Best Smoke Detector 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

Smoke detectors are one of the most vital safety precautions you can take in your home. They will be able to alert you to any risk of fire in the house, allowing you to take the necessary next steps.

Since the 1970s, the time it would take for a fire to destroy a home has rapidly decreased due to the change in the layout of homes and furniture, appliances and materials used. It could take just five minutes for a fire to consume a room today.

Despite the terms being colloquially interchanged, a smoke alarm and a smoke detector are two different appliances. We have explained the differences in the buying guide and included a good selection of both. The best for you depends on your home layout, security system and the risk of fire in certain parts of your home. You can also purchase smoke detectors with carbon monoxide ability too.

These are the best smoke alarms on the market, to suit every need.

The Best Smoke Detectors and Alarms – Our Top Picks

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
NEST Protect 2nd Generation Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
  • Power: AA Battery (Hard Wired also available)
  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.9 x 13.5 cm
  • Smart?: Yes
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FireAngel SB1-TP-R
  • Power: 9V Battery
  • Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 3.5 cm
  • Smart?: No
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Cavius Optical 5 Year Smoke Alarm
  • Power: Battery
  • Dimensions: 4.3 x 4.4cm
  • Smart?: No
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Best Smoke Detectors

NEST Protect 2nd Generation Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Nest Home is one of the best smart home systems available, with a huge range of heating and lighting support available. Their Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm is a must-have in the collection.

The Nest smoke alarms use a Split-Spectrum Sensor as opposed to either optical or ionisation technology, which is the best blend of both worlds. It enhances the traditional infrared photoelectric sensor with a second, blue LED, which detects a wider range of particle sizes in the air before they enter the alarm chamber.

The 880nm infrared wavelength looks for large particles created by slow smouldering fires and a second, 450nm wavelength of light looks for the tiny particles created by fast fires. Essentially, it is giving your home that extra layer of protection before it is too late.

It is smart, so can alert your phone if there are any issues. This can range from a low battery or sensor failure to smoke or carbon monoxide being detected. It will also tell you where the problem is, and Nest Protect will let you know even if you are out. You can also silence it from your phone should you wish.

The humidity sensor and advanced algorithm can sense any false alarms before it disturbs you so that you won’t be bothered by the steam from a shower and it’ll learn what not to look out for.

Six long-life AA batteries are required, and it will test itself automatically and last up to ten years. You can’t buy a more sophisticated smoke alarm. It even looks nice. By far the best smoke detector and best smart smoke alarm around.

P.S – If you have the Nest Thermometer, you can set them to turn the heating off if carbon monoxide is detected.

Specifications

  • Power: AA Battery (Hard Wired also available)
  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.9 x 13.5 cm
  • Smart?: Yes

We like

  • Very easy to fit
  • Great industrial-level sensors
  • Night light feature to illuminate room
  • Alerts you when you’re not at home

We dislike

  • Price - but an investment

Final Verdict

You could buy a dozen standard alarms for the same price, but this one outshines them all by an incredible amount

FireAngel SB1-TP-R

First of all, you’re probably going to want more than one smoke alarm. There is at least the hallway and landing to safeguard, and then more if you have a larger home. So the fact this comes standard as a pack of two is welcomed.

As it is a pack of two, we were surprised to see such a low price. This can sometimes be a little bit nerving with such an important, possibly life-saving item, but the effectiveness of the alarms soon but our worries to bed.

It sounds a loud 85dB alarm if it detects a problem, but it won’t be going off at every sign of a false alarm. The enhanced optical technology gives protection against even smouldering fires, but won’t become a nuisance with daily cooking fumes.

Testing is done manually by a simple press and hold of the large central button. Visual test red light flashes also go off around every 30 or so seconds, so if you feel you’ve gone a little while without seeing the light, you know you have to act.

They are small and unobtrusive, which we know is likely the last thing on your mind when you’re buying such an item but worth noting in case you already have a spot for the alarm to be fitted. As a bonus, they come with their first set of batteries, so you’re good to go as soon as they arrive.

Specifications

  • Power: 9V Battery
  • Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 3.5 cm
  • Smart?: No

We like

  • Price
  • Small and compact
  • Louder than expected

We dislike

  • Still prone to a couple of false alarms

Final Verdict

Fabulous if you’re concerned about safety but still need something on a budget. There is nothing to stop you kitting out your entire home with them

Aico EI141RC Mains Ionisation Smoke Alarm

A mains smoke alarm, but with a 9V battery backup in case of a power cut. We love how this alarm is connectable with up to 20 other alarms, so if one sounds, they all sound to give you strong alert power.

Fitting is a doddle, thanks to there being plenty of holes in the base plate, so you can match them up with any existing holes to ensure less mess. When the alarm goes off, it is nice and loud, so even if you only have one or two in your home, you should be able to hear them throughout the house.

