Best Smoke Detectors of 2021

Smoke and fire detectors can save your life and your home. Here's a rundown of our favorites.

Best overall
Nest Protect
Google Nest Protect
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Detects smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Connects with Nest app and other products
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Use voice alarm
Techie pick
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Smart
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Self-sufficient
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Interconnectable
Budget pick
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Affordable
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Easy to install
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Loud

Bottom line: Nest Protect offers smart, practical safety

It’s easy to forget your smoke alarm’s there until it starts beeping or chirping. But while we take them for granted, they’re always looking out for us.

Nest Protect?costs around $120, but all its extras make it worth the price. On top of smart home connectivity, it offers voice alerts and even a nightlight to guide your way through the hallway at night.

Nest Protect tops our list and best carbon monoxide detectors because it elegantly marries these features without feeling overwhelming. Check out our full review of Nest Protect to learn more about the best smoke and fire detector.



Compare?smoke detectors and alarms

Best overall

Techie pick

Budget pick

Basic pick

Best false alarm prevention

Google Nest Protect

First Alert Onelink

Kidde Smoke Detector

First Alert BRK 312OB

Kidde i4618 (pack of 6)

List Price

$119.00

Sensor Type

Split-Spectrum

Photoelectric

Ionization

Photoelectric and Ionization

Ionization

Carbon Monoxide Detector
Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Icon No  Light

No

Icon No  Light

No

Battery Backup
Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Smart Features
Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Icon Yes  Light

Yes

Icon No  Light

No

Icon No  Light

No

Icon No  Light

No

*Amazon.com price as of 10/19/2020 at 03:20 p.m. (MT).?Read full disclaimer.

Our approach

To determine the best smoke alarms, we scoured industry research and evaluated product features, performance, and specs. We consulted the National Fire Protection Association and US Consumer Product Safety Commission for guidance and pored over expert ratings and real customer reviews.

Our five best smoke alarms were selected from 12 top devices that were compared for reliability, effectiveness, price, and customer satisfaction. Learn more about how we conduct reviews like this one from our methodology page.

Smoke alarm and detectors reviews

1. Google Nest Protect: Best overall

The Google Nest Protect fits right into the brand’s flock of smart home safety devices. This combination smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detector links to your home Wi-Fi, allowing you to monitor your home from your mobile device.

This smart smoke detector is polite. Instead of dealing with low-battery chirps, you’ll get updates on your phone when the battery or sensor wears down. It also has a pathway light setting to make those midnight trips to the bathroom easier.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Split-spectrum smoke detection
Pro Bullet Syncing
Pro Bullet Voice alarm
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Higher price

Throughout the day, the Nest Protect performs 400 safety checks to make sure all’s well. But if the Nest Protect does sense a problem, you’ll hear a clear human voice alert you of danger.

We chose the Nest Protect as the best overall smoke detector for all its smart features. It’s changed the game for fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detection, but it’s still pretty expensive (especially if you’re installing multiple alarms). But with its 10-year shelf life, it’s an investment worth considering.

Light Bulb
Want to learn more?

Check out our full review of the Nest Protect smoke and fire alarm. We also have other reviews on Nest products like the Nest Thermostat, Nest cameras, and Nest Secure system.

2. First Alert Onelink Smoke Detector: Techie pick

Techie pick

The comes armed with a photoelectric smoke detector and an electrochemical sensor for catching carbon monoxide.

But on top of keeping your family safe, it comes with a built-in Alexa assistant. You can speak to the smoke alarm to get the weather, play music, and set timers. Plus, you can install it anywhere a normal smoke detector goes like your kitchen or bedroom.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Smart mobile alerts
Pro Bullet 400 safety checks
Pro Bullet Alexa built-in
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Only compatible with Apple smart devices

Like the Nest Protect, it connects to your Wi-Fi and sends alerts to you through an app. So if something goes wrong while you aren’t home, you’ll know. It still has some old-school features too. On top of voice alerts, it has a powerful 85 dB alarm that goes off when it detects smoke, fire, or CO gas.

