Best Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms of 2023 (2023)

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Protecting your home from fire damage and dangerous gases starts with installing the proper detection devices, like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. These easy-to-install and affordable devices can help you save not only your personal belongings but the lives of your loved ones that live inside the home.

While all smoke detectors and fire alarms are designed to catch high volumes of smoke inside your home, not all models work the same. That’s why purchasing the right smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for your home is important. To help you make an informed purchasing decision, the This Old House Reviews team researched the best smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire alarms on Amazon. Here are our top recommendations.

Top Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms

While smoke detectors help you protect your home from dangerous fires by sensing the presence of smoke and emitting a warning sound, fire alarms typically work as a group to not only detect a fire but trigger actions to combat it, including contacting emergency services or setting off a sprinkler system. Usually, fire alarms signal a warning sound throughout the home or building as opposed to an isolated room or area. Here are five of the best smoke detectors and fire alarms on Amazon.

First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector

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Available in a one- or three-pack, this First Alert detector offers two-in-one protection with its included smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring. The battery-operated device includes a mutable low-battery signal and an easy-access door that lets you replace its batteries without taking it down. In addition to its simple design, the smoke and carbon monoxide detector has a seven-year limited warranty and an end-of-life chirp that signals the need for a replacement.

X-Sense Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector

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This dual-sensing detector alerts homeowners to fire and carbon monoxide hazards in the home through its LCD and alarm horn. The LED light will also flash yellow or red at the same time as an audible beep to alert homeowners of an issue, which can be a helpful indication for those who are hearing impaired. In addition to its carbon monoxide detection, this device displays your home’s carbon monoxide concentration levels to help you understand the severity of a leak.

(Video) Best Smoke Detector 2023 - Top 5 Smoke Alarms Review

This device is great for homeowners who are looking for an easy-to-read detector, and it comes with all the necessary installation hardware, including a mounting bracket, screws, and anchor plugs.

Kidde Hardwire Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector

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This smoke and carbon monoxide detector is hardwired into your existing electrical system and provides an additional layer of protection through its battery backup. The two-in-one detector supports many features that ensure it’s in working condition, including a tampering-detection alarm, adjustable mounting bracket, and battery door that only closes if the batteries are installed properly.

Additionally, the detector alerts homeowners to fire or carbon monoxide dangers through its LED status light and alarm.

Google Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Detector

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This smart fire alarm from Google detects dangerous levels of smoke and carbon monoxide in your home and is a solid choice for customers with existing smart home technology. Similar to traditional smoke detectors, this device triggers an alarm when it detects a fire or the presence of carbon monoxide. The device has a light ring which turns yellow for an early warning and pulses red for an emergency, providing a visual alert for those who are hearing impaired.

However, this smart device differs from traditional models with its instant mobile notifications that alert you to a fire in your home even if you’re not there. Additionally, the alarm is equipped with voice alerts that let you know where the smoke or carbon monoxide is in your home.

Kidde Battery-Operated Smoke Alarm

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(Video) Top 5 Best Smoke Detectors of 2023

This affordable smoke detector from Kidde runs on a nine-volt battery and uses a flashing LED light and alarm to signal a fire. Although it’s a basic model, the device features a 10-year limited warranty and includes an easy-to-use test button to verify its operational status.

What To Consider Before Buying a Smoke Detector or Fire Alarm

Before purchasing a smoke detector or fire alarm, it’s important to understand how each device’s specifications and smoke-detecting sensors affect its performance. Here are some considerations to think about when buying a detector.


Most smoke detectors and fire alarms, including the Kidde Battery-Operated Smoke Alarm and X-Sense Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector, are designed with a 10-year battery life. While hardwired and battery-powered smoke detectors have similar lifespans, battery-operated models may require frequent check-ins to ensure the batteries aren’t dead.

Backup Power

Most smoke detectors and fire alarms are battery-powered or hardwired directly into your home’s electrical system. Typically, hardwiring the alarms calls for electrical expertise, which may require you to hire an electrician to install the smoke detectors. Battery-powered smoke detectors are easier to install because they run off of alkaline batteries and can detect smoke through power outages because they don’t rely on electricity.

Smart Capabilities

Some smoke detectors and fire alarms are equipped with smart features that send custom mobile alerts and communicate with surrounding devices. For example, the Google Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Detector sends you a mobile message when it detects smoke or carbon monoxide in your home.

