What are the key features to look for when purchasing a smoke detector?

Selecting a home smoke detector or smoke alarm can be difficult. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating the different types of smoke alarms on the market.

  • Look for smoke detectors that have been tested and approved by a recognized independent laboratory.
  • They should be listed by the laboratory and approved for sale, installation and home use.
  • Make sure your smoke alarm has an audible warning indicator that notifies you of possible malfunctions or low batteries.
  • Your detector should contain batteries that are readily available for purchase.
  • Batteries should also be easy to replace. Many new smoke detectors offer ways to replace batteries without removing the detector from the mounting.
  • The audible alarm should be at least 85 decibels or greater and have the ability to wake someone behind a closed door.
  • Consider selecting a dual sensor smoke alarm with both photoelectric and ionization technologies. Using both will allow the device to detect more kinds of fires faster.
  • Consider purchasing a smoke detector with a lithium ion battery. These batteries do not need recharging or replacing and will last the life of the detector (8-10 yrs).
  • If you live with someone that is hearing impaired, you may want to consider a smoke detector that utilizes lights as well as sound.
  • Consider purchasing a smoke alarm that can be hard wired to your home. These types of detectors have a battery backup so if the power goes down, your detectors won’t.

Affordability should also be factored into the equation but not at the expense of the recommended number of detectors.