What the best
smoke detector has
ionization and photoelectric sensors detect different types of fire hazards,
your family will be most adequately protected with a smoke detector that
contains both types of sensors, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
backup. These units
will function with or without electricity. Keep in mind that it's important to
regularly change batteries in these units.
installation. Battery-powered smoke detectors are easier to install than hardwired units,
negating the need to fuss with electrical wiring.
functionality. The best
smoke detectors have a test function to ensure the unit is working adequately.
feature. Smoke alarms
may go off periodically under false pretenses, such as a cooking accident. A
silence button allows you to quickly deactivate the alarm.
detectors can malfunction, but the best models come with five-to-10-year
warranties. The U.S.
Fire Administration recommends replacing the entire unit every eight
to 10 years.
are the regulations in your state or municipality? Check with
your local and state authorities to determine whether you're required to have a
hard-wired smoke detector installed and whether you must have photoelectric
smoke alarms installed in your home. The National Conference of State Legislatures is a
good resource for determining regulations.
you need a carbon monoxide detector? Depending on the heating source in
your home, you may need a carbon monoxide detector. Some manufacturers offer
combination units; we cover carbon monoxide detectors and combination smoke/carbon
monoxide detectors in a separate report.
are your existing smoke detectors installed? If you currently have a hard-wired
smoke alarm in your home, you'll want to replace it with the same type. Certain
smoke detectors come equipped with universal mounting kits, which work with
most existing attachment structures, eliminating the need to drill additional
Buying tactics and strategies
for package deals. Retailers
such as Amazon.com, Home Depot and Lowe's offer package deals of four to six
smoke detectors per pack. Opting for this buying strategy can save you a few
bucks per alarm.
all smoke detectors at the same time. If you find it's necessary to replace
one smoke detector, it's a good idea to replace them all -- especially if you're
uncertain of a unit's age.
interconnected alarms as a package. Most interconnected alarms come in bundles.
Buying several alarms together ensures the best communication between all
units. If you must buy one or two additional alarms, be sure to test the
communication between the alarms after installation.