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Best smoke alarms to keep your home safe: Top detectors reviewed

Plus, an expert reveals exactly why you need smoke alarms

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23 June 2023

e all worry about accidental fires and safety at home, so how do you choose the best smoke alarms to keep you and your family safe?

We explore the different options, from cheap and cheerful to designer styles and talk to fire safety experts, too.

What are the different kinds of smoke alarm?

  • Ionisation alarms create ionised air between two electrodes; when smoke interrupts this, it triggers the alarm. They are sensitive and pick up the early stages of a fire; however, they can cause false alarms, especially if you burn the toast.
  • Optical alarms have an infra-red LED inside them. This send a pulse of light every few seconds and if it is diffused by smoke particles, it will sound the alarm. They are good at picking up on larger smoke particles from smouldering fires.
  • Linked smoke and heat alarms pick up both on smoke and sudden increases in heat. This means they can detect different types of fire and will sound an alarm with rising heat from a fire. They have been mandatory in Scotland since 2022 and there are calls for this to be extended to the rest of the UK.
  • Smoke and CO2 alarms detect both hazards and save you buying two different types of alarm.
  • Smart smoke alarms not only trigger the alarm in your home but also send an alert to your phone. Ideal if you are out, or on holiday.
  • Power sources: inexpensivesmoke alarms have a short term battery lasting around a year; more expensive options have a sealed, 10-year in-built battery; others can be wired into your electrical system. The wired-in alarms are ideal if you are letting a property, as you can ensure that the smoke alarms are working constantly.

Why do I need smoke alarms?

A spokesperson from the London Fire Brigade says: "Smoke alarms are important, as they can detect fires in their early stages and give people precious time to leave a property in safety. In a standard smoke alarm, the battery will need to be replaced every 12 months to keep it working effectively. This is because smoke alarm sensors degrade over time, leading to a reduced sensitivity in detecting heat or smoke.

“Some alarms can be purchased that are fitted with sealed batteries that last up to 10 years. These alarms will need to be replaced once the 10-year period has elapsed.

Make sure to buy alarms marked with a current British Standards or European (CE) safety mark, so you know they’re approved and safe. Always check a smoke alarm battery regularly, replacing it when necessary and never remove it for other purposes."

Best smoke alarms at a glance

Fire safety specialists Kidde recommend an alarm on at least every floor of your home. A spokesperson for FireAngel says: “We advise a smoke alarm within the circulation area of each floor of the property (hallway and landing), as well as within the main habitable areas such as bedrooms and living rooms, where we usually have more electrical items plugged in. We recommend you install smoke alarms alongside carbon monoxide alarms and kitchen heat alarms in your home for complete protection.”

We’ve rounded up the best options to shop below now

X-Sense Smoke and CO2 alarm


Best for: fewer false alarms, great information display

Power type: 10 year battery

Type: ionisation

If you have a home that’s prone to false alarms, due to frequent toast burning or showers that blast steam at the ceiling, this is ideal for you; it takes three readings of the air and alerts you if smoke is detected inside its ring of sensors.

It checks for carbon dioxide too and has both photoelectric and electrochemical CO2 sensors that work independently, so you’ll know instantly if there are dangerous amounts of this dangerous gas.

The battery lasts 10 years and it has an LED display that shows you the status of the alarm at any one time, flashing green when it’s working at its optimum and red for an alarm.

It also shows a yellow light if there is a fault. The display shows you the CO2 levels and the battery level.

Jalo Helsinki Kupu 10

Jalo Helsinki

Best for: designer good looks

Power type: 10 year battery

Type: optical

A smoke alarm needs to be functional but, according to Jalo, it can also be beautiful. They make two designs; a moth shaped alarm that comes in several muted colours including pink, white, beige and green, or this pleasingly curved design that melts into the background of the ceiling. An optical alarm intended for home use, it has a 10 year battery and can be installed instantly using a double sided sticky pad on its reverse and its power is activated as soon as it has been installed. It sounds a continuous alarm when smoke is detected and has a silence function in case of false alarms; it also has a self-diagnostic function that checks the unit is operational through its life. It comes in six colours: white, dark grey, light brown, turquoise, yellow and chrome and it has a fabric surface that feels and looks premium.

Google Nest Protect 2nd Generation Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm


Best for: detecting smoke and CO2

Power type: 6 x AA Lithium batteries

Type: optical plus CO2

This attractive alarm from Google has it all. Useful features, emergency lights and voice control. It is both a smoke and carbon dioxide alarm that responds to both fast and slow-burning fires. It sounds an alarm and alerts you via your phone if smoke is detected.

