Review: Nest Protect turns the humble smoke detector into an IoT device with IFTTT support

Its important to protect the home you and your family live and even more so if you own your own home. Nest Protect offers a smart, connected way to...

Its important to protect the home you and your family live and even more so if you own your own home. Nest Protect offers a smart, connected way to monitor your environment from your phone. If there is an incident like a fire, or unsafe level of carbon monoxide, the IoT device will alert you, sending a notification to your mobile phone. Connected to your home WiFi, this connects your home and your pocket and ensures you have peace of mind things are OK at home.

As with all good IoT devices, the Nest Protect supports IFTTT which means the sensors inside the device are able to initiate workflows to the rest of your connected home. For instance you can receive emails, push notifications or even have other devices react (like Hue Lights change colour) if it detects smoke. Smoke alarms may not be something you think are sexy, but making them smart is long overdue and now with Nest Protect, that’s here.

Design

The Nest Protect is slightly larger than your average smoke detector, mainly due to the square design with rounded corners. The white plastic shell features perforated holes in the top decreasing in size as they reach the center. This surface is important as it’ll be on display when mounted on your ceiling. Its quite pleasant to look at, mostly blending in, not wild, crazy colours that unnecessarily draw attention.

The center of the Nest Protect is a large button, this is used both during the setup process, and to test the device is working. If you are testing, or actually have an emergency, the vents on the underside of the device enable the sound to be emitted from the device.

Inside the device are a multitude of sensors which combine to actively monitor your home.

  • Split‑Spectrum Sensor, 450 nm and 880 nm wavelength
  • 10-year electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor
  • Heat sensor, ±1°C (±1.8°F)
  • Humidity sensor, ±3%RH

There’s also a few other sensors thrown in to smartly turn a single purposed device into an incredibly useful one.

  • Occupancy sensor, 120° field of view to 6 metres (20 feet)
  • Ambient light sensor, 1-100k Lux
  • Dynamic Range

In the box, you’ll find a back plate which you can screw to your ceiling, replacing what may already be there for an existing smoke detector. The Nest Protect simply twists on to securely hang from your ceiling and start protecting your home. Personally I setup the device ahead of installing it and I’d suggest you do to.

Features

The ring of light. On top of each Nest protect is a ring that glows different colours to provide quick, glanceable information about what’s going on. There are 4 states to this, green is a self-health check and indicates everything is fine. White is simply providing a convenient night light which is motion activated. Yellow is a heads up something is detected, like small amounts of smoke, burning toast or similar. While red indicates an emergency, if you ever see this, get out yourself, and your family, out of the house immediately. This indicates smoke or carbon monoxide has reached dangerous levels. At this point, you will also hear the Nest alarm.

Less false positives. Nest understands that if your smoke alarm goes off and calls an emergency when there isn’t one, you’ll likely start to ignore it, with the boy cried wolf scenario. To reduce false alarms, Nest Protect uses a split‑spectrum sensor, shielded against outside light, etched to protect it against dust and encased in a stainless steel screen. The screen’s hexagonal pattern is designed to let smoke in and keep insects and fibres out. The device also uses a humidity sensor to ensure false alarms are caused by steamy environment, like proximity to a bathroom or kitchen.

Long battery life. Our Nest Protect review units are battery powered, however there is also a mains connected version. When running on battery, the device leverages technology like Bluetooth LE, to ensure the 6 long-life batteries (Energizer Ultumate Lithium L91’s) will last you years, an impressive feat by any IoT device. The standard mantra of change your watch (for daylight saving time), change your smoke alarm doesn’t apply with the Nest Protect. The Nest app will let you know when batteries are low and need to be changed.

Monthly report. Imagine you install the Nest Protect in an investment property. You could get a monthly report of any incidents that occur. This will help you ensure your tenants aren’t smoking inside as well as any issues with gas leaks etc. If nothing else, a blank report each month will give you peace of mind, regardless of where you are in the world.

Self-check. While you can manually run checks to see if the device is operating correctly, you don’t have to, this smart smoke detector can test itself. During setup, you’ll get prompted to set a scheduled Sound Check once every month. This sound check can be scheduled to occur while you’re our (for instance 11am – 4pm). You’ll get a notification 5 minutes ahead of a sound check, which allows to you either continue to run as scheduled, or postpone if its a bad time (like your child is sleeping). You can also choose to test manually at any time and if you have more than 1 Nest Protect in the house, they’ll all be tested. This is smart and really well implemented.

Price and Availability

The Nest Protect Wired and Battery versions are available now from a number of Australian retailers. The battery powered version is available for A$189.00, but its perhaps the deal JB Hi-Fi has on the wired version that’s the best available right now. You can pick up 3 Nest Protect’s (240v mains connected) for A$499.00, a discount of $68.00.

Even with discounts, or some smart deal shopping online, there’s no way of escaping the fact that people who want to add this IoT device to their smart home are paying a significant premium. To buy a dumb 240V Photoelectric Smoke Alarm from Bunnings, you’ll pay just A$22.00.

Overall

This is Nest’s 2nd generation of the Protect and complies with Australian safety standards, while also adhering to the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm standards. When we think about digitizing our lives and connecting our homes, a smoke detector often isn’t the first place people’s minds go to. However when we think through what’s on offer here, it makes perfect sense. Like security cameras, you want to know what’s going on in your house, especially when you aren’t home.

If anything, the Nest Protect provides the peace of mind any home owner (or landlord) is looking for. Naturally you can combine other Nest products, like the Nest Cam, it will record and send you a video clip automatically if it’s connected to Wi-Fi. The entire video will be stored online on Nest’s cloud so you can review it at any stage.

This product take an essential, but boring piece of electronics and makes it smart, interesting and with the motion-activated night light, useful ever single day.

8.7
Review: Nest Protect
The Good
  • Design
  • IFTTT compatibility
  • Motion detection and nightlight
The Bad
  • Price
  • Design
    9.0
  • Features
    9.5
  • Value
    7.5
Categories
Home Automation

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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