10 Best

Smoke Detectors

of December 2023

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A Guide to Buying a Smoke Detector

Andre Speransky

What is a smoke detector?

A smoke detector detects smoke as an indicator of fire. This device is typically enclosed in plastic enclosings that are shaped like disks. Smoke detectors in commercial buildings send a signal to a fire alarm control panel to trigger a fire alarm. As for household smoke detectors, usually the smoke detectors themselves will alarm audibly or visually and/or several detectors may sound or light up together.

Types of Smoke Detectors

What are the types of smoke detector?

Smoke alarms can be categorized into three types: Ionization, Photoelectric, and a combination of the two known as Dual detector.

  • Ionization: This is a smoke alarm equipped with an ionization sensor that monitors electrically charged particles. Smoke particles change the electrical balance in the air and disrupt the flow of ions, reducing the current flow and setting off the alarm. Smoke alarms of this type respond quickly to fast-flaming fires. 
  • Photoelectric sensors: Smoke alarms with a photoelectric sensor use a beam of light and a light sensor to detect smoke. The smoke particles alter the amount of light reaching the sensor, triggering the alarm.
  • Dual smoke alarms: These sensors operate by both using ionizing and photoelectric energy, providing greater safety at home. It can be challenging to select an alarm that is appropriate for every fire, because all fires are different. Due to this, dual smoke alarms, which employ both technologies, are highly recommended by experts. 

What reviewers say

How should you choose a smoke detector?

Even the smallest fire can quickly spread out of control and have disastrous results if not extinguished promptly. Therefore, a smoke detector is a must for every home and building. Smoke detectors is a small device that sets off an alarm if it senses the presence of smoke. These devices are extremely affordable, but it is important not to focus only on the price, but also on the features when looking to buy the best smoke detector. After going through thousands of smoke detector reviews, we have put together a few pointers to make your decision a little easier.   

How to properly maintain your smoke detector?

Here are some tips to ensure your smoke alarms work properly:

  • When to replace batteries: Replace the batteries immediately when the low-battery warning sound comes on or at least once each year. 
  • When to replace a unit: Manufacturers recommend replacing smoke alarms every 7 years to achieve maximum performance.
  • Cleaning: Make sure you vacuum your smoke alarms every six months to avoid false alarms and make sure smoke reaches the sensor easily.
  • Test your unit monthly. Make sure your smoke alarm batteries are functioning by pressing and holding the test button for at least five seconds until you hear the beep

Important Features

What should you consider before buying a smoke detector

There are various types of smoke detectors, but most of them typically have three parts: 1) a sensor to detect the smoke, 2) an alarm, and 3) a battery. Smoke detectors may also be connected to the normal wiring of the house for its power supply. Hence it is the sensors and the alarm that you must pay attention to when buying a smoke detector.

  • Check the smoke sensors: There are two main types of sensors used in smoke detectors: 1) Ionization sensors and 2) photoelectric sensors. Ionization sensors are better at detecting fast-moving fires that produce small amounts of smoke, while photoelectric sensors are better at detecting fires that produce a lot of smoke. You could also get a smoke detector with dual sensors.

  • Check the alarm: A smoke detector’s alarm should be loud enough to be heard throughout the house and even wake you up while sleeping, if necessary. This alarm can take the form of continuous beeps or a recorded message. Today’s smoke detectors can also be connected to your phone so that if there is a fire at home while you are out, you immediately receive a message and can tend to the fire, before it’s too late. 

  • Power Source: When it comes to the power source of your smoke detectors, you have two options: batteries or hardwired.

    • Battery: They are easier to install and will work even in the event of a power outage, but they will give off a beeping noise when the batteries are low.

    • Hardwired: A complicated installation process is required for this type of unit, which also includes backup batteries, so that it won't stop working even if your power goes out. 

  • Ease of Installation: Smoke detectors with batteries are easier to install than those with wires. However, hardwired smoke detectors are a good option if you do not wish to replace batteries. 
  • Durability: Smoke detectors have a life expectancy of about seven years. It's best to invest in one that lasts this long and comes with a good warranty so you won't have to replace the smoke detector until the seven years are up.
  • Accuracy: For maximum confidence in your smoke alarm's accuracy, choose one that offers both detection technology (Dual Smoke Detector) and make sure it's maintained and tested on a regular basis.
  • Features: Some models come with extra features for more convenience such as the following:
    • Interconnectability: Investing in models that can be interconnected can increase their efficiency. Whenever one unit detects smoke, all of them go off, so everyone in the house is more likely to get up and get moving quickly.
    • Silence Button:  A silence button makes turning the loud noise off during a false alarm easier. There are some models that allow you to silence the alarm using your smartphone or remote control. 
    • Compatibility With Security Alert System: By connecting your smoke detector to your home security system, the authorities will be notified faster in the event of a fire.
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