Nest, makers of fun thermostat, to make fun smoke detector


They sound pretty cool, but 10X the normal price, for something you’re required to have between 2-10 of, (at least in new construction), makes any real market penetration unlikely. Wealthy or especially geeky people may have them, but with no energy savings, and only minor convenience, this isn’t a mass market item.


The guy from “Wired” says “a thermostat is a real chore to install”.

He didn’t say that; I said that. I did used to write for Wired, though.

Thermostats are assholes.


There aren’t that many wires in the harness for a thermostat; but I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing a bundle of them that didn’t have multiple ambiguities or outright falsehoods. I’m sure that they could somehow make the process more annoying, given its relative simplicity; but it’s pretty well advanced already.

Two big bummers for me:

  1. While it works with the Nest Thermostat, it doesn’t have the ability to act as a remote temperature sensor. Big missed opportunity there.
  2. Apparently after seven years you just have to throw the whole thing out and totally replace it (this seems to be common for all CO detectors). Seems like they could have made the parts that expire individually replaceable.

Yeah, 130 seems steep, but I do have a couple of smoke detectors that sit with the battery parked on a ledge because whenever we’re cooking the detector goes off. I’d pay for a detector that’s a little smarter.

Also, I can see where a family with children might decide that the investment in safety would be worth the price.

Who puts a smoke detector in a kitchen? Honestly I just want one that doesn’t look so chunky.

I don’t think you are that far off with your last line, Rob. It could be that Nest is working up to a device or network of devices that configure the whole wiring and wireless networking for your household, with some central app on your preferred computer to collate usage, make suggestions as to where devices should be plugged in, where the smoke detectors would be better placed, where the thermostat could use a new sensor, and so on. I can see them starting to sell smart extension cords, that learn which devices work in conjunction with which, contain surge protectors and even UPS in deluxe models, and so on.

I have no info about this, to be honest, just a gut feeling.

I think that might be what Nest was thinking, that most fires do start in the kitchen but there are just too many false alarms if you do put one in there. I can see where this is going, where the device can go from “Randy burnt the toast again” to “waitaminute, this smoke and heat pattern is not normal, what’s up?” to “holy shit, get everyone alerted, no one responded when I asked!”

Sure, $130 is steep, but the article does state that Nest is going for the highest possible price in the beginning, since they are selling a premium device.

I use Z-Wave and Indigo extensively and am actively looking for the ability to integrate smoke/CO detecting into that framework. Doing so would allow for alarms to trigger other events and notifications, for example. At present, it seems like there are only a couple options available for this–something like the Lowe’s IRIS detectors, a bridge to a home security system with integrated detectors, or reverse engineered system like we presently have with the Nest thermostat–which has never been completely satisfying. To be sure, this is neither the fault of Nest or Indigo–the two were never designed to play together. Presumably, Nest will include these devices in their forthcoming open API.

If Nest are working on a home control/monitoring ecosystem where thermostats talk to smoke detectors and smoke detectors talk to energy monitors and whatnot, they might be onto something. But in my opinion, it must be willing/able to play nicely with other technologies to succeed. Hopefully, the open API is a step in that direction.

I have no doubt that they put heroic engineering effort into reducing the amount of product you buy from them in the future… (Best case; but still pretty vexing, would be if it weren’t their call because a smoke detector’s approval, for the purposes of places that require them, is based on the entire device as a unit and would be void if the user tampered with it, even if it were swapping out some trivial, keyed, totally idiot-proof FRU. I’m inclined to the ‘We got away with selling $250 thermostats, so why care?’ theory.)

What if your wifi goes down? Unless they have their own internal communication system this is kind of useless. For instance, what if the fire starts in the electrical system powering the wifi?

1 Like

Well, I’m a well-paid geek, and the idea of this appeals to me. But, I have a four bedroom house with a basement, so I’d need to buy 7 of these (code requires one per bedroom, plus one per level in hallways). At $130 ea, that’s nearly $1000 of smoke/CO detectors. The old style of “which one is beeping” is worth hassling with occasionally.

I’m interested but it seems like one of those overengineered solutions.

My house is small so the downstairs detector is steps away from the kitchen and it goes off every time I fry bacon or cook pancakes. We used to leave all our smoke detectors unattached because it’s annoying, but we did find one for downstairs that you just press the Reset button and it doesn’t annoy you anymore after that. Trouncing up to the upstairs one while in the middle of cooking is a bit more of a pain, but do-able.

As far as the wave gesture; I helped to test a bunch of these gesture technologies and, really, I’ll just walk two steps and hit the reset button rather than listen to BEEP BEEP BEEP while the thing catches on to my slow relaxing wave.

Call me old-fashioned but this is just too overcomplicated. It’s rather important device and it should be as simple as possible so it can be proven to work.

My understanding is that wifi is their internal communication system(at least between them and your network, they may also use something more suitable, zigbee or one of the other alphabet-soup-of-ill-standardized-low-power-protocols to chat amongst themselves and to increase runtime if hardwired power is taken down by fire or accident.

I strongly doubt that a fire alarm system that included ‘some $20 router from best buy’ as a critical component would attract more than a scathing glance from the relevant regulatory bodies…

Well if you have to replace them every 7 years anyway, you could buy one a year and then start over again after year seven. /humorous suggestion

We have 9 smoke detectors plus 2 heat detectors in the garage. (Finished attic and some extra doors isolating a room.) All hard wire interconnected. Since this will not interconnect with units from other brands, it doesn’t even use the interconnect wire, it’s an all or nothing proposition. Quite an expensive proposition.

Can’t even get one for just near the kitchen, since a partial switch isn’t a scenario they support.

And, since they don’t have a heat detector for the garage, and can’t interconnect with what’s already there, can’t switch and still pass code. Would make selling the house impossible.

Maybe version 2 will interconnect with other brands and open the market to more people. I know the $45 ones from Lowes interconnect with a few brands.

So you can set it to ignore things like steam in a bathroom. But can you teach it to tell the difference between something on fire and a massive bong rip? Because THAT is what the market is missing.