When talking about home automation the main things that come up are smart LED lights, doorbells, vacuum cleaners to switches and locks. In safety we usually think about burglar alarms and smart doorbells but what about fire? One major necessity of any building are smoke detectors.
You might be wondering what the difference is between the usual smoke detector and a smart one. Is investing in one going to benefit you?
Smart home device are meant to make our life easier as well as serve as efficient customizable devices making you feel safe and save you money too. In the past home products were independent of each other and with no remote control. Now you can manage your devices even when you are not home and different devices can talk to each other. For example your smoke alarm making your lights flash when there is a fire.
Imagine you are in the basement and something goes wrong in the kitchen, the smart smoke detector will automatically alert you so you can take immediate action. Previously you would only know before it was too late!
Another Smart example is night time, if a fire is detected at night it can turn on the lights so you can see your way out and not stumble around.
When buying a smoke detector there are several things to consider. First and the most obvious is the ability to detect carbon monoxide and smoke. Next comes the sensitivity and accuracy that help avoid false alarms for which one needs to consider the science used. An example would be the photoelectric split spectrum method which is more accurate than the old ionization method.
Smart smoke detectors not only alert you the traditional way but will also send you notification on your phone (some device also support multiple receivers). The notification not only tells you about the problem but also gives instructions. Another attractive feature that some devices offer is light coding for different type of issue detected in an accident. Also if one device goes off all the other devices will go off too.
There a three main types of smart smoke detector.
One of the options is to simply plug in a device which will send notifications when your smoke alarm sounds. These are called listeners.
Next is the smart battery, designed like a standard battery with intelligence added due to its capability to connect to Wi-Fi. Low battery and smoke alert are sent by this battery to your phone. The smoke alarms can be silenced using the app itself. Smart batteries can be cost effective but it has its drawbacks. You would need to replace the batteries in each device which makes it less efficient. Also its a very basic integration and cannot connect to the rest of your smart home. Finally this is not an option if your dumb smoke alarms are hard wired.
Smart Smoke Alarm
The last option is to replace the whole device with a smart smoke detector which already comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and easily operated through the app.
The most full featured smoke detector on the market at the moment is the Nest Protect. Which costs £99. Though it is the most expensive when compared to the other devices it does not compromise with the quality and features it comes with.
Equipped with multiple sensors the most exciting one is the Split Spectrum photoelectric which provides you with accurate fire alerts. This device will not only identify a fire but message you all the details, like what is the nature of the problem and which room it is coming from – if you have multiple alarms. It not only supports NEST but other services like IFFFT as well which will allow you to control other devices at the same time.
A match for Nest protect would be OneLinks Safe & Sound which is double the price just because it has a built in speaker with Alexa and google assistant. This device has wired only option. For a more detailed review on this we have to wait till its launch in May.
If Nest Protect is too expensive a good budget option for existing detectors are smart batteries. Replace the old batteries of your device with smart batteries. The Roost battery is a popular one in this category. Adding Wi-Fi capabilities to a battery was a clever way of getting into the market. The battery will cost you £25 which is like a third of the NEST protect. Like all smart device it operated through the app installed on your phone. The only difference is the smoke detecting technology which will depend on the detector you are using.