Leeo SmartAlert Review: A $100 Night Light That Listens For Fire

If your smoke alarm starts wailing and you're not home to hear it, you'd better hope one of your neighbors does — or else you might come home to a smoldering pile of rubble. But with the Leeo smart night light, even if your nearest neighbor is miles away, you'll be alerted to potential fires as soon as the alarm goes off.

The SmartAlert Night Light from Leeo is a smart device with an odd combination of features. It isn't a smoke alarm itself, but it acts as a smoke alarm monitoring system (thanks to an onboard microphone), a humidity and temperature sensor, and a 16-million-color LED night light to boot. It measures 3.4 inches wide, 1.2 inches deep, and plugs into any North American two-prong wall socket.

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Actually plugging it in just about constitutes the extent of the Leeo's physical installation requirements—you just pull it out of the box and shove it into a socket. You'll have to install the free SmartAlert app and sign up for a free Leeo account as well before you can use the system. You also need to provide your address, email and phone number during setup.

The SmartAlert can hear the blare of smoke alarms from up to 75 feet away and even distinguish between individual units. That way, when the system sends you a push notification alert, the SmartAlert will be able to estimate how big the potential fire is based on the number of alarms it hears.

Once you've got the basic setup completed, you'll be prompted to test and calibrate the SmartAlert by pressing the self-test buttons on your various alarms, thereby ensuring that the night light is within range. And it turns out 75 feet is a surprisingly short distance when dealing with a full-size home rather than a studio apartment; the unit needs to be in the center of your dwelling, and you'll need at least one SmartAlert per floor.

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If the system does hear an alarm, it'll give you the option to listen in to the situation live, dismiss false alarms, and dial 911 so you can describe the problem to a dispatcher if it sounds like your home is burning down. What's more, if you don't pick up the notification within a specific time frame, the SmartAlert will then begin dialing an ordered list of emergency contacts (provided by you of course) with the same message.

Other than that, the system largely stays out of the way until something happens. You can adjust the LED color to any of 16 million possible shades via the app and modulate its brightness by twisting the unit's smooth-moving outer ring. There's just under a second of lag between the act of rotating the ring and the brightness actually changing, though, which can be a tad frustrating. The system also monitors local humidity and temperature levels, and you can have it send alerts if those numbers get too high.

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There's a lot to like about the SmartAlert. It's discreet, blending in seamlessly with the rest of the room. I also like the lack of batteries and not having to fret about whether they're still working—so long as the power in my house is on, they're fine. And if the power isn't on, then the probability of an electrical fire is close to nil and I still don't have to worry about my house burning down. It's a win-win.

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Unfortunately, there's an equal number of things to hate. Like the fact that it takes up an entire wall outlet—both plugs—thanks to its circular design. Or the fact that the app is currently only available for iPhones running iOS 7 or higher. Company reps assure me that an Android version is in the works and should be available "in the coming months" but that's of little solace to folks operating outside of Apple's walled garden.

In short, it feels suspiciously like a stopgap solution to an issue most people don't view as a problem. I mean, do you often find yourself at work worrying about whether or not your smoke alarms are going off and nobody's around to hear them? What's more, it doesn't have the ability to dial 911 on your behalf—it simply pushes a notification to your phone. This then requires you to A) be currently looking at your phone B) have the presence of mind to not only recognize what's going on but also dial your local emergency service through the app and C) somehow explain to the emergency operator that your night light is telling you that your house is on fire without sounding like a total crank.

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At $100 a pop, this night light is a pricey bit of peace of mind.

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