Next to a smoke detector, the fire extinguisher is your most important tool in preventing devastating home damage. Fire extinguishers spread a fire-retardant foam that can smother a small blaze before it gets out of control.
But all fire extinguishers are not created equal. “Homeowners should find any normal 10ABC fire extinguisher sufficient for any likely fire-related hazards that could be present in their homes,” says Alvin Sims, Deputy Fire Marshal of the City of Orlando’s fire department. “Always be aware of the types of fire hazards you are likely to encounter,” he added, “and have the appropriate type of extinguisher readily available.”
Here are the best fire extinguishers to put out small, easily manageable fires in your home.
Amerex B500 5lb ABC Dry Chemical Class A B C Fire Extinguisher
Can be wall mounted
Not suitable for kitchen (grease) fires
The Amerex B500 is a small fire extinguisher that is easy to store out of site and easy to use. You also get an easy-to-place wall mount, so the extinguisher is always within reach.
This chemical fire extinguisher, with valves of long-lasting metal, is designed to work on fires caused by trash, plastic, wood, electrical wiring, and flammable liquids. Weighing less than 10 pounds, with 5 of those being for powder, the product features a 2A, 10B-C fire rating. That means it is capable of fighting small fires caused by most trash, as well as medium fires ignited by liquids and electrical equipment.
The manufacturer claims that a 14-second discharge can put out a modest blaze. The trigger is also metal and adds to the sturdiness and longevity of this piece. Amerex includes a six-year warranty on all fire extinguishers it sells, offering additional peace of mind.
Price at time of publish: $66
Class: Electric, A, B, C | Certifying Agencies: UL | Dimensions: 4 x 7.25 x 15.25 inches | Weight: 10 lbs
Kidde FA110 Multipurpose Fire Extinguishers 2 Pac
Designed to last
Kidde has been in the business of fire safety for over 100 years, and the quality of the company’s extinguishers reflects that. Using aluminum rather than steel reduces the fire extinguisher’s weight, making this easy to maneuver. The pressure gauge is large and easy to read, and this package also includes accessories for wall mounting, if desired.
We also like that instructions for this fire extinguisher’s use are included on the unit itself; you simply pull a tab to access them.
Price at time of publish: $66
Class: A, B, C | Certifying Agencies: UL | Dimensions: 14.2 x 3.25 inches | Weight: 6.4 lbs
Best for Cars
FIRST ALERT Auto Fire Extinguisher
Easy to keep out of sight
Easy to aim
Lacks hose to aim
We know a woman whose vehicle started smoking under the hood while she was driving it to work. Quickly thinking, she pulled into the nearest safe space and reached for the fire extinguisher she kept in her trunk, squelching the blaze before it could have resulted in an explosion.
The UL-rated First Alert extinguisher is designed for your car and incredibly lightweight at 1.6 pounds. Registered for B and C classes, it works on a variety of flammable liquid fires, including oil, grease, and gasoline. You can easily place it out of the way, in the trunk or under a seat, or mount it securely with the included brackets. There is no hose, but pointing the extinguisher in the right direction is a breeze, thanks to its small size.
Price at time of publish: $39
Class: B, C | Certifying Agency: UL | Dimensions: 2.6 x 2.6 x 9.6 inches | Weight: 1.6 lbs
Best for Kitchen
First Alert Kitchen5 Fire Extinguisher
Small enough for any kitchen
Easy to use
Works on grease and electrical fires
Only class K kitchen extinguishers are rated for this type of fire, reminds Sims. “Not only will a standard 10ABC extinguisher not properly extinguish this kind of fire,” he says, “but in many cases can make it worse.”
Class K fire extinguishers are filled with chemical agents that are specially designed to fight oil and grease fires in three ways: preventing the fire from starting again; cooling the temperature of the oil and grease below the point where it can ignite; and reducing the likelihood of spraying the grease around. The First Alert kitchen 5 fire extinguisher is rated for kitchen use and safe to use on grease fires. It features a small size and comes with a small bracket for easy mounting, making it ideal for a kitchen of any size.
We like that this product includes several features that make it easy and nimble to use in the kitchen, where grease fires can erupt quickly. It’s small and light (3 pounds); it easily detaches from its optional mounting bracket; and it is easy to activate by pulling the safety pull pin. You can periodically test its pressure without needing to expel any foam.
