We’re just a week or so away from the end of daylight savings which means the biannual mantra of “Change your clock, change your smoke detector battery” is about to be replayed in homes across the country. But I don’t have that problem anymore. I swapped out my old smoke detectors for a couple of Nest Protect devices.
The Nest Protect offers two levels of protection. As well as detecting smoke so you can activate your fire safety plan (you all have one don’t you?), it also detects carbon monoxide (CO). That’s important as CO is odourless, colourless and lethal. It binds to the haemoglobin in your blood more readily than oxygen so, in the event of a CO leak from an appliance, you’ll slowly drifty off in a never-ending sleep.
There are two types of Nest Protect devices; the battery-operating model, that I tested, that has a ten-year life (no need to change batteries each year), and a mains-powered option that you’ll need an electrician to install.
Like the $10 detectors you find at the local supermarket or hardware site, the Next Protect has two parts. There’s a base plate that you screw into the wall or ceiling and the main body that clicks onto the plate.
I removed my old smoke detector and, conveniently, two of the Nest Protect’s four screw holes lined up with the lugs from my old detector. So, I only needed to add a couple of new holes and lugs to attach the plate. Anyone who can handle a cordless screwdriver up a ladder can install the Nest Protect although it would only take a tradie about five minutes if you didn’t feel confident doing a DIY installation. As the Nest Protect is larger than most of the smoke detectors I’ve seen, it should cover any missing paint that might be around where the old detector was.
Once the base plate was installed, I grabbed the Nest app from the iOS App Store (there’s an Android version in the Play Store) and followed the set up instructions. That involved testing the Nest Protect before attaching it to the plate on my ceiling and connecting it to my wireless network so it could broadcast alerts to my smartphone.
As the Nest Protect can detect both smoke and CO, it has two different alarm tones. Longer beeps, that are very loud, signify the presence of smoke and shorter tones are emitted when unsafe levels CO are detected. And, just in case it’s triggered by burnt toast, the Nest Protect starts with a voice telling you it has detected smoke before sounding its alarm. That way, you can silence the alarm using the app until the safe smoke clears.
The app keeps a log of activity as well and you can tell it when you’re home or away so you receive remote notifications in case something goes awry while you’re away.
The Nest Protect checks its battery and sensors 400 times each day and reports any anomalies.
The Nest Protect has a handy nightlight that offers soft illumination should you get up during the night for a snack or visit to the bathroom. And, as the battery will last ten years, there are no annoying low battery warnings prompting you to steal a 9V battery atom a kid’s toy at 2:00AM.
As for integration with other smart home accessories, the Nest Protect is firmly committed to the Google Home ecosystem. There’s no support for Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit. However, there are lots of IFTTT recipes that support the Nest Protect and integrate it with other IFTTT-friendly devices and services.
Price, availability and conclusions
The Nest protect has a retail price of $189 as we reported last year and is available through a number of outlets.
At that price, it takes a lot to justify the Nest protect, given you can buy an admittedly less intelligent device, for under $20. But, when you factor in a couple of 9V batteries each year, assuming you follow the advice to change batteries each time daylight savings kicks over, then the long-term cost isn’t all that different. And you’re getting a connected device that, if you’re committed to the Google Home platform or are handy with IFTTT, can work with other devices.