If your house is already decked out with a ton of smarthome products, your next addition might be some smart smoke alarms, but are they worth buying in the first place? Here are some things to keep in mind.
Smart Smoke Alarms Don’t Necessarily Offer Better Smoke Detection
One reason you might think smart smoke alarms the better choice is that they somehow offer improved detection of smoke over non-smart smoke alarms. After all, they’re “smart,” so they must be better at that, right?
In reality, smart smoke alarms come with the same smoke sensors as any other regular smoke alarm. Even the Nest Protect’s “split-spectrum” photoelectric sensor isn’t vastly better than a regular smoke alarm that comes with both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
So while the bells and whistles might be cool, the smoke detection abilities remain the same across the board, which brings us to our next point.
It’s Mostly Just About Convenience
The handiest feature of a smart smoke alarm is being able to control it from your phone and receiving alerts whenever an alarm detects smoke or fire.
One of the most annoying things to do when you get a false alarm (like from cooking dinner) is scrambling over to it and reaching up to hit the silence button before your eardrums explode. But with a smart smoke alarm, you can do it from your phone. The Nest Protect will even warn you on your phone that smoke levels are rising before it officially blares its alarm.
Receiving alerts whenever your smart smoke alarm goes off can be handy as well, especially if you’re on vacation or just at work in the middle of the day. With those kinds of alerts, you can get ahead of the situation and hopefully prevent your entire house from burning down before it’s too late.
The other thing you’ll find on most smart smoke alarms is that you can connect them. They sync up via their own little wireless network. When one alarm detects smoke, all the alarms go off—useful if you’re in a large home. However, you can get this feature with regular smoke alarms, too. Both First Alert and Kidde offer regular smoke alarms that link together wirelessly. So you don’t need a smart smoke alarm to take advantage of this feature.
You Don’t Interact with Them Much Anyway, If At All
The biggest thing to consider when considering a smart smoke alarm is that you don’t interact with your smoke alarm much in the first place. You set it up and forget about it until it does its job (which should hopefully be never) or when you need to replace a battery or test the alarm.
Yes, being able to silence the alarm from your phone is pretty cool, but how often are you really going to need to do that? And yes, you can check up on alarms and even test them from your phone, which beats hauling out a ladder or step stool to mash the little button. But that’s still a minor and infrequent annoyance.
In the end, just like with most smart home gadgets, you’re paying extra for some convenience. How much that’s worth is up to you. But a regular smoke alarm can keep you just as safe as its smarter cousin.