The Best Smoke Detector

Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Our Top Pick for 2016: Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $92.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average adult spends at least 8.7 hours a day in our home, and that does not include children or young adults. Houses and apartments are huge investments in our lives, and not only do they hold some of our most valuable possessions, they are also shelter for our children, pets and other loved ones. As people, we put a lot of effort into protecting our homes from outside intruders by locking our doors and making sure all of the windows are closed tight, but it is also extremely important to protect our house from internal factors as well. In this article, you will find some of the best smoke alarms for your house to protect you and your loved ones.

Table of contents

Send Alerts To Your Phone
Announces The Hazard Type
Easy To Install
Tells You If There’s Smoke Or CO
Battery Safeguard
Universal Mount Bracket
Split-spectrum Sensor
Test Reset Button
Silence/test Button
Friendly Voice Alerts
Uses Three AA Batteries
7-year Limited Warranty
10-year Carbon Monoxide Sensor
Meets The Requirements Of Underwriters Laboratories (UL)

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $92.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerJust as a mother bird protects her children in her nest, this smoke and carbon monoxide alarm will protect yours. Traditionally, smoke alarms have been just that, a smoke alarm to protect your family from a dangerous fire, or dads cooking. They are an essential resource to have in your house, but having a warning system for carbon monoxide poising is an important detection method as well.

Since carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, there is no way for the naked human eye or sense of smell to detect it in your home. By the time a person notices the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as headache, dizziness and vomiting, it may be too late to get help. You can purchase a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector that will warn you of the odorless gas, but they can be pricey. With the Nest smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, it will serve as protection for both in one simple machine.

With Nest, you can make the choice about whether or not you would like to have a wired alarm or a battery operated one. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, but they are both the same price. With battery operated, you will have to remain mindful about changing the battery every few years, although it does have an alarm to tell you when the battery is low. If you prefer to be able to plug it in, keep in mind that it is running constantly and will not work when your power is out.

Generally smoke alarms will sound the alarm when there is any sort of smoke in your house. While letting you know there is an issue is an extremely important quality, if you have a large house, it can be hard to find exactly where the problem is coming from. With Nest, it can accurately tell you where the smoke is coming from in your house, no matter where you have the device set up. One of the most unique qualities with Nest is that is connects to the Wi-Fi in your home, as well as an app on your phone to tell you when the alarm is going off, even if you’re not in your house when it is triggered. And if you own more than one Nest product, such as the thermostat, it all uses the same app so you don’t have to worry about switching between multiple apps to protect your home and family. The app will tell you many different things, such as where the smoke is coming from, if there is a carbon monoxide issue, and when the batteries are running low.

This device can even tell you whether or not the fire in your house is slow-burning or fast burning. For slow fires, they may be smaller and can be put out with any household extinguisher, whereas with a fast-burning fire, you know that you are in immediate danger and should get you and your family out of the house straightaway. Just in case the new chef in the house overdid the toast again, you can hush the alarm from your phone. In other traditional fire alarms, it can be a pain to wave a newspaper in front of it to try and turn it off, or even worse have to drag a chair halfway across your home to wrangle the alarm off the wall and yank out the batteries. With Nest, the entire operation revolves around simplicity. While you can silence most of the alarms, if it is an extreme emergency, you will not be able to silence it. This is a precautionary measure to allow everyone in the house to evacuate and prevent any accidental buttons from being tapped in the event you are rushing to find the issue.

You can also check the batteries and run a test on the system all from your phone in one fell swoop. Simply tap the test button, and once it has finished, you can view a full report of the test to see exactly what its findings are.

Also, as opposed to a shrieking alarm that startles you, Nest will begin letting you know there is an issue in the house with a human-like voice. If it detected smoke in your house, it may say something along the lines of “heads-up, there’s smoke in the kitchen,” so as not to startle you and let you know exactly where the issue is. If it is a more serious threat, it will tell you it is an emergency and you need to take immediate action.

Since this is also a carbon monoxide sensor, it will let you know where it senses the gas, as well as the amount it senses. While carbon monoxide related deaths typically rise during the winter, on average there are 1,000,000 homes in the United States each year that experience high levels of carbon monoxide.

If you are interested in purchasing the Nest, it is available on both Amazon as well as its home website for $99. It is a simple square design with rounded corners, and is much more aesthetically pleasing than the traditional round fire alarm. Available in white and black, it is designed with simplicity in mind, as well as the safety of your family. It also comes with easy installation instructions so you can begin protecting your home and family in just a matter of minutes.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): First Alert BRK SC9120B Hardwire Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm

First Alert BRK SC9120B Hardwire Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm

View it on Amazon for $31.26*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerAnother combination smoke and fire alarm, the First Alert alarm will keep your family safe as well. First Alert may not be quite as high tech as the Nest alarm, but for those who struggle with technology, or just want a generic smoke alarm, this is also a great option. This hardwired combination alarm comes with a backup battery should you ever lose you power or have electricity issues. It has a 120V AC wiring with a 9V battery backup. It also comes with a convenient battery tray to load new ones in if you find that yours are running low. Gone are the days of struggling with trying to get the tiny wires off of the battery and watching them fall to the ground as you put in the new ones.

