While you likely already have a smoke detector in your home or apartment, it may not be one that detects carbon monoxide. You might wonder if you need a carbon monoxide detector, and the short answer is: yes, you do. Dryers, gas stoves, fireplaces and water heaters can all potentially emit carbon monoxide, and there’s a good chance that you have one (if not multiple) of these units in your home.
The reason that carbon monoxide is so dangerous is that unlike a regular fire, where the signs will be heard, smelled and seen, carbon monoxide emits no odor or visible fumes. And, because the symptoms can just feel like fatigue or a headache, it’s possible to ignore the warning signs until it’s too late. Thankfully, carbon monoxide detectors are the affordable answer that will buy you peace of mind and help keep you safe.
Not only are carbon monoxide detectors affordable, but they’re also easy to set up. Unlike the fire alarm that’s hard-wired into your ceiling, many carbon monoxide detectors can be set up without any electrical work. Simply pop in some batteries and mount it to the wall or place it somewhere accessible.
You can even find carbon monoxide detectors that plug into a regular wall outlet. These will have battery backups to keep the unit running in the event of a power outage. One factor to consider with plug-in detectors is placement. Carbon monoxide is lighter than air and rises, while outlets are typically close to the floor. That’s why some plug-in options come with cables that allow you to plug them into the wall socket while mounting the actual detector higher on the wall. If you’d rather replace your smoke detector entirely, we’ve included some options that hardwire into the ceiling.
Most of these options come from two brands: Kidde and First Alert. These brands are the industry leaders, but they offer a wide variety of different models, whether you want something you can plug into the wall or would rather have something hardwired.
These are the best carbon monoxide detectors to get.
1. Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Kidde is a leader in the hazard detection business, and with this alarm, they make it easy to make sure your air is carbon monoxide free. It will sound the alarm when dangerous levels of CO are detected automatically. It’s battery-operated, so you don’t have to do any hard wiring to get it to work.
2. Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
BEST SMART DETECTOR
A ringing alarm is a great way to keep yourself safe while you’re at home, but what about when you’re away? This detector from Google Nest connects to WiFi and can send alerts to your phone. It detects both smoke and carbon monoxide and has a ringing alarm in addition to the WiFi-enabled alerts. Nest’s smoke and carbon monoxide detector is wired, so it’ll need to be connected to existing cables. There’s also a battery back-up.
3. First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm
BEST BATTERY-POWERED SMOKE AND CO ALARM
Many of the options on this list are designed as a supplement to your existing smoke detector and only detect carbon monoxide. This option from First Alert detects both smoke and carbon monoxide. It’s battery-operated rather than wired, making it easy to set up.
4. Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital Display
BEST PPM DETECTOR
This carbon monoxide detector is a bit more elaborate. The digital display allows you to keep tabs on the CO level in your home, measured in PPM, parts per million. It has a peak level memory display showing when the highest concentration of CO occurred. This model is also battery-operated and features onboard LED lights that flash green when all is good and red when the alarm is going off, so there’s never any confusion.
5. First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector
BEST HARDWIRED OPTION
If you’re looking to replace your existing smoke detector with one that detects both smoke and carbon monoxide, this option from First Alert is a great option. It’s designed to be hardwired for continuous power, and the battery backup has you covered in the event of an outage. The detector has a variety of different alarm tones, so you can differentiate between an immediate emergency and low battery warnings.
6. Kidde Smoke+Carbon Monoxide Alarm
BEST VOCAL ALARM
Imagine if someone could tell you exactly when and what type of hazard has reached dangerous levels in your home. Think about how safe you would be. That’s what this combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm does. It has a voice alarm system that announces “Fire!” when smoke or fire is detected. It announces “Warning Carbon Monoxide” when there’s a CO hazard.
7. First Alert Dual-Power Carbon Monoxide Detector
This First Alert Dual-Power Carbon Monoxide Detector keeps your family safe using an advanced electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor that sounds a loud, 85-decibel alarm when dangerous levels of CO are reached. It plugs into any standard electrical outlet and has a battery backup feature, so you can always count on it to work. It’s also backed by an impressive seven-year limited warranty.
8. Kidde AC Plug-in Carbon Monoxide and Explosive Gas Detector Alarm
BEST MULTIFUNCTION DETECTOR
Most of the options on this list will only alert you once carbon monoxide levels are at dangerously high-levels, but this option is unique in that it allows you to monitor carbon monoxide levels continuously. It has a simple LED display that refreshes every 15 minutes to display the PPM. It plugs directly into the wall using the AC cord. This allows you to mount the alarm higher on the wall. This unit also detects dangerous levels of explosive gasses like propane and methane.