The Digital Home Magazine

Smart tech reviews, how-to's and more

Nest Protect V2 test: a smart smoke alarm that can blow its own horn

Nest Protect V2 is an updated version of the smart smoke alarm. It is a smart smoke alarm that blends in with the Nest ecosystem and is full of sensors and technology designed to protect you and your loved ones.

This Nest Protect comes in two forms: wired or battery operated.

This is powered by six long-life AA batteries that Nest says should last five years with normal use. Regular alarms or manual tests can shorten this lifespan but are easily replaceable if this should occur.

Of course, the smoke alarm notifies you when the batteries are weak - which a standard model cannot do quite so elegantly. An amber light and two beeps every 60 seconds, as well as notifications within the app, should be more than enough to keep the battery charged and ensure that the device is working properly.

Like an average smoke detector, Nest Protect can be tested and muted at the push of a button on the device itself. The ring in the middle doubles as a button and is easy to use.

But the real performance comes when you plug Nest Protect into your smartphone and integrate it into your smart home. If you have Nest products, you can easily add them to the Nest app and combine them with other devices. By scanning a QR code on the back, the device is simply pulled into the app and linked to your WiFi at home.

Installing Nest Protect is also a dream: no drilling required as the unit comes with self-tapping screws. As long as you have the right screwdriver, these can be screwed straight into the wall or ceiling with relative ease. No sockets, no clutter, no fuss.
The nest interface is also easy to understand. Initial setup walks you through everything you need to know, and the app is generally easy to use and full of information. Including measures in an emergency.

Sensors and sirens

  • Self-test system with built-in microphone
  • Split spectrum sensors for the detection of fast and slow burning fires
  • 85dB siren, 2W speaker
  • 10 years carbon monoxide sensor
  • Humidity sensor to avoid false alarms

Nest Protect is designed with a split spectrum sensor that can help distinguish between fast-burning and smouldering fires. That means it can detect fires earlier than other smoke alarms and alert you faster. It also means you will get a faster "heads up" alert when smoke is first detected.

According to Nest, the sensor system also means this smart smoke alarm is less prone to false alarms caused by burnt toast and other things that could cause a standard alarm to go off unnecessarily. By adding a moisture sensor, Nest Protect can tell the difference between steam from a hot shower and smoke from a real fire.

Nest Protect also contains a carbon monoxide detector built right into its body. This means that it cannot only warn you of fires, but also of harmful gases in the household.

The system has a number of alarm settings for different situations. There will be an initial heads-up alert when a small amount of smoke is detected to alert you. This is good if the food is slightly charred as it acts as an early warning for the alarm, which will go off completely.

A full emergency alert is much more important. A voice alert and siren system alerts you to the problem and is very loud. Nest Protect not only sounds its loud 85 dB siren in these situations, but also alerts you to the problem through its speaker system. The audio cues include warnings such as, "Please Note. The (room name) contains carbon monoxide. The alarm may sound." or "Emergency. There is smoke in (room name)."

If you have multiple Nest Protects installed around your house (which Nest recommends), it is easy to know that there is a problem and where it is in the house.

In addition to the siren and speaker system, Nest Protect also notifies you via your smartphone. Push notifications right on your device and emails in your inbox mean you will be notified of problems anywhere, even when you are not home. You can then open the app for more detailed information. Combined with a Nest camera, you can see what is going on.

The Nest app also gives you complete control of the alarm system from your device. You can test the system and verify that everything is working properly, receive notifications when there are warnings, mute the alarm when it is triggered, and adjust the settings. No more standing on chairs and waving a tea towel to turn it off.

On a monthly basis, Nest Protect can check its own alarm and voice system without your intervention. You can also force a full scan if you are more comfortable doing things like this manually. A history of tests and reviews is also available in the app.

Hazard lights

  • 6 RGB coloured light illumination ring
  • Multi-light modes for nightly promises, path light, heads-up and emergency situations

In addition to the siren system, Nest Protect also has an RGB-colour lighting ring that is located around the button in the middle of the device. When an alarm sounds, this ring lights up in different colours, so you know what is happening. These traffic lights work in a traffic light-like system: a red traffic light warns of a complete emergency; A yellow light indicates possible pre-warning problems. A green light is a reassuring message that everything is fine. A blue light appears after testing or initial setup.

It is also a multipurpose light that acts as a night light when motion is detected. Pretty useful thing to have in your hallway bathroom for a night-time trip to the bathroom. Additionally, there is a Nightly Promise lighting mode that shows a green tint when you make your way to bed to let you know that everything is working as it should.

It is worth noting that you can turn the Pathlight and Nightly Promise up or down or turn them off altogether to save power if you so choose. In our opinion, however, it is worth using the functionality, even if the batteries are additionally discharged.

With this combination of lighting, self-test and regular updates via the app, you can always be sure that Nest Protect is working as it should. No nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you need to check that the smoke alarm is still working like Nest Protect does for you.

Integration with the nest ecosystem

  • Works with Nest cameras and thermostats
  • Turns off the heating and collects recordings in emergency situations

Nest Protect also ties in with other Nest products. If you have Nest cameras, such as, Nest Cam IQ or Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, the alarm can use these to take a snapshot of the house when a siren sounds. Ideal when you are away from home but need to see what is happening and alert the emergency services.

Other intelligent intelligence

  • Compatible with IFTTT
  • Bluetooth LE support

Nest Protect is also compatible with IFTTT, so you can do other clever things with it too. With IFTTT you can set up a smart pairing with other devices or simply set up recipes so that something happens when an alarm is detected.

First impressions

Nest Protect is sure to be able to blow its own horn. It is a singing, dancing, knowing smart smoke alarm that is a brilliant addition to your home.

The connection to other Nest products is a bonus for an already brilliant system. The sensors in this intelligent smoke alarm are intelligent and allow the distinction between different types of smoke and mean that it is not constantly triggered unnecessarily. The security that comes with smart self-tests, carbon monoxide detection, and simple things like Nightly Promise also makes all the difference.

In the end, Nest Protect is worth every penny.

Also consider

Netatmo Smart Smoke Detector

The Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm is an inexpensive, but perhaps a little more reserved, alternative to Nest Protect. There is no carbon monoxide detector, but it works just as well as detecting smoking problems without bombarding us with false warnings. The Netatmo is also compatible with IFTTT and Apple Homekit, which makes it flexible too.