Is your family safe with combo smoke alarm and CO detectors?

CLEVELAND - You know the problem — you’ve burnt the toast and the smoke alarm won’t quit, so you rip it from the wall or pull out the batteries.

Consumer Reports tested a new combo smoke alarm and CO detector that may offer a better solution. It’s from Nest Labs, the company that Google bought recently for more than $3 billion.

The Nest combo smoke and carbon monoxide alarm claims to make safety more convenient. It warns you before the alarm sounds and you can shut off the alarm by waving in front of it. But consumer reports

Consumer Reports tested the $129 Nest first for carbon monoxide detection. The Nest came through. Next, the Nest was tested as a smoke detector. Testers lit some blocks of wood to create a smoky fire in a closed chamber. The Nest sounded quickly.

But Consumer Reports cautions that there are two different types of fire. There is the smoldering smoky kind of fire where there is no open flame; those are detected well by photoelectric sensors, the kind the Nest has.

But the other type of fire — a fast fire where there’s a flame — is detected best by an ionization detector, which the Nest does not have.

So when testers created a flaming fire, a 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 Pi9000 for $23.

Dual-sensor smoke alarms do not come in combination with a carbon monoxide detector. So you’ll need a separate CO detector. Consumer Reports says a good choice is the First Alert CO615 for $30.

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