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Everything you should know about smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Smoke and CO detectors

A smoke detector is a special device that identifies smoke and gives an audible alarm to alert to a fire at an early stage.

A carbon monoxide detector is an electronic device with a sensor that warns of the deathly carbon monoxide – an odorless tasteless gas known as the invisible silent killer. Unlike a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector does not look for signs of fire but measures the level of CO and alerts to a possible carbon monoxide poisoning. The latter can occur because of a gas leakage, fuel, gasoline or wood incomplete combustion, etc.

Both a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors are must-have devices to protect your life from fire and/or suffocation.

‍Useful things to remember when installing smoke detectors

What are the types of smoke and CO detectors?

Smoke detectors can be photoelectric or ionization. The latter are the best at identifying fast-burning fires while photoelectric detectors can sensor a smoldering fire. For safety reasons, it is advised to install different types of smoke alarms at your home. Alternatively, you can go for a dual-sensor alarm that includes both ionization and photoelectric sensors.

Depending on a source of power, all the detectors can be wired into your electrical grid or battery-operated. Hardwired detectors are more practical in a way that you don’t have to worry about a battery going dead. However, in a power outage, they won’t fulfill their function unless there’s a backup battery included. A wireless detector is easy to install, but you have to regularly replace a battery. Another drawback is that you may be woken up at night by loud chirp informing you that it’s time to change the battery.

Latest features of the smoke and CO alarms

The good news is, these days you can buy a combination alarm – a device that detects both smoke and CO.

As smart homes are becoming more popular, so are smart alarms. All the detectors within one home can be interconnected either by hard wires or wirelessly and simultaneously sound an alarm whenever one of the sensors identifies smoke or carbon monoxide.

‍Linked smoke alarms are more effective because all of them get activated in case of fire
  • Some detectors come with a display that shows carbon monoxide level even if its concentration is below the level needed to trigger the alarm.
  • A hush button is included with some of the alarms. If a detector gives a false alarm, you don’t have to deactivate it. Simply push the button.
  • Additional smart features such as strobe light, voice warning or safety lights are added to ensure a higher level of alarm effectiveness. For example, a person with impaired hearing is likely to wake up at night to a flashing light rather than to a beeping sound.
  • Some devices report alarms via texts and email.

Home automation smoke detectors, as well as alarms with special features, cost more than standalone wired or wireless detectors.


Depending on the size of your home, budget and needs there is a wide choice of fire alarms to choose from. For an enhanced protection install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Remember that the most important thing is to keep your alarm working, because sometimes your life depends solely on this small device.

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