Your landlord must provide you with a smoke detector. If your apartment is connected to any room where fossil fuels are burned, they also have to provide you with a carbon monoxide detector. But the detectors they provide are usually the cheapest ones they can find at the hardware store. The batteries wear out frequently, they tend to give false alarms if you take a hot shower or burn your toast, and they're just generally not the best option available.
Fortunately, modern innovators have brought a lot of products to the market that are upgrades to the average $20 Home Depot special. Today we'll be featuring six options that renters can consider for their apartments that require little to no alteration to your apartment and won't break your budget.
Note: We have not been paid or contacted by any of the companies that manufacture these devices. We also haven't gotten our hands on any of them to test them, so this isn't a recommendation, it's just a list of options that we think are nifty.
Roost (getroost.com) - $35
This isn't really a smoke detector. Rather, it's a replacement smart battery for your existing detector. It's the same size and shape as a 9-volt battery. Stick it into your smoke or CO detector and it will gain the ability to communicate with an app on your phone over wifi, notifying you of any alerts. It's got a 5 year lifespan, too, which means it'll probably last longer than your lease.
Leeo (leeo.com) - $50
This is also not a smoke detector, but an enhancement to the ones that come with your apartment. It's a listening device that you plug into the wall. (It also doubles as a night light.) It listens for the specific tones that are emitted by smoke alarms. If it hears something, it will connect via wifi and send a message to your phone wherever you are.
Halo (halosmartlabs.com)- $80
This one isn't quite on the market yet but their Indiegogo page says they'll start shipping in September 2016. This is an actual smoke & CO detector. It also watches humidity and air pressure and alerts you to severe weather. It will send a message to your phone when it's running low on battery life, although they claim that the battery will last for two years. This device includes both ionization and photoelectric detection, which means fewer false alarms.
Nest Protect (nest.com/smoke-co-alarm/meet-nest-protect/) - $99
This is made by the same company that created the Nest thermostat and subsequently got bought out by Google. This is a legit smoke detector. It tests its own battery. It detects motion and turns on a nightlight if you walk past it in the dark. It has two levels of smoke detection – if it's a low level of smoke, it will speak to you and say that there's smoke. If there's a high level of smoke it will sound a siren like any normal detector. It will use your apartment's wifi network to send alerts about alarm events and low batteries to your phone.
Point (minut.com) - $119
This detector monitors smoke, CO, temperature and humidity, but has the shortest battery life of any of the devices listed here. Point is a more universal monitoring system – it can be set to also watch for movement or noise, which means it can double as a mini home security system.
Birdi (getbirdi.com) - $119
Like Halo, this one is not shipping yet, but you can place a preorder. Birdi will detect smoke, CO, humidity, dust, pollen, temperature, ambient light and stale air. It will allow you to dismiss false alarms from your phone. It will also send alerts to your phone about alarm events and low batteries. For an added fee, Birdi will provide a “concierge” offering services including 911 dispatch, calling a designated landline phone with evacuation instructions, and mailing you free battery replacements.
Have you tried any of these devices? Do you have another smart smoke detector that you prefer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and remember, even if your smoke detector is a basic model, it's important to keep the batteries in it and test them regularly.
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