Underwriters Laboratories Listing

The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a third-party certification company that has helped develop smoke alarm standards for over 40 years. A UL-certified smoke detector or fire alarm must meet the company’s requirements to receive its stamp of approval. Many smoke alarms, including the First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector and Kidde Battery-Operated Smoke Alarm, meet UL requirements.

Sensor Type

There are three different types of sensors inside a smoke detector, including a photoelectric sensor, an ionization sensor, and dual-sensing technology.


(Video) TOP 5: Best Smoke Detectors 2022 | Protect Your Home!

A photoelectric smoke alarm uses a light-sensitive sensor and an LED light to detect smoke. The smoke detector’s light sensor can’t pick up the LED light that’s emitted unless there’s smoke in the air, which causes the light to reflect and be picked up by the device’s sensor, triggering an alarm.


Ionization fire alarms like the Kidde Hardwire Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector use radioactive material that’s positioned between two electrically charged plates, which triggers air to flow from one plate to another. When smoke enters the detector, this airflow is restricted and triggers an alarm.

Dual sensors

Some smoke detectors, including the X-Sense Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector, use both ionization and photoelectric detectors to sense smoke and trigger an alarm. Utilizing both detection methods helps a device detect a range of fires while providing an alternative in case one method fails.

Top Brands

When it comes to smoke detectors and fire alarms, Kidde and First Alert lead the pack. Check out the history behind each company’s fire detection technology below.


Founded over 100 years ago, Kidde is one of the largest fire safety product manufacturers and produces devices like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. The company’s offerings go beyond just detection, as the company offers equipment like fire extinguishers and escape ladders that can help homeowners after a fire is detected.

(Video) Understanding Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors | Ask This Old House

First Alert

First Alert is a manufacturer of fire prevention devices and products, including smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire-resistant safes. The company created the first battery-powered smoke detector, which went on to earn a UL listing.

Where To Place Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests installing a smoke detector in every hallway, level, and bedroom inside your home. The best place to install a smoke detector is on a ceiling, though you can install one on a wall if you position it within inches of your ceiling.

The NFPA recommends placing a carbon monoxide detector in every area you install a smoke detector. It’s important to remember to install carbon monoxide alarms away from flame-producing appliances, as this can trigger a false alarm.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I replace a smoke detector?

Most smoke detectors, including the First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector, emit a chirp that signals the end of their working life. If you own a model that isn’t equipped with an end-of-life signal, you should replace the entire model after 10 years of use.

How can I tell if there’s carbon monoxide in the house?

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas that can lead to serious health complications and possibly death if exposed to in high quantities. While the gas can’t be detected using taste, smell, or sight, it can cause symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath, blurred vision, and confusion. A carbon monoxide detector can also detect high levels of carbon monoxide within your home and alert you when this occurs.

What can cause a carbon monoxide leak in the home?

Carbon monoxide is emitted by appliances like boilers and water heaters when their fuel source isn’t burned properly. Additionally, a car’s engine emits carbon monoxide while running, which can lead to health complications or death if you breathe in high levels of carbon monoxide inside an enclosed garage.

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(Video) Best Smoke Detectors 2023 🏆 Top 5 Best Smoke Detector Reviews

We recommend products in each review using an intensive research process, spending hours combing through the best available models on Amazon. For a product to make our list of top picks, it must hold a solid sales record on Amazon, have consistently positive customer reviews, and offer unique features, among other factors. After narrowing down our list of recommendations, we conduct additional research and sometimes in-person testing to ensure that the products meet our standards. Once we conclude the research phase, we craft a well-rounded, user-friendly article that includes our recommended products and additional information to help homeowners like you make the right purchase.

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What is the best fire and smoke detector is? ›

1. Google Nest Protect: Best overall. The Google Nest Protect keeps your home protected in more ways than one. Sure, it can detect smoke, but with its split-spectrum sensor, it detects smoldering fires as well as fires with active flames.

What is the best smoke detectors to get? ›

The best basic smoke alarm

For your primary line of defense, we recommend the First Alert SA511CN2-3ST Interconnected Wireless Smoke Alarm with Voice Location. This is a photoelectric alarm, so it's effective against both slow-burning, smoldering fires and fast-burning, flaming fires.

