This smoke and carbon monoxide alarm looks nice and has plenty of useful features, but it also lacks some benefits of a traditional detector.
Google Nest Protect Review
Amazon.com List Prices (as of 11/25/2020 9:00 MST) Full disclaimer
Nest Protect price
Nest is known for making some of the priciest equipment on the market. But surprisingly, even though the Nest Protect is pricey for a regular smoke detector, it’s a good price for a smart smoke detector. It’s on par with most other smart models and far less expensive than the First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound (another smoke-CO detector combo we recommend).
Nest Protect equipment
Visually, the Nest Protect will make a nice addition to your home. The mesh pattern spills away from the center button, almost giving it the appearance of a flower. And the clean, white look will go with virtually any interior design style.
Best of all, the Nest Protect is versatile. It can either take batteries or be wired directly into the home. Just choose the approach that works best for you.
When there’s a smoke or carbon monoxide alert, a red light flashes on the Google Nest Protect. A voice then calmly states whether smoke or carbon monoxide was detected, the room it’s in, and the danger level.
Nest Protect has a “split-spectrum” sensor. It detects both fast-burning and smoldering fires more quickly by using a photoelectric sensor and a blue LED light in tandem. This type of sensor is also supposed to reduce the false alarms that are common with ionization sensors.
The device also works well with other Nest Products in the Nest app.
Our only real issue with the equipment is its lack of digital display and obvious silence button.
Most traditional carbon monoxide detectors have a digital display to show carbon monoxide levels and, sometimes, even the temperature. With Nest, you have to go to the app to get that information. We’d prefer to have the choice between the app and the device itself. It’s not always convenient to pull out your phone.
We also aren’t sure if the average user will recognize that the round Nest seal in the center is also the silence button. Traditional smoke or carbon monoxide detectors usually have a button labeled Silence so you don’t overlook it.
Nest Protect features
We’re already dazzled by Nest’s voice warning system, which goes above and beyond what you’d find in a traditional sensor. But that’s not all that Nest Protect offers. It also has Nightly Promise and Pathlight.
When you turn out the lights at night, the Nest Protect glows green for just a moment to show your detector is working. That’s Nightly Promise (we know—kind of a weird name—but it matches the NP initial motif, at least).
If the glow is yellow instead of green, you’ll know something is wrong. When you push the button, you’ll audibly receive more details about how to fix the problem.
Nightly Promise isn’t the only night Nest feature. There’s also Pathlight.
When you walk past your Nest Protect in a dark room or hallway, your detector will emit a soft glow to brighten your way. After ten seconds, the light turns off.
Pathlight is an especially good feature if you get up a lot in the middle of the night. No more fumbling with those light switches or even blearily asking Alexa to turn on the smartbulbs for you.
The Heads-Up voice warning alerts you before the alarm goes off. So if you purposely have something charring a bit on the stove, you can preemptively stop Nest Protect from going off.
Heads-Up can also serve as an advance warning in a true emergency.
Nest Protect home automation and mobile control
With Nest, you get limited home automation but significant mobile access.
You can control your Nest Protect through the Nest app. If you have a Nest Secure system or a Nest Learning thermostat, the app will also become your hub to control your entire home. Through the app, you can try some extremely cool integrations, such as the following:
- Integrate your Nest Protect smoke alarm with your smart lights so that they flash different colors during an emergency
- Integrate your Nest Protect smoke alarm with your cameras so that they take footage of a smoke or carbon monoxide incident
If you aren’t a Google Nest brand evangelist, you can still link your Nest Protect detector to the rest of your home through Google Assistant voice commands. But if you’re hoping to link up to Alexa, Homekit, or a Samsung SmartThings hub, it’s not going to happen.
Again, you have mobile control of your sensor using the Nest app. If you need to silence an alarm from far away, it’s a breeze.
But as we mentioned earlier, we feel like the Nest Protect relies a little too heavily on app access. So if the thought of always reaching for your phone to check the CO PPM makes you shudder, this isn’t the right detector for you.
Nest Protect installation
Installing a Nest Protect is supposed to be quick and easy for both the wired and battery-powered versions. Nest even provides a step-by-step guide.
Nest says that to set up your Nest Protect, you need a Wi-Fi connection (make sure you know the password), a phone or tablet (iOS or Android), and a Phillips-head screwdriver.
If home improvement projects leave you floundering, you can always hire a professional. Enter your ZIP code in Nest’s Pro Finder to find local installers.
Nest customer experience
Nest provides 24/7 customer support by online chat, phone, email, and Twitter (by tweeting @googlenesthelp).
We have to say, though, Nest’s customer service is a bit meh. According to customer feedback, the reps usually get the job done, but no one seems to find them overly awe-inducing.
That’s a little surprising coming from a company that’s made tons of Nest products, including the popular Nest cams. You’d think they would have the customer service thing down.
Overall, Nest Protect is a standout choice for a smoke detector.
It has a nice design and plenty of useful features, and it’s compatible with both Google Assistant and other Nest-branded devices. But if you like the traditional digital display or silence button, it’ll take some getting used to.
If you like the smart home aspect of Nest Protect in this product review but want to see some other options, here’s our guide to smart home connection.
We have yet to get our hands on an actual Nest Protect device (hit us up, Nest Labs!), but we’ve spent hours combing through reviews from both customers and other pro reviewers. We’ve weighed the five-star reviews, the one-star reviews, and everything in between to give you an accurate depiction of the Google Nest Protect.
Nest Protect FAQ
Your Nest Protect should last five years. That’s pretty short, considering that you should change your smoke alarm every ten years. Essentially, you’ll have to replace this detector twice as often as you would with a standard device.
Check in periodically to make sure your Nest Protect still works. If it needs replacing, you want to know before a fire or other incident. There are three different features that test the device:
Self Test: Automatically checks whether the device has power and its sensors work.
Sound Check: Automatically Tests speakers/siren and horn.
Safety Checkup: Manually tests all of the above.
Your battery-operated Nest Protect requires six AA batteries. The wired version also requires three AA batteries as backup.
Yes, but you can only read the humidity it senses if you have a Nest thermostat. You can’t see the reading on the app. Color us less than impressed.
No, there’s no Nest Protect 3rd Gen—or 2nd Gen. At this time, the first Nest Protect is still going strong, and Nest Labs hasn’t released any new generations.
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