5 Most Reliable Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors of 2021

Last update: 2021-07-22

Having the most reliable smoke and carbon dioxide detector in your house is like you are proactively improving the protection of yourself and your family against fires. Therefore, it’s worth considering carefully.

Below are our experts’ top picks from the market after 3 years of testing.

Here are the most reliable smoke and carbon monoxide detectors you can buy in 2021:

  • Long Lasting (Ionization Detector): FIRST ALERT BRK SC9120B
  • Best For Dining Room (Ionization Detector): Kidde KN-COSM-IBA
  • Durable (Photoelectric Detector): X-Sense SC07
  • Best Budget Option (Photoelectric Detector): JNHCD Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Best For Kitchen (Photoelectric Detector): Ecoey FJ183-A
5 Most Reliable Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Long Lasting
FIRST ALERT BRK SC9120B
  • Ionization Detector
Best For Dining Room
Kidde KN-COSM-IBA
  • Ionization Detector
Durable
X-Sense SC07
  • Photoelectric Detector
Best Budget Option
JNHCD Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Photoelectric Detector
Best For Kitchen
Ecoey FJ183-A
  • Photoelectric Detector

Long Lasting (Ionization Detector): FIRST ALERT BRK SC9120B

FIRST ALERT BRK SC9120B
FIRST ALERT BRK SC9120B
10Perfect
Pros
  • Able to work consistently during shortages – include high-quality battery backup
  • Safe and dependable – meet UL standards & made by a well-known manufacturer
  • Convenient – compatibility with First Alert or BRK detectors
Cons
  • Battery replacement is a big struggling
  • The light indicator isn’t bright enough

If you’re looking for the cheapest ionization detector that still works reliably even during a power outage, we think this model should be your best bet.

It comes with high-quality alkaline batteries, with a max lifespan of up to 1.5 years, that can back up for sudden shortage situations. While most other counterparts’ batteries only last around 3-6 months, this is the longest-lasting option.

Regardless, it is made by one of the oldest brands of in-home safety and has been tested thoroughly to achieve UL certification.

It highlights an electrochemical carbon monoxide sensing technology – that will trigger an 85-decibel siren once detecting smoke or CO.

If other rooms of your home are already equipped with First Alert or BRK detectors, this one is compatible with them.

FIRST ALERT BRK SC9120B Specifications

Size

5.6 x 5.6 x 1.9 inches

Alarm Noise Level

85 decibels

CO Alarm Sensitivity & Time

70 ppm/ 60 - 240 min.

150 ppm/ 10 - 50 min

400 ppm/ 4 - 15 min

Highlight Features

include high-quality battery backup

meet UL standards & made by a well-known manufacturer

compatibility with First Alert or BRK detectors

Verdict

The FIRST ALERT BRK SC9120B doesn’t require as much battery replacement times as its competing models plus it can work reliably during power outages, thanks to the premium battery backup included.

Best For Dining Room (Ionization Detector): Kidde KN-COSM-IBA

Kidde KN-COSM-IBA
Kidde KN-COSM-IBA
9.8Outstanding
Pros
  • Ideal for kitchen – feature humidity range of 10%-90% & temperature range of 60-100 degrees F
  • Provide extra action time – voice alarm & siren
  • Ensure it works properly after installation - battery safeguard
Cons
  • Require more battery replacement times

Made to achieve all UL safety standards, the Kidde KN-COSM-IBA is another dependable smoke and CO detector we’d like to recommend to you.

It stands out for featuring ultra-wide humidity ranges of 10% to 90% (while most others’ just up to 85%). Combining the temperature range of 60-100 degrees F, it becomes a great choice for those spaces that are usually hot and highly humid, such as the kitchen and dining room.

One of our most favorite KN-COSM-IBA features is its voice alarm once the device detects a deadly CO concentration in the air before the siren is shrieking overhead.

You can turn this function off by just a gentle press on its test-reset button.

If you have more than one KN-COSM-IBA installed in your home, they are easily compatible together. During installation, the best part is you take no risks of forgetting to insert batteries or inserting them improperly, thanks to the battery safeguard.