It has a whole host of 5* reviews no matter where you look, so there is no denying that it is a trustworthy product. You can test it or silence it using just one button, so it is easy to keep on top of.

Changing the battery is a little bit of a pain as the model is so clunky and difficult to get back onto the plate, but once done, you shouldn’t have to touch it again for quite a while.

Specifications

  • Power: Mains
  • Dimensions: 18 x 15.4 x 6 cm
  • Smart?: No

We like

  • Low battery warning
  • Can connect with up to 20 other alarms
  • Easy to fit base plate

We dislike

  • Replacing the battery can be fiddly

Final Verdict

Thousands of reviews left for this product are full of praise. It is affordable, and great if you need a replacement for a current out-of-date alarm

Kidde 10SCO Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

A combination alarm if you’re concerned about CO as well as fires. The voice alarm will tell you which concern has been detected, so you know how exactly you need to react.

When dangerous levels have previously been detected, but the threat is still there, the peak level memory will give you voice and LED notifications which encourage you to act. If there is a false alarm, and you safely know there is no threat, a hush button will allow you to temporarily silence the alarm.

There is also a test/reset button, so you can keep on top of the manual checks to ensure the sound is still working. The actual alarm is nice and noisy, although we will say that the voice is a little quieter and it can be hard to make out what it is saying, but the alarm is the most important thing.

When the time comes to change the battery, a front-loading battery compartment makes the switch easier. This will save you having to disconnect the entire unit and refit it. Fitting it for the first time is simple though, as all you need to do is screw the plastic backplate to the ceiling and then pop the smoke detector on to the backing.

It was one of the most prone to false alarms when we tested it, and other reviewers comment similar things. But if you want a 2 in 1 and something easy to look after, then it is an alarm from a reliable brand which is worth a shot.

Specifications

  • Power: AA Battery
  • Dimensions: 0.1 x 4 x 15 cm
  • Smart?: No

We like

  • Easy to fit and change battery
  • Loud when it goes off

We dislike

  • Prone to false alarms rather a lot

Final Verdict

Nice and loud, and simple to care for. A good price, and able to buy in multipacks

Cavius Optical 5 Year Smoke Alarm

Officially seen as the World’s smallest smoke alarm at just 4cm in diameter, this Cavius is not just a novelty. If you need a bit of a visual guidance, it is basically the size of a golf ball. Despite its size, it works just as well as its larger rivals.

It features an alarm which sounds at 85 dB(A) from 3 metres away, which is piercing enough to wake you up from a deep slumber. If it sounds a false alarm, a ten minute hush button will give your ears a rest. This button can also be used to manually test the alarm, just in case you haven’t heard it in a while and want to make sure everything is okay.

When the battery is low, it starts a 30 day long low battery indicator. A short acoustic beep will sound when the voltage is below 2.85V. This gives you plenty of time to act, without leaving you in the dark at the last minute meaning you have to rush out to the shops immediately. It also leaves enough power in the battery for four minutes of alarm, which should be enough to get everybody out of the house.

It is supplied with a replaceable Duracell battery, which should last for around five years so you’ll only have to replace it once in the smoke alarms lifespan. Fitting is simple, thanks to the smart clipping mechanism.

An optical reading is taken every eight seconds, so it is going to be quick to alert you should there be any issues. There is an LED flash every 48 seconds, to let you know it is still looking out for you.

Specifications

  • Power: Battery
  • Dimensions: 4.3 x 4.4cm
  • Smart?: No

We like

  • Compact size
  • Surprisingly loud for the dimensions
  • Great low battery timing
  • Perfect for gadget lovers

We dislike

  • May have difficulty in fitting it to an existing alarm spot due to smaller size

Final Verdict

It is a perfect alarm if you want several dotted in every room of the home, but don’t want them to be too obtrusive

FireAngel ST-622 Optical Smoke Alarm

FireAngel is a popular, trusted brand when it comes to smoke alarms. Their products are even recommended and used by over 90% of the UK’s Fire Service.

This one has Thermoptek technology, which essentially means it can detect both smouldering slow fires and a rapid rise in temperature, which signals a fast fire.

If the end of life alarm is beeping, and you are off to bed but will buy another one tomorrow, you can use the Sleep Easy function to silence it for 8 hours in order to get some shut eye. It can also be silenced for around ten minutes in the event of a known false alarm until you’ve used the extractor fan and tea towel to waft the smoke away.

You get a battery with the purchase, which should last for around ten years. It is worth noting that this battery is not replaceable, so when it does start to go, you’ll need to buy a whole new unit.

It is suitable for positioning in the bedroom, living room, hallway, landing and dining room, making it nice and adaptable. Whether it will last the full ten years is definitely another matter, but the price isn’t extreme so it shouldn’t be a bother if this isn’t the case.

