Nest Protect - Setup, Performance & Verdict



Nest Protect: Setup

So naturally the Protect is a nightmare to setup? Surprisingly, at least in the case of our battery powered version, nothing could be further from the truth.

Take the Protect out of its box, pull out a paper tab which starts its battery and the configuration can be done via the Nest wizard within a web browser or its Android and iOS apps. This means tapping/clicking ‘Add Nest Protect’ then either typing in its individual product number and taking a photo of its QR code. You then state where it will be located in your home (bedroom/kitchen/hallway, etc) and how it will be mounted (wall or ceiling) and it will self configure. Finally give it your WiFi password, it will register online and you’re done.

For the wired version it comes with an AC230v cable connector you will need to fit, but the battery edition just screws into the wall. Even this bit is done well. The Protect ships with a mounting backplate so, while the backplate can be hung from a wall or drilled into the ceiling, the Protect can be released from it with a single twist. Even DIY-phobes shouldn’t be put off.

Nest Protect – Performance

So everything looks good on paper, but how does it perform should that paper catch fire?

In pure detection terms we found the Protect was every bit as effective as a standard smoke alarm. Nest supplied us with a Smoke Sabre aerosol, which is used by industry professionals to test smoke alarms and that worked a treat. Both it and the standard alarm ignored tiny puffs to avoid false alarms, but with a bigger spray the standard smoke alarm began sounding immediately while the Protect verbalised “There’s smoke in the [location]” in a calm, but firm voice several times before the very loud alarm sounded.

Whereas the standard smoke alarm made us jump and send us into an immediate sense of panic, the Protect’s measured approach meant we dealt with the situation far more calmly and were able to silence it instantly by pressing the button. Setting it off again it also stopped when waving our arms, but it does require several big waves since Nest states it does not want an alarm accidentally cancelled.

Within seconds of the alarm going off, both a Nexus 5 and iPhone 4S received notifications from their installed Nest app. They also got notifications once the alarm was silenced and again that “Smoke is clearing in the [location]” after 10/15 minutes later – something we were also told audibly by the Nest Protect. We repeated the test with an actual smoking piece of paper and got the same results as using the Smoke Sabre.

Should I buy the Nest Protect?

All of which means the Nest Protect looks great, is easy to setup and performs superbly. So why not give it maximum marks? The answer is price.

While a standard smoke and carbon monoxide alarm can be purchased for as little as £5 (£20 for a ‘posh’ one with remote control) both versions of the Protect retail for a whopping £109.95. For many this will make it a ridiculous luxury.

And yet Nest makes a compelling case for your hard earned cash. It quotes statistics that claim the vast majority of fire related deaths are caused by faulty smoke detectors or detectors that have had their batteries removed out of frustration. As such, while you will (hopefully) never need the Protect, it may just save your life and the reassurance it can give to families with younger children in particular will easily justify the outlay.

Furthermore, while the smart thermostat war is heating up, Nest is currently alone in having a market ready smart smoke alarm and it is as polished a first generation product as we have ever seen. Still, should you be happy to wait for an (inevitable) flood of competitors to arrive we’re sure prices will start coming down.


Nest Labs has given us the most exciting and practical vision yet of what an ‘Internet of Things’ future will look like. The Nest Protect is a stylishly made, beautifully thought out product that is simple to setup and works brilliantly. The downside is this smart smoke alarm is many, many times more expensive than the dumb devices it hopes to replace. That will put a lot of people off, but we can’t think of many better investments.