How to setup a Nest Protect and first impressions

The Nest Protect smoke alarm + carbon monoxide detector from Nest is the follow-up product to the learning thermostat. The company is banking that consumers will respond to a product that brings innovative technology and design to a product category that has largely remained stagnant. Have they succeeded and how easy is it to replace your old smoke detectors? Read on for our guide on how to setup a Nest Protect and first impressions.

Setup Nest Protect

The Nest Protect comes in both wired and battery operated versions, depending upon your preference. If you opt for the wired version, the company recommends using a ‘qualified technician’. If you are the DIY type of home owner who is comfortable working with electricity, the wiring process as outlined by Nest is very straightforward. Black to black (power), white to white (neutral) and if you have a red wire from your previous smoke detector, that gets capped. These attach to a plug that snaps into the alarm. Before you do any wiring, it’s vitally important that you turn off power at your electrical panel.

Disclaimer: Should you attempt to install a Nest Protect, everythingiCafe and staff are in no way responsible for any injury or harm as a result. If you should have an concerns, consult an professional electrician.

Before you start any wiring, you’ll want to start the process of setting up your Nest Protect. If you don’t have it yet, download the Nest Protect app for iPhone, available free from the App Store. If you don’t have one yet, setup your Nest account. You’ll also need your WiFi password. . Once completed, you can start the process of adding it to your network.

Add Nest Protect

  1. Pull the blue tab and press the Nest logo until you see the blue ring.
  2. Tap on the menu icon at the top right
  3. Select ‘Add Nest Protect’ and press continue
  4. Using the camera on your iPhone, scan the QR code on the back of your Nest Protect
  5. You should see an option to connect to WiFi. Open Settings > WiFi and select the Nest network. This is a temporary setting to enable your Nest Protect to work within your network.
  6. Close settings and open up the Nest app.
  7. The Nest Protect will attempt to connect to your network. You’ll be prompted to enter your WiFi password.
  8. Once connected, set the location for your smoke detector.
  9. By default, the pathlight is set to on. When dark, it will light up only when someone is present.
  10. The Nest Protect will now connect to your account and complete the process.

Connect Nest Protect WiFi

Nest Protect final setup

Adding Nest Protect

The Nest Protect comes with four screws and a mounting plate. The plate can be used with existing screws, but I’ve found that for a snug fit, you’ll want to use the four screws provided. Using a pencil, mark the holes and pre-drill the holes. Screw in the base using a phillips head screwdriver. Note that on the base, there is a top and bottom. When you you mount your Nest Protect, be sure to match them up correctly. The initial position of Protect will be slightly offset to the left. Press firmly and twist to the right to secure the fit to your ceiling.

The final step in the process is perform a test. Press the Nest button to begin the sequence. You’ll hear a series of loud sounds and the lights will flash yellow and red.

Nest Protect First Impressions

It took me about an hour to complete the entire process. My initial mistake was using the mounting screws of my previous smoke detector. Upon deciding to use the supplied screws, I failed to drill pilot holes, also leading to an increased install time. The easiest part for me was the wiring.

The Nest Protect supports interconnect through wireless, meaning you need additional alarms at $129 in order to benefit from the added safety of all the alarms sounding in the event of smoke or carbon monoxide. It looks infinitely better than traditional smoke alarms, but that comes at a significant cost. All smoke + carbon monoxide alarms must be replaced every seven years, so it becomes a reoccurring cost.

Having your alarm connected to your iPhone does have its benefits. It can alert you of low battery issues and you can check the status by opening up the app. In theory, the pathlight feature sounds great, but I’ve found it does little to light your pathway. If there is smoke, the Nest uses voice alarms, “Heads up…“. If you wave your hand, you can ‘shush the alarm’. I’ve installed my Nest near our kitchen. Typically when we cook anything that generates a decent amount of smoke, it would trigger a piercing alarm that would require fanning the smoke. The Nest solves that problem, so for me, it’s worth the added investment. Upon hearing the interconnect limitations with my existing system, I have plans to add a second Protect. This will allow for the interconnect between the two alarms, providing alerts on both the first and second floor of my home. Beyond that, I’m not so sure. I have nine alarms in total, so that would mean an investment of $1161 (plus tax) every seven years, compared to $261 for a well reviewed Kidde smoke + CO detector. Nest has shaken up the market, but at its current price, I’m not sure the benefits are significant enough to justify the investment.

Nest Protect retails for $129 and can be found at Amazon.

Have you setup your Nest Protect? What’s been your experience thus far?