5 Best Smoke Detectors for a Rental Property in 2023

Last Updated: November 2023

Rental Property Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are generally a requirement for all types of rental properties. While different states and municipalities have different requirements, they all use the same type of smoke detectors – hard wired, battery operated, and Combination smoke and carbon monoxide. Where required, landlords hold the responsibility to regularly inspect and ensure that all smoke detectors are working properly.

Best Rental Property Smoke and Carbon Detectors

Below we explore the top 5 smoke alarms  for rental properties based on 5 different factors that landlords and property managers should consider when determining which type of smoke alarm is best for their rental property investment.

Best Overall

First Alert – BRK 3120B Hardwired Photoelectric and Ionization Smoke Alarm with Battery Backup

Type

Hardwire Powered, Battery Backup, Smoke Detector

Pros
  • Dual sensors detect both smoldering and fast-flaming fires, increasing detection accuracy.
  • Hardwire alarm with battery backup ensures protection even during power outages.
Cons
  • Front cover design inconsistency may cause aesthetic mismatch.
  • Multiple latching features might confuse users regarding low battery or originating alarm indication.

Why We Like This Overall Smoke Detector

First Alert is a trusted brand for consumer fire detection products and this smoke alarm is our top pick for an overall good hardwired smoke alarm (required in most residential applications) with a battery backup.

Best Economy

Kidde – i9030 Battery Powered Ionization Smoke Detector

Type

Battery Powered, Smoke Detector

Pros
  • Affordable price for a reliable fire detection solution.
  • No wiring required; easy installation with a 9-volt alkaline battery.
Cons
  • Basic ionization may not detect smoldering fires as quickly as photoelectric sensors.
  • False alarms possible from everyday activities like cooking or showering.

Why We Like This Budget Smoke Detector

Sometimes you just need to get a smoke alarm installed ASAP. For under $10, this battery powered smoke alarm is a great buy from a well established brand.

Best Smart

Google Nest –  Protect Hardwired Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector, WiFi with Phone Alerts

Type

Hardwired (Battery Option Also Available), Smoke and Carbon, Wifi Enabled

Pros
  • Sends phone alerts for potential dangers and low batteries, ensuring constant monitoring.
  • Split-Spectrum Sensor ensures fast detection of both slow and rapid burning fires.
Cons
  • Requires a working Wi-Fi connection, which might be a limitation for some.
  • Multiple wireless features may complicate setup for non-tech-savvy users.

Why We Like This Smart Smoke Detector

If your property uses other Google (Nest) smart devices then this wifi connected smoke and carbon detector is a perfect fit. It will notify your smartphone for any alerts, which could be perfect for a vacation rental property.

Best Carbon Only

Kidde – KN-COB-DP2 Carbon Monoxide Detector, AC-Plug-In with Battery Backup

Type

Plug-In Powered, Battery Backup, Carbon Monoxide Detector

Pros
  • Easy installation with plug-in feature and AA battery backup ensures continuous protection.
  • Digital display updates CO levels every 15 seconds; offers quick insight into gas presence.
Cons
  • 85-decibel alarm might be too loud for sensitive individuals or small spaces.
  • “End of life chirp” can be bothersome when device nears replacement time.

Why We Like This Carbon Monoxide Detector

Many jurisdictions have carbon monoxide detector requirements for residential properties. This Kidde plug in carbon monoxide detector is a great option for compliance since you can plug into any outlet.

Best Combo

First Alert – SCO501CN-3ST Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Voice Location, Battery Operated

Type

Battery Powered, Smoke Detector, Carbon Monoxide Detector

Pros
  • Combination device detects both smoke and CO; voice location offers clear problem indication.
  • Interconnects with up to 18 alarms, creating a comprehensive wireless safety network.
Cons
  • Front cover design inconsistency might not appeal to design-conscious consumers.
  • Dependence on user manual for detailed instructions may be cumbersome for some.

Why We Like This Combo Smoke and Carbon Detector

When you need to have both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, a combination unit is usually the best choice. This First Alert smoke and carbon alarm is the perfect mix of quality, affordability, and functionality.

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Rental Property Smoke Detector FAQ

Types of Smoke Detectors

When considering fire safety in rental properties, understanding the different types of smoke detectors is paramount. Each type has its own method of detecting fires, and the choice can significantly influence the safety of your property’s occupants. Here are the primary types of smoke detectors:

Ionization Smoke Detectors

These detectors are sensitive to flaming fires and work by measuring the ions or electrically charged particles in the air.

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

Effective at detecting slow, smoldering fires, these detectors use a light source and a sensor to detect increased levels of smoke.

Dual-Sensor Smoke Detectors

A combination of both ionization and photoelectric technologies, these detectors aim to provide comprehensive fire detection by being responsive to both flaming and smoldering fires.

Combo Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors

These detectors not only alert occupants to the presence of smoke but also to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, making them particularly useful in properties with fuel-burning appliances or attached garages.

Smoke Detector Installation

How to Hire a Rental Property Electrician

How to Hire an Electrician for a Rental Property

Smoke alarms are required products for both residential and commercial structures. Hiring a rental property electrician to ensure property installation and ensures safety and compliance with local regulations. Electricians are the real estate pros who can install these critical devices.

Where to Find Rental Property Pros

How to Find Rental Property Contractors and Service Professionals

Finding qualified, honest, and reliable service pros can easily be done with online service directories. These platforms directly connect customers and service providers who can do installations and repairs for rental properties ranging from doorbell installations to kitchen range repairs.

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Who is Responsible for Installing Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Rental Properties?

Landlords are typically responsible for installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in rental properties. This responsibility is mandated by most local housing codes to ensure tenant safety and property compliance with fire safety regulations. The installation must meet specific criteria, such as the number of detectors and their placement in key areas like bedrooms and living spaces. Landlords must ensure these devices are operational at the beginning of a tenancy. Tenants, however, are usually responsible for notifying the landlord if a detector becomes non-functional during their occupancy.

Who is Responsible for Replacing the Batteries Rental Property Smoke Detectors?

The responsibility for replacing batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can vary. In many cases, landlords are responsible for ensuring that the batteries are functional at the start of a new tenancy and may handle replacements during routine inspections. However, tenants are often responsible for replacing batteries during their occupancy, especially if the detectors are battery-operated and not hardwired. The lease agreement should clearly outline who is responsible for battery replacements. Regardless, both parties should prioritize this task to maintain safety.

About the Author

I’m an investor, real estate developer, and property manager with hands-on experience in all types of real estate from single family homes up to hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial real estate. RentalRealEstate is my mission to create the ultimate real estate investor platform for expert resources, reviews and tools. Learn more about my story.


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