Specifications

  • Power: Lifetime Battery
  • Dimensions: 12.9 x 12.9 x 3.3 cm
  • Smart?: No

We like

  • Price
  • Risk of false alarms seems low

We dislike

  • Promise of ten-year lifespan doesn’t seem to have happened for anyone (yet)

Final Verdict

Good price and seems effective enough. The battery can’t be replaced, but this shouldn’t be an issue

Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm

Netatmo is a great brand when it comes to smart home equipment, and this Smart smoke alarm is more affordable than its similar rivals if you are on a bit of a budget.

Real-time alerts can be sent straight to your connected smartphone, so even if you aren’t at home, you’ll be notified of any issues. When you are at home, you’ll clearly be able to hear the 85 dB alarm from 3m away.

False alarms can also be silenced from your phone. This is handy if you’re in the middle of frying a steak and don’t want to leave it unattended, or can’t reach the alarm to turn it off without trying to press it with the end of the mop/standing on steps.

It is battery operated, so there is no wiring to worry about when you fit it. Just stick it to the ceiling, and download the app to get it all set up. The Netatmo app is compatible with all iOS and Android devices. Bear in mind that it doesn’t work with smart speakers, however, but does with HomeKit.

The ten-year battery should last for the full replacement deadline period, and as it is a standalone product, you don’t need any fancy smart hubs or controls to get it working, or any of Netatmo’s range of cameras/sensors.

Do bear in mind it is not a carbon monoxide detector as well like some other smart sensors are.

Specifications

  • Power: Lifetime Battery
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 4.4 x 7cm
  • Smart?: Yes

We like

  • Standalone alarm
  • Easy to install
  • Looks non-obtrusive

We dislike

  • Some limitations for a smart detector compared to rivals

Final Verdict

Slightly more affordable than other smart fire alarms on the market, and we like how it is standalone, so you don’t need to fork out on other items before it works. We’d say the Nest is better though

YALE EF-SD Smoke Detector

If you have a Yale Smart Home Alarm fitted, then this is a vital addition to the system.

It is wireless, so easy to pair with the rest of the items. This makes it great for extending to suit your personal needs.

The sensitivity to false alarms is low. It doesn’t look out for heat, and when you burn the toast or get out of the bath, the steam won’t set it off. But when it senses smoke, the built in siren will sound the main alarm in your Yale system will also be triggered. This will alert the whole home if something is wrong.

An issue with systems such as this is interference, especially through the Wi-Fi if you have other smart products around the home. But Yale uses 868 MHz Technology, which is a special frequency which is tightly controlled.

It is slightly louder than other alarms, at 95dB, which is good if you have a larger home. DIY-friendly to install, the included instructions are simple to follow, and it will link up to all of the other parts easily.

Specifications

  • Power: Battery
  • Dimensions: 5 x 10 x 9.5cm
  • Smart?: Yes

We like

  • Avoids false alarms
  • Communicates with rest of system
  • Loud internal alarm

We dislike

  • Must have Yale system

Final Verdict

The only reason we have popped it so low is because of its reliance on the Yale system, but if you have your eye on this or it’s already fitted, then there is no doubt you should opt for it

Eve Smoke

Using dual detection technology, photoelectric smoke and differential heat sensors, this Eve Smoke adds an extra layer of safety to your home.

It constantly tests itself, so if there are any issues, they will be picked up straight away. Because of this, it should last for the full ten year service period.

There is no hub or bridge required for it to work, which is perfect if you want a smart smoke alarm without having to install a full system or pay out loads of money for other bits and bobs. It is, however, one of the few smart alarms which will work with HomeKit, so you can still connect it up to other smart small appliances in your home or control it from your phone.

It works by using photoelectric smoke detectors and differential heat sensors, so no matter how the issue can first be detected, it will pick it up ASAP. Alarm notifications will be sent to your phone, which helps if you aren’t inside or are away.

You can also silence any false alarms from the phone, to save you having to reach for the button and stop what you’re doing. If you want to buy several Eve alarms, they are easy to sync with each other to ensure effective communication, and mass sound should something be up.

We like the added touch of the lighting, which can sync with the alarm but also illuminate your path to safety if necessary. There is a ten-year battery built-in, and it isn’t replaceable so bear this in mind before you buy.

It does pretty much everything the Nest can, but for a little less price. We would still choose the Nest for that little extra cost, but the addition of HomeKit with Eve may sway some iOS users.

