High-Tech EQ Horse Care Tips

Safety-Savvy Horse Stable Smoke Detectors

barn fire
Written by Natalie Gasper

High-Tech Eq: The Best Smoke Detectors For Your Barn

Everyone has seen a horse movie or TV show where a fire breaks out in a barn. In an ideal world, the horses all make it out and the barn can be saved, but that’s not always the case. Fire is a real concern in horse stables, and preventative measures like smoke detectors can literally save lives.

Horse stables are home to lots of natural fire hazards (like hay and shavings). It’s important to keep barns free of dust and debris. When possible, hay and shavings should be stored in a separate structure at least 100 feet away from the stable.

Smoke detectors, which can be remote-controlled and remotely monitored, can help detect fires and keep you and your horses safe. Units that can interconnect (if one goes off, they all do) offer an extra layer of protection.

fire safety sign with matches

Source: Canva

Horse Stable Safety: Overview

Many aspects of a horse stable can put it at greater risk for fires. Fortunately, there are many measures you can take to help reduce the chance of a fire starting.

The Risk of a Barn Fire

Unfortunately, the risk of a barn fire is still quite high, thanks to things like shavings, hay, and electricity. However, with the proper protective and preventative measures in place, the chance of a fire occurring is much lower.

Hazards in a Horse Barn

Here are some common fire hazards in a horse barn:

  • Smoking
  • Lighters
  • Dirt (including cobwebs)
  • Loose hay and straw
  • Shavings
  • Compressed gasses (consumer products like fly repellent are ok)
  • Hay bales (especially if not fully cured/dried)
  • Electrical systems
  • Lightning
  • Machinery
  • Junk/debris piles

Mitigating the Risk

  • Make your barn and the surrounding areas a smoking-free zone.
  • Keep the barn clear of loose hay and cobwebs.
  • Store things like hay and shavings in a separate building.
  • If that’s not possible, keep them as far away from the horses as possible.
  • Have an electrician regularly check your systems.
  • Keep all machinery (including tractors and trailers) at least 100 feet away from the barn.
smoke detector mounted on wood with smoke

Source: Canva

Smoke Detector Overview

Smoke detectors come in two types: ionization (best for flaming fires) and photoelectric (best for smoldering fires). The effectiveness of both can be interrupted by dust (which barns are full of).


Smoke detectors can range in price from $6-$120 per unit. Many companies offer packs of three to six units which offers some savings.

The average price is around $30/unit.

Connectivity (Wired vs. Battery)

Smoke detectors can either be wired into an electrical system or be powered by batteries. A professional will be needed for a wired system, but you won’t have to replace batteries.

You can install a battery system yourself, but batteries will need to be checked and replaced regularly.

Capabilities (Remote Monitoring)

Some smoke detectors offer remote monitoring. Many have their own app, while others can connect to existing home systems (like Ring).

You’ll receive live notifications if one of the alarms goes off.

smoke detector close up with dark background and smoke

Source: Canva

Best Smoke Detectors for Horse Stables

Here are our top three smoke detectors for horse stables.

Smoke Detector Key Features Price Point (relative to others on this list)
Google Nest Protect (1 unit) Detects smoke + carbon monoxide, checks for smoldering + fast-burn fires, motion-sense Pathlight (works like a nightlight) $$$$
First Alert Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (1 unit) Can connect to Ring, can connect to smart home systems, 85-decibel horn $$
X-Sense Wireless Interconnected Smoke Detector (6 units) Interconnected system, up to 24 alarms can be connected, can connect to a remote $

Google Nest Protect

The Google Nest smoke detector combines several great features into one, easy-to-use product.

google nest smoke detector

Click to see it at Amazon


  • Connects to your phone for remote alerts
  • The Nest App lets you silence the alarm with your phone
  • Self-tests for battery power
  • 10-year lifespan


  • The most expensive option
  • Might not handle dust as well as other units
  • Mounting can be challenging

Where to buy it: Amazon

First Alert Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm

First Alert offers an affordable, dual-purpose unit that can connect with apps for easy monitoring.

z wave smoke detector

Click to see it at Amazon


  • Compatible with Ring and Ring App
  • Real-time notifications in the app
  • Can work with smart home systems


  • Units can’t be interconnected
  • May have difficulties pairing with Ring

Where to buy it: Amazon

X-Sense Wireless Interconnected Smoke Detector

X-Sense offers all the features you’re looking for, from affordability to interconnectivity.

x sense smoke detector

Click to see it at Amazon


  • Comes in a six-pack
  • Can connect up to 24 units
  • Great for dusty environments
  • Units interconnect (when one goes off, they all do)
  • Can be connected to a remote (purchase the remote here)Remote monitoring with the X-Sense app


  • This model doesn’t detect carbon monoxide

Where to buy it: Amazon

Bonus: Best Fire Extinguisher for Barns

First Alert HOME1 Rechargeable Fire Extinguisher

Every barn needs several fire extinguishers, and this First Alert model offers great value.

first alert fire extinguisher

Click to see it at Amazon


  • Multipurpose (can use on A, B, and C fires)
  • Instructions for use printed clearly on the side
  • At 15 inches tall and 4 inches wide, it can easily fit anywhere in your barn
  • Lightweight (4.5 pounds) so anyone can use


  • Smaller size may make it less effective against a large fire

Where to buy it: Amazon

horse barn engulfed in smoke

Source: Canva

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can smoke detectors be remote controlled?

Yes! The technology for smoke detectors has made great advances, including the ability to control them with a remote device (eliminating the need to climb a ladder to run a check).

Q: What is a remote smoke detector?

Remote smoke detectors are those that can be either controlled with a remote (to silence the alarm or run a test) or monitored remotely via a service or an app.

Q: How do you get smoke detectors to talk to each other?

Electricians can connect wired smoke detector systems with a red wire. That way, if one detector goes off, all of them will.

Smoke detectors can also communicate through a wireless connection, using a radio frequency to connect to each other. There’s also a Bluetooth option, but it has a more limited range.

Q: How do I make my horse barn fire safe?
  • Smoking shouldn’t be allowed in or near barns at any time.
  • Keep sources of fire (like lighters) out of the barn, too.
  • A clean barn can also help prevent fires (cobwebs are excellent ways for a fire to travel quickly).
  • Don’t store gas (like propane) in or near the barn.
  • Store hay in a separate building.
  • Make sure you have working smoke detectors and keep fire extinguishers at exits and in the tack room.
  • Q: What is the best fire extinguisher for a horse barn?

There are three types of fire extinguishers:

  1. Type A: ordinary combustibles (things like paper, cloth, wood, etc.)
  2. Type B: flammable liquids (things like oil, gasoline, tar, grease, etc.)
  3. Type C: energized (current-carrying) fires (fires caused by circuit breakers, electrical wires, machines, etc.)

Since all three fire types are possible in a barn, getting a multipurpose extinguisher (rated ABC) is best.

Q: How many smoke detectors do I need for a ranch?

Smoke detectors should be no more than 30 feet apart, so how many you need will depend on the size of the building, shed, or barn you are looking to protect.

burned remains of horse barn

Source: Canva

Parting Thoughts

The thought of a barn fire might be scary, but it’s easier than ever to help keep your barn safe.


Horse Barn Fire Cover (humanesociety.org)

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About the author


Natalie Gasper

Nancy loves retraining off the track Thoroughbreds and working with her dogs!