Price at time of publish: $28
Class: A, B | Certifying Agency: UL | Dimensions: 10.1 x 3 inches | Weight: 3 lbs
Best for Electrical Fires
Amerex B456 Class ABC Extinguisher
Easy to use
Safe around electronic devices
Alternatives cost less
This 10-pound UL-listed extinguisher is a fantastic choice if you are concerned about electrical and chemical fires. The ammonium phosphate dry chemical agent is designed to prevent electricity from conducting back to the user. It is also rated effective against ordinary flammables, including liquids.
It seems lighter than its 10-pound weight, thanks to the aluminum bottle. The nozzle is easy to aim and use when an emergency strikes. It is suitable for A, B, and C class fires. We noted that, depending on the seller, some packaging was shoddy.
Price at time of publish: $87
Class: A, B, and C | Certifying Agencies: UL and ULC | Dimensions: 7.75 x 5 x 20 inches | Weight: 10 lbs
Best for Grease Fires
Amerex C260 Class K Fire Extinguisher
Easy to use
Great for grease or oil fires
Heavy—weighs 22 pounds
Priced far above similar products
An A, B, or C-class fire extinguisher is not your best option if you are caught with a grease fire on your hands. Sims reminds us to look for “class K” when purchasing a fire extinguisher for cooking areas. Such an extinguisher is a must for anyone who loves to fry food at home, or who loves to lube their own cars in a garage.
The manufacturer, which claims that it invented the Class K fire extinguisher, has filled this UL-tested model with a specially blended wet potassium acetate agent to smother grease and oil fires.
The polished stainless steel product is available in a 6-liter or 2.5-gallon size and gets away from the usual red coloration with a sleek, silver design. Easy to use, the hose snaps into place against the extinguisher, making it easy to store. This model also features an easy-to-read gauge.
Price at time of publish: $265
Class: K | Certifying Agency: UL and ULC | Dimensions: 19 x 9 x 7 inches | Weight: 22 pounds
StaySafe 5-in-1 Fire Extinguisher
Small, portable size
Easy to use
Too small for large fires
The UL-recognized Stay Safe can put out electrical, grease, textiles, gasoline/diesel, and paper fires, which means that it’s useful at home or on the go. Its low price point means you can keep one in your RV, your home, your car’s glove box, while camping, or at the office. (One caveat: If you live in areas that routinely experience extreme high temperatures, keeping it in your car trunk might not be safe.)
Thanks to its compact size, you could easily use it with one hand—it’s easy to spray as insect repellent: Just point and spray! With a three-year shelf life, it is extremely economical. However, the downside of its small size is that it needs to be replaced after use—it is not refillable or rechargeable, unlike many other models.
Price at time of publish: $30
Class: Not listed | Certifying Agency: UL | Dimensions: 8.27 x 2.2 x 2.09 inches | Weight: 10.5 oz
FIRST ALERT FE1A10GR195 Standard Home Fire Extinguisher, Red
Built to last
Easy-to-read pressure valves
Needs to be serviced by a professional
Recharging can be pricey
Having a fire extinguisher that can be recharged saves time and money in the long run. While it does require a professional to do so, it is also a way to ensure that your equipment is ready to go if an emergency happens. We recommend this rechargeable model for its multiple classification ratings. The First Alert is designed to take on fires caused by wood, paper, trash, plastic, oil, and electrical equipment. The manufacturer also says that it is Coast Guard-approved for use on the water.
This extinguisher has additional safety checks in place, including a safety seal to prevent accidental discharge or tampering. This model also is made to last, with all-metal construction that is corrosion-resistant. The easy-to-read pressure valves feature a color-coding system to let you know that the extinguisher is functional. The product comes with plastic and metal mounting brackets, and we appreciate that mounting the fire extinguisher is easy for most folks.
We do note that it can cost more to recharge a fire extinguisher than it might to purchase a new product.
Price at time of publish: $25
Class: A, B, C | Classifying Agency: UL | Dimensions: 14.25 x 3.25 inches | Weight: 5.4 pounds
If you are searching for a powerful, easy-to-use fire extinguisher, you can't go wrong with our best overall pick, the Amerex B500. If you are looking for an extinguisher that can travel with you, then check out the Stay Safe Fire Extinguisher 5-in-1.
