The 8 Best Smoke Detectors of 2022

The First Alert Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm is our top pick

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The 8 Best Smoke Detectors of 2022

The Spruce / Chloe Jeong

Simply put, a smoke detector can save your life.

We researched and tested some of the top smoke detectors available online, evaluating safety features, battery life, and ease of installation. Home inspector Dave Mitchell, who has seen many incorrectly installed detectors, recommends having a professional take care of even simple installs if you are unsure.

Our top pick, the First Alert Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm, detects smoke and carbon monoxide (CO), uses a voice alert system, and is easy to set up.

Here are the best smoke detectors.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: First Alert SCO7CN Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector

4.8
First Alert SCO7CN Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector

Amazon

What We Like
  • Detects smoke and CO

  • Audio and visual alarms

  • Easy to install and change the batteries

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Batteries need to be changed out periodically

The First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector can pick up trace amounts of smoke and carbon monoxide, and given its utility, it has a surprisingly low price point. If you are looking to upgrade or replace multiple detectors in your home, this is our top recommendation.

This dual-use detector features a voice alarm that tells you whether it detects smoke or carbon monoxide. This is important because it helps emergency responders know how to respond to the call and can also help you and your family egress safely. The detector is battery-powered, which makes it a breeze to install, although you will need to change out the batteries every six months. You can do this using the easy access point on the front.

In addition to having both audible and visual alarms, the test/silence button is also helpful and is clearly labeled on the front of the unit. If you experience a false alarm that you know you can silence, just press the button. Hold it down to test the alarm, which should be done at least once every time you switch out the batteries. You can also use this button to silence the annoying low-battery chirp alarm for up to eight hours. Just make sure to go back and actually switch out the batteries.

Power Source: 2 AA batteries︱Sensor Type: Photoelectric︱Pack Size: 1

Best Budget: Kidde 10 Year Worry-Free Smoke Detector with Lithium Battery

10 Year Worry-Free Smoke Detector, Lithium Battery Powered

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • 10-year battery life

  • Easy to install

  • No low-battery chirps

What We Don't Like
  • May forget the expected replacement date

  • Does not detect carbon monoxide

For the most affordable alarm, the Kidde Worry-Free 10-Year Smoke Detector is the clear winner. It is a fraction of the cost of many other alarms but still offers 10 years of reliable performance. Powered by a 10-year lithium battery, this alarm brings all of the convenience of easy installation without adding the requirement to change the batteries every six months. You also don’t need to deal with low-battery chirps.

You will get an alert when the battery is near the end of its 10-year life, and the whole unit will need replacing. Depending on how well you monitor this, it may catch you off guard. Also, keep in mind that it does not detect carbon monoxide, but for the budget-friendly price, you can add a separate CO detection unit at the most appropriate place.

Power Source: Lithium battery︱Sensor Type: Ionization︱Pack Size: 1

Best Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector: Kidde Battery-Operated Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Voice Warning

4.8
Kidde Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector

Amazon

What We Like
  • Smoke and CO detector

  • Voice alert

  • Hush button

  • Easy to install

What We Don't Like
  • Batteries have to be changed out

  • Hush button might be hard to reach

This top-performing smoke detector includes a carbon monoxide alarm. It alerts you to the threat using a voice alert so that you can respond appropriately and notify emergency responders about the problem. The hush button allows you to silence false alarms, although you do need to be able to reach it to use it.

This is a battery-operated unit, which has pros and cons. It is easy to install—if you are replacing another Kidde alarm, you might even be able to use the same base and simply click the new unit on. However, as with all battery-powered units, it does mean that the batteries need to be changed every six months.

Power Source: 2 AA batteries︱Sensor Type: Ionization, CO︱Pack Size: 1

Kidde Battery-Operated Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

 The Spruce / Katie Begley

What Our Testers Say

"The battery compartment will only shut if the batteries have been installed properly. We like this extra safeguard as it ensures our alarm is always functioning correctly."—Katie Begley, Product Tester

Best Hardwired: Kidde FireX Hardwire Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Combination Detector 2 Pack

Kidde FireX Hardwire Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Combination Detector, 2-pack

Courtesy of Home Depot

What We Like
  • Detects smoke and carbon monoxide

  • Interconnected system

  • Battery backup for power outages

  • Works with other Kidde bases

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • May need professional installation

Having a hardwired smoke detector helps it integrate with other sensors to create a comprehensive home safety system. The Kidde FireX hardwired detector can sniff out both smoke and carbon monoxide, adding to the protection power. It does have a 9V battery backup in case the power goes out, a necessary safety precaution. When one alarm in the system detects smoke or carbon monoxide, they all sound. This helps alert you to dangers even if you are in a different room or floor of your home. It uses a voice alarm to tell you if it detects smoke or CO.

