Installing and maintaining smoke and carbon monoxide CO detectors can save your life. Newer models offer more features. For example, interconnected detectors communicate among devices and provide integrated, whole-house protection. With such a system, when one detects smoke or carbon monoxide all of them will sound—whether the detectors are hardwired or wirelessly connected. For smoke detectors, we test response time to both flaming fires and smoldering, smoky fires.
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Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. Photoelectric smoke alarms are best at detecting smoldering fires, while ionization smoke alarms are better at detecting sudden, fast-burning fires. Aside from sensor type, the other main consideration is whether or not you need hard-wired detectors. Hard-wired smoke detectors may require an expert for installation, but the major pro is that they only rely on batteries as a backup power source. Two manufacturers, First Alert and Kidde, dominate the smoke-detector market, so you'll notice they're well represented on our list.
There are some household purchases you can afford to take a chance on. If you buy a second-rate smoke detector and it breaks, you can lose a lot more than your breakfast. There are devices for all kinds of homes and budgets.
According to the National Fire Protection Association almost two thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes without properly working smoke alarms. Few of us realize how easily — and how quickly — fire can harm our loved ones. Fortunately, there is a simple, affordable way to help prevent this from happening: the smoke alarm. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms are one of the best and least expensive means of providing an early warning of a potentially deadly fire and could reduce the risk of dying from a fire in your home by almost half. Dan Reynolds began his career in firefighting in and is a recently retired firefighter.