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First Alert SA320CN Review

Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top 10 product.

Our Verdict

The First Alert SA320CN wireless smoke detector ranks among the best smoke alarms available for its ability to provide early detection of both smoldering fires and fast-burning fires; however, limitations in inter-connectivity with other devices limits its overall effectiveness.

For

  • It comes with a combination photoelectric and ionization sensor for detecting smoldering and flaming fires.

Against

  • It cannot be interconnected with other First Alert smoke detectors.
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First Alert SA320CN image: The manufacturer offers a 10-year warranty for defects and workmanship.

First Alert SA320CN image: The manufacturer offers a 10-year warranty for defects and workmanship.
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First Alert SA320CN image: This is a combination photoelectric and ionization sensor alarm.

First Alert SA320CN image: This is a combination photoelectric and ionization sensor alarm.
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First Alert SA320CN image: One button is used to silence tripped alarms and to test the device's alarm.

First Alert SA320CN image: One button is used to silence tripped alarms and to test the device's alarm.
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First Alert SA320CN image: The smoke detector alarm sounds at 85 decibels, which is the standard for all smoke alarms sold in the U.S.

First Alert SA320CN image: The smoke detector alarm sounds at 85 decibels, which is the standard for all smoke alarms sold in the U.S.
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First Alert SA320CN image: An LED indicator flashes green and red alternately to inform you of the operational status of the smoke alarm.

First Alert SA320CN image: An LED indicator flashes green and red alternately to inform you of the operational status of the smoke alarm.
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First Alert SA320CN image: An online user guide offers detailed information on operation and maintenance.

First Alert SA320CN image: An online user guide offers detailed information on operation and maintenance.
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First Alert SA320CN image: Battery-operated smoke detectors are easily installed and removed.

First Alert SA320CN image: Battery-operated smoke detectors are easily installed and removed.
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First Alert SA320CN image: Support options include FAQs, safety tips and a thorough knowledgebase.

First Alert SA320CN image: Support options include FAQs, safety tips and a thorough knowledgebase.
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First Alert SA320CN image: Online FAQs provide detailed information about the proper installation and operation of smoke alarms.

First Alert SA320CN image: Online FAQs provide detailed information about the proper installation and operation of smoke alarms.

Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top 10 product. The original review is below, but check out our current top 10 about Smoke Detectors here.

First Alert SA320CN is a wireless smoke detector with dual-sensor capabilities. Its 10-year manufacturer warranty ensures longevity, and its numerous support channels, including email, phone and FAQs.

The best smoke detectors are versatile in their ability to alert you immediately to the presence of a fire hazard in your home. The First Alert SA320CN is equipped with dual-sensor capabilities, which means it includes a photoelectric sensor and an ionization sensor. Photoelectric sensors are best at detecting smoke from slow-burning, smoldering fires before they have had a chance to ignite. Ionization sensors are more adept at sensing fast-burning, flaming fires. When combined, these two technologies offer the best possible coverage for any type of fire.

This smoke detector does not include a carbon monoxide (CO) detector, but considering CO detectors are not needed in every home or every room, this shouldn’t be taken as a big drawback. CO detectors are only required in homes that are at risk. This includes homes with fuel-burning appliances, homes with frequently used fireplaces and homes that are exposed to carbon monoxide from attached garages. If your home falls under this category, consider installing one CO detector at every level of your home for efficient coverage.

Interconnected smoke detectors are more effective at notifying you of a fire in your home by virtue of the fact that they all go off if any one of them is tripped. If you live in a home with multiple levels, this can be a potentially lifesaving feature to have. Most hardwired smoke detectors enjoy this functionality, but few battery operated types do. The battery-operated First Alert SA320CN falls into the latter category because it cannot wirelessly interconnect with other First Alert devices. This means that if an alarm goes off in your basement in the middle of the night, you may not hear it immediately. To determine if the SA320CN is right for you, take stock of the layout of your home. You may decide to choose another device that is capable of interconnecting with other smoke alarms.

Since the SA320CN runs fully on battery power, you can install units anywhere they’re needed throughout your home. Older homes that haven’t been brought up to modern code with respect to electrical rewiring may not have the ability to accommodate hardwired smoke detectors. For this reason, opting for a wireless smoke detector could save you from that additional expense.

The First Alert SA320CN is utilitarian in design and offers many of the standard features present in most wireless smoke detectors. A single button on the face of the unit allows you to turn off an alarm that has been initiated. The same button can also be used to test the performance of the battery. An LED indicator will flash green once per minute to indicate normal performance. When the alarm has been tripped, the same LED flashes red to accompany the 85-decibel alarm.

When the battery is running low, the smoke detector emits a chirp every 60 seconds. The First Alert SA320CN comes with an additional feature that enables you to mute the low battery chirp for a period of up to eight hours, which can be especially useful if the chirping starts in the middle of the night and you have no replacement batteries on hand. As a rule, you should change the smoke alarm’s batteries once every 12 months or as needed.

The First Alert SA320CN is among the best available wireless smoke detectors for its dual-sensor capabilities and broad-ranging support channels. Equipped with a photoelectric sensor and an ionization sensor, this smoke detector combines two of the most commonly used technologies for early detection of fires in your home. Because it’s battery operated, it is more conducive to being installed in older homes that aren’t wired for modern smoke detectors. Easy installation enables you to place smoke detectors virtually anywhere in your home.