This also features tamper-resistant locking pins for those with small children who enjoy getting into everything they are not supposed to touch. Granted, there probably aren’t that many children mischievous enough to pull up a chair and try to detach a fire alarm from the wall, but this is also a great thing to have if you live in an earthquake prone area. They tend to shake things loose and knock everything down, so having a tamper-resistant locking pin that will keep it in place is a wonderful option. It also has a universal mounting bracket so you don’t have to struggle taking down your old fire alarm if you choose to replace it with this one. Simply pop the old one off and put this one on. It will also indicate if it is attached all the way just in case it didn’t completely pop on the first time.

Since carbon monoxide is usually emitted by oil furnaces, gas clothes dryers, water heaters, fireplaces, and space heaters, it is highly recommended that you keep at least one alarm near these devices for ultimate safety. While the First Alert brand will be able to cover a wide range of space to protect your home, the closer it is to the source of smoke or carbon monoxide, the faster it will be able to warn you and your family to move to safety.

It is extremely easy to set up and requires minimal effort to get everything ready. These fire alarms are inter-connectable and can communicate effectively with each other. If you have an absolutely enormous house, you can connect up to 16 compatible devices, as well as 12 other compatible smoke alarms if you wish to have more than one alarm. Even if you have a smaller 1 floor house, it is highly recommended to keep at least one on the ground floor, as well as one in the basement or attic if you have either. If one of the alarms is triggered, by either smoke or carbon monoxide detection, it will set off all of the other connected alarms. However, there is a latching alarm indicator on each unit that will tell you which one set off the original alarm.

While a low battery may not set off a loud and annoying alarm, it will do a few simple chirps to let you know that it is time replace the battery. Nothing too ear piercing though.

Purchasing this item from Amazon will include a package with a 9-volt backup battery as well as a 7-year limited warranty. If for any reason you feel that this smoke alarm does not live up to its standards, you can return it for a full refund on Amazon. First Alarm is available for $33.98 for one of $64.99 for a set of two.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Kidde KN-COSM-BA Battery-Operated Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Kidde KN-COSM-BA Battery-Operated Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm

View it on Amazon for $24.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThe Kidde Battery-Operated alarm is another one of the most simple smoke alarms in this list. While it is also a dual carbon monoxide alarm, it is a smaller unit, typical looking smoke alarm. One of the unique qualities about this alarm is that it will talk to you as the first Nest option did as well. It does not connect to Wi-Fi and cannot be controlled from an app as Nest was, but instead of shrill piercing noises, it will alert you in a human-like voice about the dangers in your house.

As well as providing the typical smoke alarm protection, it will also protect you from carbon monoxide dangers as well. The voice will alert you of whatever danger it senses including “Fire, carbon monoxide, and low battery.” It was designed to speak in order to eliminate any confusion from a blaring alarm, and clearly warn you of the smoke or carbon monoxide danger in your house. This is a battery operated unit, meaning that it can protect you and your family whether or not your house has electricity. An additional unique safeguard this unit includes is that the battery door will not close unless the batteries are properly installed in the unit. So if one of them is not in the correct place where it needs to be, you won’t be able to close it until it is corrected.

This is also very easy to install in any and all living areas. Simply slide in a battery and pop it on your wall and your family is protected. In addition, it comes with a 10-year life span and a 7-year limited warranty. While you will have to replace the battery every few years, this is guaranteed to last you quite a long time. These alarms are particularly sensitive to all smoke that may be in the house, meaning that you only need one single unit where before you may have needed two to over a large amount of space.

Different smoke alarms use different technologies to sense the dangers in your home, and typically use an ionization, photoelectric or a dual sensor. This model in particular uses an ionization sensor in the home. This means that is can detect a very small amounts of americium-241, which is associated with carbon monoxide and smoke within its ionization chamber. These ionization smoke alarms can quickly detect the small amounts of smoke that are usually produced by fast flaming fires.

When the alarm is triggered, it will show a red flashing light to indicate danger. While this is not a very bright light, it does help to get the point across that there is a danger you need to be aware of since it typically flashes a dull green light. It also includes a hush feature which will silence the alarm for non-emergency situations like the roast you accidentally left in the oven for too long. Simply press the hush button and the alarm will turn off to allow smoke to dissipate for about 5 minutes until it retests the air.

