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8 Reasons to Avoid a New Smart Smoke Detector Today

8 Reasons to Avoid a New Smart Smoke Detector Today

8 Reasons to Avoid a New Smart Smoke Detector Today

Key Points

  • Smart smoke detectors offer several benefits, but they may not be for everyone.
  • Interconnected alarms can make it difficult to determine the source of a fire.
  • Smart smoke detectors may have reduced functionality without power or connectivity.
  • Limited wireless range can compromise the reliability of smart smoke detectors.
  • Nuisance alerts and security concerns are potential drawbacks of smart smoke detectors.

No one argues about the importance of smoke detectors. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports an average of 343,000 home fires in the United States every year —  one every 92 seconds — and those fires cause approximately 2,600 deaths. Smoke detectors are a must: but we share eight reasons to avoid a new smart smoke detector today. 

The NFPA also reports that the death rate per 1,000 home fires was 55 percent lower in homes with working smoke alarms than in homes with no alarms or non-functioning alarms. Everyone needs smoke detectors strategically placed throughout their home. But do you need the newest smart innovations to keep your family safe? Are smart detectors an extravagance you can do without? 

Smart smoke detectors offer several benefits for those inclined to use them. However, smart technologies are not for everyone. Consumers have options, and we help you evaluate those options by sharing eight reasons to avoid a new smart smoke detector so you can decide for yourself what best meets your needs. 

How Smoke Detectors Work

Both smart and traditional smoke detectors use ionization sensors or photoelectric sensors to detect the presence of dangerous smoke, fumes, and fire. Ionization smoke detectors are better at quickly noticing fires that flare up and become large and hot. Photoelectric alarms are better at recognizing slower-acting smoldering fires. Photoelectric alarms are generally preferred because most fires don’t flare up immediately; they smolder and take time to grow, and photoelectric detectors pick up on this faster than ionization sensors. 

Some alarms incorporate both types of sensors to detect both types of fires effectively. When a fire or smoke is detected, the aural alarm alerts everyone to the potential danger. Smart smoke detectors do this just like traditional detectors, but they are also connected via Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or Bluetooth to communicate with each other. They can also send alerts to your smartphone. 

Surge protector multi-plug caught on fire
Both smart and traditional smoke detectors use ionization or photoelectric sensors to detect the presence of dangerous smoke, fumes, and fire.

Reasons to Avoid a New Smart Smoke Detector

Smart technologies are getting smarter and providing more benefits over time, but not everyone is keen to have everything they own interconnected. There is a place for traditional, time-tested technologies and methods. Plus some just like life to be simpler. Our reasons to avoid a new smart smoke detector help you weigh evidence on this side of the equation. 

Interconnected Alarms

The interconnectivity options with smart smoke detectors are one of its more significant benefits — and one of the most significant reasons to avoid a new smart smoke detector today. Interconnected alarms mean that when one smoke detector is triggered, all the other connected detectors also sound an alarm. One detector sets off everything, and this may make it difficult to determine just where the danger lies. 

If your kitchen alarm is triggered, how will you know where the fire is detected when every alarm in your home is blaring? Plus, if the fire or some other factor has cut your home’s electricity and there is no power, Internet, or Wi-Fi connection, the alarms’ interconnectivity is broken anyway, nullifying any benefit. Traditional smoke detectors signal when and where the danger lies and are unaffected by power or connectivity outages. 

Functionality Concerns

Many affordable smart smoke detectors rely on photoelectric sensors that better detect smoldering fires but they are less effective in detecting hot blazing fires. Smart smoke detectors that use both photoelectric and ionization sensors are more expensive, raising your investment. Unlearned or unaware consumers may immediately choose a less expensive smart smoke detector without knowing about its reduced effectiveness. 

Moreover, not all smart smoke detectors are compatible with all smart home solutions, Wi-Fi or Z-Wave connections, and other integrations. Instead of quickly grabbing the latest traditional smoke detector off the shelf to increase your home’s safety, you must research which model of smart smoke detector works with your existing smart home systems. 

Reduced Functionality Without Connections

wi-fi icon internet connectivity
Losing your home’s Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or Internet connection reduces your smart smoke detector’s functionality.

Proponents of smart smoke detectors trumpet their connectivity benefits, but what happens when no electricity, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Internet, or Bluetooth is available? Fires or other factors can sever these all-important technologies, rendering your smart smoke detectors far less effective. Your interconnectivity benefits cease. The much-touted smartphone alerts are silent. Connection to the rest of your home’s smart network is severed. 