We like how customizable and connected the Onelink smoke detector is. But like the Nest Protect, it’s also pretty expensive for a fire alarm. We recommend the Onelink if you already enjoy smart home devices or have a steady home automation system in place.

3. Kidde Smoke Alarm: Budget pick

Budget Pick

The is fairly basic compared to our top two picks. But even for a basic smoke alarm, it has some cool features.

It detects smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide and has indicator lights to alert you of each threat. For families with people with hearing impairments, this can be a big help.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Voice alert
Pro Bullet Backup battery
Pro Bullet Indicator lights
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Battery-operated only
Con Bullet No home automation compatibility

It’s also tough for its price. It has a backup battery to keep it running even when the power goes out.

And this Kidde smoke detector can withstand up to 95% humidity. So you won’t get those false alarms caused by the shower or humid weather on hot summer days.

In a world of smart devices, this smoke detector is fairly basic. Although it doesn’t offer home automation or monitoring capabilities, it does have a voice alarm that will cut down on the stress in an emergency.

Bell
Smoke detectors for people with hearing loss

If you or someone in your family experiences hearing loss or deafness, a can help. These devices connect with your existing smoke and fire alarms. When the smoke detector senses danger and sounds the alarm, the strobe light will flash to signal trouble.

4. First Alert BRK 312OB: Best basic pick

Best Basic Pick

This uses a dual sensor to detect multiple kinds of fires and decrease false alarms. It’s also hardwired with a battery backup so you don’t have to worry about power failure.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Dual sensor
Pro Bullet One-touch silence button
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Basic design

Say goodbye to shrieking beeps while you’re cooking or after a hot shower. The First Alert BRK 3120B comes with a photoelectric sensor that’s sensitive enough to tell the difference between everyday activities and real threats like a smoldering fire.

Although this smoke detector has two smoke sensors, it doesn’t come with carbon monoxide detection.

5. Kidde i4618: Best false alarm prevention

Best False Alarm Prevention

This is the second to make our list, and it’s the most affordable. The Firex is easy to install and can be interconnected with other alarms to create a full-house smoke detection system.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Affordable
Pro Bullet Interconnectable
Pro Bullet Equipped with false alarm control
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Incompatible with older models

Changing batteries has never been easier. It’s simple to keep this smoke detector ready for action with the slide-load battery door on the front.

The Firex has only an ionization sensor. While this provides early detection for fire particles, which is useful in a flaming blaze, it doesn’t provide accurate detection for smoldering fires.

What to consider when buying a smoke detector

From 2013 to 2017, just over a quarter of reported fires happened in homes. That’s more than 350,000 fires per year.?1?

If you have smoke detectors in your home, you’ll have a better chance of getting everyone out safely. While any smoke detector is better than none, there are a few things to look for when buying a new smoke alarm:

Multifunctional

The best smoke alarms can detect smoke particles, flames, and carbon monoxide. A multifunctional alarm can save you battery life or energy from your house for hard-wired smoke detectors. Combination smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors are easier than ever to find.

Smart

While classic ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors are helpful, smart smoke detectors are the cutting edge in fire safety. They communicate through apps and deliver alerts to your phone or other mobile devices if an alarm sounds.

Smart alarms can talk to each other too, so you’ll know exactly where the fire is when an alarm is triggered. The only downside is that smart devices are more expensive.

Backup power

If your home's power goes out, you still need to know if there's a fire or smoke emergency. Hard-wired smoke detectors need to have a battery backup or some other backup power source to keep them running.

If the power goes out, it takes your smoke detector with it. Battery powered smoke detectors should have a test button or chirp when the battery starts to drain.

Subscribe to our??for more videos like this one! Learn how to protect your home, your loved ones, yourself, and your belongings.

Types of smoke detectors

Smoke alarms typically have three types of sensors: ionization, photoelectric, and dual. Here are the main differences between the three.

