|Battery-Powered Smoke Detector: $15-$25 ||Hardwired Smoke Detector: $25-$40 ||Smoke Detectors with Special Features: $50+ |
Smoke detectors function by using two basic sensors: an ionization smoke alarm works well at detecting flaming fires, while photoelectric alarms are more responsive to smoldering fires. Some models have dual sensors.
Related articles: Fire Extinguisher, Fire Sprinklers, Carbon Monoxide Detector, Homeowner's Insurance
- Ionization smoke alarms, which excel at detecting flaming fires, cost $15-$60 depending on the features of the smoke alarm. For example, First Alert's Basic Smoke Alarm costs $13 and features a hush button, and comes with a 9V battery and a 10-year warranty. Kidde's Silhouette Hardwire Smoke Alarm is about $60 at Home Depot. It is hardwired into the home, has a backup rechargeable battery and a design that protrudes from the wall less than most other smoke alarms.
- Photoelectric sensor smoke alarms work better at detecting smoldering fires, but typically are more prone to false alarms. Photoelectric sensor smoke detectors cost $20-$80, depending on the features. For example, BRK Electronics' Hardwire Smoke Alarm costs $21 at Amazon and features a hush button, a battery backup and is compatible with some carbon monoxide detectors. First Alert sells a two-pack of wireless smoke detectors for $80 that can be interconnected, meaning when one alarm sounds they all go off.
- Some smoke detectors offer dual sensors -- both ionization and photoelectric in one model -- which are typically recommended by experts. Typically, dual-sensor detectors cost $20-$40, depending on features. For example, First Alert's Smoke Alarm with Smart Sensing Technology costs $23. A Kidde battery-operated dual-sensor unit sells on Amazon for $20.
- Some smoke detectors are combined with carbon monoxide detectors. Typically, combined units cost $40-$80. For example, BRK Electronics Battery Smoke/CO Combo costs about $44 at Drillspot.com and includes a remote control silencer and a programmable voice alarm.
What should be included:|
- Smoke alarms come with a variety of different features but typically include a hush button (and sometimes a remote-control silencer), a battery backup for power outages, a low-battery warning light and a multi-year warranty. Less common features include voice alarms and strobe alarms (which help the hearing impaired).
- Many smoke detectors run on batteries, which can cost $5-$10 to replace. Experts recommend checking smoke alarm batteries when the clocks are reset for Daylight Savings Time.
- A smoke detector tester, which is essentially smoke in an aerosol can, can quickly test whether a smoke alarm is functioning properly. Typically, smoke in a can is sold for $5-$15 per can. Look for smoke detector testers that are UL listed. For example, Amazon sells cans of CRC Industries smoke detector tester for about $12.
Shopping for a smoke detector:
- Some local fire stations offer free or low-cost smoke alarms. Typically the programs are aimed at the elderly, families with small children and recent immigrants. Contact a local fire department or district for details on individual programs.
- Some retailers provide discounts for bulk purchases. First Alert, a manufacturer of smoke alarms, offers discounts on bulk or multi-pack orders . For example, a six-pack of the hardwired alarm is $63 and a 48-pack (aimed at contractors) is about $550. Home Depot sells a pallet of smoke detectors (756 units) for $9,700, or less than $13 apiece.
- ConsumerSearch.com provides reviews of top-selling smoke detectors.
- Kidde , a manufacturer of smoke detectors, provides information to consumers on selecting the right model and installation tips.
- Look for the UL Listed mark on smoke detector products guaranteeing top performance and safety.
- The US Fire Administration provides an overview of state laws governing residential smoke detectors.
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