Every home should have smoke alarms. And more than that, every home should have working smoke alarms and detectors. Evidence suggests that many of us get a false alarm or a low battery warning and simply remove the battery. According to the UK fire services, there are over 11,000 injuries and 500 deaths each year, in the home, due to fire – You’re twice as likely to die in a house fire, that has no smoke alarm, compared to one that does.
Which type of smoke detector is best?
Installing a smoke alarm today will protect you, your family and your home. Fortunately, getting a good smoke alarm is cheap, they’re easy to install and if you buy one with the British Standard Kitemark, you’re assured it will work. That said, an alarm that goes off every time you make a piece of toast, really isn’t helpful. What’s important; is that you install the right type of detector in the right place – more information below. If you want to buy and install your detector, without delay – read on to see the Verum best buys…
Best Cheap Smoke Alarm – FireAngel SB1-R
For six quid, this budget smoke alarm has a lot going for it. Its optical technology will detect slow smouldering fires and raise the alarm, allowing you and your family to escape before it’s too late.
Where do you put smoke detectors?
The FireAngel SB1-R smoke alarm is perfect for the bedroom, living room and landing (but not the kitchen). It runs on a 9v battery, which will need replacing annually. The device has a 10-year product life and comes with a 3-year guarantee. As with all the smoke alarms detailed here, it is certified to BS EN 14604: 2005.
FireAngel SB1-R | Verdict price £6 | Check best price on Amazon
Best Smoke Alarm under £20 – FireAngel ST-622T
The FireAngel ST-622T uses an optical sensor, which is perfect for detecting most types of household fires. Plus, it has a clever built-in technology that checks for any sudden rise in temperature which triggers enhanced sensitivity. This allows the device to raise the alarm for both slow smouldering fires and fast flaming situations. The manufacturer claims this smoke detector will respond twice as fast as a standard alarm. The sealed lithium battery should last 10 years – which is also the length of the guarantee.
Easy to install smoke alarm
There are no wires to connect with a battery detector making it quick & easy to install. Plus, with this model, you won’t need to replace the battery, although you must still check the alarm regularly.
The FireAngel ST-622T smoke alarm is a quality device, it has great technology, is reasonably priced and comes with a long guarantee making it a great choice for most homes.
FireAngel ST-622T | Verdict price £12 | Check best price on Amazon
Best Heat Detector – FireAngel HT-630
Kitchens & garages need a heat detector. A good smoke detector is a necessity for most rooms in your house, but not the kitchen or garage. Here, you will need a heat detector and the FireAngel HT-630 does the job. Almost two-thirds of household fires start in the kitchen. It, therefore, makes complete sense to install an early warning alarm.
Where should you use a heat detector?
The heat detector works differently to a smoke detector, sensing significant temperature increases rather than smoke. A FireAngel HT-630 heat detector is perfectly suited to kitchen and garage environments.
False alarms have no benefit to anybody. The chances are that burnt toast will trigger a standard smoke alarm. However, a heat detector in your kitchen will avoid false alerts and keep the family safe.
The 10-year battery, product lifecycle and guarantee make the FireAngel HT-630 heat detector perfect for your kitchen and/or garage.
FireAngel HT-630 | Verdict price £14 | Check best price on Amazon
Best Mains powered Smoke Alarm – Kidde Firex KF20
The Kidde Firex KF20 is a mains powered (with battery backup) smoke alarm. It uses an optical sensor which is best suited for slow smouldering fires such as electrical problems or that posed by foam-filled furniture or bedding. A smoke alarm with an optical sensor (as opposed to ionisation alarms) is less likely to be triggered by steam or cooking.
The right smoke alarm for home renovations & extensions
A mains wired system has the advantage in that, if one sensor is triggered, all alarms in your home will sound. If you’re asleep at the top of the house and a fire starts in your kitchen, you will still hear the alarm. For most new builds and renovation projects, this type of system is a building regulation standard.
Mains powered smoke alarms need replacing too
You must replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. If you have the wires in place this is reasonably straightforward. The Kidde Firex KF20 Optical Smoke Alarm is perfect for replacing old mains powered alarms or to meet building regulations for extensions and renovations.
Kidde Firex KF20 | Verdict price £25 | Check best price on Amazon
Best Smart Smoke Alarm – Nest Protect 2
The Nest Protect works brilliantly. It has four principal sensors to understand what’s going on, indicator lights and a voice to give you a heads up – it also sends all information to an easy to use App, on your phone. Plus, it even tests itself! The Nest Protect collects information using four principal sensors detecting, smoke, carbon monoxide, temperature and humidity. Beyond this, it also detects occupancy, ambient light, orientation and sound.
With all this information as a smart device, it immediately understands the environment. Should there be a problem, it tells you what and where the danger is. As you’d expect, if using multiple devices, they talk to each other, sending all information to the App on your phone. In addition to alerts sent to your phone, a friendly voice speaks out, when there’s a danger. Plus, rings of light on the device, tell you that everything is ok (green), there’s a little smoke, burnt toast perhaps? (yellow) or there’s an emergency (red). Also, should you desire, the Nest Protect can be set up to deliver ambient light.
Automatic testing means it’s more likely to work in an emergency. The Nest Protect tests itself 400 times a day. Plus, once a month, it runs a (quiet) speaker and siren test. The Nest smart device will work well in your kitchen, although it needs to be a minimum of 3m from your hob and cooker. However, you may also need a carbon monoxide detector, to be fitted near your boiler or wood burner.
If you’re getting an electrician to fit and have building regulations to meet, buy the mains wired version. If you want to do it yourself (install is quick and easy) choose the battery model. Both battery and wired devices have a two-year guarantee and similar to most smoke alarms, a 10-year lifetime.
Clearly, this is a great device. But do bear in mind that for most houses, you’ll need more than one. As a minimum, you’ll need one on each floor. For a belt and braces approach they’ll need to be cited in the kitchen, living room and bedrooms. So while the Nest Protect clearly offers standout protection for you, your family and your home, it is something of an investment. If you need any further justification that’s only 20p a week per device – to keep everyone safe with the latest technology.
Nest Protect 2 | Verdict price £95 | Check best price on Amazon
What type of smoke detector do I need?
Smoke detectors use either ionisation or optical technology. Ionisation technology is highly sensitive and is more likely to be triggered by burnt toast or steam. Optical sensors are better at detecting slow-burning fires that release larger particles, such as smouldering upholstery or an electrical problem. Optical sensors are slightly more expensive but based on the theory that fewer false alarms mean more smoke detectors being used, Verum favours this technology.
Where do I put my smoke detector?
At a minimum, you need a smoke alarm on each floor in the hallway or somewhere central. A smoke detector in a bedroom is a sensible precaution, especially if you have a large TV, heater or another electrical device. Don’t put a smoke detector in your kitchen or garage, use a heat detector instead.
What’s a heat detector?
Unlike a smoke detector, this device senses a change in temperature, making it ideal for kitchens and garages.
How do install a smoke or heat detector?
Easily! Install a battery-powered detector with screws or simply stick it to the ceiling, centrally. You can buy specially made adhesive pads here.
What about interconnected alarms?
New builds and renovated properties require Building Regulation approval, often meaning that smoke and heat alarms must be interconnected. There are wireless devices that will interconnect, but users often report problems with these and the basic need is that the alarm should only sound when there’s a fire.
A mains powered interconnected alarm is the best solution for most homes, however, these will need a qualified electrician to install. Perfect as part of a renovation project. But never a reason for not getting a smoke alarm!
Recommended smoke & heat detectors
Cheap, quick to install & does the job
FireAngel SB1-R | Verdict price £6 |
See price on Amazon
Long life and clever technology
FireAngel ST-622T | Verdict price £12 |
See price on Amazon
Perfect for the kitchen
FireAngel HT-630 | Verdict price £14 |
See price on Amazon
Good for house renovation
Kidde Firex KF20| Verdict price £25 |
See price on Amazon
Technology to protect your home
Nest Protect 2 | Verdict price £95 |
See price on Amazon
Looking after your detector
Hopefully, you’ll never hear your smoke alarm. The exception to this is when you test it, which should be done (as a minimum) a couple of times a year. Also, they don’t like dust. It’s worth attaching the soft brush to your vacuum cleaner and giving them a quick dust, every so often. If you’re decorating or creating large levels of dust it’s also worth, temporarily placing a bag over the unit will help protect it.
What about Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors?
Installing a Carbon Monoxide detector is a must for most homes. There are benefits in having one device that does everything. However, if an alarm sounds you want to know instantly whether it’s CO or a fire. Most combined smoke alarms/CO detectors have a light to indicate what has been detected, but at the time of the threat, this isn’t enough. Plus, a CO detector usually needs a different position within your home to the smoke and heat detectors. In short, buy a dedicated CO detector and cite it appropriately.