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Google Nest Protect Smoke Alarm

Want to sear your steak in peace? The Nest Protect has your back.


Published Feb. 11, 2020.

See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

If you’ve ever set off your smoke alarm while cooking, the appeal of the Google Nest Protect is real. Available in both battery-powered and hardwired versions, this “smart” smoke and carbon monoxide alarm connects to your home Wi-Fi network, so it can alert you via your phone or tablet when it senses smoke or carbon monoxide. Once you get the alert, you can silence the alarm from your device if the risk is not serious—no more climbing up on a ladder or poking around with a broomstick to stop the screeching, as you might with a conventional smoke alarm. 

We wanted to know whether the Nest Protect was as good as it sounded, so we decided to put it to the test, installing the battery-powered version next to a conventional smoke alarm. Both were set at a distance of about 10 feet from the stove, the minimum distance recommended for a kitchen smoke alarm by the National Fire Protection Association. For this test, we evaluated only the Nest Protect’s smoke detection capabilities, since it would be unsafe to test carbon monoxide detection outside a lab.

The Nest Protect Is Easy to Install and Set Up

The Nest Protect was simple to install. The unit was equipped with a backplate and four screws, so for testing purposes we mounted it on the wall next to an existing conventional fire alarm. (It can also be mounted on the ceiling.) The Nest app was easy to set up on both Android and Mac OS X devices. Once everything was in place, we got to work making some smoke—burning a whole loaf’s worth of toast, roasting chicken at high heat, searing steaks that we’d rubbed with sugar, and reseasoning carbon-steel pans.

It Detects Smoke Accurately

We found that the Nest Protect performed almost identically to the conventional alarm—both comply with the latest standards set by UL, a global safety certification company. If anything, it was a hair more sensitive, alerting us a few seconds earlier than the conventional alarm. Still, both units “knew” enough not to get triggered when we burned the toast or roasted the chicken; it took quite a bit of smoke, such as when we seared the steaks and reseasoned the carbon-steel pans, to make either go off.

The Alert System Is Useful and Effective

We liked the Nest Protect’s tiered alert system a lot. At the first signs of serious smoke, it sounds a “Heads Up” alert (the ring in the center of the unit flashes yellow and a woman’s voice announces from the unit that there’s smoke and that an alarm may sound). If the smoke worsens, you get an “Emergency Alert” (the ring flashes red and the woman’s voice warns you again that there’s smoke in the room). You’ll also receive notifications for both types of alerts on...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.

Miye Bromberg

Miye is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She covers booze, blades, and gadgets of questionable value.