It can even speak to you and light your way out in an emergency and it detects poisonous CO2 emissions for 10 years. It alerts you if the battery is running low and it carries out checks 400 times per day to make sure it’s working at its optimum. It won’t react to steam, which is great if you have it near the bathroom.

Once you have installed all your alarms using the easy to attach back plates, download the app and then connect them all to create a house-wide safety system controlled from your phone.

Aico Ei3016


Best for: detecting fires from a wide range of causes

Battery type: wired to mains with battery backup

Type: optical

This mains-wired alarm is excellent at detecting smoke using ionisation and can be linked to a CO2 monitor and to up to 20 other alarms too, so it’s ideal for larger houses when you want all areas covered. It can detect smoke from all kinds of fires, whether from cooking, solvents or household furnishings and it has a loud alarm that you can’t miss. The test button can also be used to turn the alarm off if triggered by mistake.

Fire Angel FP2620W2-R Pro Connected Smart Smoke Alarm

Fire Angel

Best for: using in areas with poor internet connectivity

Power type: 10 year battery

Type: optical with additional thermal enhancement

This can be installed in several ways; as a stand-alone alarm or connected with others. This is great if you have a remote room, garage or attic that you might not hear an alarm from and you don’t need an internet connection for it to work (good for rural areas with bad connectivity), as they use a radio frequency to connect. You get an alert to your phone or mobile device using the Smart Gateway app and the ‘locate’ function allows you to find out which sensor caused the alarm. In additional to being an optical alarm, it has thermal sensors, so will react to sudden changes of temperature as well as smoke. It has a central button that you use to test and reset.

Ultrafire UBS1 Optical Smoke Alarm


Best for: budget option

Power type: 9V battery

Type: optical

If you want an inexpensive option with a one-year battery (be sure to check it regularly, about once a week), then this is ideal. The alarm is an optical model and has a large test button on the surface. With no bells or whistles, this is ideal as a standard and simple model.

Kidde 10Y29-UK


Best for: adjustable volume and discreet appearance

Power type: 10 year battery

Type: optical

This optical smoke alarm is a good price, which means you can afford one in each room. It’s inobtrusive too, with the logo in a soft grey and the central hush and reset button in the same white as the rest of the alarm, leaving no flashes of colour to detract from your lovely white ceiling. It has an early low battery warning and lasts for 10 years. You can adjust the volume of the alarm while you are installing it, to make sure you’ll hear it from every spot in your house. It’s easy to instal by screwing the back plate to the ceiling, then simply rotate the front plate onto it.

Firehawk FHN250RB Mains Powered Optical Smoke Alarm


Best for: avoiding false alarms and ability to link to other alarms

Power type: wired to mains with battery backup

Type: optical

A small, neat alarm that’s ideal if you are letting out a property or if you’re refurbishing and are taking the opportunity to wire in your safety equipment. It is powered from your electricity supply (you can run up to 15 alarms on a lighting circuit) and has a backup battery in case of a power cut that lasts an amazing 10 years. As well as being able to detect smoke, it has Thermal Stability Enhancement, which means it will not be triggered by false alarms – it also has an insect net to stop midges and spiders setting it off! It has a large test button that doubles as a hush button if you’ve just burned the toast. You can choose a wireless base that means you can connect all your alarms to an app, rather than using a linking wire.

Kidde 29HD


Best for: living rooms and bedrooms

Power type: 9V battery

Type: optical

An inexpensive, battery-powered alarm, this uses an optical sensor and is easy both to install and to use. It can be used in any location in your home and is especially good for living rooms and bedrooms. It has a test button to ensure that the battery is still charged and that it’s working and this button can also be used to hush it if it goes off due to a cooking accident or ingress of steam from a bathroom.

Aico EI141RC


Best for: larger properties or buy-to-let homes

Power type: wired to mains with battery backup

Type: Ionisation

This mains-connected alarm works via ionisation and is ideal for buy-to-let properties and those wanting a permanent fire safety solution. It has a back-up battery in case of interruptions to the power supply and this battery will warn you when it gets low and needs replacing. It can be connected to up to 20 other alarms, so if good for larger properties and all the alarms will sound at once if one is triggered. There’s a built-in test and hush button.


The X-Sense Smoke and CO2 alarm is ideal for most homes and protects you from both smoke and carbon dioxide. It has a clear information display that helps you see what’s happening at all times. If you want your smoke alarm to be beautiful as well as functional, then go for the Kupu from Jalo Helsinki.