For more than forty years, First Alert has been keeping homes safe with its line of smoke and CO (carbon monoxide) alarms, but its latest offering, the Onelink Safe & Sound ($ 249.99), is the company’s most innovative alarm yet. Like the Nest Protect, it’s a smart alarm that uses Wi-Fi to connect to your home network and send alerts directly to your phone, but it also works with Alexa, which means it can do everything an Amazon Echo can, such as give you sports scores, tell you the latest news and weather, and control other smart devices. You get a powerful speaker that can play music from your Amazon library or from your phone via Bluetooth, and there’s support for Apple’s HomeKit, all of which earns it our Editors’ Choice.
Design and Features
At 2.2 by 6.8 by 6.8 inches (HWD), the Safe & Sound is a bit larger than the Nest Protect. A 10-watt BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator) speaker in its center is surrounded by a multi-color LED status indicator ring that also serves as a nightlight. The ring glows white when you enter setup, flashes blue when pairing with your phone, glows green while idle, and flashes red during an alarm. It also glows blue and cyan when processing an Alexa voice command.
Under the hood are a photoelectric smoke sensor, a carbon monoxide sensor, a Bluetooth radio, an 802.11n (2.4GHz) Wi-Fi radio, an 85dB siren, a microphone, and Alexa circuitry. The Safe & Sound can be used as a standalone alarm or it can be wirelessly interconnected to other Safe & Sound devices. When triggered, it will send a push alert to your phone with a red screen telling you that smoke/CO has been detected in the room. The screen has buttons for dialing 911 and for silencing the alarm.
To test the alarm or silence it, use the Test/Silence button on the side of the device. This button can also be used to reset the alarm to its factory defaults. There’s a quick connect power jack on the base of the alarm, along with a Discharge button that drains the internal battery. This is used when the alarm reaches its end of life after 10 years of use. The power jack is compatible with other First Alert alarms, but the Safe & Sound comes with two additional adapters that will fit
You can use the Safe & Sound to control other smart home devices using Alexa and Siri voice commands and by creating
The mobile app (available for Android and iOS) is easy to use: It opens to a screen that shows all installed Onelink alarms by name. At the top of the screen is your Home name, and below that is a status bar that tells you if everything is OK or if a device is unreachable. Each alarm has
Tap the device icon to view Music, Activity, and Recent History screens. The music player lets you adjust music volume, skip to the next
Installation and Performance
Installing the Onelink Safe & Sound isn’t difficult, but it requires hardwiring to a junction box, so if you’re not familiar or comfortable with home wiring, you should hire an electrician to do the job. That said, if you are replacing an existing hardwired alarm, it is very quick and easy, especially if you’re replacing a First Alert alarm, which is what I did.
To start, I shut off power to my existing alarm at the circuit breaker, unplugged it, and removed it and its mounting plate. Using the included screws, I attached the new mounting plate to the ceiling and plugged the power connector into the port on the Safe & Sound
Once powered up, the alarm gave a quick chirp, the LED began blinking blue, and a voice instructed me to download the app and follow the on-screen instructions. I downloaded the app and tapped the plus button to add a device. I selected Safe & Sound from the list and selected a room and a name. At this
Next, I ran the in-app Safe & Sound tests several times and found the 85dB alarm and voice volume to be more than adequate. For the smoke alarm, the device emits three long beeps and a digital voice tells you to evacuate and which room a fire is detected in. For the CO alarm, there are three short beeps followed by a similar voice alert. The voice then told me the highest measured CO level in ppm. I also ran a smoke test using a Sabre Smoke Alarm tester, and the Safe & Sound reacted instantly while sending a push alert to my phone.
The built-in Alexa service worked well in my testing. The device responded immediately to my requests for weather and sports, played music from my Amazon library, and interacted with numerous smart home devices that support Alexa, including lights connected to a Vivint Smart Home system, a Nest Thermostat, a Rachio sprinkler controller, a Big Ass Haiku fan, and an iDevices outdoor switch. While playing tunes from my Amazon library, the alarm’s powerful 10-watt speaker delivered solid bass with crisp midrange and
The Onelink Safe & Sound is one of the more expensive
If the Safe & Sound’s is too pricey, check out another Editors’ Choice, the still-smart Nest Protect ($ 119). It’s available in a wireless model that’s much easier to install, but it doesn’t have built-in Alexa and it lacks HomeKit support.