Google Nest Protect Review 2020

This smoke and carbon monoxide alarm looks nice and has plenty of useful features, but it also lacks some benefits of a traditional detector.
Remote access
Voice alerts
No digital display

We recommend Google Nest Protect in both our smoke alarm and CO detector roundups. What makes this device worth recommending? And what are the cons of using it?

Let’s discuss in this Nest Protect review.

Nest Protect price

The Nest Protect price won’t break the bank, at least when compared to other smart detectors.

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

The Nest Protect doesn’t have a digital display, and the silence button is less than obvious.

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.

Light Bulb icon
Split-spectrum sensor
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 downside

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

The Nest Protect has unique features you may not find in other products.

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.

Nightly Promise and Pathlight are two unusual but highly useful Nest Protect features.

Nightly Promise

When you turn out the lights at night, the Nest Protect glows green for just a moment to show your detector is working.

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.

Pathlight

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.

Nest Protect home automation and mobile control

Most of Nest’s functions are funneled through the Nest app.

With Nest, you get limited home automation but significant mobile access.

Home automation

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.

Mobile control

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

You can install your Nest Protect on your own or get help.

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.

Heads Up icon
Tools needed
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

You can reach out to Nest customer service for help with installation or troubleshooting.

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.

Recap

If you’re looking for a smart smoke or carbon monoxide detector, we recommend Nest Protect to you.

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’re a big fan of Google Nest, check out our reviews of other Nest products. Or, if you’re primarily interested in the smart home aspect of Nest Protect, here’s our guide to smart home connection.

You can also take a look at our smoke alarm recommendations or our top carbon monoxide detectors.

Nest Protect FAQ

How long does the Nest Protect last?

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.

What kind of batteries does the Nest Protect use?

Your battery-operated Nest Protect requires six AA batteries. The wired version also requires three AA batteries as backup.

Does the Nest Protect have a humidity sensor?

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.

  • Maria Hansen

    Hi there! What do you mean by detectors? Motion detectors? Nest security equipment only works with Nest sensors.