The 5 Best Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors protect your loved ones and your home against a fire 24/7. That’s why it’s worth considering the best smoke detectors on the market.
Written by Sadie Lovemore
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Jun 01, 2022
Smoke detectors are the often forgotten heroes of home safety, there to protect your loved ones and your home against a fire 24/7. That’s why it’s worth considering the best, newest models on the market. 
These life-saving devices have come a long way to give your home better coverage. However, with so many options on the market and confusing technical features, it can be tough to figure out which one is right for you. 
If you’re shopping for smoke detectors,
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Smoke detectors: what you need to know

Smoke detectors, also known as fire or smoke alarms, are electric fire-protection devices that identify the presence of smoke using ionization or photoelectric technology. These small, yet mighty devices alert you to house fires, potentially saving your life. 
To best protect yourself, you should have a smoke detector in every room of your house or at least every 30 feet. Placement is just as important—install your smoke detectors no more than 12 inches from the ceiling and keep them away from kitchen appliances to prevent false alarms. 
Lastly, press and hold the test button on your smoke detectors monthly to ensure they are operating correctly. 
Key takeaway One smoke detector isn’t enough. You need one for every room or at least every 30 feet. 

How much do smoke detectors cost? 

The cost of a smoke detector ranges from $10 to $120, depending on specialized features. 
Basic models typically run on replaceable batteries without additional features. The most expensive models have smart features, hardwiring with backup batteries, carbon monoxide detection, dual-smoke detecting functionality, and even voice alerts.

Types of smoke detectors 

There are three main types of smoke detectors, named for the technology used to detect smoke: 
  • Ionization smoke alarms send a low-level electrical current through ionized air. Smoke disrupts this electrical current, triggering the alarm. Ionization smoke alarms respond faster to the smoke produced by flaming fires. 
  • Photoelectric alarms detect smoke with a light sensor and beam. Usually, the light beam points away from the sensor. However, when there’s a fire, the smoke disrupts the beam, redirecting the light to the sensor. These can detect large, visible fires sooner than ionized sensors. 
  • Dual sensor smoke alarms use a combination of ionization and photoelectric technology to give you the best of both worlds. Combination sensors often also incorporate carbon monoxide (CO) detection to trigger an alarm when CO gas in the air reaches unsafe levels. 
Key takeaway Dual sensor smoke detectors use a combination of technology to detect fast and slow-burning fires.

What to look for in a smoke detector

Basic smoke detectors will do the job, but the latest models provide features for convenience and better protection. Here are some of the most useful features we’ve identified: 
  • Interconnectivity. When one alarm goes off, they all go off, so you don’t have to worry about being unable to hear a distant alarm 
  • Hardwiring with backup batteries. Instead of choosing between hardwired or battery-powered options, you can find smoke detectors with both features 
  • Security system integration. Smoke detectors with security system integration alert authorities when there’s a fire. This is great for heavy sleepers 
  • Hush buttons. Say goodbye to fanning the smoke detector when you’ve burnt your toast
  • Smart technology. Some of the newest models offer wifi interconnectivity and an app to notify you before it triggers the siren. These models also boast voice alerts and self-testing

Top 5 Smoke detectors

Google Nest Protect 

Available at
Home Depot
. Price: $119.00
Our top pick has all of the features that make smart smoke alarms so great, lasting up to a decade. It has a dual sensor, detecting both fast- and slow-burning fires, and it wirelessly connects to other Google Nest Protect devices. 
This model also features mobile alerts, sending alerts to your phone even if you’re not at home. With in-app battery warnings and self-testing, there’s also less maintenance. It comes in hardwired and battery-powered versions and even detects carbon monoxide. 

Kidde Smart Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector 

Available at
Home Depot
. Price: $89.97
This smart smoke detector is second on the list with 2-in-1 smoke and carbon monoxide detection. However, it needs to be hardwired to use the smart features and has a photoelectric sensor vs. dual smoke detection. This Kidde alarm features interconnectivity with other Kidde alarms, wifi-connectivity, its own app, a backup battery that lasts up to 10 years, and even voice alerts. 

First Alert 3120B

Available at
. Price: $31.67
This is one of the more affordable smoke detectors on our list, equipped with both photoelectric and ionization detecting technology. This hardwired model has a backup battery and interconnectivity for up to 18 devices. This is not a smart model, but it does the job if you’d rather limit the number of apps on your phone. 

X-Sense SC01 

Available at
. Price: $39.99
This smoke detector isn’t hardwired, but its battery lasts for up to 10 years. It uses photoelectric smoke detection technology and includes a carbon monoxide sensor. This model also features a self-check function and a color-changing LED indicator to let you know when it malfunctions or if the battery is low. 

Kidde Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector 

Available at
Home Depot
. Price: 39.97
This 2-in-1 smoke and carbon monoxide detector is hardwired with backup batteries. It also features voice alerts and interconnectivity for up to 18 devices. Certified with a 10-year limited warranty, this alarm uses ionization technology to detect invisible fire particles. 

X-Sense SD01 

Available at
. Price: $29.99 
If you already have a carbon monoxide detector, this smoke-only detection device might be right for you. Featuring a 10-year battery and a photoelectric sensor, this alarm’s wow factor is the LED escape light. This safety light helps guide you to safety when dense smoke is present. This model also boasts an auto-check function to ensure the sensors are working correctly. 

Smoke alarm maintenance tips

Even if your smoke alarm has self-testing functionality, it’s wise to test it once a month. If the detector doesn’t emit a loud, ear-piercing sound, you might need to replace your batteries. Batteries should be replaced at least every 8 to 10 years unless otherwise indicated. 
In addition to this, you’ll want to make sure the smoke detector is clear of any dust or debris to prevent malfunctions. Consider cleaning your smoke alarm at least every six months or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Does home insurance cover fire or smoke damage

Standard home insurance policies include protection from sudden or accidental fire or smoke damage. Depending on the amount of your coverage, home insurance will help to pay for repairs or the complete rebuild of your home. 
Home insurance policies also generally cover detached structures, personal property, and
personal liability
. That way, if your fence or furniture is damaged in a fire, or if a house fire on your property damages your neighbor’s home, then you’ll likely be covered.
If you’re unsure about your coverage limits, call your home insurance company to discuss your policy. 

How to find affordable homeowners insurance

Smoke detectors can help save the day, but if you incur any damage you’ll want to make sure you have enough coverage for repairs. If you’re unhappy with your coverage or believe you can get a better rate, use
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