The concept is simple: A smoke alarm that tells you there’s a fire nearby is a great, but a smoke alarm that tells you there’s a fire no matter where you are is even better. Smart smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are one of the most useful categories of smart home gear on the market, mainly because they offer a clear advantage over “dumb” versions of the same product. And if you have a second home or travel frequently, the additional peace of mind they can provide is invaluable.

Once installed and powered up, you download the relevant app and connect to the device wirelessly. Then, when the alarm goes off, not only do you receive an audio alert—many include helpful voice instructions instead of just a siren—your smart phone also tells you what the problem is (whether it’s smoke or CO, which alarm was activated, and sometimes even the severity of the smoke). Many smart smoke detectors hook into additional smart home gear and IFTTT, so you can get even more clever by having the lights start flashing if smoke has been detected, for example. Perhaps the biggest benefit of a smart smoke detector: No more hunting down midnight chirps, since you’ll also get phone-based notifications about dying batteries.

Here are our picks for the best options on the market today.

Updated August 7, 2008 to add our review of the new First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound, which melds a smart smoke and carbon-monoxide detector with an Alexa-powered smart speaker. It’s an innovative idea, but it comes with a high price tag that not everyone will be comfortable with. As such, it doesn’t displace either of our top picks in this category.

Best smart smoke detector

The Nest Protect is one of the most mature smart smoke alarms on the market, and it’s a no-brainer of a choice if you want one of the most sophisticated and reliable smart smoke detectors out there. Alarms are varied, integrated lighting is color-coded based on the type of threat, and the product includes helpful voice alerts when activated. In testing, our phone was alerted almost immediately, and the app couldn’t be simpler to master. If you have additional Nest gear at home – namely a Nest thermostat – things get even savvier, as you can configure the Protect to shut off your ventilation system if it detects smoke, a potential life saver.

At $119, the Nest Protect isn’t cheap, but pricier options are out there. In this case, though, the outlay is worth it.

Runner up

The Halo+ is in many ways a clone of the Nest Protect, though at $149 it’s quite expensive (although it’s $100 cheaper than the First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound, which in defense of the latter product, is also a smart speaker). The Halo+, for its part, includes an integrated weather radio that can be set to alert you to emergency-level weather conditions, and its app is a bit more refined than the Nest. The Halo+ system does support third-party hubs, including Alexa, Iris, and SmartThings, but we had trouble getting the device to work with Alexa. Most users will probably do just fine with the Nest Protect, but if the weather radio option sounds enticing, give it a look.

Best smart listener

We’d call this a tie between the Leeo and the Roost Smart Battery, but we haven’t put our hands on the second-generation Roost product yet. In the meantime, Leeo has chopped the price of its smart nightlight in half and added IFTTT functionality, so that it can be integrated into broader smart home systems that also support that feature. You might also find its onboard humidity sensor useful as it can warn you of conditions that could lead to the growth of mold.

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