This unit is available in white on for $24.48 with free shipping. You can also purchase six units if you have a very large space for $144.99, but keep in mind that the Kidde alarms are extra sensitive and require a smaller amount of alarms as opposed to the typical unit.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Kidde i9040 Battery-Operated Ionization Sensor Compact Smoke Alarm

Kidde i9040 Battery-Operated Ionization Sensor Compact Smoke Alarm

View it on Amazon for $8.52*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickHere we have another Kidde model, but don’t worry, it’s not of any lesser quality than any of the other options on our list. This model is a much simpler, unmarked fire alarm than the previous options. It simply has a plain white face with one speaker hole and one flashing light sensor on the front. There is no branding on the face, and it sits much more flush with the wall than previous models. This would definitely be a great model if you are looking for something that will blend in with your house and won’t stick out like a sore thumb.

This option only comes in a battery operated model, and includes a 9 volt battery when you purchase it from Amazon. It is only four inches wide which helps to lend stealth and the ability to be hidden to this unit. This diameter is significantly smaller than other models. Don’t worry though, just because it is smaller does not mean that you won’t get the same type of protection and peace of mind that comes with any of the above models.

As soon as you install this unit with the easy installation instructions, it is recommended that you press the test butting to ensure that everything is properly installed correctly and that the battery is not low. Once correctly installed, it has a battery life of over one year. This alarm also uses the ionization sensing technology that will detect invisible fire particles sooner than photoelectric alarms can. It is important to keep in mind that this alarm does not double as carbon monoxide detector, and will simply detect smoke in your house. It is highly recommended to purchase a carbon monoxide detector, or perhaps a dual alarm on one portion of your house.

If any sort of smoke or fire is detected in your house, the alarm will immediately emit a piercing noise to alert all members of your household to evacuate the premises instantly. This unit is available on Amazon for only $7.72 in frustration-free packaging.

Pre-purchase considerations

How much do you want to spend?

As with any purchase in your life, how tight or loose your budget it as the moment is a major factor that weighs in on all of your decisions. If you have established your permanent home and are able to spend a bit more money on a dual carbon monoxide and smoke alarm, than the Nest may be a great option for you. However, if you are moving into your very first apartment right across from campus, then going with our budget pick may be the best choice for your budget. No matter what you choose though, rest assured that you can sleep soundly knowing that you are protected from any of the dangers that may come your way.

How big is your house?

If you have a smaller house, than you can probably go for a smaller smoke alarm unit as a larger one would simply be an eyesore on your walls. On the other hand, if you have a large house with many different rooms and more than one or two floors, it may be wise to purchase a larger unit. For a bigger house our second option from the First Alert brand can have up to 16 different units connect to each other all at once. It truly is a great option to have alarms that can connect with each other to let you know exactly where the threat is in your house.

Are you tech savvy?

Technology is a constantly evolving and ever changing aspect of our lives whether or not we enjoy using it. In some instances in can be a lifesaving new device, and in others it can simply be a nuisance. If you absolutely love technology and cannot get enough of it, the Nest is a practical as well as fun option to have. Being able to connect it with your smartphone and have the ability to know that is going on in your house at all moments is a wonderful peace of mind to have. In addition to this, if you tend to travel a lot or have younger kids that have a habit of getting into everything, you can always keep an eye on your house.

However, as with all the choices in life, technology is not for everything. It may be that you just really enjoy simplicity, or maybe you are technologically impaired. There are multiple options in this review for those who prefer their own everyday fire alarm. Also, if you don’t have a smartphone, you would be missing out on a lot of great features if you were to invest in the Nest option.

How important is a uniform décor to you?

Maybe you really love to have a uniform décor in your house, and huge eyesore like a fire alarm is just not in the cards for your living room. It is not recommended to hide fire alarms where you can’t see them, as you generally want them in the open air for the sensors to work properly. Therefore they can be hard to hide in your home. If you want one that is smaller and blends into your walls, the last budget option is significantly smaller than the general fire alarm, and will blend in much better.

However, if décor really isn’t a major concern to you, any of these options are a great addition to your home.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

All in all, each of these options on this list would be a great investment for your home and your family. Based on your preferences and your needs, you can pick and choose centered on what you want in your home. Rest assured that no matter what your choice includes, you will be able to sleep soundly at night knowing that you are protected from any fires.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Charts from the American Time Use Survey, BLS
  2. Center for Disease Control, Frequently Asked Questions about Carbon Monoxide, CDC
  3. Home Depot, Carbon Monoxide Alarms,
  4. Nest, Meet The Nest Protect,
  5. First Alert, Combo Smoke/ Fire & Co – Harwire, First Alert
  6. Kidde, Kidde Battery Operated Combination Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm,
  7. Kimberly Kurimski, Best Smoke Detector. Ionization, Photoelectric or Dual Sensor?,
  8. Wikipedia, Americium- 241,
  9. Kidde, Fire Sentry – Battery Operated Smoke Alarm, 19040,

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