Specifications

  • Power: Lifetime Battery
  • Dimensions: 11.6 x 4.5 x 11.6 cm
  • Smart?: Yes

We like

  • Compatible with HomeKit and smartphone
  • Simple to fit

We dislike

  • Only compatible with iOS devices
  • Price - in the range of a smart device but it has its limitations

Final Verdict

Pricey, but still great at what it does and really is one of the smartest smart smoke alarm detectors on the market

Dicon Ionisation Smoke Alarm

Basic level, but easy to look after if you want something low maintenance yet trustworthy.

This is a mains-powered smoke alarm, which has a battery backup to save you if there is a power cut or failure. You can link it to up to 12 further alarms from the 670, 650, 680 series, which is ideal if you want them dotted around the home for extra security.

There is nothing complicated about fitting it. Just secure the base plate and twist the alarm onto it to activate the power. The alarm rings at 85dB, which is the standard level and loud enough to wake up anyone within a 3-metre range.

Specifications

  • Power: Mains
  • Dimensions: 3.8 x 13.3cm
  • Smart?: No

We like

  • Pause facility to silence false alarms
  • Clear instructions - good for those with basic knowledge of electrics

We dislike

  • Simple - no extra features

Final Verdict

Apart from this, there isn't much to say. It does the job, and even though it is pretty sensitive, we would rather that than it not picking up anything

Help and Resources

Smoke Detector Buying Guide

Types Of Smoke Detector

  • Optical – Sort of like an electric eye. Optical smoke alarms, also referred to as photoelectric smoke alarms, ‘see’ smoke in order to detect it. They can sense a smouldering fire much quicker than an ordinary detector would, but are also great in areas where burnt toast or steam from the shower can cause a false alarm, as they’re able to tell that the heat is not from a fire hazard.
  • Ionisation – More like an electric nose. These are often the less expensive type. They detect physical smoke particles as opposed to seeing the signs of a fire. The particles enter the ionisation chamber through open vents, and the current inside the chamber is changed. This causes the alarm to sound. They are best for placement in landings and hallways, but not too close to kitchens or bathrooms as they are prone to false alarms.
  • Split-Spectrum Sensor – The latest technology, championed by Nest Home. Their smoke alarms use a combination of both of the above to detect risks, looking for both smouldering and flaming fires. It is a technology which is commonly used in commercial environments but has now gone fully residential too.

Battery Or Hard-Wired?

Hard-wiring is generally the best option, as it gives the most reliability. Many smoke alarm failures actually stem from battery failures, so you don’t want to take the risk of forgetting to replace the power source. Many have a battery back-up however, just in case there happens to be a power cut.

Battery alarms are much easier to install, however. There is no wiring to get right, and you’re a bit more flexible in terms of positioning.

Smart Smoke Detectors

Not as smart as a lot of other smart devices, but they may still come in handy if you like to be kept up to date.

Unlike other smart home devices, you’re going to struggle to get a smart smoke alarm which can get everything to communicate with each other via IFTTT, such as your lights flashing when the alarm goes off or the doors and windows to automatically all unlock (although Nest may get there one day).

But most will still notify your phone if they detect something, and can easily communicate with others in the collection. Many will also give you voice notes, either telling you out loud what they have detected or giving instructions.

They are big in America though, so watch this space for smart fire and smoke alarms becoming the norm here too.

Extra Functionality

Some smoke alarms can now also detect carbon monoxide, which is a deadly silent killer. Despite this, many people still don’t have the relevant detection system in place or indeed know the threats. Having this built-in to your smoke alarm is extra piece of mind without any extra effort.

You may also want the added function of a night light in your alarm. This will help if you need to nip to the loo without disturbing everyone in the dark, but will also light up your exit path should you have to evacuate.

FAQ’s

What Is The Difference Between Smoke Alarms And Smoke Detectors?

Smoke alarms are the most common devices found in homes. They are self-contained appliances, so when smoke is detected, they have an internal alarm which will sound.

A smoke detector also picks up smoke, but rather than containing its own alarm, it communicates with a paired alarm. These are often found more in public settings such as hotels or shopping centres as they help to sound the alarm throughout the entire building, but are becoming more common in private settings as the rise in smart home security systems becomes more apparent. One single alarm could act as communication between your smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and even your motion detectors.

Having said this, many now do have built-in alarms too, in case of a system failure.

How Long Do Smoke Detectors Last?

As well as changing the battery if need be, your actual alarm will likely need replacing around every ten years. This is the recommended deadline to ensure you still have the most effective system for your home, and it isn’t clogged up with smoke particles.

So, if you see an alarm which doesn’t have a replacement battery but should last around ten years, this is not something to be worried about as this is usually a good sign the whole unit will need changing anyway.

Always check battery power, though. Some could promise five years of working, but only give you two.

Do I Have To Fit My Smoke Detector Onto The Ceiling?

As smoke rises, this is where you should install the alarm. A couple of freestanding models are knocking around, but they are not as trustworthy or recommended.