Who Is Going To Pay $129 For A Smoke Detector?

The big news in consumer electronics this week is a residential super safety device from Nest, the startup with the thermostat Honeywell is suing.

While your run of the mill smoke detector is ~$10, Nest Protect is $129. For that, here's what you get:

Btw, I would not be surprised in the least if Nest went after intrusion detection next. They are a potential threat to all incumbents in home automation and security.

Update 2014: Nest has been acquired by Google for $3.2 billion USD.

Who would've ever thought that in 2013, a thermostat and smoke detector would be a style/branding play.

Why isn't everything a style/branding play? Why do we accept ugliness into our lives at all? Why don't we demand that our cameras and NVRs and keypads look good?

Have you seen the Milestone Husky? It's not the best looking appliance in the world, but it looks like quite a bit of thought went into the design.

My cellphone looks really good. My laptop looks really good. My car looks really good. Even my router looks really good. Why not my cameras?

While the pricing seems high as compared to a cheapie $20 Home Depot battery powered smoke detector, I think it's a pretty clever product. They just need to improve the price point.

It looks like UL certification is pending? Once it has that it will be a pretty cool product. The install manual looks solid with all the install guidelines a professional smoke detector comes with.

I saw that, considered ordering some. However, I see that it does smoke and CO, which is nice, but I always thought CO detectors should be closer to the floor?

It's tricky....CO is slightly heavier than air and nearly the same specific gravity. Typically it's emitted from a appliance which is also releasing warm air hence it tends to rise with that. Eventually the CO will fall so imo your best bet would be to have a CO up high and low in the room where your appliances are (furnace, hot water, etc.) And then down low in the rest of the house to catch the co before it reaches you in your bed.

file this under the category "why don't i ever think of these things"... at face value, $129 for a smoke detector is expensive, if you are only getting a smoke detector... this has quite a bit more features than a standard smoke detector... with this you get ror heat detection, co and photoelectric... with those features alone it is only slightly higher than a combo smoke from 2gig or ge... even then you aren't getting the voice notification, pathway light (not sure if i think that is so great but hey) or individual wireless connectivity...

the option to go 120vac or battery is a benefit as well however i am interested to see how long the batteries last (as well as what kind) if you don't have 120vac present... and as you mentioned john their website does show signs that they will be providing a smoke that can integrate along with customers existing security systems... they didn't offer much for detail so i wonder if that is mainly a 12vdc powered model...

Most smokes have heat detection as well. The CO I disagree on. By the time CO gets to the ceiling you're dead.

Re: concentration of CO, and being heavier than air:

Suprisingly, CO is not heavier than air, and it disperses fairly evenly in a nitrogen gas. For this reason, groups like NFPA and UL certify hanging CO detectors at ceiling height. Even the US Fire Marshals Association, who initially criticised combo detectors, have now reversed course and endorse them.

However, there is plenty of academic concern about this on the web. While the densities may be the same, CO cools (and falls) at a much faster rate than nitrogen. In a small test chamber, this may not be pronounced, but in a large open room, CO can pool and concentrate at higher levels close to the floor.

The debate whether or not combo CO/Smoke units are smart and effective is a hot-button issue with the fire experts. The strongest rebutt to those concerns seems to be "Well, people are unlikely to buy separate CO sensors, and having a combo unit is better than nothing." You may draw your conclusions from that...

Ya the site I was on was misleading, you are correct CO is fractionally lighter than air. Like you point out that doesn't mean it's going to rise to the ceiling though. I strongly disagree that "having something is better than nothing." Too many people will not understand that the detector will have little chance of saving their lives and will have a false sense of security. Putting the detector in the right place to begin with is what will save lives.

No one finds the "hushing" with a wave feature dangerous? Every fire I have ever been involved in, more than I care to remember, involves numerous people running around waving their arms. I would assume it shuts off the hush feature in the event of a real alarm, but that is a bit too scary for me to rely on it. I do think it is cool that they network and link together to tell you where the issue is.

I would not have gotten away with all the stuff I did in high school if my folks had one of these in my basement bedroom I’ll tell you that much…..

No one finds the "hushing" with a wave feature dangerous?

Ross, relax, what could possibly go wrong??? ;)

i will buy it :)

Now, if they would only put a wide angle WiFi camera in it...

Just wait, that's the 2014 release ;)

In all seriousness, I would not be surprised to see a number of this home focused startups expand into video.

I think video is definitely happening. Another recent startup released a PIR/camera combo the design blogs are loving. The other thing is that a lot of these startups have open APIs and developer programs, so some integrations between these products seems possible, if not likely. A lot of these developers are hungry and out to get as much exposure as possible, so integrations seem more likely than we see in the security industry now, where there's limited benefit to the time investment. DoorBot already has an integration to Lockitron, for example, and it's not even shipping yet.

LOL, if it's so sensitive it can pick up smoke from a single candle as the ad shows...it might be worth buying.

I am sceptical about this. After watching the video for it it does look like a good product but I am the type of person who wants to see this in person. A commercialized video can show what they want us to see. Is there anyone who is doing a demo of this somewhere? I find it hard to believe it's going to pickup the little bit of smoke a candle puts out. I say prove it to me and then I will buy it.

I love my nest therm for the single reason of not having to get out of bed when my wife compains its too hot or cold in our house at midnight - open app on phone next to bed adjust temp and back to counting sheep. The smoke alarm has a cool factor but thats a bit steep to put a few in the house even if it lights up when i walk under it

I love the nest and would be interested in this product. The powerful feature of the nest is the motion sensing along with the auto scheduler. I can't say I've realized any savings, but I like the functionality. The downside is they don't like their product integrated with any other control platforms such as Control4, iRule, Crestron.

Update: Nest has stopped selling its smoke detector. Their explanation:

"Ee observed a unique combination of circumstances that caused us to question whether the Nest Wave (a feature that enables you to turn off your alarm with a wave of the hand) could be unintentionally activated. This could delay an alarm going off if there was a real fire. We identified this problem ourselves and are not aware of any customers who have experienced this, but the fact that it could even potentially happen is extremely important to me and I want to address it immediately."


Everything on the surface seems like a progressive, proactive and transparent, if a tad conservative, response to latent danger.

Except one thing, the manner of the reaction gives off more of the sense of a company responding to a zero-day vunerablity than to a simple malfunctioning product.

Why? Because they are hiding something. For some unknown reason they are not, as of yet, explaining what this defect is exactly and how to duplicate it. What exactly is this "unique combination of circumstances" ? It must be pretty rare if it has never been reported ever. Why not just tell us what not to do to avoid those circumstances? Instead that even though it has never been reported happening 'in the wild', you need to return your nest for refund, if you will not disable Nest Wave.

Why not say how to duplicate it? Embarassment? Security breach? Possible future legal action?

My thought is look up at my comment from 6 months ago. I think a big "No duh!" sums up my thoughts.

Ross is correct. A different article stated that people wave their arms in a fire.