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What's behind our CO & smoke alarm Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 33 models in CO & smoke alarms to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    CO alarm scoring is based on response time to lower and higher levels of CO, accuracy of digital display or voice message.
  • High CO levels
    High CO levels rates a model's response to CO of 300 parts per million.
  • Low CO levels
    Low CO levels rates a model's response to CO of 150 ppm.
  • Display/voice
    Display/voice rates the accuracy of the CO level either displayed digitally or conveyed by voice message.


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Recommended CO & smoke alarms

Recommended CO & smoke alarms are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
None of the smoke or carbon monoxide alarms we tested did everything well individually but you can combine various types—photoelectric, ionization, combination or dual-sensor—for optimal protection. Here are the types of carbon monoxide and smoke alarms to consider. If you're looking for information about carbon monoxide & smoke alarms, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ carbon monoxide & smoke alarm reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our carbon monoxide & smoke alarm buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings and carbon monoxide & smoke alarm reviews to help you choose the best carbon monoxide or smoke alarm for your needs.

Recently reviewed CO & smoke alarms

Nighthawk KN-COB-B-LP
This model was tested by our experts.

CO & smoke alarm buying guide

Approximately 2,500 people are killed each year in residential fires, and another 500 die from carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas that's known as the "silent killer." Installing smoke and CO alarms throughout your home is the first step toward staying safe.

Every home should have smoke alarms, and CO alarms are a must in all homes with fuel-burning appliances such as a furnace, water heater, range, cooktop or grill. Even an all-electric home may benefit from a couple of CO alarms, because using a generator during a blackout produces CO. You need alarms that detect flaming and smoldering fires for each bedroom, with at least one set on each level, including the attic and basement. You should also have a CO alarm on each living level, in the basement, and near (not inside) an attached garage.

You can buy smoke and CO alarms at hardware and home-improvement stores and online. Smoke alarms are relatively inexpensive, starting at about $15 for basic models. CO alarms cost $35 and up. Check the package to make sure smoke alarms meet Underwriters Laboratories Standard 217 and CO alarms meet UL Standard 2034. Also look up the date of manufacture on the back of the alarms. These devices lose their sensitivity over time, so the fresher, the better. For performance data on specific models, see our Ratings of CO and smoke alarms.

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