Every home in 2021 should have smoke alarms. And more than that, every home should have working smoke alarms and detectors. Worrying evidence suggests that many of us get a couple of false alarms or a low battery warning and simply remove the battery.
There are over 11,000 injuries and 500 deaths each year, in UK homes, due to fire – according to the UK fire services. 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 in 2021 & beyond. Fortunately, getting a good smoke alarm is cheap. Plus, they’re easy to install and if you buy one with the British Standard Kitemark, you’re assured it will work.
However, 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. There’s every reason to buy and install your detector, without delay – read on to see the Verum best buys…
Best Cheap Smoke Alarm
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
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. Great technology, good price and a long guarantee make this device it a great choice for most homes.
FireAngel ST-622T | Verdict price £12 | Check best price on Amazon
Best Heat Detector
Kitchens & garages need the best 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. For less than £20, it 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 perfect for kitchens and garages.
What causes false alarms on smoke detectors?
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. The optical sensor is best suited for slow smouldering fires such as electrical problems or that posed by foam-filled furniture or bedding. Plus, 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.
Smart smoke alarm
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 should 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 further justification, to keep everyone safe with the latest technology – the Nest costs around 20p a week per device (over 10 years)
Nest Protect 2 | Verdict price £105 | 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?
A heat detector, unlike a smoke detector, senses a change in temperature, making it ideal for kitchens and garages.
How do install a smoke or heat detector?
Installing a smoke alarm or heat detector is quick & easy. A battery-powered detector can be fixed with screws or simply stick it to the ceiling with adhesive pads.
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
Long life and clever technology
FireAngel ST-622T | Verdict price £12
See price on Amazon
Best Heat Detector (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 £105
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.
Smoke alarms don’t like dust. It’s worth attaching the soft brush to your vacuum cleaner and giving them an occasional quick dust. If you’re decorating or creating large levels of dust it’s worth, temporarily placing a bag over the unit. This 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.