4 Best Smoke Detectors for High Humidity Areas (2020)

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Want a Quick Answer?

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

All smoke alarms struggle in high humidity. There is no perfect solution. But photoelectric detectors have the ability to withstand humidity better than Ionization detectors.

There are several photoelectric detectors on the market with a humidity tolerance above 90%, which when placed in a well ventilated location, can help minimize chances of a false positive – but it’s still not a guarantee unfortunately.

There are also smart smoke detectors entering the market that have some additional functionalities designed to help. In our research, one such smoke detector with smart humidity detection is the Google Nest (2nd Generation). Google claims that their smart Steam Check technology can reduce nuisance alarms from humidity by over half.

A cheaper but perhaps less effective option is the First Alert BRK 7010B Hardwire Smoke Alarm. It’s got a great relative humidity rating (RH) of 90%, which is higher than average. But this is no guarantee it still won’t give false positives when humidity is too high.

So, in our opinion, 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

Note that these are examples selected for our circumstances, and do not represent advice to you or your circumstances, professional or otherwise.

Want an Affordable Option?

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

Best Smoke Detectors for High Humidity

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Smoke Detector

Quick Review

Our Rating

1. Google Nest Protect S3003LWES Google Nest Protect is the only smoke detector we could find on the market that can intelligently tell the difference between smoke and steam via their Steam Check technology. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

8.5/10

2. First Alert BRK 7010B Hardwire Smoke Alarm (3 pack) The First Alert BRK 7010B is a photoelectric only alarm with a relative humidity rating of 90%. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

7.5/10

3. Alert Pro Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector As a photoelectric-only smoke detector, this one could withstand humidity better than some ionization detectors. We would consider also getting an ionization detector for other areas of the house for balance. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

7/10

4. X-Sense Smoke Detector Alarm We feel this is a decent photoelectric smoke detector, which claims to also detect fast flames (which is usually only a claim made by ionization detectors). (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

7/10

1. Google Nest Protect S3003LWES

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

The thing we like about the Google Nest Protect is it’s at the cutting edge of smoke detectors. This is a ‘smart’ smoke detector which is designed to be connected to an app on the phone so it can be managed remotely. Plus, it has nice additional options such as its ability to act as a motion sensor nightlight to guide you to the bathroom at night! Furthermore, it has carbon monoxide detection as well.

But the thing that can really appeal to consumers is the Steam Check function which can help tell the difference between humidity and smoke.

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.”

Benefits:

  • Steam Check Technology: Can tell the difference between smoke and steam using the Steam Check function.
  • Smart Detector: Connects to an app! Turn it to silent & get notifications from your phone.
  • Night Sensor: Acts as a motion sensor nightlight so you don’t kick your toe on the way to the bathroom!
  • CO2 Detector: Also detects carbon monoxide.

Keep in Mind:

  • Price: It’s more expensive than some non-smart detector competitors.
  • Steam Check is for 2nd Generation Only: Only the 2nd Generation model (linked above) is the model with Steam Check technology.

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%.


The thing we like about the First Alert BRK 7010B is that it’s got a nice high relative humidity (RH) rating of 90% – which is quite high for a smoke detector. Our research also told us that photoelectric sensors are less sensitive to humidity than ionization detectors, so it ticked a box for us there as well.

Another good benefit is that it’s an affordable three pack so there are a few that can be spread around the home for added protection. 

Benefits:

  • Affordable 3 Pack: It’s an affordable three-pack for those higher humidity rooms in the house.
  • Photoelectric Detector: It use photoelectric technology only, which is ostensibly better at withstanding humidity than the ionization detectors.
  • Good Relative Humidity Rating: Its relative humidity (RH) rating of 90% is decent for a smoke detector.

Keep in Mind:

  • Not an Ionization Detector: The NFPA recommend that you have both photoelectric and ionization detectors [1]. Check your local laws or nearby professionals for advice for your circumstances.

3. Alert Pro Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector

Quick Review: As a photoelectric-only smoke detector, this one could withstand humidity better than some ionization detectors. We would consider also getting an ionization detector for other areas of the house for balance.


This is another photoelectic only model. Without ionization detection, there’s a chance there may be less false positives. It’s got a good strong 5 year warranty to back it up, which gives us additional confidence. We also like the very clear large button on the face of it which beats many of the small hard to press ones of competitors.

This model also has a CO2 detector which we think would be a wise choice for our home to protect us from the silent, deadly gas!

Benefits:

  • Decent for a high humidity area: Uses photoelectric technology that is less likely to cause false alarms due to humidity.
  • Affordable: We’re impressed by the very low price.
  • Great Warranty: A decent 5 year warranty so you can purchase with confidence.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector: Also has carbon monoxide detection for added protection in your home.

Keep in Mind:

  • Not an Ionization Detector: The NFPA recommend [1] that you have both photoelectric and ionization detectors. Check your local laws or nearby professionals for advice for your circumstances.

4. X-Sense Smoke Detector Alarm

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


This model has a relative humidity (RH) rating of 85%, which is good, but not as good as some competitors on the list. Nonetheless, it’s still a photoelectric detector that can withstand some high humidity. The product page also claims that this model detects both smoldering and fast burning flames, which is rare for photoelectric models.

Benefits:

  • Detects Multiple Fire Types: Detects both smoldering and fast burning flames.
  • Decent Relative Humidity Rating: 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.
  • Good Battery Life: Very good battery life of 10 years.

Keep in Mind:

  • Not an Ionization Detector: The NFPA [1] recommend that you have both photoelectric and ionization detectors. Check your local laws or nearby professionals for advice for your circumstances.

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 many people claim Photoelectric detectors tend to fare a bit better in high humidity.

Many fire chiefs recommend that people 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?

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 some potential options are:

  • 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 we have found to be the best choices for high humidity areas, it’s important to need to make sure the smoke alarms are also compliant with your local laws. For example, it may be a requirement to have ionization detectors in a 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.

Final Thoughts

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

If we couldn’t justify shelling out the money for the Google Next, our clear 2nd choice is the Google Nest Protect S3003LWES. It has a great relative humidity rating of 90% – there are not many other detectors out there that match this RH rating.

We hope this review has been helpful as you pick out the best smoke detector for high humidity for your circumstances. But remember, this article has shared our opinions and a range of examples for our circumstances only, and is based on our online research. It does not constitute advice, professional or otherwise. Your circumstances or experiences will differ from ours. Make sure you do your own research and due diligence and adhere to the rules laid out in our terms and conditions and disclaimer.

Sources

[1] https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Staying-safe/Safety-equipment/Smoke-alarms/Installing-and-maintaining-smoke-alarms