December 17, 2017

Nest Protect Review

I picked up a couple Nest Protect Smoke and CO alarm to replace my current, smoke only, detectors.  My previous smoke detectors did just that, only detected smoke, no CO alarm.  I was looking to pick some more CO monitors but really didn’t want more devices in my house.  This device seemed to fit the bill and helped me to replace my now 10 year old smoke detectors.  I picked up 3 of these devices, one for each floor in my house.  I have several other smoke alarms but I will replace them with more traditional smoke alarms as these Nest devices where expensive, I paid $129 each plus taxes, so it will get pretty pricey depending on how many you will purchase.  Here is a link to the Next website with all the specifics for this device -> Nest Protect.

Here are some of the items which attracted me to this device

  • Connects to wifi and can be managed with an Android or IOS device
  • It can be easily turned off by waving at it, no need to get the chair and broom to turn it off or remove the batteries
  • Has a motion night light, it’s not very bright or even that useful just thought it was cool
  • It will send push notification to your mobile device
  • It talks, giving you a heads up before performing the alarm
  • Notifies you when the batteries are running low by displaying a yellow ring after turning off the lights, otherwise it will display a green ring.

I received 2 of the 3 devices the other day and figured I would put them in.  I installed the first one in my first floor hallway.  This process went pretty smoothly, although I didn’t like the fact I had to replace the existing wiring with Nest Protect specific wiring.  I installed the nest mobile app and created an ID which is required to manage your Nest device.  I then began to follow the process to install the device from the mobile app.  The first issue I had was the device is unable to pair with a hidden wireless network.  I find this to be pretty crazy.  I’ve been using hidden wifi for at least 10 and this is the first time I have had a problem with any device.

I then began to install the second device and followed the process of connecting to the first device, which I could never get past.  What happens here is the app needs to connect to the first device via wifi and then this device will connect to the additional device via a proprietary zigbee/zwave type technology.  To do this you need to make sure the blue light is lit up during the entire process which can be difficult to achieve depending on how long it takes to connect.  I tried this for about an hour in many different variations, but was unsuccessfully.  I was able to determine the first device was actually on wifi and working because my Nest account keeps track of the last contact with each device, but I could not get an the app on any device I tried (Nexus 5, Ipad mini, iphone, etc.).  It didn’t matter nothing seemed to work.

I figured  I would attempt to call there support line to see if there was anything which could be done to get this working.  I called there number and was told the estimated wait time wad 15 minutes so I hung in there.  After about 45 minutes of being on hold I was determined to see how long there estimate of 15 minutes would take.  After 1 hour and 6 minutes I was greeted by a technical support rep.  He was very nice, but ultimately unable to get my devices connected.  During my more than 50 minute conversation with the support rep I learned several things about this product, which I found pretty interesting.

  1. You cannot add additional Nest Protects while they are still wired, they must run on battery power.
  2. You need to have all the devices you want to add all in the same area while adding them, for example if you have 3 of them you need to have all 3 on a table in front of you.  This is so that proprietary zigbee technology can link each of the units.  This means if you have 2 and you want to add 1 additional you will need to pull down the 2 existing Nest Protects and have all 3 on the table to complete installation.
  3. You can only have a maximum of 10 Nest Protects on your Nest online account
  4. There seems to be a large amount routers wireless access points which are not supported.  Please see the following link for more info -> Access Points that aren’t supported with the Nest Thermostat.  I’m assuming there is some incompatibility problems with a certain wifi chipset, but this article is unclear as to the cause.
  5. The rep stated he’s had better success using a ipad to configure the nest over any other mobile device.

The support rep and I determined my issue was most likely related to my home router.  I currently use a skydog home router.  This router is a crowd funded home router and there is limited information and adoption of this router to completely prove the router is the root cause or not.  Removing this router completely is not an option for me, as I’ve been very happy with it and I’m able to perform content filtering for my kids.

To get both configured I had to remove the first device I added, from my Nest account (I’m no longer able to manage this device now).  I then had to add the second device as a new device in my account and configure it.  This is now the only device in my nest account.  These 2 devices are still not able to talk to one another.  So for the time being they are independent and will not notify each other yet.  I am hopeful in the future this will work.  I believe these challenges are only when performing the initial installation, once I can get past the installation I think I can get them all working successfully.  I do have a couple options I will be attempting later, I will update this review if I’m able to get these working.

This item is pretty bleeding edge and wasn’t expecting perfection when I purchased this product.  I do think this product has a lot potential, but is a bit early for it’s release.  There are some major challenges with it’s interoperability of this product.  I’m sure over time this will get better, but I hope a specific wifi hardware chipset isn’t the cause and these issue can be resolved in the future with a newer firmware.  I’m sure everyone’s mileage will vary with this device, I just wanted to share my experience with this product.

UPDATE:

I received the remaining Nest Protect I was waiting for.   I pulled them all down and started the process again.  This time I turned off my wifi on my router and broadcasted the same wifi info from my Nexus 5 phone.  I used an Ipad Mini to add each device connecting to my Nexus wifi.  Everything went well all devices added themselves successfully with no issues.  When completed I had 3 nest protects on my account.  I then shutdown the wifi on my Nexus and powered up router wifi.  To my surprise all 3 devices where talking on the internet successfully using the old router settings.  The wifi problem only seems to effect installation.  I will continue to work with these units and report back if I see any issues.  I am super happy to know I can manage my nest protect configuration via the nest portal and it’s great to know they are able to get any firmware update if and when they get released.

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