CES 2016 wrapped up last week in Vegas and once again the theme leaned heavily toward the connected world and the Internet of Things. For most it seems the Internet of Things hasn’t yet delivered on its promise. Many of today’s available products seem more marketing gimmick than life changer, save for a few, such as those from Nest Labs. Nest began with the Learning Thermostat and has added Dropcam and the Protect Fire and CO monitor.
Like so many tech companies, Nest’s approach is to bring beauty and simplicity to mundane objects while updating them to modern life. The second generation Nest Protect continues this tradition. Smoke and CO monitors have always been an ugly puck-like object constantly chirping at us because their 9V battery died again, but not much else. Nest brings a fresh design you won’t mind showing off in your home, smart features, the Nest app and integration with other Nest products. At $99 it is priced higher than the monitors it replaces, but the added features make it a good value.
- No chirps!!
- Long lasting lithium batteries
- Tests itself, because who remembers?
- All-in-one: Smoke and CO monitoring in one device
- Intuitive new features
- Modern, sleek design
- Works with the Nest app and your other Nest products
- Poor integration with many alarm systems and non-Google products
- Cost: good value for features but a significant increase over typical models
- Initial set up can be frustrating. Evident through my own experience and the Nest community forums. Should get better over time.
What I Love
For me the real test of new tech is whether it will actually save me time. Will it take care of itself or will I just become a babysitter reminding it to do things? So far the Nest Protect is delivering on its promise to keep my home safe while reducing maintenance. Smoke and CO monitors should be tested monthly to ensure proper operation. Who actually does that? I don’t, but if you do, then you know it takes a chunk of your weekend pulling out a step ladder and going to each monitor in your home to test and inspect. Nest does this automatically and silently for you. If Nest finds an issue it will send an alert to your phone. A manual check can still be performed simply on the app, no step ladder needed!
The other annoying time sucker with typical monitors is chirping in the middle of the night because the 9V battery died again. Most likely you just remove the battery and go back to bed, leaving you unprotected in case of emergency. Nest keeps you and your family happy by never chirping at 3AM. Nest will send a notification to your phone long before the battery reaches critically low and Nest says the lithium battery should last a few years so you’ll have to replace fewer batteries over time. Another time saver!
Nest Protect offers many smart features that are new to the category. Some of my favorites are:
- It Talks- Not only does Nest Protect talk you through initial setup, it also talks during an emergency. Nest Protect tells you whether there is smoke, fire or CO and in what room.
- Steam Check- With its built in humidity sensor, Nest Protect knows the difference between steam and smoke.
- Emergency Shutoff with Nest Learning Thermostat- If your home utilizes a Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect senses high levels of CO, Nest Protect can tell Nest Learning Thermostat to shut off the furnace.
- Nest App- If you already have other Nest products then you probably love the Nest App. The app lets you check in remotely, silence alarms, get notifications directly on your phone and view history.
What I Don’t Love
Nest products don’t always play well with home automation systems. I use an ELK security system and have gained limited connectivity to the Nest Learning Thermostats by using HomeSeer software. I still have 2 monitored smoke detectors in our home to alert the fire department, though I hope to remove them if the Nest Protects can be brought into my ELK system with HomeSeer.
Installation Issues with Wi-Fi extenders or repeaters
Setting up Nest products right out of the box has been an easy experience in the past. However, when setting up the Nest Protects I kept getting connection errors with code P0008. Both the Nest App and FAQs on their website did not provide much help beyond the typical power cycle your router and phone/tablet. I jumped on their online community forum and found a few people recently having the same issue. The problem ended up being tied to my wi-fi repeater. I use a second Airport Extreme to extend my network on the far side of my home and apparently Nest Protects have a real issue initially connecting to such networks. Luckily the solution is simple-unplug the extenders leaving just one network. Once set up is complete you can reintroduce the extenders and the Nest Protects will maintain network connection. This is likely to be resolved with future updates and product generations.
The Nest Protect brings geeky excitement to an unexpected category. While the price is high comparative to the monitors it wishes to replace, the many advanced features make it worth the investment. Below I list several potential ways to save on your next Nest purchase.
Nest Protect is available in battery or wired versions and offers finishes in white or black. Currently black is only available through Nest.com.
Save on Nest
Get Nest products at a reduced cost or even FREE with rebates and incentives from service providers. Visit https://nest.com/rebates-and-rewards/ to check incentives in your area.
In Atlanta, a $100 rebate is available to Georgia Power customers on Nest Learning Thermostats and you can claim up to 2 per year if you have multiple systems or zones. Several natural gas providers occasionally offer a FREE Nest Learning Thermostat for signing a 12-24 month commitment. Smaller EMCs and security companies may also offer incentives on Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect.
Additionally, Nest products are sold at many retailers including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Amazon and Best Buy. Perhaps you’ll get gifts cards for a special occasion. If not, Lowe’s and Best Buy often send out 10% off coupons and some stores may offer 0% interest for 6 months or longer on their store credit cards.