When you’re creating the perfect smart home, you’re looking for peace of mind, convenience, and the "cool" factor. In a nutshell, I'd say home automation is knowing your home is ready to take care of your needs (and it's) even when you’re not at home.
That being said, it’s easy to get caught up in all the bells and whistles and neglect some of the more basic devices, such as smart smoke detectors.
Smoke detectors may not be the most exciting devices in your smart home, but they’re vital. It would be tragic if you put all this energy and money into automating your home, only to fall victim to a house fire and then lose it all.
Now, before we help you pick the best smart smoke detector, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how they work.
How Do Z-Wave Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Work?
Most smoke detectors these days use photoelectric sensors, which means they use light to determine if there’s smoke in the air. This type of detector has a low light emitting diode inside of it and a sensor to pick up light. When smoke or other particles in the air reflect that light, the sensor picks it up and the alarm goes off. These kinds of smoke detectors are very responsive.
The other type of detector features ionization sensors, which uses ions to detect smoke in the air. These types of detectors often have more false alarms than photoelectric detectors, but they're also usually cheaper.
The best modern smart smoke detectors usually have carbon monoxide detectors built in as well. Carbon monoxide can be deadly and unfortunately, it is odorless and virtually invisible. CO1 leaks usually originate from a furnace, so it's possible to be exposed to it in any home.
Without adequate ventilation, this odorless gas can build up in the home and cause severe illness if not death. Carbon monoxide detectors have an electrochemical sensor that has electrodes in a chemical solution, and they detect the change in electrical current when the gas hits the chemical solution.
Is It Better to Have a Smart Smoke Detector Hard Wired?
To protect your home, they can either be powered by a replaceable battery or hardwired into your home’s electrical system.
There are pros and cons with both types, of course. Batteries ensure your detector works even when there’s no power, but they need regular replacing to be effective. Hardwired smoke detectors, on the other hand, are more reliable as they as always on and if the power goes out, they usually have a battery backup.
Building codes in certain areas may require a hardwired detector, so check with your local government before purchasing. In these cases, it’s best to get a hardwired device that has a backup battery.
Certain homes are not wired for smoke detectors, so in that case, you'll need to use battery operated smart smoke detectors.
Smart Smoke Detector Comparison
Wired or Battery
Wired + Battery
Smoke + CO
Smoke + CO
Cell 4 / 1
The Search for the Best Smart Smoke Detector
Let’s look at some of the different smart home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on the market today to see which one is the best buy. There are quite a few to choose from with various features, but we’ve got your back!
Check out our list of the best smart smoke detectors:
Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm
The Nest Protect is a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector that features wifi connectivity, so that you can know what’s going on even when you’re not at home.
What makes the Protect such a great detector is that it integrates seemlessly with IFTTT, Alexa, and other Nest products.
This smoke and CO1 detector comes in two versions: a hardwired version with a battery backup and a straight battery version, which means it can be installed in virtually any home! That being said, make sure you buy the correct version for your home. We suggest checking your current detectors to see whether you have a hardwired system or not prior to purchasing.
The major con of the Protect is the price, which is more than twice the cost of the other models listed below.
Kidde RF-SM-DC Wireless Interconnect Battery-Operated Smoke Alarm
This Kidde alarm is wireless and battery operated, so that you can trust that it will work even when you lose power.
This device only detects smoke, unlike Nest Protect, which also detects carbon monoxide.
These alarms are not smart in the sense that they have an app, but they're on this list because they interconnect seamlessly, so that you have a system of alarms in your home. That means if you had one go off, all of them would go off to alert you. What's nice about this is that you could have one in a pole barn and still be notified if it went off.
The RF-SM-DC also has a button to turn off the unit in case it’s going off while you’re cooking or during some other non-emergency. They detect smoke using the ionization method, an older but reliable method of smoke detecting.
The largest pro to this unit is the price, however, it doesn't feature all the bells and whistles that other smoke detectors on this list do.
Leeo Smart Alert Smoke/CO Remote Alarm Monitor
The Leeo Smart Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Monitor is a unique device that doesn't actually detect smoke or carbon monoxide, it just notifies you when your smoke detectors are going off.
This device plugs directly into an outlet, so you do not need to worry about hardwiring it in and it can integrate with virtually any alarm, as it simply listens for an alarm going off. Once it hears an alarm going off, it sends a push notification to your phone.
What's specifically interesting about this device is that you could even integrate it with a security system, so you always know if your alarm is going off.
Our Pick: The Best Smart Smoke Detector
First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm
The very best in Z-Wave functional smoke and CO2 detectors is, by far, the First Alert 2-in-1 Detector.
Battery operated, hardwired - First Alert makes them all, so they’re experts in protecting your home. Unfortunately, though, the Z-Wave version only comes battery operated. No hard wired option is available.
The First Alert 2-in-1 uses photoelectric sensing technology to detect smoke and electrochemical sensing for carbon monoxide so that you get less false alarms. Finally, no having to stop cooking and grab a chair to stand on to press a button! With the Z-Wave communication, you can also hit a button on your phone to stop alarms, and you can be aware of what’s going on even on vacation.
For all the functionality packed into this little device, the price is fantastic! It's important to note, that you will need a Z-Wave hub for this device to work. Also, it does not work with the Wink hub.
What Smoke Detector Not To Buy: Onelink Wi-Fi Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm, Battery, Apple HomeKit-enabled
Why: Terrible reviews, bad customer support, and it's expensive.
How to Buy Smart
When it comes time to outfit your home with the best smart home smoke detectors, you want to get the best protection at the best price. Not only do you need to choose the most reliable and functional device, but you need to get more than one.
Plan where you’re going to put them and how many you will need. Call your local zoning commission if you plan to hardwire them in and you do not already have the wiring installed, then when you purchase your smoke detectors, check for bundle deals. For example, Nest regularly runs deals where they sell multiple Nest Protects in a bundle which saves you a bit of money.
Also, some insurance companies will give you a break when you buy connected smart smoke detectors, so that is worth looking into.
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