Kidde KN-COSM-IBA Specifications

Size

2 x 6 x 6 inches

Temperature Range

60-100 degrees F

Humidity

10%-95%

Alarm Noise Level

85 dB

CO Alarm Sensitivity & Time

100ppm or higher/ approximately 9 minutes

Highlight Features

feature humidity range of 10%-90% & temperature range of 60-100 degrees F

voice alarm & siren

battery safeguard

Verdict

The Kidde KN-COSM-IBA is specifically built with ultra-wide humidity and temperature range, making it a nice pick for those highly humid areas, like the dining room.

Durable (Photoelectric Detector): X-Sense SC07

X-Sense SC07
X-Sense SC07
9.6Outstanding
Pros
  • Feature no blind spot in detecting smoke or carbon dioxide – a full 360° ring of air intakes
  • Provide extra safety and security to your home – three-color LED indicators
  • Easy to track the battery and CO level – an LCD screen display
Cons
  • Vague instructions
  • The design is too thick

The X-sense SC07 is a surprisingly well-built unit designed with independent electrochemical CO and photoelectric sensors plus a full 360° ring of air intakes that ensures to deliver no blind spot in smoke or carbon dioxide detecting.

After installation, it stays neat and sturdy on the wall.

Making it different from other options is the three-color LED indicators (including red, yellow, and green), which help enhance your home’s safety and security.

The unit accomplishes this with an LCD screen display in charge of representing precisely the CO levels and battery levels that are constantly updated every ten seconds.

X-Sense SC07 Specifications

Size

5.7 x 5.7 x 2 inches

Alarm Noise Level

85 dB at 9.84 ft (3 m)

CO Alarm Sensitivity & Time

30-999 ppm/ 4 times every 5.8 seconds.

Highlight Features

a full 360° ring of air intakes

three-color LED indicators

an LCD screen display

a 10-year lithium battery

Verdict

Compared to other photoelectric detectors we tested, the X-sense SC07 is outstanding for its unrivaled durability and ease of use.

Best Budget Option (Photoelectric Detector): JNHCD Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector

JNHCD Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
JNHCD Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
9.2Outstanding
Pros
  • The most affordable out of other counterparts
  • Durable - temperature ranges of 32-120 degrees F and humidity of ≤95%RH
  • High-quality and dependable - UL certification label & a 6-year warranty
Cons
  • It doesn’t have a verbal alarm

This is a budget-friendly battery-operated smoke and CO detector that is approved by our testers to work reliably during power outages.

Its functions are quite basic, including an 85dB siren, indicator lights, a smoke alarm, and a carbon monoxide alarm that will sound if detecting a CO level ranging from 70-700ppm. It can detect both smothering and fast-flaming fires with good sensitivity.

We were pleasantly surprised that it is backed by a 6-year warranty despite the price point. But what truly makes it a reliable choice is the UL certification label.

It is built durably to bear a temperature range of 32-120 degrees F and humidity of ≤95%RH.

JNHCD Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Specifications

Size

Φ115(D) x 38(H)mm

Temperature Range

0°C~49°C (32°F~120°F)

Humidity

≤95%RH

Alarm Noise Level

85-decibel

CO Alarm Sensitivity & Time

700 ppm/2-6 minutes

400 ppm/4-15 minutes

150 ppm/10- 50minutes

70 ppm/60-180 minutes

Highlight Features

temperature ranges of 32-120 degrees F and humidity of ≤95%RH

UL certification label & a 6-year warranty

Verdict

If you are looking for a basic smoke and CO detector that doesn’t cost a fortune, the JNHCD is a nice budget option.

Best For Kitchen (Photoelectric Detector): Ecoey FJ183-A

Ecoey FJ183-A
Ecoey FJ183-A
9.2Outstanding
Pros
  • Sturdy – made of fire-retardant PC plastic material
  • High smoke and CO detecting sensitivity - a smart chipset
Cons
  • Pricey

According to the US fire departments, there were an average of 172,900 home structure fires/year derived from cooking activities (estimated in 2014-2018).

If you want to invest in a really good smoke and CO detector for your kitchen, consider the Ecoey FJ183-A.

Aside from its high-grade fire-retardant PC plastic shell, the unit is constructed of a smart chipset, three-color LED indicators, an 85-decibel siren that is activated/silenced by the test button, and a 10-year lithium battery.