Which is better First Alert or Kidde? ›

First Alert has better features than the Kidde because of the alarm system with a verbal warning of the threat.

Who makes the best 10-year smoke detector? ›

Best Overall

For a reliable, long-lasting, and effective smoke detector, we recommend the First Alert BRK 3120B Smoke Detector. This 10-year, hardwired model is equipped with both a photoelectric and an ionization sensor. “Dual detectors allow the device to detect both smoky fires and flames,” says Mock.

Are hardwired smoke detectors better than battery? ›

Hardwired smoke alarms are more dependable as they are connected on a power supply. Once the alarm sounds, they will not stop until turned off. In case of power interruptions, they have battery backups for continuous operation. Battery-powered smoke alarms depend solely on the batteries.

Which is better ionization or photoelectric? ›

The NFPA acknowledges that a well-designed photoelectric alarm will usually outperform ionization alarms in all fire situations, regardless of type and material. During smoldering fires, ionization alarms failed to give sufficient egress time more frequently than photoelectric alarms failed to do so.

Are 10 year smoke detectors worth it? ›

All smoke detectors should be replaced at least every 10 years and tested regularly to ensure the alarm is functioning properly. At the end of ten years, the smoke detectors will give an end-of-life warning letting you know to replace the alarm.

What smoke detector has fewest false alarms? ›

Photoelectric alarms respond to particles in the air created by smoldering fires or steamy showers. They're less prone to false alarms caused by cooking, so consider them for areas near kitchens.

What is the best smoke detector close to a kitchen? ›

Photoelectric smoke detectors are best at detecting the large particles typical of smoky, smoldering fires but poor at detecting fast, flaming fires. Photoelectric units are less prone to false alarms from burnt food, so they may be a better fit in kitchen areas.

What are the 3 types of smoke detectors? ›

There are three types of smoke alarms, ionization, photoelectric and a combination of the two which is commonly called a “dual” detector. Look for the UL stamp on any smoke alarm. Research has shown: Ionization smoke alarms detect flaming fires marginally earlier than photo-electric smoke alarms.

Which is better photoelectric or ionization smoke alarm false alarm? ›

In many tests of both types of smoke alarms, ionization alarms are indeed faster at warning us of a fast fire than photoelectric alarms… but faster by seconds. Meanwhile, photoelectric alarms often pick up on slower fires many minutes before their ionization siblings, if these latter alarms even go off at all.

What are the two most common smoke detectors? ›

Generally, there are two types of home smoke alarms: photoelectric and ionization.

Can smoke detectors last 20 years? ›

If your alarm has "long life," or nonreplaceable batteries, they can be effective up to 10 years without any battery replacement needed, the NFPA notes. But if you have any other type of batteries in your alarm, replace them at least once a year.

How many years should a smoke detector last? ›

Because alarm sensors wear out, replace each alarm at least every 10 years. Also, alarms have labels showing when they were made. If you don't see a label, the alarm is old and must be replaced.

Should you replace old smoke detectors? ›

"Replace all smoke alarms, including those that use ten-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are ten years old or sooner if they don't respond properly when tested." Each smoke detector should be replaced 10 years after the date of installation.

How many hard wired smoke detectors do I need? ›

As a result, the NFPA recommends having at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home — including basements — as well as in every bedroom, and outside of each sleeping area. Larger homes may need extra detectors. "It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms.

What happens if you take the battery out of a hardwired smoke detector? ›

Will taking the battery out of a smoke alarm make it stop beeping? Taking the battery out of a smoke alarm will not make it stop beeping. Even after the battery has died, the detector maintains a residual charge that will keep the chirp going for at least seven days.

What can I use instead of a hardwired smoke detector? ›

So especially in a bedroom, a dual-sensing detector is best. You might want a photoelectric sensor in the kitchen, an ionization sensor in the garage, the ability to add a voice saying “Fire!” to alert a sleeping child, or a sensor with a strobe light for someone who is hard of hearing.

What is the drawback of ionization smoke detector? ›

Disadvantages: Advantages of ionization smoke detectors: Produce false alarms sometimes which often leads people to disable them. They only detect flaming fires.

