Roost Battery: Make a Dumb Smoke Detector Smart

Smoke detector nuisance alarms can be irritating. This 9V battery helps with that by letting you silence them from your phone. Here's how.

In my old house, every time I used the range, the smoke alarms would trigger. I’d have to grab a stool and air out the alarm or just disconnect it entirely. It made me want to microwave everything! Today’s smart smoke alarms, such as the Nest Protect, allow you to disable nuisance alarms from your phone. Unfortunately, the Nest Protect costs about $120. I looked for something cheaper and found the Roost smart battery, a 9-volt with a brain, that costs about $35 on Intrigued, I purchased a few and tested them in the Family Handyman homeLAB.

How It Works

The Roost battery is really simple. It looks like a regular 9-volt battery that you use for a smoke alarm, but it has a built-in microchip that connects to your WiFi and a smartphone app. Once connected, you’ll have greater control over your smoke alarm. It sends notifications to your smartphone or tablet when the alarm sounds and allows you to silence them from the convenience of your device. It also tells you if the battery is getting low and if the battery has disconnected from your home network.

How to Install

Installation is as easy as putting a standard battery in a smoke alarm. To connect your device to the battery, download the Roost app (available for Android and iPhone) and follow the prompts. Setup took a little less than five minutes, thanks to the app’s simple, intuitive interface.

The homeLAB Test

I did a few basic tests on the smoke alarm, and the batteries passed every one. Once the alarm triggered, a notification was quickly sent to my tablet. I had the option of snoozing the alarm or taking action. Roost provides a button to call the authorities in a real emergency. Of course, I snoozed the alarm and it turned off the siren right away.

Include the Whole Family

The Roost app also allows friends and family to monitor the alarm. That could prove useful if you’re away and you don’t have your phone on you. It also reports the status of the battery life so you’ll know when it’s time to replace it. Fortunately, Roost replacements batteries are only $15.

Not a Solution for Non-Hardwired Smoke Alarms

If, like me, you thought this could be a great way to wirelessly connect your smoke alarms, think again. Two features it doesn’t have are simultaneous alarms on non-hardwired smoke alarms and remote testing. Those features would put it up to about par with the Nest Protect. But even without them, the Roost smart battery is a great little device at a reasonable price.

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