Halo Smart Smoke and CO Detector

The Halo Smart Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm is a hard-wired connected smoke and carbon monoxide detector. It has a rechargeable backup battery the manufacturer claims will last for ten years. If you need a battery ONLY detector, these units will not work for you.

Halo installed with light activated

The Halo and Halo+ (with weather alerts) use visual alarms, a LOUD beeper, and a clear voice warning to let you know if you have a smoke or carbon monoxide problem.

The units are compatible with Samsung SmartThings hubs and with the Lowes Iris home automation systems using a ZigBee protocol connection.

The Halo is equipped with both photoelectric and ionization sensors to more quickly detect dangerous conditions. Additionally, there are temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure sensors built into the device.

If a warning condition exists, the LED light flashes amber and the voice warning will tell you where the danger is. This locating feature is helpful if you have more than one detector connected. If either a smoke or CO condition becomes dangerous, the LED changes to flash red and a LOUD series of warning beeps will be emitted.

We selected the Halo over the Halo+ because, here in Arizona, we don’t often have the need for severe weather alert notifications.

Halo Installation

User Guide

To replace your hard-wired detector:

  1. Turn off the power (at the electric panel) feeding the device.
  2. Remove the existing device, usually this means twisting it carefully off the mounting plate.
  3. Remove the mounting plate carefully, retain the screws attaching the mounting plate to the electrical box.
  4. Detach the wires from the old device, usually by unscrewing the wire connectors.
  5. Install the Halo mounting plate in the existing location.
  6. Wire the Halo power connector to the existing wiring, refer to the simple diagram in the user guide if necessary.
  7. Plug the Halo power connector into the back of the Halo device.
  8. Attach the Halo to the mounting plate by lining up the tabs and twisting gently clockwise.
  9. Turn the power back on, the LED power light on the Halo should be green.
  10. Press the test button (in the center of the “o” in “Halo”) and you should be finished.
Halo screen in SmartThings app

Halo SmartThings screen

Start to finish, we had the new Halo installed in fifteen minutes.

Setup

Install the Halo app on your Android or iOS device and follow the simple instructions.

We opted to install the Halo using SmartThings instead. Currently, the Halo can utilize either the ZigBee protocol to communicate with home automation hubs such as our SmartThings, or use the Wi-Fi network to communicate with your devices and the outside world.

If you will be using SmartThings to interface with your Halo, open your SmartThings app and add the Halo unit.

If the SmartThings app can’t find your Halo at this point, press the center button to rejuvenate the discovery process. Ours found the Halo almost immediately, but our device is mounted in a hallway 12 feet from the SmartThings hub on the other side of a drywall wall with an HVAC duct in between. So, not much of a connection challenge.

Painless!

However…

Dead On Arrival

We ran into a fatal snag with the Halo.

When we connected the detector to the house wiring, the unit immediately began the “welcome” message as it should. Suspiciously, though, the green LED light embedded in the “o” in the Halo logo on the face of the unit didn’t illuminate as it should have in the installed picture above.

We were able to easily add the unit to our Samsung SmartThings hub as a “thing” even though the unit was apparently running on the backup battery power. The SmartThings interface uses the ZigBee protocol that, once activated, disables the wi-fi interface within the unit so both protocols aren’t active at once.

We were able to mess around with the unit using the SmartThings interface for the Halo, changing the hue of the light and running a test. Everything worked fine. We added a schedule to turn the Halo backlight on dimly fifteen minutes before sundown and turn it off fifteen minutes after sunup to use it as a nightlight in the hall (which turns out to be impossible).

When the light didn’t illuminate at the appropriate time, we tried to access the Halo via the SmartThings interface and found the Halo was no longer connected. We were forced to hit the test switch, remove the Halo, and add it back in. It lost connection again shortly thereafter and would no longer respond to the SmartThings hub.

Try Again Without SmartThings

We repeated the process using the Wi-Fi connection and the Halo app on an Android device. Again we were able to have it function temporarily, but it would drop off the Wi-Fi network and be unresponsive after a period of time because it didn’t recognize the AC power supplied.

We then dismounted the unit from the wall to test the wiring. A conductive voltage tester demonstrated the circuit was working fine and that the black wire was the “hot” wire.

We sent a request to for assistance at 4:46 PM on Saturday, July 1 through the website and received a reply from a human Monday, July 2, a decent response time for a new company. We replied with some further information detailing what we had done diagnostically and are now awaiting a reply and, hopefully, an RMA with a shipping notification for a replacement unit.

After an extended holiday weekend, were were notified on July 5 the company would send a replacement unit and shortly after provided us with a FedEx tracking number. We received the new unit on July 14 and we installed it and had it set up in SmartThings within 15 minutes.

That’s good customer support for a long holiday weekend event.

Wins

It was really easy to install and setup was a breeze.

It’s plenty loud and more sensitive than what we consider an “average” smoke and CO detector. The earlier the warning, the better.

The integration with SmartThings works. This was a key for us. We needed the ability to incorporate the safety of a smoke and CO detector into the systems we have set up in the house.

There are more options available using the Halo app on an Android device, so that remains a viable option if you don’t need a more integrated approach.

Losses

The backup battery is not replaceable, when it expires Halo insists you will have to replace the unit. If it DOES last ten years, and you paid $99.99 for your device, that’s an expense of $0.84 a month for the battery issue. Not much, but it’s not nothing. We are not sure how much the circuitry to include a replaceable battery would add to the price of the unit.

The alarm will not function as a ZigBee repeater which means it will not function to extend a ZigBee “mesh” network throughout your building. The theory behind Z-Wave and ZigBee protocols is that devices will build a mesh of networked devices to extend the reach of your connected network outward from your “hub”, usually located near your Internet router.

The light won’t function as a nightlight. We were hoping to include a dim light in our hallway by using the light on the alarm (as in the daylight picture above) scheduled to illuminate at sunset and extinguish at sunrise. But we found the light would only remain illuminated for half an hour before turning itself off.

Verdict

If you need a new wired smoke and CO detector, this is a great option. If you want something incorporated into your existing “smart home”, this is a great option. If you live in an area where potentially earlier and more reliable weather warnings would be helpful, the Halo+ would be a better choice with the built in NOAA weather alerts.

We would like to see a bit more polish on the product and maybe a few modifications such as a “night light” capability to really push this device into the “must have” category. So, if you fall into the category where you like gadgets and want the latest thing, we’d think about holding off a purchase until the firmware has been through a few revisions.

Accessibility Factors

With or without a smart home hub, the Halo can send alert notifications to your smart phone. If you are slowed down by a physical disability, it’s possible the extra time that notification allows would mean the difference between life and death, so this feature alone makes the unit worth installing.

Along the same lines, the easy integration with SmartThings makes it part of a whole home solution for people with physical limitations. For example an alarm condition could be programmed to trigger a set of actions such as turning on all the lights and unlocking all the doors to facilitate a speedy exit from the house.

We believe it’s easily worth $99.95 for the additional peace of mind.

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