Review: First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm

smart phone and home security device

Everyone has heard about the dangers of carbon monoxide. After all, unlike the gasoline you put in your car, there is no color, taste, or scent to carbon monoxide. This can make it extremely dangerous, even fatal, if it turns out you have carbon monoxide leaking somewhere in your house. To protect you and your loved ones from ever accidentally inhaling too much carbon monoxide, you need an alarm to sense for this. The First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm, along with the other best choices on this list, will prevent any such event from occurring. Carbon monoxide is released into the air every single time you burn something, regardless of the source. This means that whether you are on your stove, using gasoline to fuel your car, or starting a fire in your fireplace, you are releasing small amounts of carbon monoxide. Obviously, most of these activities usually occur outside, where there is plenty of air and circulation and no risk involved. But in small spaces such as a room or garage, carbon monoxide is a whole different story.

Comparison Table

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It is also possible for your appliances to leak carbon monoxide without anyone’s notice since it is impossible to detect. No matter the reason, there is extra carbon monoxide in your home, whether it is from your stove or car in the garage, the First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm, along with our other carbon monoxide alarm choices will be able to alert you in time to get to fresh air.

It may certainly seem difficult to choose just one carbon monoxide alarm, and that is why we collected this roundup of both the First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm and a bunch of its competitors on the market. Though you may not know everything there is to know about carbon monoxide alarms yet, by the end of this article you will feel confident in purchasing the right alarm for your home.

​What Is a Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm?

As stated, a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm will help protect you from any dangerous fumes in your home so that you stay safe. Smoke alarms detect for ordinary smoke, which you are able to smell and see unlike carbon monoxide, but you still want an alarm for it since it means there is likely something burning. Together, both of these functions in an alarm will ensure that regardless of what happens in your home, you are made aware and can get out to fresh oxygen supplies.


Carbon monoxide alarms work in one of three ways. They may be constructed with biomimetic detectors, which use gels that sense the levels of carbon monoxide, and after they absorb too much, they will sound an alarm. Then, there are also metal oxide semiconductor carbon monoxide alarms, which will use silica chips to detect dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, after which electrical signals set off an alarm. Finally, there are also electrochemical carbon monoxide alarms that use electrodes to detect even the smallest fluctuation in the electrical currents when carbon monoxide levels are in that air, and then an alarm sounds.

Now that you know the basics of how carbon monoxide alarms function and the different types you may encounter, we will break down some specific models further and list features, price, and pros and cons so you can figure out which carbon monoxide alarm is just right for your home.

​Nest Protect Carbon Monoxide Alarm Specs


The Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm is great for anyone trying to integrate a smart device into their house for the purpose of detecting fumes. If you want a device where you can manage everything from your phone, this is the choice for you. It connects to your smartphone so that, even if you are not home, you can turn off your alarm if you need to so it does not keep beeping and annoy your neighbors.Unlike most carbon monoxide alarms that drive you wild and beep continuously when they are starting to die, this Nest Protect Carbon Monoxide Alarm simply sends you a notification, so you know the device is dying. It also lets you know in advance, so you don’t have to worry about your alarm dying on you and leaving you unprotected.

This alarm also detects smoke, and with its spoken alerts instead of vague beeping, this alarm tries to let you know where the danger is actually coming from and what is going on in your home. The Nest Protect Carbon Monoxide Alarm is likely different from any other carbon monoxide alarm you have ever used in the past.


While this is the only fully smart option for the carbon monoxide alarms on this list, this option is definitely more expensive than its counterparts like the First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm choices.

​​How It Compares


We picked a few similar carbon monoxide and smoke alarms available on the market to see how they compare.

  • ​First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm
  • ​Nighthawk AC Plug-in Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm
  • ​First Alert GCO1CN Combination Explosive Gas and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

​Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

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Though this smoke and carbon monoxide alarm will cost a pretty penny, it makes it worth the money by including so many perks and features. This alarm detects both smoke and carbon monoxide, so you don’t need to worry about having two alarms for them. This alarm is also a smart carbon monoxide alarm, so it hooks up to your phone to let you know what is going on from anywhere.

This alarm eliminates the need for checking the battery life by sending notifications, and instead of loud and shrieking beeps, it uses a human voice to talk to you about what is happening in your home. This gives you peace of mind and allows you to know the exact source of the issue. You can also turn off the alarm easily, so if it is going off, but you know there is no actual issue present, you can easily turn the device silent. This will undoubtedly please all of your neighbors as well.

Design Quality

​On the whole, this alarm is very sleek and aesthetically pleasing to look at. The easy to set up design is user-friendly, so you don’t have to hassle with your device. The app is also extremely useful and easy to use, and the device has a nice spoken word instead of beeping. The only downside is that for most models, there is no way to replace the batteries, so after your alarm dies, that’s it.


  • ​Both smoke and carbon monoxide alarm
  • ​Smart capabilities have app for your phone
  • ​Can turn alarm off from phone
  • Notifications for when the battery is dying
  • ​Human voice instead of beeping


  • ​Need Apple device for app and smart monitoring
  • ​When battery dies, whole alarm must be disposed of

​​First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm

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This First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm also has duel sensors, so you can monitor both your carbon monoxide and smoke levels in your home for optimum safety. This alarm has an 85-decibel beep, so you cannot miss the signs of danger regardless of your location in your home. It is also easy to turn off the alarm with the press of a button. This alarm is an electrochemical model of alarm, so it is the most sensitive and accurate type or carbon monoxide alarm, as well as more environmentally friendly.


​Though this carbon monoxide alarm does not have all of the elaborate features of the previous alarm on this list, it is a great budget option that still detects both smoke and carbon monoxide. This alarm does not have a screen of any sort, so we docked it an extra star for that, but it is still amazing at detecting any smoke or carbon monoxide in your home.

Design Quality

You won’t have any issues with this alarm, but that said, there are not many extra features. It is easy to set up and use, but there are no smart features, and there is no screen for easy-to-read information. This is a good, solid, no-frills option that will still get the job done.

​Nighthawk AC Plug-in Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm

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This easy to install carbon monoxide alarm does not even require you getting out a ladder. Simply plug this alarm in, and you will be able to easily check on your alarm from time to time. A display shows you the number of the highest carbon monoxide reading recorded, so you can easily monitor your home. It updates every 15 seconds, so this information is always up to date. Though this model plugs in, it does come with a 9-volt battery as a backup in case of a power outage, so you are always protected.


This alarm is great for anyone who wants the ability to set up an alarm that they can just glance at every so often to stay safe. Unlike the other alarms on this list, though, this carbon monoxide alarm does not detect smoke in addition to carbon monoxide, so we took a star off for that. The display screen is a nice feature though, so you can just look at the alarm to monitor your levels.

Design Quality

This sleek design is nice to look at in the same way it is easy to plug in and go. The only thing that inhibits this model is that the plug makes it so you can only place this alarm within reach of an outlet, which may not be the ideal location for each user.

​First Alert GCO1CN Combination Explosive Gas and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

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This First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm alarm will effortlessly detect carbon monoxide in your home, along with other dangerous fumes such as gas or propane that could be leaking somewhere. An easy to read back-lit display will let you know the current carbon monoxide levels in your home while also displaying the highest amounts ever recorded. You can also hook this alarm up to your remote controls so that you can easily turn the alarm off with a remote from far away. This alarm also plugs into any outlet and contains a 9-volt battery for backup purposes.


Even though this alarm is not a smart alarm, it still provides easy setup and can detect carbon monoxide along with other common household gases in the air. This alarm also has the ability to be easily turned off with a standard remote for your convenience.

Design Quality

This carbon monoxide alarm does not need extra bells and whistles to have a sleek and intuitive design. The back-lit display screen tells you at a glance whether your levels are dangerous and what the highest they’ve been is.

​Conclusion – First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm

All in all, these alarms are all more than capable of letting you be worry-free in your own home. We have determined the First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm with the GCO1CN model is a solid 4 star choice for your carbon monoxide alarm needs. This option is middle of the road as far as the cost for each unit. But, the back-lit display and remote capabilities make this a solid budget choice. It does not force you to compromise on quality or capability as it still detects carbon monoxide and other fumes in your home.

If you would prefer an even more technologically advanced option, the Nest Protest alarm might be better. But, this model is quite expensive, and it does not have a screen you can easily look at. That said, if you want the ability to monitor your alarm from your phone, this may be the ideal pick.

No matter which carbon monoxide alarm you choose, it is imperative that you have one in your home for your own safety. Now that you know everything you need to about these alarms, you should be able to confidently choose a model for your next purchase. After all, a safe home is a relaxing home!

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