Best Smart Smoke Detector (2020) | Nest Protect vs Onelink

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Our Pick: Google Nest Protect (2nd Gen) 
Rosie and I picked the Google Nest Protect (2nd Gen) as the best smart smoke detector with wifi connect. It has the best range of fire alart technology and can be controlled remotely.
nest protect vs onelink
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There are two main smart smoke detectors with wifi connect on the market today:

  • Google Nest Protect (2nd Gen).
  • First Alert Onelink Alexa Enabled Smoke Detector.

My personal preference is for the Nest Protect. They have done a lot of innovation around how fires are detected and how to minimize false alarms.

Google Nest Protect vs. First Alert Onelink Alexa

The Nest Protect and OneLink both have good wifi app connectivity. The Nest Protect has the advantage of a battery operated option while the Onelink only has a hardwired option. The OneLink device does play better with other alarms in a hardwired system, but the Nest Protect has better Steam Check technology. Overall we prefer the Nest Protect.

1. Google Nest Protect (2nd Gen)

Quick Review: My main reason for preferring this system is that the 2nd Gen version has done a lot to minimize false alarms from humidity or slightly burnt toast. You can also choose between battery and hardwired options.

the google nest protect
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Benefits:

  • Minimizes False Alarms: The SteamCheck technology and Toast Alert help reduce pesky false alarms.
  • Hardwired or Battery: If you don’t have the requisite hardwiring in your home, you can get it in a battery version – which I love.
  • Phone Alerts: Connects to all Smart Phones and Tablets (Apple, Andriod Windows). The app sends you a notification when problems arise so you know instantly when a fire has started in your home.
  • Smart Locator: You can also be told where the smoke is within your home if you get a full set (see the four pack here).
  • Detects Carbon Monoxide: It is becoming industry standard for smoke detectors to also detect carbon monoxide, which is an odorless poisonous gas.
  • Night Light: We love that there’s a motion sensor night light on our Next Protect. It’s in the hallway between our bedroom and bathroom and lights the way for us.
  • Good in High Humidity: No smoke detector is immune from false alarms due to high humidity. But ionization detectors are the worst culprits. As this is only photoelectric (doesn’t use ionization), humidity false alarms are minimized. Further, they use their SteamCheck technology to minimize humidity false alarms by 50%.
  • Silence from the App: You can silence alarms using the app.

Keep in Mind:

  • Requires Google Login: If you don’t have a google login (or gmail), it’ll ask you to create one. Not a big deal as it’s free, but if you’re a person who hates google intruding on your life – steer clear.
  • No Ionization Detector: Smoke detectors operate either using photoelectric or ionization methods. Photoelectric is best for fast flaming fires. Ionization is best for slow smoldering fires. This detector operates using a ‘split-spectrum’ photoelectric sensor only. They claim this split-spectrum method is a sufficient replacement for ionization.
  • Doesn’t Play nice with Other Brands: Nest Protect may not play nice with other alarms in your home alarm network, even if they’re hardwired together.
  • Best as a Full Set: The Nest Protect detectors can communicate with one another, so you’ll only get the full functionality of this product when you replace all your alarms with Nest Protects. You can get a set of four here.

2. First Alert Onelink Alexa Enabled Smoke Detector

Quick Review: The main drawing card of this Smoke Detector is that you end up getting an Alexa in every room of your home. Another cool addition is that it plays music. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a battery option – only hardwire.

the alexa one link
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Benefits:

  • It’s Alexa Enabled: You can talk with this smart smoke detector. As it the weather, tell it to read you a book or get it to play your favorite music.
  • Photoelectric Smoke Detector System: Like the Nest Protect, the First Alert Onelink uses photoelectric smoke detection only. However, the Nest Protect runs a split-spectrum sensor, which I prefer.
  • Also Detects Carbon Monoxide: It is becoming industry standard for smoke detectors to also detect carbon monoxide, which is an odorless poisonous gas.
  • App Connected: Get alerts and check battery levels using the app, available for android and apple phones.
  • Silence from the App: You can silence alarms using the app.
  • Plays nice with Other Brands: If you already have hardwired smoke alarms in your house, you can gradually start introducing these Onelink alarms one at a time. Unlike the 2nd Gen Nest Protect, this Onelink plays nice with most other hardwired smoke detectors and brands.

Keep in Mind:

  • Requires Hard Wiring – No Battery Only Option: Take a look around your home and see if you have a hardwired smoke alarm network installed already. If not, you’ll need an electrician to hardwire the system for you.
  • No Voice Deactivation: Note that you cannot turn off an alarm by voice (First Alert claims this is due to legal regulations in the U.S).
  • The Speaker is Average: If you’re hoping to play amazing music from your smoke alarm, you’ll be disappointed. The speaker is average at best.
  • Nightlight Bug: If your alarm disconnects from wifi overnight, the nightlight brightness turns to full – which is a complete pain.
  • Backup Battery is not Replaceable: The 10-year backup battery (in case the hardwiring fails only) cannot be replaced.
  • No Ionization Detector: Smoke detectors operate either using photoelectric or ionization methods. Photoelectric is best for fast flaming fires. Ionization is best for slow smoldering fires. This detector operates using a photoelectric sensor only.

Buyers Guide and Comparison

App and Wifi Connection – Tie

Both the above detectors have app and Wifi connectivity. You can connect using Android and Apple phones. Both detectors will send you remote alerts.

Smoke Detection Features – Nest Protect Wins

The Nest Protect team has worked really hard to create a quality smoke detector. I love their SteamCheck technology that helps differentiate between smoke and steam / humidity. Their whitepaper on the SteamCheck technology claims that they reduced nuisance alarms by 50% in their in-house tests.

Alarm Interconnectivity – First Alert Onelink Wins

The First Alert Onelink plays nice with other alarms in your hardwired system. It will get alerts from them and detect when they have identified issues. The Nest Protect works best when you replace your whole home with Nest Protect alarms. 

Battery vs. Hardwiring – Nest Protect Wins

You may have noticed that both these smart systems offer a hardwired integrated smoke detector system around your home. You may already have the wiring in your own home (check your smoke alarms: are they battery operated or hardwired?)

If you do not want to retrofit a hardwire system into your home, you may prefer to stick with the battery option, only available with the Nest Protect (at the time of writing).

So with Nest Protect you get to choose, Onlink is only hardwired.

Final Thoughts

There are absolutely pros and cons to each of the above smart smoke detector systems. I went with the Google Nest Protect – and let’s be honest, I’m a Google fan. Others who are bigger fans of Alexa might prefer to go with the First Alert Onelink. It really is a matter of preference.

However, the two significant point of differentiation for me are:

  • Nest Protect’s smoke detection and nuisance alarm technology. They’ve done a great job with their split-sensor photoelectric system and SteamCheck technology, and it’s truly this that won me over to the Nest Protect.
  • Battery option. I don’t like fiddling with hardwiring. So, I got the battery version of the Nest Protect.

I hope this review and our research has helped you make a choice. Good luck and stay safe!

– Chris and Rosie.