4 Best Smoke Detectors for High Humidity Areas (2020)

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All smoke alarms struggle in high humidity. There is no perfect solution.

The best you can do is to get a photoelectric detector (not an Ionization detector) with a humidity tolerance above 90%, then place it in a well ventilated location.

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My pick for the best smoke detector for high humidity is the Google Next Protect S3003LWES. It is the only smoke detector I could find on the market that can intelligently tell the difference between smoke and steam via their Steam Check technology.

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In all my research, the only smoke detector with smart humidity detection was the Google Nest (2nd Generation). Google claims that their smart Steam Check technology can reduce nuisance alarms from humidity by over half. 

If you can’t afford to shell out for Steam Check technology, I’d suggest the BQQZHZ Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector as a good affordable alternative. It’s got a great relative humidity rating (RH) of 95%.

The 5 best smoke detectors for high humidity areas are:

  • Google Nest Protect S3003LWES (Best overall.)
  • BQQZHZ Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector (Best affordable option.)
  • First Alert BRK 7010B Photoelectric Sensor
  • Alert Pro Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • X-Sense Smoke Detector Alarm

Want an Affordable Option?

Realistically, the Google Next Protect is best in my view. But my affordable choice for the budget conscious consumer would be the First Alert BRK 7010B Hardwire Smoke Alarm. It won’t be perfect, but it will resist humidity more than most.

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Best Smoke Detectors for High Humidity

1. Google Nest Protect S3003LWES

Quick Review: Google Nest Protect is the only smoke detector I could find on the market that can intelligently tell the difference between smoke and steam via their Steam Check technology.

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Benefits:

  • Can tell the difference between smoke and steam using the Steam Check function.
  • Connects to an app! Turn it to silent & get notifications from your phone.
  • Acts as a motion sensor nightlight so you don’t kick your toe on the way to the bathroom!
  • Also detects carbon monoxide.
  • Make sure you get the 2nd Generation model (linked above) as this is the model with Steam Check technology.

Google (who produced Nest Protect) makes the following claims about humidity detection:

“Nest tested and recorded steam-generated alarm incidents in the lab, as well as in real home settings. After measuring the differences between steam related events and fire or smoke events, we developed a software algorithm to detect steam related events and reduce nuisance alarms they can cause, while keeping the same level of sensitivity for fire and smoke.”

They go on to claim:

“We’ve found that Steam Check can reduce nuisance alarms from steam on Nest Protect by over half. Sometimes, being smart means keeping quiet.”

2. First Alert BRK 7010B Hardwire Smoke Alarm (3 pack)

Quick Review: The First Alert BRK 7010B is a photoelectric only alarm with a relative humidity rating of 90%. Use this three pack in your three highest humidity rooms.


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Benefits:

  • Get this one if you’re after an affordable three-pack for those higher humidity rooms in your house.
  • It use photoelectric technology only, which is better at withstanding humidity than the ionization detectors.
  • Its relative humidity (RH) rating of 90% is decent for a smoke detector.

3. Alert Pro Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector

Quick Review: As a photoelectric-only smoke detector, this one might be a good pick for your high humidity spot. Consider also getting an ionization detector for other areas of the house for balance.


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Benefits:

  • Decent for a high humidity area. Uses photoelectric technology that is less likely to cause false alarms due to humidity.
  • Affordable choice.
  • A decent 5 year warranty so you can purchase with confidence.
  • Also has carbon monoxide detection for added protection in your home.
  • I would consider also placing ionization detectors elsewhere in your home to get the benefits of both photoelectric and ionization detectors.

4. X-Sense Smoke Detector Alarm

Quick Review: A decent photoelectric smoke detector, which claims to also detect fast flames (which is usually only a claim made by ionization detectors).


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Benefits:

  • Detects both smoldering and fast burning flames.
  • Can withstand some humidity. It has a relative humidity (RH) rating of 85%. This is lower than other detectors on the market, but is still good.
  • Very good battery life of 10 years.

What to Look for when Humidity is a Concern

1. Ionization vs. Photoelectric Options

Both Ionization and Photoelectric detectors will still struggle with high humidity – but Photoelectric detectors tend to fare a bit better in high humidity.

Many fire chiefs recommend you use ionization and photoelectric detectors. Both detectors are effective at detecting fires. However:

  • Ionization detectors are better at detecting hot, flaming fires.
  • Photoelectric detectors are better at detecting slow, smoldering fires

2. What’s with Carbon Monoxide Detection?

You may have noticed many of the above alarms also detect carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can be emitted during fires. This should not replace a smoke detector, but is often increasingly required by law as an additional type of detector that you need to install in your home.

Remember: Check with your local fire authority to see if it’s compulsory to install a carbon monoxide detector in your area.

3. How else to Prevent False Alarms

Smoke detectors struggle with high humidity. There aren’t any great solutions, but you can make sure you:

  • Place smoke detectors away from showers to avoid false alarms from shower fog. At the time of writing, NFPA recommends that you do not place a smoke detector within 3 feet (about 1 meter) of a bathroom door.
  • Use a Photoelectric rather than Ionization detector if local laws allow it.
  • Look out for a smoke detector with a humidity tolerance rating (HR) up to (or above) 90%.

4. Check your Local Laws

It’s very important that you are compliant with laws in your local jurisdiction. This is particularly important if you are installing smoke alarms in a commercial setting (such as hotel, AirBnB or other business establishment).

While the above smoke alarms are what I have found to be the best choices for high humidity areas, you need to make sure they are compliant with your local laws. For example, it may be a requirement to have ionization detectors in your home – so you might need to ensure you place an ionization detector somewhere, too. Similarly, most local laws require at least a detector in every level of the house – so you might want to buy a few alarms now.

Remember: Follow all fire safety laws in your jurisdiction.

Read Also: Home Smoke Detector Placement Guide.

Final Thoughts

There is no perfect smoke alarm for high humidity. However, my pick for the best smoke detector for high humidity areas is the Google Nest (2nd Generation). I picked this alarm because it is the only alarm I could find with active smart technology that can tell the difference between humidity and smoke.

If you can’t justify shelling out the money for the Google Next, my clear 2nd choice is the BQQZHZ Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector. It has a great relative humidity rating of 95% – I’ve not found anything out there that matches this RH rating.

Don’t forget that a smoke alarm is just one piece in the puzzle of fire safety. You need to also remember to get a: