First Alert Smart Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Install and Review
When we first purchased our home, we grabbed a large box of really cheap smoke detectors. We thought we got a good deal on these until we realized that practically anything would set them off. We dealt with them for a few years, but when it came time to buy a new smart home toy I thought I would start researching the smart smoke detector options.
There are a few different choices in this area. The Nest Protect is probably the prettiest of the bunch, but at $115 each it’s a little pricey for me. I ended up settling on the First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm. At $44 (at time of writing) it’s not nearly as expensive. It looks like any other smoke detector, except it also has Z-Wave connectivity. Let’s walk through the setup.
Here’s your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm. As mentioned before, it looks like any other smoke detector in your home. This one just happens to be a smart smoke detector and have a z-wave connection.
You actually get two pieces. The mount detaches from the smoke detector, so you can get that installed first and then snap the smoke detector on. Before we do this, though, let’s get this thing paired up with Samsung’s SmartThings Hub.
I actually had a lot of issues at first. I excluded the device. Included the device. Reset the device. Nothing worked, until I came across this post on the SmartThings Community forums.
First thing we have to do is officially exclude it from our hub. To do this, open up your SmartThings app and click on the menu icon (the three lines).
Clicking on the Hub is Online menu item sends you to your utilities page.
Here, you’ll want to click on Z-Wave Utilities. From there, go to General Device Exclusion and then you’ll be presented with this screen.
This means that your hub is now ready to remove a device from its network. Go grab your First Alert Smart Smoke Detector. Open the battery tray. Insert the batteries. Before closing the tray, hold down the Test button. It’s on the front of the smoke detector. While holding that button down, close the battery tray.
Your smoke detector will beep. Wait 2 seconds after the beep and let go of the Test button. After a few seconds, you’ll get the following screen.
So what did we just do? We officially removed the device from the network. You’re probably asking yourself why we did this when we never had the device on the network. The answer is simply, I don’t know. I tried many different ways to get this thing paired, but nothing worked until I first removed it. It’s weird.
Now that it’s removed, though, let’s add it! Go back to your main screen in the app and click on the +Add a Thing option at the bottom.
You’ll be presented with the following screen. This tells you that the SmartThings hub is looking for a new device.
Now you’ll want to get your First Alert Smart Smoke Detector and repeat the same steps as before. Open the battery tray. Make sure the batteries are all good. Hold down the test button. While holding down the Test button, close the battery tray. Wait for a beep. Wait 2 seconds. Let go of the Test button.
If all goes well, you’ll get the following screen.
Before we continue, let’s talk about what happens if all does not go well. If you don’t see that screen and it’s been a minute since you started, I recommend resetting the device. You do this by following the same process as before (the whole open the battery tray, hold down the Test button, close the tray), but you keep holding down the button. After you close the tray, don’t let go of the Test button until you hear a long beep. It takes 10-15 seconds. This will reset the device to its factory Z-Wave settings. Once you’ve done that, start back at the top where we first excluded it.
Continuing on, at this point we have found our device. Let’s first rename it to something that makes sense.
Since that’s the most likely room in the house to start a fire, I figured we’d put our new smoke detector there. Click on the Save button up top and you will find your new device added to your list of Things.
Clicking on the device will show you the following screen.
Not much you can do here. CLEAR is a good thing.
Now let’s get the device installed in the ceiling. This isn’t rocket science, but let’s walk through it together.
Your box should’ve came with a tiny bag with some screws and red screw holders. I removed the base from the smoke detector by rotating it off. I then put it on the ceiling and made marks where I wanted my screws to go. Using a drill, I made some holes and pushed the red screw holders in.
I then screwed in the 2 screws about half-way through. After doing that, I installed my base and tightened the screws.
It’s pretty simple to attach your First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm to the base. Just line up the tabs and rotate it to lock it in place.
It’s looking pretty sitting up on my ceiling.
Now that it’s installed, let’s use that Z-Wave functionality that it comes with.
Open your SmartThings app and go to the Smart Home Monitor page. We are going to set it up so that when the Smoke Detector or Carbon Monoxide Alarm goes off, the SmartThings Hub will text me and turn all the lights on in the house.
Click on the gear up top to go to the Settings page.
Click on Smoke to go to that settings screen.
This is where we tell it what to do when the alarm goes off. Let’s start by clicking on Alert with Lights.
You’ll be presented with a list of all of your lights. In my case, also my Garage Door for some reason. I selected all my lights and clicked on Done in the top right corner.
I then set the Light Level to 100%.
Once that is set up, click on Done and you’ll be returned back to the alerts settings. Click on Text & Push Notifications and you’ll be taken to that settings page.
I entered my phone number into the Phone number? box. Now I’ll also get a text and a push notification when one of the alarms goes off. You might be asking yourself what the difference is between the two.
A Text is just that, a text message. This will go through your carrier and you’ll be charged for it through whatever text message plan you have.
A Push Notification requires you to have the app installed. The SmartThings hub alerts Samsung and Samsung then tells your app to tell you that something is wrong. You’ll get a dialog that pops up on your phone with the relevant info. This does not use texting, but it does use your internet connection (be it on cellular data or wi-fi).
Once you have everything set up, you can click on Smart Home Monitor and see that it has registered your device.
Now I’ve got my fancy First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm all set up and good to go. I’ll give this thing a run for a few weeks and if we’re happy with it, I’ll grab another one for the other side of the house. Two of these should be enough to cover my whole house.
It’s important to note that even if your internet is down or your SmartThings hub isn’t listening, this device will continue to function as a regular Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm.
The internal alarm on it is very loud. It also has an alarm for Low Battery and End of Life. The manual says that End of Life is 10 years. As for Low Battery, you can also see battery status in the SmartThings app when you click on the device.
Despite my initial install issues, I’m pretty happy with this smart Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm. It’s not as pretty as the Nest Protect, but it’s functional and discreet. I can’t ask for much more than that.
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