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Best Carbon Monoxide Detector: Kidde vs First Alert vs Nest

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1st
Kidde logo
Battery-Operated
2nd
Kidde logo
Nighthawk Plug-In
3rd
First Alert logo
Dual Power Plug-In
Best Smoke & CO Alarm
Nest logo

Carbon monoxide (CO) is considered a silent killer because it is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. There’s one way to protect your family from carbon monoxide and that’s getting detectors installed in your home. Installation is simple, and the price is relatively inexpensive considering it could save your family’s lives. Read our carbon monoxide detectors reviews to protect your loved ones today.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement

Below are some places you should put a CO detector according to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association):

  • Each level of your home
  • Central location outside of sleeping areas
  • Placement and mounting height should follow manufacturer’s instructions

Most CO detector manufacturers also seem to agree that the devices should be placed 5-20 feet from source of carbon monoxide (i.e. furnace, water heater, fireplace, etc.), and not near a window or door.

The other thing to remember is to change the batteries in your CO detectors. Many news outlets recommend changing your batteries when you turn your clocks back or forward for daylight savings time.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Reviews

Now that you know the basics of why you need a CO detector and where to place them, read on to learn about the best carbon monoxide alarms and which is the best fit for your home. We took into consideration user reviews, product pros and cons, carbon monoxide detector ratings as well as pricing.

Kidde Battery-Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm Review

Kidde Battery-Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm#1

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This Kidde battery operated CO alarm is our #1 pick for best CO detector. The CO reading updates every 15 seconds. A green light flashes every 30 seconds to show the alarm is operating properly; if a red LED appears, it means CO has been detected or the CO has been eliminated. This detector is free standing which means it can be mounted on a wall or placed on a tabletop. This alarm is suitable for any living area.

Pros

Cons

  • UL2034 compliant
  • Low battery signal
  • Digital display is easy to read in low-light
  • 10-year life
  • 10-year limited warranty
  • Battery operated (3 AA batteries)
  • None found

Pricing

Kidde Nighthawk Plug-In Carbon Monoxide Alarm Review

Kidde Nighthawk Plug-in Carbon Monoxide Alarm#2

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Our #2 pick for best CO detector is the Kidde Nighthawk. It has a digital display and comes with a six-foot extension cord attachment to allow for three mounting options: plugin, mount on a wall or place on a tabletop.

This CO alarm fits into a standard outlet, so that it can be placed anywhere in your home. The plug can be rotated, so the alarm is vertical or horizontal depending on how the socket is mounted. The blinking dot in the lower right corner denotes normal operation. As long as you see the blinking dot, your family is safe from the silent killer.

Why isn’t it our #1 pick? This alarm must be plugged into an outlet, which means mounting is limited or you’ll have an extension cord running from the detector to the outlet. It also means that the battery backup is critical since this won’t work without batteries during a power outage.

Pros

Cons

  • UL2034 compliant
  • Low battery signal
  • Digital display is easy to read in low-light
  • 10-year life
  • 10-year limited warranty
  • Battery backup
  • If you fail to install batteries as a backup, this alarm won’t work during a power outage

Pricing

First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm Review

First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm#3

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Rounding out our top three is this First Alert CO Alarm. Similar to our #2 pick, this detector has a six-foot extension cord to allow it to be mounted other places besides being directly plugged into an outlet. We consider it to be one of the best because it has excellent user feedback, similar to our top two. The downsides are that the warranty is a bit shorter and the life expectancy is not listed.

Pros

Cons

  • UL2034 compliant
  • Low battery signal
  • Digital display is easy to read in low-light
  • Battery backup
  • End of life notification
  • 7-year limited warranty (shorter than our top 2)
  • Life expectancy not listed
  • If you fail to install batteries as a backup, this alarm won’t work during a power outage

Pricing

Best Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector: Nest Protect Review

Nest Protect Smoke Plus Carbon MonoxideView on Amazon

If you’re looking for a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm in one, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better than Nest Protect. This is the only CO detector in this article that is WiFi enabled. It alerts you through your iPhone, iPad or Android device when the battery is low or when the alarm sounds.

Nest is in its 2nd generation, and we are pleased to see that the issues with the 1st generation have been addressed. Depending on your preference, you can purchase a battery operated or hardwired alarm. This detector is more expensive than our top 3, but it will save you on the cost of purchasing both a smoke and CO detector and installing them separately.

Pros

Cons

  • WiFi-enabled detectors send alerts to your smartphone
  • Easy installation
  • Detects fire
  • Self-tests batteries and sensors
  • Voice alarm
  • Safety lights illuminate your pathway
  • Battery operated units sync together via WiFi
  • Can hush low battery or false alarm from your smartphone app
  • App controls other Nest products like the Nest Cam and Thermostat
  • Expensive
  • Warranty is only 2 years
  • Requires more batteries than other top models

Pricing

Read our in-depth Review of Nest Protect

Are You Sure Your CO Detectors Are Working?

Fire officials recommend replacing your CO detectors every 3-5 years. However, some alarms have a built-in end-of-life feature. Unfortunately, just because you have one of these in your home doesn’t mean it’s working. Watch the video below to see why it’s crucial to check your CO alarms.

Don’t Forget Smoke Detectors Too

Remember that CO2 detectors are just one way to prevent tragedy. Make sure you also have have a smoke detector. Some devices, like the Nest, actually detect both smoke and CO2. Read our smoke detector reviews to learn more.

When is the last time you changed your CO detectors?

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Kimberly researches everything before she buys. She wants to make sure she is getting the best bang for her buck by purchasing the best product/service, which is why she loves her work. She has a degree in Multimedia Journalism and has been researching and writing professionally since 2013 to help consumers make more educated decisions.

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Sarah C
I have the nest Protect and love that it’s C02 and smoke in one. Plus a super sleek design and does regular sound checks. Also great to control from your phone and get alerts when you’re not home (or turn off the smoke detector with your phone versus the old fashion way of getting a towel and fanning it manually). Yeah it’s on the pricey side but well worth it considering it could save your life!