Security & Fire Protection Systems/Evaluating a smoke detector


Hi, Dave  I picked you because you were talking about smoke detectors. Can you recommend two or three brands of smoke detector? I had one die on me? Thanks.  Lee

Hello Lee, and thanks for writing.

There are a few things to consider when choosing a smoke detector.

First, in your case, you had one "die." If you have several detectors, they are probably interconnected, so in that case, you'd want to find one that's compatible with the rest, else you'd have to replace them all.

If you tell me the make and model of the failed detector, I can help find a compatible replacement.

Second, there's been on ongoing debate whether photoelectric or ionization detectors are best. The best evidence indicates that photoelectric detectors are more reliable, so I'd choose that technology.

Third, should you get a detector powered by battery only, AC only, or AC with battery back-up? Here, my preference is to go with AC power with battery backup, followed by battery only.

Finally, you asked for brand recommendations. This is not of much importance, since all brands are tested by Underwriter's Laboratories. The UL Listing says that they've been subjected to testing, and found suitable for use.

That said, I'll name one brand for you -- Kidde -- not because their product is superior to others in detecting smoke, but because of the range of their product line. They absorbed the second most popular detector company, Firex, and they've done a good job in cross-listing compatible detectors.

I hope this helps, and please write again if you have follow-up questions.

By the way, I see you sent two questions; I think I've answered bot here, so I'll remove the other.

Best Regards,


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Dave Neuweiler


The design and application of burglary and fire systems for homes and businesses. Helping alarm owners understand how their system works. Helping to troubleshoot false alarm problems. Questions about monitoring issues.


Over a quarter century in the industry. Experience in installation, service, and monitoring centers. Training manager for a national protective services company; director of education and training for a national trade organization for for alarm dealers.


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