What to Look For in a Fire Extinguisher
Different types of fires require fire extinguishers capable of quenching blazes based on their combustible materials, whether those are paper, liquid, fat and grease, or other substances. Fortunately, manufacturers are producing fire extinguishers that are capable of fighting numerous types of fires. “Homeowners should find any normal 10ABC fire extinguisher sufficient for any likely fire-related hazards that could be present in their homes,” says Alvin Sims, Deputy Fire Marshal of the City of Orlando’s fire department.
All fires require fuel and oxygen to get going, and fire extinguishers act by suffocating flames. The chemical agents used in fire extinguishers are designed to combat specific types of fires, such as those igniting from paper or cooking oil, One type of agent might not squelch a blaze it is not designed for. Fire extinguishers are required to list on their labels the classes of fire they control. There are four classes that could occur in the home.
Class A fires are caused by combustible materials, such as paper, wood, textiles, rubber, and plastics. Extinguishers labeled non-chemical A use water or monoammonium phosphate foam or powder to reduce the flame. If you live in a cold-weather climate, and you want to purchase a fire extinguisher rated only Class A, check the ingredients to see whether the manufacturer has added antifreeze to its agent to keep the chemical from freezing.
Class B fires are caused by flammable chemicals and liquids, such as motor oil, tar, lacquer, alcohol, and gasoline. These chemicals commonly are present in garages, workshops, and furnace rooms. Smothering these types of fires is not feasible, because they tend to spread. Type B extinguishers rely on sodium bicarbonate foam to put out fires.
Class C fires have electrical devices at their heart. Computers, televisions, transformers, motors, and anything with electrical wiring can lead to flames. Because water conducts electricity, spraying water can result in electrocution, since the electricity can travel up the stream to the user. So it is important never to use a water-based fire extinguisher to fight an electrical fire and instead use an extinguisher labeled for class C fires. Those products use carbon dioxide gas to cool down the hot burning fire, giving you time to cut off power to the device.
Class K fires are kitchen fires, caused especially by cooking grease and oil in pans or skillets. These fires can get out of hand quickly and, like electrical fires, water often makes them worse. That is because the water can sink to the bottom of the pan and immediately become super-heated and cause flare ups beyond control. If you fry food often, a class K fire extinguisher is a must! These fire extinguishers use wet chemical agents to blanket the burning material and choke off the oxygen required to burn.
The weight of the fire extinguisher tells you a lot about how much it can do. Generally, this figure refers not to the product weight but the amount of suppressant it contains. The larger the fire extinguisher's capacity, the larger the fire it can put out. For most residences, a 5-pound extinguisher should be adequate. If you are looking to store a fire extinguisher in your garage or workshop, having a 10-pound model might come in handy to fight larger blazes caused by combustibles such as oil and gasoline.
Since larger models can be heavy, it might be worthwhile to purchase several smaller fire extinguishers. The downside to gaining more maneuverability is that you may have to go through several full extinguishers to put out a large flame.
How do you use a fire extinguisher?
The National Fire Prevention Association, a non-profit information and knowledge resource, recommends the following procedure, which it abbreviates as PASS:
- Pull the pin. With the nozzle pointing away from you, release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low, and point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
How often do you need to replace a fire extinguisher?
Although most fire extinguishers can remain effective as long as 10 years or more (the year of manufacture is on the label), you should check your product’s pressure gauge monthly. If the functional range is still good, then you are good to go. If there is damage to the pin or handle, exchange or replace the fire extinguisher. Some models have test buttons that enable this process. These test the pressure of the fire extinguisher only but don’t expel any chemical agent.
Are fire extinguishers refillable?
Some are; the process is known as “recharging,” and it needs to be done by a certified professional or your local fire department. For that reason, we recommend single-use fire extinguishers for most home and apartment dwellers. If you have used a rechargeable fire extinguisher to put out a fire, you should have it recharged, even if it’s not empty.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Amanda Rose Newton, a freelance writer for The Spruce. A scientist, she is an avid supporter of public safety. To make this list, Newton tested each product for ease of use, storage potential, and durability. She also had the pleasure of speaking with Alvin Sims, Deputy Fire Marshal for the City of Orlando, Florida, for his take on what consumers need to know to protect their families from household fires.