What are the disadvantages of photoelectric detectors? ›

Disadvantages of Photoelectric sensor
  • Over coarse of time lens get contaminated.
  • It's sensing range is affected due to color and reflectivity of the target.
  • Thru beam type requires transmitter (Tx) and receiver (Rx) at two separate locations. Retroreflective type requires reflector in addition to Tx/Rx.
Mar 14, 2022

Are ionization smoke detectors being phased out? ›

Ionisation smoke alarms are now being phased out across the entire fire safety industry, from standalone domestic alarms to detectors in the largest commercial panel systems.

Is Kidde a good brand? ›

CR's take: The hardwired Kidde KN-COSM-IBA CO detector performs very well. It receives top-level marks in our low-CO-level test and for the accuracy of its CO-level display, and a near-top-level mark in the high-CO-level test.

Are alkaline or lithium batteries better for smoke detectors? ›

Alarms with traditional (alkaline) batteries are fine. But those batteries must be changed at least once a year—and you may experience a “chirping” sound when the batteries are dying, which will require your immediate attention for safety. Instead, we recommend you get alarms that have long-life lithium ion batteries.

Do smoke detectors get more sensitive with age? ›

Older smoke alarms that have accumulated a lot of dust and dirt in and around the sensor will usually become less sensitive. However, sometimes the reverse is true, and they can become overly sensitive. This is rare, but it may signal that it's time to replace or upgrade your smoke alarms.

What is the most discreet smoke detector? ›

The Cavius Smoke Alarm with 5 year battery and with 10 year battery is recognised as the world's smallest smoke alarm at 40mm wide and 41mm deep. This makes it discreet and perfect for homes, caravans or mobile homes.

What is most likely to trigger a smoke detector? ›

Smoking under smoke detectors will set them off! Where possible, you should prevent the use of aerosols in the vicinity of fire alarm detector heads, where this cannot be avoided use of alternative products should be considered. Products such as deodorant and hair spray will commonly set off smoke detectors.

Is there a silent smoke detector? ›

The Nest Protect allows you to easily silence the unit in the event of a nuisance alarm with the large and easy-to-press test/silence button. You can even silence the alarm from your smartphone, although it doesn't allow for this if the smoke is too heavy.

Is wall or ceiling better for smoke detector? ›

Many experts point out that smoke alarms should be placed on the ceiling, or high up on the walls. 6 By positioning the detectors at roughly 12 inches below the ceiling, you can ensure that they will detect smoke at the earliest opportunity.

Should smoke detector be above door or ceiling? ›

Smoke alarms should be mounted in or near bedrooms and living areas, either on the ceiling or the wall. Ceiling mounting it is typically preferred as it allows the smoke alarm to be placed more centrally in the room.

Should smoke detector be in bedroom or hallway? ›

Smoke detectors should be placed inside the bedroom and just outside the bedroom areas, such as in a hallway. If you don't have enough smoke detectors to place them everywhere, locate one outside the bedrooms in a spot where everyone sleeping could hear the alarm.

What 2 types of detectors should you have in your house? ›

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are two of the most important safety devices in your home. Bottom line, you need both smoke detectors AND carbon monoxide detectors to keep you and your family safe.

What is the difference between a smoke alarm and a smoke detector? ›

No, a smoke detector is one or more devices that detect the presence of smoke and report that information back to an alarm system. A smoke detector may sound, however the alarm system will always sound for a fire alarm. A smoke alarm is a stand-alone device that is not tied into a system.

Which smoke detector is best for bedrooms? ›

If you are wondering which types of fire detectors is the best for bedrooms, well we must say that, for bedrooms, ionization smoke alarms are the best. Electric smoke detectors are ideal for living areas and hallways and ionization smoke detectors are good for bedrooms.

Why did my fire alarm randomly go off in the middle of the night? ›

We typically attribute smoke detector false alarms at night to one of two factors: low battery power and a drop in the home's air temperature, or an environmental factor such as high humidity, steam, or smoke particles in the air.

Do I need both ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors? ›

National Fire Protection Association:

For best protection, it is recommended both (ionization and photoelectric) technologies be used in homes. In addition to individual ionization and photoelectric alarms, combination alarms that include both technologies in a single device are available.

Do hardwired smoke alarms need to be replaced? ›

Research into their longevity has concluded that hard-wired as well as battery-operated devices should be replaced every 10 years, or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested. The manufacturing industry also recommends that smoke alarm detector heads should be replaced every decade.

How often do you need to replace a battery in a hardwired smoke detector? ›

If your detector is hardwired into your home's electrical system, replace the backup battery at least every 6 months and replace the smoke detector itself at least every 10 years.

