
If you have pitched ceilings, install the alarm within 3 feet of the apex but not directly at the apex. The alarm should be at least 4 inches down from the very top of the apex.
Smoke Alarm Installation and Maintenance Tips
The first step is to pick the right kind of smoke alarm. At the very least, you should get combination alarms (ionization and photoelectric) that are interconnected either physically via wire or wirelessly.
It’s up to you whether you want a smart alarm though we highly recommend it. If you don’t want a smart alarm, get a smart alarm monitor. It monitors the smoke alarm for you and alerts you if it goes off. It’s cheaper than a smart smoke alarm.
Then follow the recommended placement tips. We’ve mentioned them in the previous section. Here are some more installation and maintenance tips.
- Do not install the smoke detector near a window, AC vents or anywhere near a draft. It will interfere with its function.
- Regularly check your smoke alarms for any obstructions such as dust and clean them as instructed in the manual. Never obstruct a smoke alarm by painting over it or putting a sticker on it.
- Test your smoke alarms at least once every month. Most fire alarms have a test button you can use to check whether the alarm is still working easily. If the test button doesn’t work, you’ll have to use actual smoke. Light a couple of matches and hold them under the detector but keep them far away enough to avoid burning it.
- When testing a smoke detector, have a family member stand at the farthest point to check whether it can be heard from far away.
- If you have the normal 9V batteries, replace them once or twice a year. Some batteries need replacement after 5 or 10 years. Check your manual for instructions. Regardless of the type of batteries you are using, if they sound weak or don’t work during the monthly test, replace them immediately.
- Always use interconnected alarms from the same company to ensure compatibility.
- For better smoke alarm monitoring and control, get a smart smoke alarm or a smart smoke alarm monitor.