The Best Smart Smoke Detectors of 2020
The OneLink Safe & Sound is the smoke detector that does it all. Not only is it a photoelectric smoke detector, but it also has an integrated carbon monoxide sensor, speaker system, and the Alexa voice assistant built right in. It can interface with a variety of music streaming services — Spotify, Pandora, or iHeartRadio — and your Amazon Alexa account, letting you control other smart home devices, stream music, and even do your shopping all through your smoke detector. The OneLink Safe & Sound can also be connected to a compatible existing wired interconnected alarm system.
The OneLink Safe & Sound can take a bit of effort to set up because you have to link accounts between multiple apps and services. This smoke detector is also on the more expensive side but you get a decent amount of bang for your buck given its multi-functional nature. If you have an Alexa or Apple HomeKit based smart home, or want an all-in-one smart home solution, then the OneLink Safe & Sound is a great choice.
If you have a Nest/Google smart home, then it's hard to go wrong with the Nest Protect. This top-tier smart smoke detector features dual sensors to detect both flaming and smoldering fires, as well as an integrated carbon monoxide detector and escape light. It connects with other Nest devices seamlessly and is a breeze to set up, enabling you to do things like configure your heating system to automatically turn off if it detects increased levels of carbon monoxide.
While the Nest Protect does offer plenty of functionality, it also has a fairly high price tag. This is compounded by the fact that it can't interface with other cheaper alarms, so you may need to buy quite a few if you want a multi-alarm connected system. There are also some kinks with the migration from Nest to Google accounts and the Works with Nest program, which should hopefully be sorted out soon. It's one of the best smart smoke detectors you can get if you are building a Google smart home or already have other Nest products.
If you looked at the Nest Protect or the OneLink Safe & Sound and thought they were far too expensive for a smoke detector, then the Kidde 21026044 is a great choice. While the Kidde 21026044 isn't your typical smart smoke detector, we feel that it warrants inclusion in this review since it allows you to easily and inexpensively add a wireless interconnected series of smoke alarms throughout your home. This smoke detector costs significantly less than the top-tier models and allows you to interconnect up to 24 devices — 18 of which can initiate the alarm for the whole system. The other 6 devices can be strobe lights or relay modules. It's very easy to set up, as there aren't any accounts to make or apps to download.
However, this also means that the Kidde 21026044 is limited in features compared to other models. It won't send a notification to your phone if an alarm goes off and the only way to turn off the sirens is to physically push the button on one of the alarms. It is possible, though, to pair this with a smart smoke alarm listener to add those functions, like the Ring or the Echo Dot using Alexa Guard. If you are hoping to set up a smart multi-alarm system on a budget, then the Kidde 21026044 and a smart listener are your best bet.
If you aren't in the position where you can install a standalone smart smoke detector or don't want to be bothered with mounting one to a wall or ceiling, then you should check out using Alexa Guard through an Echo Dot or other Alexa-enabled smart speakers. Alexa Guard will send you a notification if your Alexa device hears a smoke, carbon monoxide, or other alarm go off, and if it hears glass break. You can then listen to a 10-second recorded clip or drop in on your Echo device to find out what's going on. All you need to do to activate this is say "Alexa, I'm Leaving" once it's been enabled on your device.
Unfortunately, there are limits to how far Alexa Guard will get you. Since it isn't actually connected to your smoke detectors, you won't be able to hush them from your phone in the case of a false alarm. It also won't work if electrical power or your WiFi network goes down. It's easy to forget to activate it when you leave or to disable it through your Alexa account. However, this is by far one of the cheapest, easiest, and least invasive options that will allow you to remotely monitor the smoke alarms in your home.
If you have an Alexa or Apple HomeKit smart home and don't need to add another Alexa-enabled speaker to your house, then the OneLink Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector is a good option. It costs a bit less than the Safe & Sound and is a good choice if you are shopping on a budget and already have an existing hardwired interconnected alarm system that you want to add some remote monitoring.
It can be a bit harder, however, to use this alarm as a trigger for other events in your smart home, such as turning on the lights in the case of an alarm. The battery-powered version also lacks a night light. You should check that your existing non-smart smoke alarm system is compatible to ensure you get the functionality you want since not all of them will trigger this alarm to send you push notifications in the event of an emergency. Despite these shortcomings, the OneLink Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector is a decent budget option if you're looking for a hardwired smart smoke alarm.
If you already have a Ring home security system, then you may want to consider adding the Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener instead of a separate smart smoke alarm. To be clear, this doesn't negate the need for a smoke alarm at all, but it does allow you to add remote monitoring at a much lower cost than pretty much any other option out there. It's extremely easy to set up — no tools required — so it's another good choice if you don't want to drill any holes in the wall.
However, you do need at least the Ring Base Station for this to function. You also won't have the option to remotely silence the alarms since it's only a smart listener. It's a great budget option if you already have a Ring system but it probably isn't reason enough to go out and buy one in the first place.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our expert smart smoke detector reviewer, David Wise, has been professionally reviewing and testing consumer electronics and smart home products for over four years. He has formal training as a mechanical engineer and is an avid DIYer. He brings this experience to the design and implementation of our side-by-side smart smoke alarm testing process.
