The Best Smart Smoke Detectors

Smart smoke detectors are meant to increase effectiveness and cut down on maintenance of your home’s alert system. Here’s what sets a smart smoke detector apart from a traditional smoke alarm:

  • Mobile notifications warn you about fire and carbon monoxide (CO) danger even when you’re away from home, so help arrives faster
  • Smart smoke alarms are interconnected, and will alert you to the exact nature and location of any hazard detected in the home
  • Automatic self-testing and low battery alerts guarantee that you won’t miss an emergency because of a dead or defunct detector
  • Smart smoke detectors can be silenced from your smartphone — meaning no more standing on a stool and jabbing at the ceiling with a broomstick

Did you know? Nearly three in five home fire fatalities occur in homes without functioning smoke alarms. A smart smoke detector tests itself and alerts you when the battery is low, so you know it’s always working.

The 2 Best Smart Smoke Detectors

Nest Protect and Roost for Smart Smoke Detectors

The Nest Protect (left) is a full-fledged smart smoke detector. The Roost smart battery (right) can be fitted into existing smoke and CO detectors, giving them certain smart functions.

Nest Protect

Best
Smart Smoke Detector
Nest Protect
The Nest Protect detects smoke and CO, tests itself regularly, sends intelligent alerts, and connects to your entire smart home.
Pros
Multi-purpose detector
Battery or hardwired option
Automatic self-testing
Broad smart capabilities
Cons
Not Alexa or Siri enabled

Why we chose it

Multi-purpose detector

The Nest Protect’s primary function is to detect smoke and CO, which it excels at: This unit responded to smoke almost twice as quickly as the First Alert OneLink in testing. However, the Nest protect doesn’t quit there. It also includes a humidity sensor, which can cut down on false alarms caused by steam; a motion sensor, which activates the Nest’s nightlight when you’re up and about after dark; and an ambient light detector, which senses when you’ve turned out the lights and lets Nest know to flash green — indicating that it has performed its self-check and everything’s in working order.

Battery or hardwired option

The Nest Protect comes in both a hardwired and battery-powered version, so it can be installed in any home. This is far more flexible than the First Alert OneLink Safe & Sound, which requires hardwired installation. Not sure which kind you need? Simply unscrew one of your existing detectors from its mount: If it’s connected to the wall with wires, you home has a hardwired system. If not, it’s battery operated.

Automatic self-testing

The Nest Protect checks its battery (or backup battery, if you have the hardwired version) on a regular basis. It also performs routine siren checks every month and will send you a mobile notification if either component isn’t working properly. This ensures that your alarm’s battery or loudspeaker won’t fail when you need it. Nest even lets you set a time range for siren testing, so you can program it to do sound checks when you’re not at home. The First Alert Safe & Sound doesn’t include this feature — which we saw as a big oversight, considering that a lack of routine testing leaves many homes with non-working smoke alarms.

A green, glowing ring on your Nest Protect means everything is working correctly. The ring will change colors in a smoke warning or emergency. Image from Nest.com.

Broad smart capabilities

Although the Protect is great as a standalone unit, it’s at its best when paired with other Nest devices. The family of products is designed to work together in intelligent ways: for instance, if Nest Protect detects an emergency, your Nest Thermostat can be programmed to shut off all heat and forced air systems to prevent the spread of smoke or CO. These abilities are expanded by a long list of “works with Nest” products, which link directly to Nest devices without the use of an extra smart hub or app — including Google Home, Yale smart locks, Philips Hue smart lights, Vivint smart security, and more.

Nest Protect also works with the IFTTT (“If This, Then That”) app, which lets it connect to smart products outside the Nest or “works with Nest” family more efficiently. For example: If you use smart light bulbs and locks, you could set up a command through IFTTT that turns on all the lights and unlocks doors when the Nest Protect detects a fire — letting you evacuate the home more quickly if necessary.

Points to consider

Not Alexa or Siri enabled

The one place where Nest Protect is lacking compared to its main competition — the First Alert OneLink Safe & Sound — is voice assistance. The Safe & Sound comes with a built-in, Alexa-enabled speaker, which can respond to voice commands, stream music, and perform just about all of Alexa’s skills.

That said, the Safe & Sound costs a full $100 more than the Nest Protect, and it doesn’t improve on any of a smart detector’s key features (like smoke and CO detection, mobile alerts, or automatic testing). And since most homes require multiple detectors, you’ll end up paying that extra $100 — the same price as as Amazon Echo — a few times over. To maximize smart capabilities and minimize cost, we’d recommend buying a Nest Protect and Amazon Echo separately, rather than opting for the Safe & Sound.

