The concept is simple: a smoke alarm that tells you there’s a fire nearby is great, but a smoke alarm that tells you there’s a fire no matter where you are is even better. Smart smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are one of the most useful categories of smart home equipment on the market, primarily because they offer a distinct advantage over “dumb” versions of the same product. And if you have a second home or travel frequently, the added peace of mind they can provide is invaluable.
Once installed and powered on, it downloads the corresponding app and connects to the device wirelessly. Then, when the alarm sounds, not only do you get an audio alert (many include helpful voice instructions instead of just a siren), your smartphone also tells you what the problem is (if it’s smoke or CO, which alarm went off , and sometimes even the severity of the smoke). Many smart smoke detectors connect to additional smart home equipment and IFTTT, so you can get even smarter by having your lights start flashing if smoke is detected, for example. Perhaps the biggest benefit of a smart smoke detector: no more hunting midnight chirps, as you’ll also get phone notifications about dead batteries.
Here are our picks for the best options on the market today.
best smart smoke detector
Nest Protect is one of the most mature smart smoke alarms on the market, and it’s an obvious choice if you want one of the most sophisticated and reliable smart smoke detectors out there. The alarms are varied, the integrated lighting is color coded according to the type of threat, and the product includes helpful voice alerts when activated. In testing, our phone received an alert almost immediately, and the app couldn’t be easier to master. If you have extra Nest gear at home, like a Nest Thermostat, things get even smarter as you can set Protect to turn off your ventilation system if it detects smoke, a potential lifesaver.
At $119, the Nest Protect isn’t cheap, but there are more expensive options. In this case, however, the outlay is worth it.
The best affordable smart smoke detector
The X-Sense XS01-WT isn’t as smart as the much more sophisticated Nest Protect: it won’t warn you of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home, and you won’t be able to interconnect multiple units so that when one beeps. turned off, they’ll all sound bad, but its $40 list price makes it an attractive value for home security.
best smart listener
Leeo has shut down the servers for their Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight, so the 2nd generation Roost Smart Battery wins this category by default. Install this battery in your conventional smoke detector and it will send a push notification to the contact list you set up in your app, so you can take action even when you’re away from home.
What you should know about smart smoke detectors
For the most part, smart smoke alarms tend to work almost identically. The device mounts to the ceiling or high on the wall (usually replacing an old-school smoke alarm in the same location), using either batteries or wall power. Most of the smart smoke alarms we reviewed are available in any form factor and cost about the same. When you go shopping, pay close attention so you don’t end up with the wrong guy.
If you are upgrading a hardwired model, it is important that you replace all detectors in the chain with the same make and model. One of the reasons to wire a smoke detector is that if one detects a dangerous condition, it can cause all the others to trip. But there is no guarantee that the feature will work if you have a mix of devices from different manufacturers connected to each other.
While the total number of competitors in this space is small, the category is already quite fragmented. Most of the category consists of simple smoke detectors as described above, but there are a few outliers that complicate your purchase decision.
First is the concept of smart battery: Instead of replacing the entire alarm, a smart battery simply replaces the 9-volt cell inside your smoke detector. The battery pack contains a Wi-Fi radio that can communicate with your home network and a companion smartphone app. The battery also includes a microphone that listens to the smoke alarm it is installed on. When the alarm sounds, the battery kicks in and handles the “smart” side of things, functioning as a stand-alone detector. Currently, there is only one smart battery on the market: the Roost Smart Battery. It’s not a perfect solution, but at just $35, it’s much more affordable than a stand-alone smart smoke detector. If your budget is limited, it’s definitely worth checking out.
A similar idea comes in the form of smart listener. Again, the idea here is that you don’t remove your existing smoke detectors, just install an additional piece of hardware that can hear an alarm and alert your phone if it hears it, turning a traditional alarm system into a smart one. This is different from the Roost battery because the alerter simply plugs into an outlet (however there is no battery backup so if the power goes out the device will not be able to hear the siren). Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight, at $50, is currently the best option on the market. It’s another great option if you don’t want to replace the equipment you already have.
What to look for when buying
Smoke Y CO: Your home should warn about the danger of carbon monoxide and smoke. Some detectors will do both, so there is no need to deploy and monitor batteries in more than one device. Keep in mind that, as discussed above, smart batteries and smart listeners don’t actually detect smoke or CO directly, so you’ll need to make sure the actual alarms in your home support detection types if you decide to go that route.
Sensitivity and accuracy of the detector: It is very difficult to scientifically prove how well a smoke/CO detector does its primary job without burning down your house. That said, simulating smoke conditions can reveal a bit about how sensitive a detector is. Also, you can consider the general consensus on the technology behind a smoke detector. The Nest Protect, for example, uses a photoelectric sensor split spectrum sensor which is considered superior to the ionization sensor used in many older devices and which is more prone to false alarms.
Variety of notifications: A loud siren is expected, but the voice alerts are quite useful: not only do they tell you what kind of danger has been detected, they also alert you to its location and can even tell you how to respond (either by opening a window or calling the phone). 911). ). Color coded lights on the alarm itself are another plus. And of course, quick push notifications on your phone are a must in the smart alarm space.
Multiple users: Obviously, you are safer if more than one person receives an automatic alert that there is a fire in the house. Look for a system that supports multiple users through an invitation system.
Interconnectivity: Some devices support an interconnectivity feature, so if one alarm goes off, all the other alarms in the house will too. This can be a great benefit if you have a very large house and are afraid you won’t hear an alarm going off in another part of the house. We didn’t test interconnectivity features in our review, as we tested individual alarms individually, so check the specs when you buy if you find this feature useful.
Smart home hub support: If you want to integrate your smoke detector with the rest of your home, consider whether it’s compatible with a major smart home hub. Nest Protect is obviously tied to the Nest ecosystem, but Alexa, SmartThings and HomeKit options are also available. Keep in mind that we’ve had mediocre results with several of these hooks, and even if you connect the alarm to your smart home hub, the ultimate usefulness of this connection may be limited.
That said, when paired with a smart thermostat, some smart smoke alarms can trigger the thermostat to turn off your HVAC system so smoke doesn’t get into your ventilation system and circulate throughout your home.
Our smart smoke detector reviews