We installed these products in a variety of different places to conduct side-by-side testing. We integrated them into various smart home systems, such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa, to try out all their different features and functions. In addition, we rated and compared the amount of time and effort required to install and configure each product and awarded points on their ease of use and different smoke detection abilities.
Analysis and Test Results
We divided our testing and review process into a series of different ratings. The standout performers in each metric are discussed in the following sections.
Ease of Installation and Setup
The first thing we considered when evaluating performance is the time and hassle it took to install. Right off the bat, the Echo Dot/Alexa Guard and the Ring Smart Smoke Alarm Listener stood out to us as being particularly easy to set up, especially if you have already been using Alexa or had the Ring Security System installed. You just need to plug in your Echo Dot and walk through the prompts, then enable the Guard Feature and you're all set. The Ring Smart Smoke Alarm Listener is similar, as you just need to scan a QR code and do a quick test and you're finished. However, you will need to mount the Ring Listener close to your existing smoke alarms.
The Kidde 21026044 is also very easy to set up because it doesn't require you to download any apps or create an account. You do need to attach the mounting plate with a pair of screws but all you need to do to configure the interconnected alarm system is pick a combination of the 8 switches on the back and they will automatically link to any other smoke alarm with the same combination selected.
The hardwired smoke alarms, like the OneLink Safe & Sound or the 120 VAC versions of the Nest Protect and the OneLink Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector can take a bit of extra effort to install, particularly if you don't already have wired smoke detectors in place. If this happens to be the case, then you will most likely need a professional electrician to run the circuit for you. In any case, you should also be sure the power is turned off before you install any hardwired products and carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions. Some of these products can even be wired into compatible non-smart interconnected alarm systems, which can allow you to add some smart features to an entire system by only replacing a single unit.
The battery-powered versions of the OneLink Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector and the Nest Protect are very easy to install and set up, though it does take a little extra time if you need to download the app and create an account on your phone. Once you do that, your phone can usually detect the new device and walk you through the setup process.
The Nest Protect has a multitude of sensing capabilities, including a split-spectrum smoke sensor for fast and slow-burning fires as well as a carbon monoxide sensor. The OneLink Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector and the OneLink Safe & Sound both have photoelectric smoke sensors and electrochemical carbon monoxide sensors. Photoelectric sensors are generally better at picking up smoldering fires, where ionization smoke sensors are faster at picking up flaming fires.
The Kidde 21026044 only has an ionization sensor for smoke, so you will need to get to make sure you have a separate carbon monoxide sensor for full protection. Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association recommends you have both ionization and photoelectric sensors in your home for maximum protection, so consider supplementing your system with separate with photoelectric alarms.
The wired version of the OneLink Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector, the Nest Protect, and the OneLink Safe & Sound all have an integrated nightlight. We do like the fact that you can set the light on the Nest Protect to activate with a motion sensor, rather than just being on all the time at night like the Safe & Sound. The OneLink's light, however, does give you the option of changing its color.
The OneLink Safe & Sound also includes an integrated wireless speaker with the Alexa voice assistant built right in. You can stream music through it or perform other common Alexa tasks, like setting an alarm or timer.
We like that you can hush any false alarms on the Nest Protect or the OneLink models through their respective apps. You can silence all of the Kidde 21026044 interconnected alarms by pressing a hush button on one alarming unit.
Smart Home Integration
One of the benefits of having a smart smoke detector is the ability to integrate it into your existing smart home. Unfortunately, you are a little more limited with these products when it comes to interfacing with third-party products, like Hue Lights or WeMo smart plugs, especially with the end of the "Works with Nest" program and the lack of IFTTT integration for the OneLink alarms. This changes all the time, however, so you should always double-check that you can actually use the smart features you want to before you buy anything.
The Nest Protect connects to the Google Home ecosystem and has a handful of smart functions accessible in the Nest app. For example, you can select certain cameras to start recording and create a clip if the alarm is triggered or have Nest turn off your heating system if it detects elevated levels of carbon monoxide. That is roughly the limit in terms of other functions, however, at least for the time being.
The OneLink Safe & Sound has all the smart home features an Alexa-enabled speaker would, allowing you to control a myriad of third-party smart items by voice command. It is also Apple HomeKit compatible. The OneLink Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector will connect to both of these home automation systems as well but you are fairly limited if you are trying to set up an alarm to trigger other events. However, you can check the status of the smoke detector by asking Alexa. The Echo Dot will send you a notification through your Alexa app if it thinks it heard an alarm sound but only if it has been placed into Guard mode.
Hopefully, this review has helped you identify the perfect smart smoke alarm for your home, whether you are looking for a top-tier all-in-one smart solution or a basic low-cost listener. Just remember to check your local rules and regulations, as well as the National Fire Protection Association guidelines, when it comes to the number of alarms and their placement in your home.
— David Wise