Consumer Alert: Carbon Monoxide Detector

Consumer Reports

Smoke and CO alarms are key safety devices for the home

A recent fire at a home in Ross, Pennsylvania, serves as a reminder that you need reliable smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms properly placed throughout your home.

According to this report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 48-year-old Edward Stefanick remained asleep in his bedroom even as firefighters spent two hours battling a blaze in his home. "You would've thought that, by that time, he would've kind of rose and got himself out of there," Ross Fire Marshal John Reubi told the newspaper.

The layout of the home kept the bedroom largely clear of smoke, though Ross was disoriented when firefighters finally found him and was hospitalized in critical condition with a high carbon-monoxide level.

If you need to replace your existing (or buy new)  smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms, read our latest report on these devices and review our ratings of smoke and CO alarms and exclusive interactive (available to subscribers) to find the best models for your home. The highly rated First Alert OneLink SCO501CN smoke and carbon-monoxide alarm is shown.

Once you've bought your new smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms, be sure to install them in the right places.

For a link to the actual ratings click HERE.

Top smoke alarms use dual sensors, can be interconnected, and have a hush button. Top CO alarms quickly sound an alarm at high and low levels and have digital displays.

CR Best Buy

These offer the best blend of performance and price. All are Recommended.


These are high-scoring models that stand out for the reasons below.

Two to buy for top overall protection

Letter designates type. Number designates ranking. View Ratings chart.

These hardwired models include a battery backup. When used together they give the best protection against fire and CO.

Kidde PI2000 (A1) $30

Kidde Silhouette KN-COPF-1 (D4) $60

A1 has dual smoke sensing. A peak memory on D4 tells you the highest CO reached. You need both A1 and D4 to safeguard against fire and CO.

Smoke alarms

Letter designates type. Number designates ranking. View Ratings chart.

Battery-powered smoke detection:

First Alert SA302CN (A2) $25

Kidde PI9000 (A3) $23

These combine both types of smoke sensing in a single battery-powered alarm.

For kitchens, baths, existing systems:

First Alert SA9120BCN (B1) $15

BRK 7010B (C1) $25

Choose B1 to add ionization sensing to an existing system, C1 near baths and kitchens.

Carbon-monoxide alarms

Letter designates type. Number designates ranking. View Ratings chart.

For larger spaces:

First Alert OneLink SCO501CN (D1) $70

First Alert OneLink CO511B (D2) $83

Each can talk to other wireless First Alert alarms. D1 combines CO and photoelectric smoke detection; D2 provides CO detection only.

Stand-alone models for small spaces:

First Alert OneLink CO511B (E1) $40

Kidde Nighthawk KN-COPP-3 (E3) $45

Both are plug-in with battery backup-fine for small, one-story homes and apartments.