the Nest Protect – a usable smoke/CO detector

This isn’t technically under the guise of working by hand – but good product design deserves to be reviewed. I don’t like technology much – I find it pervades far too much into our lives – yet there are exceptions. One exception is a product which enhances a task, but is not impeded by being too complex to use. One such product is the Nest Protect – combined smoke detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector. I have been wanting to buy the Nest Thermostat for a while now, the only thing holding me up was a wish to install it during warmer weather. Installing a thermostat in winter is not the best plan – and I guess I missed the boat this year – so it will be next spring. But the Protect, well that’s another matter altogether. The problem with traditional smoke/CO detectors is that testing them is a pain – they suffer from huge usability issues. Smoke detectors also suffer from false-alarms, especially those situated near kitchens – and hushing them is problematic. When we have raclette in the dining room the previous smoke alarm would always go off, which required unplugging it for the duration of the meal (120V).


The Protect is C$129, (C$155 with tax and shipping) which some people naturally baulk at – for 7 years of service – or $22 a year. Note that all such devices have a lifespan, usually printed on the device somewhere – they don’t last forever. Why only 7 years? The Protect contains a Photoelectric smoke sensor which likely suffers from a reduction in sensitivity over time. Sure a good smoke alarm, and separate CO detector together may cost you $60-70. But this is about a usable product. My main floor CO detector is taking up a plug as well, so having this in the same unit is great.

Installation is a breeze. I bought the 120V unit, and it comes with everything needed to install it. Directions are easy to read, and it maybe took 20 minutes – half of which the device spent hooking up to the wireless network. The people at Nest obviously know how to create an easy install.


What do I like about it?

  • It’s sleek – just because something performs a utilitarian task does not mean it has to have bad aesthetic design.
  • It combines two logical functions together.
  • Testing it is a breeze. Push the blue button and the Protect does the rest.
  • It talks to you – and not in the way Siri does. It’s a pleasing voice, guiding you through the test phase.
  • It checks itself through self-monitoring, which basically means it tests its internal sensors (every 10 seconds), backup battery, and wireless connection (once a day).
  • It is easy to hush – just by waving your arm.
  • There is a Nest App, to check the Protect’s status (and that of the thermostat).

We lost power here for three days due to an ice storm, and having the Nest Protect was great extra insurance. In the dark it senses when someone walks underneath and illuminates. I will likely install a second (battery) unit in the basement. One of my neighbours has a Nest Thermostat, and was checking the temperature of the house while on vacation in Europe.

The next thing which would be nice from Nest? – A usable sensor to detect flooding in the basement.



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