Roost Smart Battery

Best
Budget Smart Detector
Roost Smart Battery
This affordable, 9-volt smart battery lives in the smoke and CO detectors you already have at home, sending you mobile alerts if a risk is detected
Pros
Affordable
Convenient
Good for older homes
Cons
Limited capabilities
Shorter battery life
What is a smart battery?

The Roost 9-volt Smart Battery isn’t technically a smart smoke detector. It’s a wifi enabled battery that turns your existing smart detectors into pseudo-smart devices. Once it’s been installed in your smoke detector, Roost’s battery links to your smartphone through the Roost app, enabling the same core features as a smart smoke detector — including mobile alerts, low-battery notifications, and remote silencing.

Why we chose it

Affordable

The Roost 9-volt Smart Battery's main selling point over a “true” smart detector is its price point. At just $35 per battery, Roost is a fraction of the cost of a Nest Protect or First Alert OneLink. You’ll be able to outfit a four- or five-detector home for around $150 — as opposed to the $650-or-so that it would cost to install five Nest Protects. Roost also sells a replaceable charge pack for $15, so you won’t have to buy a brand new $35 unit when your battery’s 3-5 year lifespan is up.

Convenient

The Roost battery works with your existing smoke or CO detectors, making it totally painless to install. Just pop the old battery out and the Roost battery in, then link up to the Roost mobile app and you’re good to go. Note that the Roost smart battery can be used in both battery-operated alarms and hardwired alarms that have a battery backup (which most do) — meaning it can be used in almost any home.

Good for older homes

While most states require hardwired alarms in newly-constructed buildings, this regulation generally isn’t enforced for older homes, where the cost to transition from battery-powered to hardwired alarms would be steep. Installation costs vary by state and company, but they average around $65 for the first unit, on top of the cost of the detector itself, plus another $20 for each additional unit. If you have an older, non-hardwired home, installing Roost smart batteries is a good way to get the added protection of interconnected alarms without the added expense of new hardwiring.

Points to consider

Limited capabilities

The Roost battery’s smart capabilities are limited to mobile alerts, low-battery notifications, and remote silencing — which only works if you have battery-operated smoke alarms, not hardwired alarms with a battery backup. Roost doesn’t connect to other smart home devices like the Nest does, and its only IFTTT abilities are alarm notifications and connectivity with Philips Hue lights. In short, the Roost battery will smarten up your smoke and CO alarms, but not the rest of your house.

Shorter battery life

The Roost smart battery has a lifespan of 3–5 years, while the Nest Protect and First Alert OneLink both use batteries with a 10-year lifespan. That means you’ll have to replace it much more frequently. However, the Roost battery does send mobile alerts when it’s running low, so you’ll never have to worry about living with a dead alarm.

What About the First Alert’s OneLink Safe & Sound?

The biggest selling point for First Alert’s OneLink Safe & Sound is its Alexa integration. This smoke and CO detector comes with a built-in speaker and Alexa voice assistant — so it’s basically like having an Amazon Echo built into your smoke alarm. However, there were too many drawbacks for us to be comfortable recommending it.

Most notably: Although the Safe & Sound performs routine battery checks, it doesn’t sound its own alarm to test the unit’s loudspeaker. Instead, it send you a monthly notification reminding you to do so yourself. Regular alerts are still a step up from non-smart detectors — but automatic maintenance is one of the biggest selling points for a smart smoke detector, so we prefer an alarm like the Nest Protect that takes the responsibility of testing off your shoulders completely.

And although the Safe & Sound can be connected to other devices through Apple’s HomeKit app, it isn't compatible with IFTTT like the Nest Protect, which limits its ability to connect to your smart home. The First Alert OneLink Safe & Sound also rings in at a hefty $250 per unit (although we’ve seen it on Amazon for $200), and spending upwards of $1,000 on a stack of Safe & Sounds seemed like a worse overall value to us compared to buying multiple Nest Protects.

Guide to Smart Smoke Detectors

Smart smoke detectors vs. regular smoke detectors

Bells and whistles aside, smart smoke detectors perform the same core function as traditional smoke alarms — and despite what the box may suggest, they’re not necessarily better at detecting smoke. Newer non-smart detectors use two types of sensor (ionization and photoelectric) to detect both blazing and low-smoldering fires. In other words, they do the same thing as the Nest Protect's elite sounding “split-spectrum sensor.”

The decision mostly comes down to convenience. If you’re tired of scrambling to silence ultra-sensitive alarms, then a smart detector’s mobile “off” button will be huge relief. Smart detectors also check their own battery, and either self-test their alarm or remind you to do so, meaning you don’t have to keep tabs on maintenance. Plus, if you’re into smart home tech, smart detectors offer some neat opportunities for voice assistance and IFTTT.

