Consumer Reports tested a new combo smoke alarm and CO detector that offers a better solution.
It's from Nest Labs, the company that Google bought recently for more than three billion dollars.
On its website, the Nest combo smoke and carbon monoxide alarm promises to make safety more convenient. It warns you before the alarm sounds … "Heads up, there is smoke in the dining room." … and you can shut off the alarm by waving in front of it. "Alarm hushed." Consumer Reports' Bernie Deitrick tested the 129-dollar Nest … first for carbon monoxide detection. The Nest came through. "Heads up, there's carbon monoxide in the bedroom." Next, Bernie tested the Nest as a smoke detector. He lit some blocks of wood to create a smoky fire in a closed chamber. The Nest sounded quickly. Beep, Beep, Beep) "Smoke." Bernie Detrick, "There are really two different types of fire. There's the smoldering smoky kind of fire where there's no open flame, and those are detected well by photoelectric sensors. That's what the Nest has. The other type of fire is a fast fire where there's a flame, and that's detected best by an ionization detector, which the Nest does not have." So when Bernie created a flaming fire, this Kidde alarm - with both types of sensors - sounded quickly. But the Nest did not. Based on its tests, Consumer Reports says you're better off with a dual-sensor smoke alarm like the top-rated Kidde. It's model P-i-9000 for 23 dollars. Consumer Reports says dual-sensor smoke alarms do not come in combination with a carbon monoxide detector. So you'll need a separate CO detector. A good choice is the First Alert CO615 for 30 dollars.
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