Installation of hardwired detectors can be a bit more complicated, but Kidde systems use compatible bases. If you are replacing another Kidde product, you can likely use the same location to hardwire this detector and eliminate the need to touch up walls or paint. If you are installing a hardwired system for the first time, you will likely need to get the help of an electrician to run wires safely. This adds to the already high cost of these detectors. Buying in packs of two or more can save some money.

Power Source: Hardwired with 9V battery backup︱Sensor Type: Photoelectric︱Pack Size: 1 or 2

Best Battery-Operated: Kidde Code One Smoke Detector

Kidde Code One Smoke Detector

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Easy battery change out

  • Only one battery needed

  • Comes with a battery

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Does not detect CO

  • No voice alert

All you need to operate this convenient smoke detector is one 9V battery—rather than worrying about multiple batteries, just open the door to pop in one battery and attach it to the wall. This smoke detector is very simple, without any extra bells and whistles, such as voice alerts or CO detection. But it does a great job at its only job: detecting smoke and alerting you to get to safety.

Installation is very easy, especially if you are replacing another Kidde unit, and it comes with one 9V battery to get you started. You will need to change it out periodically—most emergency response units recommend every six months. There is a corresponding CO detector that uses a similar setup and also uses a 9V battery for power. Fortunately, this unit is so affordable that you can purchase both this detector and the Kidde Code One CO detector for less than a pricier combo unit.

Power Source: 9V battery (included)︱Sensor Type: Ionization︱Pack Size: 1

Best Smart: Google Nest Protect 2nd Generation

5
Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm, Battery (2nd gen)

Amazon

What We Like
  • Can test, silence, and check battery life from the app

  • Detects smoke and carbon monoxide

  • Calming voice alert

  • Available in battery-powered or hardwired

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

This smart alarm detects both smoke and carbon monoxide for thorough home protection. You can check on the status of the alarm and the battery life, silence false alarms, and even test the alarm from an app on your phone. The voice alert is friendlier than most, which can be pleasant but may not impart the same urgency as a loud beeping alarm. It does tell you whether it detects smoke or carbon monoxide, which is helpful to determine the right response.

The Google Nest Protect is an expensive alarm, which isn’t surprising given its interconnectivity and extra convenience features. You can monitor the alarm while away from home via the app. It includes a night-light that activates if you walk under the light at night. You can purchase it in packs of one or three, and it is available in battery-powered and hardwired options.

Power Source: Battery-powered or hardwired︱Sensor Type: Photoelectric︱Pack Size: 1 or 3

What Our Testers Say

"Given that our new house is three stories, we opted to create a network of Nest Protects, with one on the ground level and another on the second floor. The volume of the voice messages is clear without being too loud, and communication is broadcast from both devices as well as through the app."—Nathan Borchelt, Product Tester

Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

The Spruce / Nathan Borchelt

Best Dual Sensor: FIRST ALERT BRK 9120LBL Hardwired Smoke Detector with Battery Backup

First Alert BRK 3120B Hardwire Dual Photoelectric and Ionization Sensor Smoke Alarm with Battery Backup
Courtesy of Amazon.com.
What We Like
  • Two types of sensors

  • Hardwired to work with a system

  • Battery backup power

What We Don't Like
  • Does not detect CO

  • A bit pricey

  • Needs professional installation

Smoke alarms use either photoelectric sensors to detect fast-burning fires or ionization sensors to detect smoldering fires. While most prioritize one method over the other, the First Alert BRK 3120B detector uses both to provide comprehensive safety detection. It is hardwired but has a 9V battery backup to provide power if there is an outage. Unless you are already using a hardwired smoke detector in your home, you will likely need to get professional installation for this unit.

This detector is a bit more expensive than other smoke-only detectors. But given its reliable detection of every type of fire that could threaten you or your home, it is well worth the cost. However, it does not detect carbon monoxide, so you will need to purchase a separate detection unit if needed.

Power Source: Hardwired, with 9V battery backup︱Sensor Type: Photoelectric, ionization︱Pack Size: 1 or 6

Best Voice Alarm: Kidde P4010ACSCO-WF Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Smart Features

Kidde Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector with Smart Features

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Alarm and voice alert

  • Alerts sent to your phone, family, and friends

  • Can control and check via smart home devices

  • Included battery backup

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Requires professional installation

This smart detector uses a loud 85-decibel alarm and a voice alert that shouts “fire” or “carbon monoxide,” depending on what it detects. Better yet, the alarm goes to your phone via an app and the phones of other family and friends you’ve set up. It is also compatible with Google and Alexa and can alert you via those smart home devices as well. All of these alerts ensure that you will always know if you have a fire or CO in your home, even while you are away.

This is an expensive smoke detector but well worth it for its convenience and many alerts. It is more affordable than some other smart detectors, although it doesn’t come with as many testing and monitoring features. It is hardwired, which requires professional installation, but does have an installed 10-year lithium battery.

Power Source: Hardwired with installed 10-year lithium battery backup︱Sensor Type: Photoelectric︱Pack Size: 1

Final Verdict

Affordable and easy to install, our top pick is the First Alert SCO7CN Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm. It detects both smoke and carbon monoxide, alerting you using an audio voice alert and visual alarm. The Kidde Worry-Free 10-Year Smoke Detector is another great choice that offers worry-free performance at a fantastic price. It includes a lithium battery with a 10-year life, meaning no battery changes for you.

Kidde Battery-Operated Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
The Spruce / Katie Begley.

The Spruce / Katie Begley

What to Look for in a Smoke Detector

Power

Smoke detectors can be hardwired or battery-operated. Many hardwired smoke detectors have a battery backup to ensure that you will never lose power or the protection of your alarms. Batteries can be standard AA or 9V batteries. Some models also have lithium batteries that come installed in the unit itself and last for 10 years without needing to be changed. Most battery-operated models are easier to install but do require changing batteries periodically.

“You should always have a professional check the installation of a new unit or system,” says home inspector Dave Mitchell. In his role, he has seen many smoke detectors that were installed in the wrong place or not connected to a power source. Not only is this dangerous for you and your home, but it can also cause problems with your insurance company or home sale. “It can raise red flags for me as a home inspector,” says Mitchell. “It’s not worth risking your safety.”

Sensor type

Smoke detectors use one to two sensor mechanisms to monitor for smoke in the air: photoelectric or ionization. Both types of sensors detect any kind of smoke, but photoelectric sensors are faster at detecting smoldering, slow-burning fires than ionization sensors, which are better at detecting fast-burning fires. The most comprehensive smoke detectors have both sensors inside as well as additional safety monitoring, such as carbon monoxide detection.

Lifespan

Whether you have a hardwired or battery-operated model, you will eventually need to replace the unit itself. Most have a special alarm that sounds when the detector is at the end of its lifespan. Your user manual can tell you specific lifespan expectations, but most are between five and 10 years.

FAQ
  • How do smoke detectors work?

    Ionization smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material that ionizes the air around them, and they are generally more responsive to large flames. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions and activates the alarm. Photoelectric alarms, on the other hand, respond best to smoldering fires. This type of alarm works by using a light sensor. A light source is aimed into a sensor chamber, and if smoke enters it, light is reflected and triggers the alarm. You won't be able to predict what kind of fire you may have, so you should always have both types of protection in your home for ample safety.

  • How do you change a battery in a smoke detector?

    To change your smoke alarm's battery, you'll need to remove the cover first. Most covers twist open, but for some, you'll have to use a screwdriver. Your user's manual should give you specific instructions based on your model, and most are easy to change once you've removed the cover. Simply disconnect the old battery (many use 9V or AA batteries, but some use lithium) and replace it with the new one. Make sure it's firmly in place and facing the correct way.

    Use the test button after installing the new battery to ensure it's correctly installed. If the test alarm doesn't sound, your battery may be facing the wrong way. Mark the inside of the alarm with the date you changed the battery to remind yourself later on. You should also check your alarm's battery at least twice a year to ensure maximum safety around your home.

  • How many smoke detectors do I need?

    According to the National Fire Protection Association, every level of your home should have a smoke alarm, including your basement. Smoke alarms are the fastest way to indicate fire and prevent it from further spreading to other rooms of the house, so you should have one in each bedroom and one outside every sleeping area. Even if your home already has a set number of hardwired alarms, you can still place extra ones that are battery-operated around the house as well. In the case of fire prevention, it's better to have an extra amount of alarms rather than not enough.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was researched and written by Katie Begley, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. When researching top smoke detectors, she considered superior performance, multiple sensors, and installation. Katie also consulted with home inspector Dave Mitchell to see what he recommends for installation and required placement.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Changing Clocks and Batteries. National Fire Protection Association.

  2. ​​Installing and Maintaining Smoke Alarms. National Fire Protection Association.

  3. Ionization vs. Photoelectric. National Fire Protection Association.

  4. Installing and Maintaining Smoke Alarms. National Fire Protection Association.