Are Kidde smoke detectors any good?

Kidde is one of the most popular brands of smoke detectors on the market today. With a long history dating back to 1917, Kidde has built a reputation for making reliable fire safety products for home use. But are Kidde smoke detectors really as good as the company claims? Let’s take a closer look at the key factors that determine smoke detector quality and see how Kidde measures up.

Smoke Sensitivity

One of the most important features of any smoke detector is how sensitive it is at detecting smoke particles and sounding an alarm. Kidde smoke detectors use either ionization or photoelectric sensor technology. Ionization detectors are generally more sensitive at detecting small smoke particles, while photoelectric models respond quicker to fast-flaming fires that generate larger smoke particles. Most Kidde detectors combine both types of sensors to offer optimal smoke detection.

Independent lab tests show that Kidde detectors meet all UL safety standards for smoke sensitivity. However, some consumers have reported issues with false alarms, either due to incorrect positioning or sensitivity settings that are overly high. Proper installation in compliance with the user manual guidelines can help reduce unwanted alarms.


A smoke detector needs to be reliable and able to keep operating over many years without failure. Kidde claims a 10-year service life for most of its detectors, but actual battery life may vary depending on quality of the batteries used and frequency of nuisance alarms.

Online customer reviews indicate mixed results, with some Kidde detectors working flawlessly for over 10 years, while others have reliability issues before the 10 year mark. Factors like levels of dust and humidity can impact longevity in some cases. Overall, when installed correctly, most Kidde detectors provide reasonable reliability.

Ease of Installation

Kidde aims to make smoke detector installation as simple as possible for the average homeowner. Most Kidde units come with all mounting hardware included, and clear instructions with diagrams. Higher-end Kidde detectors feature quick-connect power options that simplify wiring.

Customer feedback indicates that Kidde detectors are relatively easy for self-installation compared to competing brands. Snap-on mounting brackets make attachment to the ceiling or wall straightforward. Battery-powered units completely avoid any wiring hassles. Just be sure to thoroughly read the installation manual first.

Extra Features

Many Kidde detectors now include extra features that aim to provide enhanced protection. These include:

  • Interconnectable units – When one detector senses smoke, all interconnected units will sound an alarm.
  • Hush buttons – Temporarily silences nuisance alarms.
  • LED lights – Indicate power status and alarm activation.
  • Battery backup – Provides protection during power outages.

Higher-priced Kidde models may have even more features like WiFi connectivity, voice alarms, remote app controls, and home automation integration. Overall, Kidde detectors offer versatile options for basic to more advanced monitoring.

Range of Options

With a catalog of over 100 different models, Kidde aims to have a smoke detector suitable for every home. Options include:

  • Power Source – Battery-powered, hardwired, or plug-in models.
  • Detection Type – Ionization, photoelectric, or combination.
  • Aesthetics – Low-profile, decorative, mirrored.
  • Location – For bedrooms, kitchen, living spaces, basements, attics.
  • Add-ons – Fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors.

This wide range allows consumers to select the right Kidde detector based on their specific needs and budget. Homeowners should think about where smoke detection is most needed and which features would be most beneficial.

Price and Value

Kidde smoke detectors are priced very competitively compared to other brands. Simple battery-powered ionization models retail for $10-15 each, while more advanced 120V hardwired combinations detectors with extra features can cost $40-60. Kidde’s affordable prices make them a popular choice for landlords and property managers looking to install smoke detection on a budget.

For a brand name with decent performance and features, Kidde detectors generally provide good overall value. However, very low-cost Kidde models may cut corners on quality in some cases. Consumers seeking the highest reliability may want to consider spending a little more for a higher-tier Kidde or comparable detector.

Customer Support

Kidde provides customer support in case any issues arise with smoke detector installation, operation, or reliability. Support channels include:

  • Phone – 1-800-880-6788
  • Email – [email protected]
  • Warranty forms – Online
  • Instruction manuals – Available online

Many customers report relatively slow response times of 1-2 weeks for email and warranty inquiries. Phone support provides the quickest resolution. Overall, Kidde provides adequate customer support, but response lag times could be improved.


As one of the market leaders in home fire safety products, Kidde enjoys a largely positive reputation with both consumers and professionals. The company has built trust through close to 100 years in the fire protection business. However, Kidde’s reputation has suffered somewhat recently due to two major product recalls affecting millions of units:

  • 2016 – Recall of 40 million Kidde fire extinguishers due to product failures and injuries.
  • 2019 – Recall of 226,000 Kidde smoke detectors due to risk of failure to alert consumers to a fire.

While this has dented Kidde’s reputation, the company addressed the issues and remains a popular choice among homeowners, especially given the affordability of its detectors. Proper maintenance and testing is recommended to avoid reliability problems.


Kidde smoke detectors meet the strict safety certification requirements for legal sale. Key certifications include:

  • UL – All Kidde units are UL Listed, meaning they meet Underwriters Laboratories safety standards for sensitivity, reliability, and performance.
  • CSFM – Detectors are certified by California State Fire Marshal for sale in California, which has additional smoke detector requirements.
  • ADA – Complies with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for audible alarm loudness.

These certifications provide assurance to consumers that Kidde detectors have passed rigorous independent testing. However, false alarm resistance is not specifically evaluated in the UL standard.

Pros of Kidde Smoke Detectors

  • Affordable pricing
  • UL certified
  • Easy installation
  • Broad range of models
  • Combination ionization/photoelectric sensors
  • Interconnectable alarm system
  • Battery backups on some models
  • Generally reliable performance

Cons of Kidde Smoke Detectors

  • Some reliability issues reported
  • Prone to false alarms
  • Recent large-scale recalls
  • Short battery life on some models
  • Slow customer service response

Bottom Line

Kidde smoke detectors offer affordable and fairly reliable protection for most home needs. While not the most advanced detectors on the market, Kidde units provide good value for budget-conscious homeowners. Units that combine ionization and photoelectric sensing provide optimal smoke detection. However, false alarms and shorter-than-advertised battery life are common complaints with some models.

Proper installation positioning away from kitchens and bathrooms, hardwired power connection, and periodic maintenance like cleaning and battery replacement will help maximize performance. For minimal investment, Kidde detectors adequately serve most basic smoke detection needs. But critical facilities like hospitals and schools may prefer more sophisticated and reliable units.

Homeowners should weigh the benefits of lower upfront cost against potential reliability shortcomings down the road. Test alarms regularly, replace them according to manufacturer guidelines, and don’t rely on just one detector per floor. Overall, Kidde detectors offer a reasonable balance of price and performance for most residential settings.

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