What We Like
Detects fire and CO threats
Battery is easy to change
Voice warning system
Hush feature for false alarms
Uses same mounting system as other Kidde products
What We Don't Like
Batteries need to be replaced every six months
As homeowners, it’s important to make sure that our house (and all that’s in it) stays safe. We can take steps to protect our property from intruders and natural disasters, but we want to know that we’re safe even when we’re asleep. A combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm is an essential part of a good home safety plan as it can alert you to two common hazards. We tested the Kidde Battery-Operated Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm to see if it could keep us at ease. Read on for our verdict.
Installation: Done with standard tool kit
Installing the Kidde alarm is easy and requires just a few basic tools that most homeowners likely already have on hand. We first hung up the base, which attaches to the wall or ceiling using the included screws and anchors. Once the base was secure, we attached the detector itself. The detector screws into the base easily. To install the batteries (two AA), we just had to open the compartment door and slide them in. We like that changing the batteries doesn’t require removing the detector from the base.
It’s also nice that Kidde has a range of products available that all use the same mounting base. We were able to change out an existing Kidde smoke detector in our home with the new combination alarm without having to do any drywall repair or paint touch up. This can be a great way to refresh detectors in your home as they can yellow over time.
Performance: Loud alarm
Following test instructions provided by Kidde, we tested the new alarm by spraying hairspray near the sensor. We held the can parallel to the wall and passed it near the perimeter of the unit while testing. It’s important to do this for an accurate test, as this is the area that smoke will enter and activate the alarm during a real emergency.
The resulting alarm was a voice prompt that told us it had detected “fire.” The 85-decibel alert was loud and clear enough that we were confident it’d wake us if we were sleeping. To be sure, though, we moved the alarm from the hallway just outside our bedroom into the bedroom itself. Since we had an older Kidde model in our room, already, we were able to quickly swap it out for the new one thanks to the compatible mount.
We like that changing the batteries doesn’t require removing the detector from the base.
The same voice will alert users to a number of other scenarios as well, but it will distinguish the type of hazard it detects. That means it’ll go off when the batteries are low, when the Hush feature has been activated, and, of course, when it detects carbon monoxide. This distinction between announcements is very important since the recommended actions for responding to a smoke-related emergency can be different than a carbon monoxide-related emergency.
We didn’t have any false alarms during the month we tested the Kidde combination alarm in our room. We have other Kidde products installed around our home and have only experienced false alarms due to cooking mishaps in the kitchen as cooking smoke is a common trigger for false smoke alarms.
In the event that happens, the Kidde also has a Hush feature which allows users to silence the alarm when it goes off in benign situations. This feature is a nice touch if you know your alarm will be placed in a hallway or room near your kitchen, though it’s important to note that Kidde says not to place your alarm directly in your kitchen or within 5 feet of fuel-burning appliances. Dust, grease, and cleaning chemicals can damage the alarm’s sensor, so it’s imperative it be placed correctly.
Design: Pretty simple
Our biggest concern about the Kidde dual alarm was where we were going to place it. Smoke tends to rise, which is why so many smoke alarms are installed on or near the ceiling. But carbon monoxide, on the other hand, doesn’t sink or rise. Since it’s just slightly lighter than air, it disperses through rooms. We’d previously read that for this reason, CO detectors should be placed between knee height and 5 feet. This left us scratching our heads because how could you optimally place a single combination unit with those factors in mind?
After additional research and reading through the Kidde pamphlet, however, it seems that advice isn’t sound. Kidde says this alarm works best when mounted high on a wall or on the ceiling. If wall mounting, you need to keep the edge of the alarm a minimum of 4 inches from the ceiling and a maximum of 12 inches below the ceiling. If mounting on the ceiling, it needs to be a minimum of 4 inches from the side wall. Placed correctly, the Kidde combination alarm will use ionization and electrochemical sensing technology to immediately alert users to dangerous levels of smoke and carbon monoxide.
The 85-decibel alert was loud and clear enough that we were confident it’d wake us if we were sleeping.
Another design perk: 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. Public safety officials, as well as Kidde, recommend changing out alarm batteries every six months, so it’s not something that most people do often. It can be helpful to know that we have done it correctly and can count on our alarms to let us know if there is an emergency.
As another safeguard, the alarm will sound after 10 years of use to alert users to the fact that they need to completely replace the unit.
Price: Great for budgets
One of the biggest benefits of a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector is that the single unit can replace two dedicated units. In most cases, this means saving some money. And, since a single combination alarm isn’t enough to protect your home—Kidde recommends installing an alarm on every floor of your home, in every bedroom, at each end of every hallway (if they’re longer than 30 feet), and in your attic and basement—dual alarms are an even smarter economical choice.
The Kidde alarm is one of the more affordable combination units available at $45. Some models with more advanced features or integrated smart technology can cost $100 or more, but Kidde is a trusted brand and this model is easy to install and use. If you buy the Kidde combination smoke and CO alarm in a three- or six-pack, you can even cut down even more on the cost per unit.
Competition: Options for every home
Kidde i9010 Sealed Lithium Battery Power Smoke Alarm: This alarm is our choice if you’re looking for a dedicated smoke detector. The Kidde i9010 Sealed Lithium Battery Power Smoke Alarm is a good mix of performance and value, giving us the peace of mind that we will always be alerted during a smoke-related emergency. It’s ready to go as soon as it is installed and the 10-year battery means that you never have to worry about the device dying or needing a battery replacement.
Kidde Sealed Lithium Battery Power Carbon Monoxide Alarm: Kidde’s Kidde’s C3010 Carbon Monoxide Alarm is the companion to the brand’s i9010 Smoke Alarm. In combination, they provide the same protection as Kidde’s dual smoke and CO alarm. We wouldn’t suggest purchasing these two units in place of the dual alarm as they would cost more, but if you already have one and just need the other, it might be worth it.
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.
First Alert Battery-Operated Talking Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm: Another reliable company is First Alert. The brand’s Battery-Operated Talking Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm has many of the same features as the Kidde and it comes at a similar price—just under $50. Like the Kidde, it can also tell you where the danger originated in your home. If you have other First Alert products in your home, this alarm may work better for you.
An all-around great buy.
Having the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors integrated in one alarm makes the unit less intrusive to our decor and faster to install. Given the price, performance (based on Kidde-recommend test runs), and the fact that you can easily swap out Kidde products using the same mount, we think this is a smart buy.
- Product Name Battery-Operated Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- Product Brand Kidde
- Price $44.99
- Weight 14.4 oz.
- Product Dimensions 5.6 x 5.6 x 1.8 in.
- Model Number 21026043
- Warranty 7-year limited warranty