Should I buy the Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener?

(Image credit: Ring / Andrew Williams)

The Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener is not what you may initially assume. It’s not a smoke alarm or a carbon monoxide detector. Instead, this is a smart box that listens for the alarm tone of those devices and lets you know when they fire off – sending a notification to your phone or tablet regardless of where you are.

An alarm for an existing alarm may seem like an odd concept at first, but we think it might be a game-changer for those wanting to keep on top of the safety of their home even in their absence, or aren't sure they'll be able to hear a traditional alarm going off. The price is tempting too: quality smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors last for up to a decade, and by leaving out the expensive CO detection tech, Ring can sell the Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener for just $34.99. 

It’s an affordable way to make your existing home security and safety gear smart – along with other discounted smart security devices to be found this Prime Day and Black Friday – and here's everything you need to know about it.

Should I buy the Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener?


Dimensions: 75 x 75 x 27 mm | Range: 250-foot range | Battery: 3V (replaceable) | Warranty: 1 year | Connectivity: Z-wave wireless transmission

An ordinary smoke alarm or carbon monoxide sensor is only of use if it goes off when you’re at home – or if your neighbour texts you to complain about the noise. 

These alarms are hugely useful, but tend to be pretty low-tech too. The Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener, however, brings these household essentials into 2020. 

Once you mount the Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener next to these alarms, you’ll receive a notification on your phone or tablet if they start going off – and the benefits are obvious. If you’re away for a few days, or at work, you’ll still know if there’s a fire in your house/flat, or if there’s a gas leak that needs sorting. 

It’s also a great alternative to an alarm for the deaf or hard of hearing, particularly if most members of the household can hear just fine. Dedicated carbon monoxide detectors for people with profound hearing loss do not come cheap – and the Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener arguably does. 

However, you’ll need to mount the Ring box 3-6 inches from your existing smoke/CO alarm for best results, so do check that this is possible with your setup before buying. 

The reason for this proximity is fairly obvious. A Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener needs to be able to separate the sound of the alarm from the normal noise of your home (and any alarms sounding off in that movie you’re watching on your surround sound system).

(Image credit: Ring / Andrew Williams)

When you setup the Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener it enters a test mode that asks you to press the “test” alarm button on your smoke or CO box to check the sound is picked up just fine. This sort of calibration should help avoid any false positive notifications making it through to your phone – or, even worse, any misses. 

The Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener is likely to be much smaller than any standard smoke/CO alarm you own. It measures just 7.5 across, and is 27mm thick. Low weight means it can be mounted with double-sided tape, although a proper mounting bracket and screws are included too.

You can then leave it in place for up to three years, at which point it’s time to replace the battery. The app will let you know then the Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener runs out of juice, too. 

It doesn’t connect directly to your phone, though. This is part of Ring’s wider home security package, and it connects to the base station included with the various bundles in that range. These include other gadgets like motion sensor alarms, keypads and contact sensors for doors and windows. 

This means the Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener is an easier buy for those who already own Ring security kit. However, there are some other factors to consider here. You should take a look at your home insurance, too, to see whether smart home security gear like this might lower your premiums. 

The Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener uses Z-wave tech to connect to the Base Station, not the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi you might expect. This is a preferable solution, though: Z-wave has much better range than Bluetooth, and as it runs on a difference frequency band to Wi-Fi you won’t see interference from your other connected gadgets, which modern homes are generally packed with.

Nest’s Protect Smart Smoke and CO Alarm is the obvious alternative. It’s a smart alarm that has its own smoke and CO alarms, and it lasts up to 10 years like a normal high-quality standalone. However, it costs $129. That won’t look too appealing if you just switched out your dumb alarms a year ago for $50. 

The relatively simple electronics of the Protect Smart Smoke and CO Alarm mean it could theoretically be used for the lifespan of several standard alarms, just by switching the battery every 2-3 years. Of course, technology moves fast, as do safety standards, and it’s hard to tell what the smart security market will look like in 10 years.

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.