Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Kidde Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps New Yorker's In Compliance! (Works Elsewhere, Too!)

The Good: Does what it's supposed to (we think), Batteries don't drain quickly, Keeps homes in compliance.
The Bad: A little pricey.
The Basics: A great, functional and unobtrusive smoke and carbon monoxide detector, the Kidde Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector is an annoying, but easy-to-use alarm!

You know the old adage about how a family's safety is worth any price? Well, Kidde seems to take that literally, but with their level of quality products, it's hard to blame them. I live in Upstate New York and here in New York, a recent law passed now requires all residences to have a carbon monoxide detector as well as a smoke detector. A few years back, I had a huge fire, so I’ve had fire alarms around for years and when I got my Kidde talking Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm, I was thrilled that my insurance company paid for it (whatwith the firefighters knocking my old one out during the fire). My mother, who just won the same type I had at my house, asked me what I thought of it and it was only then that I realized I had never reviewed this simple, but effective lifesaving device! I happily, enthusiastically, recommend the dual detector/alarm over the Kidde Carbon Monoxide detector (reviewed here!).

The Kidde Dual Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector is a 5 3/4" in diameter by 1 1/2" tall disc which comes in two parts. The first part is a simple wall mount. That is a flat disc which attaches to the wall. Its sole purpose is to root the unit to a wall or ceiling. Fortunately, the Kidde Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector comes with two screws for just that purpose!

The other half of the device is the working end. It is a solid plastic disc which weighs only about a pound. The back of this twists onto the wall mount disc and because it has teeth and a track, there is pretty much no way to mess that up. When it is on, it is on and when it is off, it does not hang even partially on the wall/ceiling mountface. It is very easy to twist on or off of the mount, so long as one does not have to stretch so excessively that they cannot press it as they twist the unit. The manual comes with a very clear guide as to where the Smoke & Carbon Monoxide detector ought to be mounted and Kidde recommends either in the center/highest point of a room on any given floor or on the wall as close to the ceiling as possible. The instructions are very clear to not put the unit in the corners. I had mine in clear airflow areas and the one that saved my life, the lives of my cats and the bulk of my house, was at the opposite end of the room from our fireplace. In order for smoke to get there in concentrations enough to set off this smoke detector, it had to be a legitimate fire, which was a good thing from a false-alarm-prevention standpoint. Our new Kidde Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector is high on a wall in a well-trafficked area of the house. If there were smoke or carbon monoxide there, we would have quite a problem, but everyone would still be likely to get out safely.

The Kidde Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector uses 3 AA batteries and, rather nicely, the unit comes with three batteries and the guide inside the battery chamber even advises the order in which the batteries ought to be put in. My unit worked for over two years with the same set of batteries (and monthly tests) before they started to show drain enough to activate the “low battery” alarm. This unit is simple to use: put the batteries in, twist it onto the mount and every now and then, test it to make sure it works.

To test it, there is a button about an inch around at the center of the front of the detector. Pressing it sets off a loud, classic, screeching alarm. The same button may be hit when the alarm is going off, but you have the source of the smoke under control and you want the alarm to stop yelling at you. The nice thing about this button is it is so big and the Kidde Detector is so durable that you can test it using a broom and not damage the unit!

This is one of the voice alarms, which means that when it detects smoke, it begins yelling in a human voice “Fire! Fire!” and (apparently) “Carbon Monoxide Detected.” When the battery gets low, it will yell “Low Battery!” I know a lot of people who have trepidations about the effectiveness of just such an alarm. My experiences were wonderful for ending those trepidations in me. Because the voice coming out of this alarm sounds unlike myself or anyone I know, my instant reaction when it first went off with a “low battery” warning a few years back was “Who the hell is in my house?!” Nothing makes you prioritize changing the battery on a smoke detector like thinking your home is being invaded! And when the fire alarm went off, the voice was still unfamiliar enough that it shocked me away from my work and gave me time to rescue one of my cats (and seal the more difficult one in a room away from the fire).

In other words, this works. I cannot speak to the carbon monoxide half, because I’ve never had carbon monoxide leaks in my house or anywhere else I’ve had one of these mounted, but I am guessing from the quality of the rest of this that if there is ever carbon monoxide around it, a stern male voice will yell at me about it and I’ll be able to get the family out.

Despite the seemingly high price of this dual detector, it is well worth the price and at the very least, it buys peace of mind. And in New York, the fine for not having a detector is steeper than the cost of this unit, which not only puts one in compliance, but actually works!


For other home appliances, please check out my index page!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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