It has been quite the week for Nest, the maker of the smart home thermostat. Google’s acquisition of the company for $3.2 billion dollars means this is only the tip of the iceberg for the company, in regards to smart home innovations and beyond. Needless to say, Nest took a mundane object and turned it into a smart, intuitive and attractive connected device.
Consider the lowly smoke detector, the one that gives off a high-pitch shriek every time you try to cook bacon. In my house when that happens, one of us opens the door to the basement, where the smoke detector is located on the ceiling, and wildly swings the door back and forth to fan the fumes. Other people, out of desperation, simply take the battery out, which of course undoes its safety feature.
Nest has figured out what drives people crazy about the lowly smoke detector – like the battery chirping at 3am to let you know it needs to be replaced – and applied technology and great design to fix it. The Nest Protect smoke detector is an attractive, intuitive device that makes me feel safe and in control.
There are so many advantages to the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm that it’s hard to know where to start. My favorite, of course it that I no longer have to frantically flap a towel or a door when the alarm goes off. Simply wave your hand in front of the unit and the alarm shuts off. And instead of that chirping out-of-battery warning, you’ll appreciate the Protect’s verbal warning when its battery is getting low.
In fact, it’s the verbal aspect that makes the Nest so appealing. When the alarm does sound, the Nest will tell you, in a calm, clear voice, what room it detects smoke in. This is especially helpful when you have multiple units placed in different locations. You can hear the Nest’s voice in the video of the test.
Installing the battery-powered Nest Protect is the same as any other smoke or CO alarm. The mounting plate attaches to the wall or ceiling with four screws. I suggest (actually my husband suggests) using plastic anchors (not included) if mounting in dry wall. This is an easy-to-install process. The wired version will generally require an electrician to install and lends itself more to new construction or open basement ceilings.
Here’s some video of the installation process, as well as a test of the system.
The Nest also provides some simple extras that really add to its value. When walking in the hallway in the dark at night, it detects you and lights your way as you walk underneath it. No more stumbling around in the dark.
It also gives you a Heads-Up warning if it sees that smoke or CO levels are rising but not to the point of an emergency. Connecting Nest Protect to your Nest account using Wi-Fi lets you receive low-battery alerts, Heads Up and emergency alarm notifications on your smartphone or tablet.
The Nest Protect works in conjunction with your Nest Smart Thermostat and will tell it to shut down your furnace if it detects high levels of carbon monoxide. It’s exciting to see connected appliances starting to work with each other, that so-called Internet of Things. We’re really excited about the possibilities of connecting all these smart devices and controlling them with one app. That’s not here yet, but perhaps soon.
One important caution: Do not rely on a wired alarm if you use a gas-powered generator in the event of power outages. Generators are notorious sources of fatal CO poisoning and without house power, the wired Protect is useless; stick with the battery-powered unit.
Overall, the Nest Protect is a well-designed, innovative smart appliance for your home. If you can afford the $129 price tag, we recommend it.