Admittedly, some smart smoke detectors and home systems have additional cellular connectivity, which adds to your costs. In the event of a major disaster or some other occurrence, this connection may also be compromised. You are left with the detector’s basic functionality of sensing smoke or flames and raising an alarm — like a traditional smoke detector. 

Limited Wireless Range

Generally, smart smoke detectors connect to a smart home hub or another central control panel along with your other smart devices. These devices are controlled from this central location. One of the leading reasons to avoid a new smart smoke detector today is its limited wireless connectivity range. Larger homes or those with divergent floorplans may suffer weak wireless connections because of the distance or obstacles between devices and the hub. In fact, this is a notable disadvantage highlighted by fire system inspectors. 

A weak wireless connection means your smart smoke detectors may not function reliably in an emergency. Their smart triggering and smartphone signaling functions may be slowed or compromised, resulting in slower responses to the situation. In a matter of life and death, seconds or even minutes of delay can be costly. 

Increased Complexity

Not everyone enjoys complex electronics and modern digital devices. Many users don’t understand or utilize over half the capabilities on their smartphones. High-end technologies have both advantages and disadvantages. Every consumer must consider what they gain and what they surrender when investing in or avoiding smart home systems. Some may simply prefer traditional battery-operated, standalone smoke detectors. 

One of the less-recognized reasons to avoid a new smart smoke detector is the simplicity of traditional models. Consumers pursuing a simplified way of life can avoid battles with communication channels, firmware upgrades, cloud services, apps, and related technology. As everyone well knows, technology poses benefits and risks. Buggy software updates can make smart devices perform poorly and even compromise your security. 

Nuisance Alerts 

The nagging issue of nuisance alerts is directly related to the above issue of complexity. This is when a smoke detector signals an alarm when there is no danger. A glitch or other cause triggers a false alarm. Digital and wireless technologies only raise the risk of more problems, and many review sites reveal that nuisance alerts are the bane of many smart smoke detectors. 

Nuisance alerts can be especially disconcerting when you receive a fire alert on your smartphone when away from home, only to discover it is unwarranted. This only gets worse when your smart home system automatically contacts the local fire department, and they arrive to discover no problems. Repeated false alarms can even trigger fines from your local fire department.  

Security Concerns

share wi-fi password
Security experts affirm that smart smoke detectors are hackable.

Our modern world and its conveniences also come with increased security risks. Nefarious actors can compromise any device connected through Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or Bluetooth with mischief in mind. Many of the newest smart smoke detectors have hardware and software, connect to remote servers, and even have microphones for voice control, all of which can be potentially compromised. 

While it is well known that hackers can and have accessed webcams and laptop microphones, experts also affirm that your smart smoke detectors are also hackable. In a world where security concerns are increasingly valid, this is a significant reason to avoid a new smart smoke detector today and use unhackable traditional models. 

They’re Expensive

Smart smoke detectors are more expensive than their traditional counterparts, increasing your initial investment. If you follow the latest recommendations from fire safety experts for smoke detector placement, you need one unit on every level of the home, including the basement, in every bedroom, and outside each sleeping area. The average two-story, three-bedroom home with another bedroom or finished living space in the basement requires a minimum of seven devices. With the latest smart smoke detectors costing around $80-$100+, your initial investment can reach over $1,000. 

Add to that cost the smart home hub that connects them to your overall system and the Internet, Wi-Fi, could, Z-Wave, or other connections to use the smart features. If you choose hard-wired models for your home’s electrical system, add the cost of an electrician and related materials. Oh, and all smoke detectors have an expiration date. The sensor material inside wears out over time and must be replaced. So, plan on this expense around every ten years. 

Alternatives to a New Smart Smoke Detector 

People seeking a fully functional smoke detector with fewer complications may find these alternatives more attractive and affordable. 

Kidde Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector

The Kidde Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector is UL-certified and combines the best smoke and carbon monoxide sensors into a single unit. This device uses voice alerts and an 85-decibel alarm to alert of danger, the specific danger, and when battery replacement is needed. It uses ionization sensor technology to detect invisible fire particles and an electrochemical sensor to detect CO gas. A front-loading battery door accepts two AA batteries. This smoke detector comes with a 10-year warranty. 

2 Units in 1
Kidde Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
$64.77
  • Alerts you to both smoke and carbon monoxide with an 85-decibel alarm and voice alerts
  • Uses an ionization sensor and electrochemical sensor
  • Test-Hush Button to test the detector or silence false alarms
  • Powered by two AA alkaline batteries
  • UL Certified with a 10-year limited manufacturer warranty
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 10:03 am GMT

First Alert BRK PRC710 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

The First Alert BRK PRC710 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm is UL-certified and features a built-in 10-year battery. This device uses an electrochemical Carbon Monoxide sensor and a photoelectric smoke sensor. An 85-decibel alarm signals the alert to danger. This device has a low-profile design to help it blend in and be unnoticeable. 