Do old smoke detectors leak radiation? ›

Any radioactive source in a smoke detector cannot corrode or disintegrate. The source itself is within a metal seal in the ionization chamber. The seal can only be broken by the deliberate use of force; such as smashing the detector with a hammer.

Can you have too many smoke detectors? ›

Homes that have a set number of hardwired alarms can still place additional battery-operated smoke alarms throughout the house. There is no such thing as having too many smoke alarms in your home! Just make sure fire detectors are properly placed in each area.

How do you know if a smoke detector is going bad? ›

It's pretty simple to check the age of your smoke detector: Just climb up on a ladder and take a look at the back of the alarm up-close. There will be a manufactured date that tells you when the alarm was made. If that date was 10 years ago or more, it's definitely time to replace it.

Where is the best place to put a smoke alarm? ›

Fit smoke alarms on a ceiling (or high up on a wall, if the instructions state it is suitable for wall mounting). Make sure you fit an appropriate alarm in every room where there's a fire risk.

Which type of smoke detector is best? ›

A dual sensor alarm provides the best protection and for that reason it is recommended. There are alarms available that are multicriteria or intelligent alarms, what this means is they use many different sensors such as photoelectric, ionization, and heat along with an algorithm to detect a fire.

Can you replace a hardwired smoke detector with a different brand? ›

Absolutely! You can mix and match hardwired First Alert, BRK, and Onelink models.

What is the difference between wired and wireless smoke detectors? ›

Wireless systems use signals that are transmitted through a radio bandwidth in order to alert you to smoke or a fire. If a fire does break out, there'll be no damage to wires. Conversely, in a wired system, the wires can be damaged before the alarm is triggered.

Which type of smoke detector ideal for flaming fires? ›

Ionization technology is generally more sensitive than photoelectric technology at detecting small particles which tend to be produced in greater amounts by flaming fires, which consume combustible materials rapidly and spread quickly.

Which is better fire alarm heat detector or smoke detector? ›

Every residential property should have smoke detectors installed because they are faster to detect possible fires than heat detectors. This is the major advantage of smoke detectors over thermal detectors.

Is ionization or photoelectric smoke detector better in a kitchen? ›

Ionization models are best suited for rooms that contain highly combustible materials that can create flaming fires. These types of materials include flammable liquids, newspapers, and paint cleaning solutions. Photoelectric models are best suited for living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens.

What type of smoke detector is best for furnace room? ›

Photoelectric smoke alarms works best in living rooms, bedrooms, and outside kitchens. Additionally, heat detectors work best inside kitchen, attic, garage, laundry and furnace rooms. Frequently test smoke alarm and it's batteries, at least every month. Fire Prevention Week celebrates 100th anniversary in 2022.

What type of fire alarm system is most commonly in use today? ›

The most common type of fire detection system, smoke detectors live up to their namesake by detecting smoke.

What is the least sensitive smoke alarm? ›

The least sensitive is the heat detector, that will not go off because of smoke or other dense gasses at all, but will go if it senses the heat from an actual fire underway.

What type of fire detector is best for kitchen? ›

Smoke alarms are not suitable for kitchens but heat alarms are. Fitting a heat alarm in your kitchen will give you warning of an increase in temperature caused by a fire but will not be set off by cooking fumes.

Which smoke detectors have less false alarms? ›

There are two main types: photoelectric and ionization. Photoelectric alarms respond to particles in the air created by smoldering fires or steamy showers. They're less prone to false alarms caused by cooking, so consider them for areas near kitchens.

Should I get lithium or alkaline smoke detector? ›

Alarms with traditional (alkaline) batteries are fine. But those batteries must be changed at least once a year—and you may experience a “chirping” sound when the batteries are dying, which will require your immediate attention for safety. Instead, we recommend you get alarms that have long-life lithium ion batteries.

Why photoelectric smoke detectors are better? ›

The second type of smoke detector is photoelectric, which uses a light beam to help detect the presence of smoke. According to NFPA, these alarm types are more effective at sounding when a fire originates from a smoldering source, like a lit cigarette that falls into a couch cushion.

Should I install smoke detector on wall or ceiling? ›

Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Wall-mounted alarms should be installed not more than 12 inches away from the ceiling (to the top of the alarm).


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