Coming with all the tools needed for installation, it is very quick and easy to install.

Ecoey FJ183-A Specifications

Size

φ 5.28 * 1.57 in

Alarm Noise Level

over 85 dB at 3 meter

Highlight Features

made of fire-retardant PC plastic material

a smart chipset

Verdict

The Ecoey FJ183-A is our proud choice for the kitchen based on its high-quality shell material and a smart chipset with great smoke and CO detecting sensitivity.

How To Choose The Most Reliable Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Types Of Smoke Detectors

As fires burn differently – some are fast to the flame while others are slower. Therefore, there are three main types of smoke detectors:

Photoelectric smoke detectors

Designed with higher sensitivity to detect slow-flame fires faster than the ionization ones. However, they’re inferior to their counterparts in detecting fast-flame fires. They work best in the kitchen because they make fewer false alarms from burnt food.

Ionization smoke detectors

This type is completely in contrast to the photoelectric smoke detectors, which means it works best in detecting fast-flame fires and bad at smothering fires.

Dual-sensor smoke detectors

Easy to guess that this smoke detector type combines those two above, which means it brings the highest protection for you against both smothering and fast-flaming fires.

Besides, this one reduces the hassles of installing two devices in your house.

CO Alarm

This function helps you know the exact, up-to-date buildup of carbon monoxide in your house and will sound after a certain amount of time it continuously detects a dangerous CO level in the air.

The sensitivity of CO alarm is measured in PPM (parts per million) and the response time is in minutes or hours.

The response time is varied depending on the CO level. For example:

CO levels

(PPM)

CO alarm response time

400

4-15 hours

150

10-50 minutes

70

1-4 hours

50

8 hours

40

10 hours

The higher the CO levels, the more dangerous, therefore, the shorter the CO alarm response time. A trick to ensure your CO alarms are reliable is to look for the UL certification on their label.

Alarm Noise Level

Another worth-considering feature when looking for the most reliable smoke and CO detector is the alarm noise level. It should be loud enough to warn you about the danger for quick action but should not be too loud to damage your ears.

The recommended alarm noise level for smoke and CO detectors should be at 85 decibels.

Besides, you should consider the voice alarm for extra action time before the siren is activated.

Which Brands Make The Most Reliable Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detector?

FIRST ALERT

FIRST ALERT is a 1964-founded company specializing in manufacturing smoke and CO detectors.

They’re the first to the retail market with a battery-operated smoke alarm and then, dual ionization/photoelectric alarm. Their products are always UL listed and give a great blend of dedication, trustworthiness, quality, and reliability.

Kidde

Have you heard about Carrier Global? Kidde is a brand and a division of theirs, dedicated to producing and distributing suppression and fire detection equipment. It was started in 1917 and has now been the US’s biggest brand in fire safety products and smoke alarms.

X-sense

X-sense is a young yet reliable global leader in smoke and CO detectors. Though they were established in 2014, their products have been widely sold to over 48 countries in the world and received much positive feedback from customers.

FAQs

Is Kidde or First Alert better?

Kidde is easier to install and budget-friendly while First Alert is superior in features, especially the function of verbal warning of the threat built in their alarm system.

Are combo smoke CO detectors good?

Yes, they are. Using photoelectric and ionization technology, they can detect both slow- and fast-flaming fires for extra safety and protection

Which is better ionization or photoelectric smoke detector?

We would say each type of smoke detector delivers specific strengths and weaknesses. Photoelectric smoke detectors give a faster response to the smoldering fires while ionization ones can detect fast-flaming fires more quickly.

Is 30 ppm carbon monoxide dangerous?

No, it isn’t. 30ppm carbon monoxide is still ranked in the low level. The dangerous level is more than 101ppm

What do 4 beeps on a carbon monoxide detector mean?

It means “Emergency” – the level of CO in the area is dangerous. What you should do is to move to fresh air and call 911.

Conclusion

During our testing, we got surprised repeatedly by how practical and useful these products proved to be. Hopefully, our article comes in handy for you in determining the most reliable smoke and carbon dioxide detector for your budget, needs, and situations. Thanks for reading!

Eugene Williams
Eugene Williams

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