April 23, 2024


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Halo+ smoke detector keeps up with the Nest Protect

Editors’ Note, July 30th, 2018: Halo Smart Labs has gone out of business. You will no longer be able to buy the Halo+ Alarm and Halo will be discontinuing app support. See the details of the announcement here. The earlier version of this story follows. 

By adding weather alerts to a smart smoke protector, the Halo+ skirts a fine line between useful innovation and annoying add-on. Fortunately, the first product from startup Halo Smart Labs implements the feature well enough to land on the good side of that line.

The $130 Halo+ Smart Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Weather Alerts does all of the basics you’d expect of a smart smoke detector, and it thankfully adds weather alerts with enough customization that they’re more helpful than bothersome. The $100 Nest Protect is still the best smart smoke detector out there, but the Halo+ is a worthy competitor that I’d recommend if you live in an area with dangerous weather — especially if you like turning your phone off at night.

What’s up with those weather alerts

You might be wondering why on earth you’d need your smoke alarm to tell you that it’s raining out, especially since you have a smartphone and a pair of eyes. Rest assured, the alarm won’t start blaring at full volume every time it sprinkles.

Install the alarm — it’s hardwired with a battery backup — and you’ll use the iOS or Android app to connect it to your Wi-Fi. During setup, you’ll choose which weather events you want to be notified of, and you can make changes in the future as you see fit.

You have lots of options to help you customize your weather alerts.

Screenshots by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

I appreciated the level of detail in the setup, as you can even decide that you don’t care about a tornado watch, but if it gets to be a tornado warning, then you’d like to know. Check out the picture above for all of your options.

When the weather does get dangerous, the alarm still won’t start blaring. Instead, Halo+ tells you what’s going on with a voice alert and tunes to the local weather station of your choice. I like the feature as a natural extension of the smoke detector as a safety device. Yes, it’s somewhat redundant with the emergency notifications on your smartphone, but with Halo+ you can rest easy if you want to turn your phone off at night.

If you just want a smart smoke detector without weather alerts, you can buy the Halo Smart Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (without the plus and thus without the weather feature) for $100. Both the Halo and the $130 Halo+ are available on the company’s site, as well as Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Both products are US-only for now.

It detects smoke, too

In addition to giving you an audible warning in the event of a hurricane or a flood, the Halo+ is certified as both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector (specifically, it conforms to UL standards 217 and 2034).

Halo uses both an ionization detector and a photoelectric sensor to detect smoke. Head here for a detailed breakdown of how those two sensors work. In brief, Halo combines a quick trigger alarm with a slower, smarter alarm.

Halo picked up smoke and sent alerts quickly in our tests.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The Halo+ combines the two to good effect — it reliably picked up smoke quickly in our tests. We used smoke candles and an ordinary First Alert hardwired alarm for comparison. The First Alert detector sounded its alarm first every time, but the Halo+ was never more than a couple of seconds behind. That test lined up with our results from the Nest Protect.

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