Smarter Smoke Alarms
All fire alarms work the same way, right? Not exactly. Here are two new models that take detection to a higher level—in different ways and with different price tags
Every year nearly 3,000 people die in home fires, and about two-thirds of the time a nonworking or missing smoke alarm is to blame. People disconnect them, forget to replace dead batteries, or fail to buy enough units: at least one per bedroom and one per floor. But how to choose from the baffling array of models? We sifted through the latest stick-'em-up battery-operated units and found two contenders, both from Kidde, to round out your arsenal. The high-end model cuts down on false alarms and detects carbon monoxide as well as smoldering and flaming fires. The budget one detects flames fast and comes with 10-year batteries for peace of mind. Read on for more on how else they stack up.
Diameter: 5¾ inches
Lifetime: 7 years
Is It For You?
If you hate false alarms, want three units in one, and can be counted on to replace the batteries twice a year.
Equally good at detecting smoldering and flaming fires, and detects carbon monoxide. Different sensors communicate with one another to help reduce false alarms.
CO detector is described as the most accurate one available. Issues voice commands to help rouse children and adults who might otherwise sleep through its beeps. A hush button silences nuisance alarms for 7 minutes. For added safety, you can't mount the unit without its batteries.
Requires three AA batteries (included). When they run low, the alarm chirps and a voice says, "Low battery." To prevent this from happening in the middle of the night, and for safety's sake, batteries should be replaced twice a year—when you reset your clocks, say.
Diameter: 5 inches
Lifetime: 10 years
Is It For You?
If you hate changing batteries and already own carbon monoxide and, for smoldering fires, photoelectric detectors.
Especially good at detecting flames, slightly less effective at detecting smoldering fire. Heat from cooking or a steamy shower may set it off.
Activates automatically when attached to its tamper-resistant mounting bracket, then keeps going for 10 years. A hush button silences nuisance alarms for 7 minutes. You cannot disconnect the sealed batteries.
Comes with three 10-year lithium batteries sealed to prevent tampering. After 10 years, it chirps every 30 to 45 seconds to warn that the unit needs replacing.