Based on our tests of smart smoke detectors on the market today, we believe that Nest Protect is the best of the group. It has outstanding detection capabilities and innovative alerts that let you know exactly what threat your home is facing and how to proceed. It’s intuitive to install and its high compatibility with third-party products is a huge selling point as well. The only gripe we have is the relatively short warranty.
The smoke sensor in the Nest Protect is different than any other smoke alarm we've looked at. The unit uses a split-spectrum sensor, a special type of photoelectric sensor, which is designed to detect both smoky and flaming fires. The Nest Protect also has a built-in a carbon monoxide sensor and will sound an alarm if it detects dangerous levels of the invisible, odorless gas which can be lethal if you breathe it for too long. To help cut down on false alarms from steam and burnt toast, the Nest Protect also uses humidity and heat sensors.
We tested the detection capabilities of each smoke detector in our comparison by spraying test smoke from an aerosol can directly at each one from 5, 10 and 15 feet away. When we tested the 5- and 10-foot mark, the Nest Protect sounded its alarm after 18 seconds. At 15 feet, the alarm activated at 28 seconds. It should be noted that Nest Protect was the only smoke detector that passed all of our detection tests. Half the devices could not detect our test smoke from 10 feet away and only Nest Protect sensed danger from the 15-foot mark.
All smoke alarms feature a loud blaring tone to alert you to potential dangers in your home. Nest Protect goes a step further by adding voice alerts that calmly tell you what kind of danger is present, where it is and how to proceed. If you have multiple Nest Protect smoke alarms installed and networked in your home, alerts will sound on each of them, warning everyone in your home about the danger. You can hush the alarm with the app if there's a false alarm.
When Nest Protect detects threats in your home, it sends a notification directly to your smartphone. These real-time notifications allow you to handle the situation from wherever you are – you won’t always be home when disaster strikes – and contact local emergency services if necessary.
Our testers determined that Nest Protect was by far the easiest to set up, mount and connect because of its intuitive design and clear instructions. It took just a few minutes from opening the package to having a fully functional smoke detector ready to go. After you connect this Wi-Fi smoke alarm to the internet, you can control, monitor and test the device remotely though a useful mobile app. The app also tracks battery life and allows the unit to test itself on a monthly basis. At night, the Nest Protect can detect movement and light levels nearby, allowing it to turn on a nightlight when you get up to visit the bathroom.
As required by law, the sensors in the Nest Protect smoke alarm have a life expectancy of 10 years, so you won’t have to worry about replacing it for a decade. Unfortunately, the device warranty is only two years, unlike the 10-year warranties of the First Alert Onelink and Kidde KN-COSM-B-RF.
The Nest Protect smoke alarm is part of the company’s wider smart home strategy, which also includes thermostats, security cameras, security systems and video doorbells. You can also integrate third-party devices like fans, sprinklers, lights, locks and more. They all can be controlled through the Nest app.
The Nest app isn't the only way to integrate the Nest Protect in a unified smart home, the smart smoke alarm also works with popular third-party platforms such as Nexia, Vera and Wink. You can even connect Nest devices to Amazon Alexa and Google Home smart speakers and control them with voice commands. However, the Nest Protect itself doesn't work with Alexa. Nest devices don't work with Apple HomeKit.
The Nest Protect smoke alarm has two power options: wired and battery. You can hardwire it into your home’s electrical grid for uninterrupted power, though this option also uses three AA backup batteries in case of a power outage. The battery-powered option functions the same, it uses six AAs instead of three, but is better suited for older homes that don't already have smoke detector wiring in place.
If you need technical support, you can reach out to Nest by phone, social media and the live chat service on their website. You can also read through the company's helpful support articles about the Nest Protect, which give advice for buying, installing, controlling and troubleshooting problems, among other things.