On the downside, smart smoke detectors are much more expensive than standard smoke alarms. For the added convenience and peace of mind, you’ll end up paying around $100–$150 more per unit. Of course, if your home still uses battery-powered detectors, installing Roost batteries at $35 apiece can be a good compromise.

Smart Smoke Detector
Traditional Smoke Detector
Average cost
$130 and up per unit*
$10 – $80 per unit
Detects smoke
Detects CO
Self checks
Mobile Alerts
Mobile silencing

Hardwired vs. battery operated smoke detectors

Smoke and CO detectors in the home can either be hardwired or battery-powered.

  • Hardwired smoke and CO detectors are wired to your home’s electrical circuit. This means all alarms in the house are interconnected — so when one detects smoke or CO, they all sound. Most states require hardwired smoke detectors in all newly constructed buildings.
  • Battery-powered or “standalone” smoke and CO detectors use a replaceable 9-volt battery. Unless they have wifi or smart capabilities, standalone detectors aren’t interconnected — so they’ll only sound in the room where smoke is present. These are generally found in older homes.

The type of smoke detector you currently have at home will help determine which smart detector you should get. The Nest Protect comes in both hardwired and battery operated versions, so it can be installed in any home. The Roost smart battery can be used in battery powered detectors, and hardwired detectors that use a battery backup (most do). First Alert’s OneLink Safe & Sound detector has to be wired in — so if your home isn’t already hardwired, you’d have to do some electrical work to use it.

Smart Smoke Detector FAQ

How do smart smoke detectors work?

Smart smoke detectors work like traditional ones, using ionization or photoelectric sensors (or a combination of the two) to detect smoke in the air, and sounding a loud alarm if there’s fire danger. The difference? Smart smoke detectors are wifi-enabled. They’ll connect to your smartphone; allowing mobile alerts, remote silencing, and low-battery or defect notifications. Depending on the model you choose, smart smoke detectors may also offer voice assistant technology, IFTTT commands, a nightlight function, and more.

Are smart smoke detectors worth it?

Smart smoke detectors can be a big investment. Replacing every device in a two-story home can easily cost $600–$800. If you choose the Roost smart battery (cheaper, but with fewer features) costs drop to $150–$200. Keep in mind that most states do require interconnected smoke alarms in the home, and the rest will in the near future. So if you’re nearing the 10-year replacement period on your current alarms — and excited about smart tech — switching to smart smoke detectors puts you ahead of the curve. If smart tech isn’t your thing, traditional hardwired alarms fulfill that requirement for a fraction of the cost.

How often do you need to replace smoke detectors?

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends replacing your smoke detectors once every 10 years to ensure that all sensors are working properly. If you’re approaching the 10-year mark, it may be the right time to consider investing in smart smoke detectors.

How many smart smoke detectors do I need?

The number of smart smoke detectors you need depends on the size and layout of your home. The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing a smoke alarm “inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.” You’re not required to replace every device with a smart version, but note that by mixing smart detectors and non-smart detectors, important functions are lost — like the ability to alert you to the specific room that smoke has been detected in.

What about Birdi, Halo+, and Netatmo smart smoke detectors?

A few promising startups have ventured into the smart detector market, but had trouble taking off. The Birdi smart detector, after a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2014, never made it into the hands of customers; Halo Smart Labs went out of business shortly after releasing the Halo+ smart smoke alarm; and the recently-released Netatmo smoke detector, though advertised, is not yet available in the U.S. We recommend a better-established brand like First Alert or Nest that can offer reliable, ongoing support and service for your smart smoke detector.

Fire Safety Resources

For more information about smoke alarm regulations, fire hazards, and emergency preparedness, you can check out some of the national agencies we consulted for this review:

  • First Alert keeps track of smoke and CO detector regulations by state.
  • The U.S. Fire Administration, an extension of FEMA, develops national guidelines for prevention, preparedness, and response to fires.
  • The National Fire Protection Association is a global nonprofit organization that develops fire safety codes, standards, and education in an effort to reduce fires and fire-related damages.
  • The InterNACHI (International Asso. of Certified Home Inspectors) provides news and updates on home safety regulations.

The Best Smart Smoke Detectors: Summed Up

Nest Protect
Roost Smart Battery
Best
Smart Smoke Detector
Budget Smart Detector
Starting at
$130
$35
Detects both smoke and CO
Can be hardwired or battery operated
Detects air quality
Battery life
10 years
3-5 years
Warranty
2 years
1 year

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