A World of Greater Convenience
The smart home appliance rage is still going strong, and with any luck we’re going to see an Internet of Things revolution soon. Among the products that have gained significant attention in the wake of this revolution are smart smoke detectors.
For better or for worse, their popularity is partly contributed to by a flurry of misinformation and poor understanding of what they are. Here’s a complete rundown.
Smoke Detectors: What They Are and What They’re Not
In terms of functionality, smart home smoke detectors are completely alike to the traditional ones. They will detect smoke and sound an alarm to provide a warning to either clear the building or contain the situation in case of a fire. In fact, even highly-marketed products like Nest’s photoelectric sensor isn’t vastly superior to a regular smoke alarm.
Where they do stand out, however, is providing you with convenience. When they detect smoke, an alarm is triggered, and a notification will be sent to your phone, even when you aren’t home.
Additionally, they also have an internal warning system that will notify you in case of problems like low battery or damaged components.
Why Should You Get One?
The smart smoke detector’s greatest strength is its autonomy. Unlike traditional products that will chime and chirp until you give them attention, smart detectors can be controlled from the comfort of your phone.
If there’s a problem, a simple notification to your phone is all the action it takes. If you like, you can always set the alarm bells on, too.
Most modern smart detectors come with the ability to hook into your home automation system. They will play nice with any other sensors you may have installed all over the house. This includes heat detection systems and excessive light detection to warn you if anything is off.
How Smart Smoke Detectors Are Better Than Traditional Ones
One of the most annoying things anyone that has a smoke alarm at home has to deal with is false alarms. Who likes having to rush to the closet, drag a stepladder out and manually turn off the alarm because you were cooking dinner? A smart smoke alarm provides the convenience of getting rid of that noise right from your phone.
Receiving such alerts on your phone is especially useful if you’re away from home. This way, if you’re out running errands and forgot a casserole in the oven, you can be notified and rush back home to resolve the problem.
Connecting the Smart Smoke Detector to Your Phone
A smart smoke detection system is only useful if it's easy to connect to your phone. They come with an internal wireless system that allows them to sync up with both servers, your phone and other appliances within the home.
If you have more than one smart smoke detector at home, for example, it can communicate with the other devices. This way, if one rings, the rest follow suit. Such a system is really useful for large homes.
Getting it up and running primarily depends on the model and generation of the smoke detection system. In general, though, you will need the following:
- Your smoke detection system
- A WiFi connection
- An Android or iOS device
- The latest version of the manufacturer’s app
- An account with the device manufacturer
A point to note: Before you install your device on the wall or ceiling, follow the following steps to connect the app to the device. Newer models may come with a QR code, depending on the model, making the whole process easier.
- Place the smoke detector on a flat surface
- Connect your phone or tablet to the WiFi network
- Download your manufacturer’s app from the Play Store or App Store
- Log in or create an account with the manufacturer’s network
- Scan the QR code and follow the instructions that turn up
With that, you should be all set.
The Best Smoke Detection Brands to Consider
Best Value: Nest Protect
When it comes to smoke detectors, it’s literally impossible to get anything better than the device that started it all — the Nest Protect. From industrial-grade smoke sensors that can distinguish different kinds of fires and seamlessly connect with other smart devices like bulbs and fridges, it’s pretty hard to beat.
It’s definitely not short of features, either. Other neat things about it include a light and humidity sensor and the ability to let you know smoke levels are rising before the alarm goes on full blast.
The biggest downside to it is the price. At an average of about $120 USD, it’s almost twice as expensive as its closest competitors.
Best Budget: Kidde RF-SM-DC
The Kidde alarm is best for people looking for a device that just works — no bells, no whistles.
It's a good device with decent features at an affordable price. It has more or less the same features as the Nest — connectivity between devices and a simple app to control the device from your phone. However, it relies on radio signals rather than a WiFi connection.
Without getting too much into it, the Kidde doesn’t come anywhere close to the Nest in terms of features or quality of build, but it does do the job pretty well. At the end of the day, however, if your pockets don’t run deep, it’s worth the price.
Best for Interconnectivity: First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound
If you can’t go a day without Alexa in your home, then the First Alert Onelink is just the device for you. While the Nest is definitely great in terms of being able to speak to other devices regardless of which room it’s in, a glaring feature it’s missing is voice control.
Thanks to having Alexa built into it, it can play music, audiobooks or respond to all your requests in near real-time. Basically, it’s a smoke detector that doubles as an Echo. With additional high-quality speakers and a microphone, it’s just the hands-off device your home needs.
The Bottom Line
Smart smoke detectors don’t offer ground-breaking technology as compared to traditional smoke detectors. However, they do offer many improved features for their price. This is especially true for more sophisticated pieces of technology like the Nest.
They are not for everyone, but anyone looking to spend a premium sum in exchange for a great deal of convenience will find themselves right at home.