Low-Profile Design
First Alert BRK PRC710 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
$37.02
  • Uses an electrochemical Carbon Monoxide sensor with a photoelectric smoke sensor
  • 85-decibel alarm
  • Battery-powered
  • Meets UL standards
  • 10-year limited warranty


We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 10:18 am GMT

X-Sense Smoke Alarm

The X-Sense Smoke Alarm is easy to install with included screws or adhesive pads and features a 10-year lithium battery that never needs replacing. This unit uses an advanced photoelectric sensor and intelligent ST chipset to detect dangerous smoke levels from smoldering fires quickly. The detector uses advanced technology for self-inspection to notify you of any malfunctions or problems. A five-pack of these smoke detectors is less than $60 at the time of writing. 

Energy Efficient
X-Sense Smoke Alarm
$75.99
  • Smoke detector with LED indicator light
  • Advanced photoelectric sensor with intelligent ST chipset
  • Silence button for false alarms
  • 10-year battery
  • Pack of five alarms
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 10:08 am GMT

Reasons You May Still Want to Buy a New Smart Smoke Detector 

Smart smoke detectors do offer significant benefits for those willing to embrace technology. They can provide real-time notifications to your smartphone when smoke is detected, even when you’re not at home. The interconnectivity features can help you identify a fire’s precise location, allowing for safe escape routes. They also easily integrate with other smart home devices to increase safety and convenience.

Research the available systems and products to find the one with benefits best fitting your family’s needs. Be sure to consider connectivity options and how they fit with your existing smart home technology. You may also want to investigate products and systems that connect to outside monitoring services for additional protection. 

Wrapping Up

Smart technology is certainly beneficial and smart smoke detectors can form a critical part of your home’s protection strategy. Those choosing to live a simpler, more technology-free existence may prefer traditional options, so we provide those here. And for those seeking smart options, our reasons to avoid a new smart smoke detector today can help you balance your research to make better buying decisions. 

Better Alternatives to a Smart Smoke Detector 

1. Kiddie Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
2. First Alert BRK PRC710 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
3. X-Sense Smoke Alarm
  1. Kidde Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
    $64.77
    • Alerts you to both smoke and carbon monoxide with an 85-decibel alarm and voice alerts
    • Uses an ionization sensor and electrochemical sensor
    • Test-Hush Button to test the detector or silence false alarms
    • Powered by two AA alkaline batteries
    • UL Certified with a 10-year limited manufacturer warranty
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/17/2024 10:03 am GMT
  2. First Alert BRK PRC710 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
    $37.02
    • Uses an electrochemical Carbon Monoxide sensor with a photoelectric smoke sensor
    • 85-decibel alarm
    • Battery-powered
    • Meets UL standards
    • 10-year limited warranty


    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/17/2024 10:18 am GMT
  3. X-Sense Smoke Alarm
    $75.99
    • Smoke detector with LED indicator light
    • Advanced photoelectric sensor with intelligent ST chipset
    • Silence button for false alarms
    • 10-year battery
    • Pack of five alarms
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/17/2024 10:08 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Do smart smoke alarms rely on my home Wi-Fi or Internet to work?

Yes. A smart smoke detector depends on the Internet, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or Bluetooth connections for its smart functions. Without these connections, it will still signal an alarm when detecting smoke or fire, but the advanced functionality is lost.

Do all smart smoke detectors work with all smart home systems?

No. Not all smart smoke detectors are compatible with all smart home solutions, Wi-Fi or Z-Wave connections, and other integrations. Be sure to research which model of smart smoke detector works with your existing smart home systems.

Are nuisance alerts eliminated with a smart smoke detector?

No. In fact, many review sites contain numerous complaints about nuisance or false alerts from smart smoke detectors. More than aggravating, they can even cost you if your smart system repeatedly signals the local fire department with false alarms. They can levy fines.

Do smart smoke detectors present a security risk?

Yes. Many of the newest smart smoke detectors have hardware and software, connect to remote servers, and even have microphones for voice control, all of which can be potentially compromised. Security experts affirm that smart smoke detectors are hackable.

Are smart smoke detectors expensive?

Yes. The average two-story, three-bedroom home with another bedroom or finished living space in the basement requires a minimum of seven devices. With the latest smart smoke detectors costing around $80-$100+, your initial investment can reach over $1,000. Add to that your expenses for an electrician if you choose hard-wired devices, your connectivity costs, and replacement costs every 10 years.

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