Photoelectric

Photoelectric smoke alarm sensors use light to detect smoke. When smoke particles are suspended in the air (as with a smoldering fire) the particles scatter the beam of light in the sensory chamber, which sets off the alarm.

Ionization

Ionization smoke detectors use radiation and an ionization chamber to detect smoke. The ionizing radiation helps detect small amounts of smoke in the air, as with a flaming fire. When smoke enters the sensor chamber, the current of the ionizing radiation is disrupted, which triggers the alarm.

Dual sensors

Dual sensors include both photoelectric and ionization sensors. These are considered the safest smoke and fire detection devices. Because they detect both flaming fires and smaller, smoldering fires, it’s unlikely that any fire-related danger will get past these double-duty sensors.

Smoke detector installation and maintenance

Smoke alarms can save a life, but they have to be properly installed and maintained. Don’t risk your family’s safety—use these tips to keep your smoke detectors in tip-top shape.

Check batteries
According to a 2019 report, dead batteries are responsible for 25% of smoke alarm failures. Additionally, about three of every five deaths caused by home fires were from homes with a malfunctioning smoke alarm or no smoke alarm at all.2

A smoke detector won’t do you any good if it isn’t working, so make sure to check your batteries every month and use the “test“ button intermittently to ensure proper function.

Arm every level The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends putting a smoke detector on every level of your home: in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and in your basement. On floors without bedrooms, install alarms in the living area or near stairways.

If you have a large home, consider adding even more to cover the whole footprint.

Mount high Smoke rises. It’s important to put your smoke detectors within a foot of your ceilings and ten feet from cooking areas.

For vaulted ceilings, avoid putting smoke detectors in the “pitch” of the roofline. Instead, mount fire alarms three feet below the ceiling so they can accurately read smoke.

Never run out of batteries Set up recurring delivery for smoke alarm on Amazon. That way, you’ll always be ready to replace a dead battery in your smoke alarm. Time the delivery schedule to match regular smoke alarm maintenance so you’ll never overlook changing out old batteries.

Keep it clean Dirt and debris interfere with the sensors on your smoke alarm. Dusty buildup can lead to false alarms or delayed detection during an emergency. Whether you have a photoelectric alarm or an ionization detector, regular cleaning will keep your smoke alarm in working order.

Dodge drafts Keep smoke alarms away from windows, doors, and air ducts. Drafts can disrupt the operation of smoke detectors and increase the occurrence of nuisance alarms.

Get connected Connecting your smoke alarms ensures everyone in your home knows about the emergency. You can install the connection easily and it will sound the siren throughout the house using each of your fire alarms. It takes a few extra steps to set up and test, but it means family members in every room will get the warning.

Smoke detector FAQ

If your smoke detector is beeping regularly, it could be because the batteries are running low.?

Try changing the batteries first and if the beeping continues, the device may be sending false alarms. Make sure it's far enough from the bathroom or stove to avoid sensing heat or steam any time you use the room.

There are pros and cons to smart smoke detectors, but it boils down to your preference and budget.

Smart smoke detectors connect to your phone, allowing you to know when the alarm sounds when you aren’t home. But these aren’t totally foolproof either. They’re connected to your Wi-Fi, so if your internet connection drops, you may be without protection.

For the best results, we recommend testing your smoke detectors once a month. You’ll always be ready for an emergency and this will prevent false alarms and beeping from drained batteries.

You should have at least one smoke detector per floor and outside of each of your sleeping areas.

Smoke and fire detectors warn you when an emergency happens, but how do you prevent a fire in the first place?

Start with a few common safety practices like careful cooking, cleaning out lint traps frequently, and storing flammable products safely. It's also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher on hand in the house and show everyone how to use it.


1. National Fire Protection Association Research, "Published October 2019. Accessed October 19, 2020.
2. National Fire Protection Association, “” Published January 2019. Accessed October 19, 2020.

Disclaimer

*Amazon.com list price as of 10/19/20 03:20 MST. Product prices and availability are accurate as of this date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any prices and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy.