Every home in 2023 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.
According to the UK fire services, there are over 11,000 injuries and 500 deaths each year, in UK homes, due to fire. You’re twice as likely to die in a house fire that has no smoke alarm, compared to one that does.
Choosing The Best Smoke Alarm
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 I 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!
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. A soft brush and your vacuum cleaner resolve this, without fuss. 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 to 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 than the smoke and heat detectors. In short, buy a dedicated CO detector and cite it appropriately.
Best Smoke Alarm UK
Installing a smoke alarm today will protect you & your family in 2023 & 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 isn’t helpful. What’s important; is that you install the right type of detector in the right place (more on this later). There’s every reason to buy and install your detector, without delay – read on to see the Verum best buys…
Budget Smoke Alarm
For around a tenner, 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 to fit a smoke detector?
The FireAngel SB1 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 | Verdict Price £9
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Best Smoke Alarm [BEST BUY]
The FireAngel ST-622 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-622 smoke alarm is a quality device. Great technology, good price and a long guarantee make this device a great choice for most homes.
FireAngel ST-622 | Verdict Price £23
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Best Heat Detector for Kitchens & Garages
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.
The Difference Between a Heat Detector & Smoke Detector
A heat detector works differently from a smoke detector. It Senses significant temperature increases rather than smoke. A FireAngel HT-630 heat detector is perfect for kitchens and garages.
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 £39
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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.
UK Building Regulations
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 £20
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Smart Smoke Alarm
Nest Protect 2
The Nest smart smoke alarm 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, this smart device 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 £98
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BEST SMOKE DETECTOR
BEST HEAT DETECTOR
Every home should have at least one smoke detector, in the hall, and on each floor. Plus, a heat detector in the kitchen. The FireAngel recommendations (links above) are reliable, easy to fit and affordable. There’s every reason to sort this out today.
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