Choosing smoke alarms not so easy, latest report finds

Think finding a reasonably priced smoke alarm that can also detect carbon monoxide fumes is a no-brainer? Think again. Product-testing giant Consumer Reports' latest assessment of carbon-monoxide and smoke alarms revealed that it's difficult to find one product to meet most homeowners' needs.

CR's test of 25 alarms, published in its November issue, showed that safety is far too complex. It noted, for example, that some smoke alarms that use ionization technology, while good at detecting fires that suddenly erupt, such as paper, were lousy at detecting smoldering fires, say, in a mattress. The opposite was true for photoelectric alarms.