- Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are important and potentially lifesaving devices that should be in every home, as over 400 Americans die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Smart carbon monoxide detectors provide the ability to control the alarm from a mobile device, reset the alarm remotely, and receive detailed alerts with pre-recorded messages.
- Smart detectors also offer the ability to learn about indoor air quality, providing information on volatile organic compounds and real-time CO gas levels.
- They can easily be added to existing smoke detection or security systems, and can send notifications to your phone when you are away from home.
Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are an important and potentially lifesaving device that should be in every home. According to the CDC, over 400 Americans die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning, with ER visits surpassing 100,000.
Many modern carbon monoxide detectors also integrate smart technology that communicates with other devices in your home. Some also incorporate other functionalities, such as smoke detection.
The reason a carbon monoxide detector is critical is that, unlike smoke, carbon monoxide has no scent. In fact, most people do not have a reaction to it until it’s too late. Buying a smart carbon monoxide detector provides an extra layer of safety for your family.
Background on Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors come in a range of different shapes and sizes. Many of them serve a dual purpose and also contain a smoke detector. Most jurisdictions require carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in new homes, as well as rental properties.
These devices are crucial because they save lives by sensing when dangerous levels of CO are in the air. CO gas is a byproduct of unburnt fuel that can come from a range of sources, such as generators, stoves, and fireplaces.
Simple carbon monoxide detectors do a sufficient job and may run on batteries or plug into a wall outlet. However, no carbon monoxide detector lasts forever, and most manufacturers recommend replacing them every seven to ten years.
Reasons to Buy a Smart Carbon Monoxide Detector
Let’s explore some of the reasons to consider buying a smart carbon monoxide detector.
Reason 1: Control the Alarm From a Mobile Device
Nothing is worse than a beeping alarm going off with no way to disable it. Even after carbon monoxide levels are safe, the detector will continue to chirp until it is reset. This is when most people would reach for a broom or a stick to press the reset button on their detector.
Fortunately, this is not a problem if you have a smart carbon monoxide detector because you can reset the alarm from the convenience of your phone. Resetting the alarm remotely is a must for people with tall ceilings, where the alarm is out of reach. It also allows you to reset the detector if you are away from home.
Reason 2: Learn About Indoor Air Quality
A normal carbon monoxide detector is pretty limited since it only sounds an alarm when it detects a certain level of carbon monoxide. Most detectors provide vastly more information and do much more than just trigger an alarm. Smart detectors provide details such as the exact parts per million of CO gas.
The exact way this works varies by brand, but most have an app that lets you view CO levels in real time. However, some detectors take things a step further by using internal sensors to detect overall air quality.
This is great for people with respiratory problems, as the detector can provide the exact amounts of volatile organic compounds in the air.
Reason 3: Receive Detailed Alerts
Another benefit of a smart carbon monoxide detector is that it provides detailed alerts. For instance, a standard detector will beep until the air clears. Then, you must go up to the detector and press the reset button. However, a smart carbon monoxide detector will tell you what is going on with a pre-recorded message.
Because most houses have more than one carbon monoxide detector, a smart detector can help by telling you which one detected the high amount of CO gas. In contrast, a wired CO detector without smart capabilities will set off all detectors in the home, but you will not know where the gas is most prevalent.
Reason 4: Easily Add to Your Smoke Detection or Security System
CO detectors are often paired with smoke or heat detectors. Therefore, you can easily swap out your basic smoke detector with an all-in-one device. Even better, you can typically match a smart carbon monoxide detector to your home’s existing smart infrastructure.
If you already have smoke detectors, you can replace one in an appropriate room with a combination unit. More importantly, many alarm systems also support monitoring for carbon monoxide.
Adding a smart detector to an existing alarm system can provide advanced smart functionality, and it can also alert a monitoring service in an emergency. Of course, you can skip hardwired CO detectors and instead go with a wireless system that connects to your existing smart devices.
Reason 5: Get Notifications While You Are Away
Every homeowner has concerns about something bad happening while they are away. But a smart carbon monoxide detector can give you peace of mind no matter where you are.
Like a conventional CO detector, a smart one will produce an audible tone to warn everyone in the house to leave. However, it will also send a notification to your phone, which you can then view in an app.
After receiving the notification, you can call a friend or authorities to check on the house and ensure it is safe. But before going inside, you should let the house air out. You can then go back to the app and check that the levels are safe.
Reason 6: Alerts You When It’s Time for Service
Many homeowners are shocked to learn that carbon monoxide detectors have a limited lifespan. They assume that changing the batteries and performing regular tests is enough, but the truth is most detectors are rated for a maximum of 10 years.
That poses a problem since you can easily forget when you installed the detector. Most CO detectors have a sticker on the side with an expiration date. But smart detectors provide the added benefit of letting you know when it is time for a replacement.
In addition, most will also send a regular status report to let you know the condition of their batteries and sensors. This can help you plan ahead when it comes to buying replacement batteries and detectors before the annoying reminder alarm starts going off.
The Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If you are considering a smart carbon monoxide detector, you should think about any smart systems already present in your home. Then, determine how they communicate (Z-Wave, HomeLink, Bluetooth, etc.). Finally, pick out the best option that works for your home. Below are our top picks for smart carbon monoxide detectors.
First Alert Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- Designed for improved compatibility with the Ring Alarm Security System and other certified Z-Wave systems
- Includes a photoelectric smoke-sensing chamber and an electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor
- Features an 85-decibel horn and a tamper-resistant battery door
The first option is a wireless combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector by First Alert. It also pairs with a Ring Alarm system to send notifications. Additionally, the First Alert smoke and carbon monoxide detector uses Z-Wave technology to connect with other smart devices in your home.
You can even connect it to other wireless First Alert brand smoke and leak detectors throughout your home. Best of all, this is one of the most affordable smart CO detectors. However, it relies entirely on you paying for a Ring subscription, or using Z-Wave automation to access all of its smart features.
Google Nest Protect
One of the most advanced carbon monoxide detectors is Google’s Nest Protect. In addition to serving as a CO detector, it also detects smoke with a split spectrum sensor. Unfortunately, the Google Nest Protect is one of the most expensive detectors you can buy.
Nevertheless, it can provide advanced information, like telling you which room the smoke is in. Finally, there are no subscription fees for the Nest Protect, and it easily connects to your home’s Wi-Fi.
Kidde Smart Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
- Plugs into a standard, 120V AC power outlet
- Sends out alerts about CO presence, high humidity levels that can lead to mold, unexpected high or low temperatures, and TVOCs
- 10-year limited warranty
Lastly, the Kidde Smart Carbon Monoxide Detector is a great option for those who want something easy to install. The detector is an all-in-one device that plugs directly into a wall outlet.
It offers air quality monitoring, which provides information about temperature, humidity, and pollutants in the air. It also connects to your home’s Wi-Fi, so you can manage and receive alerts through the Kidde app.
As you’ve seen, there is a lot to like about smart carbon monoxide detectors. But before you run out to purchase one, it’s a good idea to take a look at your existing smoke detection and alarm system.
Many smoke detectors can easily be replaced with combination units, so you can have smart smoke and carbon monoxide detection tied in with your existing smart devices.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©r.classen/Shutterstock.com.