When you think of smart home devices, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. That doesn’t mean these devices aren’t important and shouldn’t be integrated into your automated home. You always want to be notified if smoke or carbon monoxide is an issue in your home, and sometimes you aren’t in your home when this occurs.
For a while, the Nest Protect was the only smoke and carbon monoxide detector on the market to speak of. There wasn’t a whole lot of competition for this device until recently, so Nest was simply doing what it could to improve upon a solid device.
Recently, however, OneLink launched its First Alert Wifi Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detector, providing a worthy adversary for the Nest Protect. For quite the Nest Protect has been the gold stand for wifi carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. OneLink, however, is the first of its kind to offer HomeKit compatibility, so it’ll be interesting to see how these two stack up against one another.
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For both the Nest Protect and the First Alert OneLink, setup is a simple and straightforward process. To mount the Nest Protect you need to find four self-tapping screws. These types of screws are handy to have so you don’t have to worry about doing any drilling. Just screw the base of the Protect into the ceiling or wall and you’re finished. That’s it.
By comparison, the OneLink requires drilling a couple of holes into the ceiling. While this in and of itself isn’t too difficult, it may require some additional tools that people may not have at their disposal.
Just like the hardware, software with each device is a breeze. Something to note with the OneLink is that you’ll have to set up your HomeKit home if you don’t already have one. If they don’t already exist, you’ll need to establish your Home and Work locations, along with telling the OneLink the name of the room in which it is being installed.
The Nest Protect will support multiple locations as well, however, since it cannot integrate with HomeKit at this time, you will be unable to use voice commands. With both the OneLink and Nest Protect, you do have the option of using both a sound and voice test for validation during the setup process.
Software and Hardware
Both the Nest Protect and the Onelink use batteries, however, their approaches vary from one another. Nest states that with its Protect device you should receive several years worth of battery life, with the expected lifespan to be around five years.
Almost six months before the battery is completely drained, you’ll receive a notification alerting you to the fact that it is time to replace them. Swapping out the batteries is easy enough as you just need to purchase six AA batteries, open the device and replace the old ones with the new ones.
The Protect’s counterpart, however, boasts that you should be able to get nearly ten years out of its battery. The problem is that the battery contained within the OneLink device cannot be changed. The thinking behind this is that the whole unit will need to be replaced anyway since newer and better technology will be available, so why bother with a replaceable battery.
Both devices offer internal hardware sensors that are designed to last for up to ten years. That means that while you do have to replace the batteries within the Nest, that should be the extent of it. On the other hand, if the OneLink needs to be replaced prior to the ten years the company brags about, the cost of ownership goes up. The ability to replace the batteries in the Nest does give it a leg up on the OneLink.
Whether you go with the OneLink or the Nest Protect, you’ll have the option to hard wire the device into an already existing system. While most homes today will offer only a wireless option, it’s nice to know that if your smoke alarm needs to be hard wired, you have that option.
The Nest Protect is significantly heavier than the OneLink, however, that’s primarily due to the fact that it’s the smaller of the two, which makes it considerably denser. While neither device is unappealing, it’s easy to see that the Nest Protect holds up to Nest standards as it offers the same sleek and stylish design the Nest Thermostat offers.
You’ll find that both devices have a ring of LEDs that glow different colors. These colors are indicators that let you know what is going on within your home. They signal syncing status, various alarms, and additional matters. If it matters, the Nest has an LED that is a little brighter than the OneLink, however, both are plenty bright enough to alert you to any problems.
OneLink offers a handy night-light feature that illuminates the area around it, however, this functionality only works if the device is hard-wired. The Nest Protect offers a pathway light feature that works even with its wireless unit. Keep in mind that using this feature frequently will quickly drain the battery, so try not to use it too often.
The Nest Protect does offer greater control at the granular level than does the OneLink. You’ll get more features, options, and settings with the Protect. Once nice feature is that the Nest Protect has the ability to integrate with other Nest devices like the Nest Thermostat and the Nest Cam.
The OneLink ecosystem is fairly new though, as is the HomeKit platform, so as it continues to grow and expand, you might see the differences in the two systems begin to dwindle. That being said, as of this moment, your best choice is the Nest Protect.
Alarms and Sounds
The Nest Protect and OneLink devices are both very loud. There is, however, a difference in the quality of the voices and the way they sound. Both devices offer a unique sound so you can differentiate between carbon monoxide detection and smoke. You can test these alarms during installation if you want to know what they sound like.
In each instance, the device will alert you to its location as it calls out the alarm. If you have more than one sensor in multiple locations, this is especially handy since it will alert you to the exact spot where the trouble originated.
The Nest Protect is easy to hear and understand. Each word is clear and concise which makes locating the device much easier. By comparison, the OneLink is difficult to make out as the words sound crunched together and the voice is deeper than the one with the Nest Protect.
OneLink does make up for it though. When the alarm sounds, you can hear the alarm throughout the house, even if you can’t make out what’s it saying. The Nest Protect, however, is difficult to hear even though it might only be on the next floor.
As for the actual alarms themselves, the OneLink noise sounds more like a buzzer, whereas the Nest Protect sounds more like a beeping sound. The OneLink device does put off a deeper sound for both its smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector alarms. Even though it’s not as loud as one might hope, it’s plenty loud enough to wake you up if you happen to be asleep.
On the other hand, the Nest Protect emits a higher pitched sound, which is better at both waking you up and hearing from a distance. The alarms for both devices do a great job, with the OneLink voice being louder and the Nest Protect alarm performing better at a distance.
In the event that smoke alarm does go off, you’ll notice a few differences in the way the two devices handle such an occurrence. The OneLink relies on Bluetooth, then switches over to wifi only if it needs to notify you of the alarm through the OneLink cloud service. Unfortunately, this does create about a 60 second lag in the time it takes for you to get the alert.
That being said, the Nest Protect takes between 30 to 45 seconds to send an alarm, so there’s no point in being nitpicky over 15 seconds. The reality is that while it’s nice to receive a remote alert, they aren’t as important as the local ones. If you’re in the house, you need to know what’s going on as soon as possible.
One last feature the Nest Protect provides that the OneLink does not is when the device flashes a yellow pre-warning alert. This lets you know that smoke is building up in the home so you can do something about it before the alarm goes off. This is a great feature if your smoke detector is placed close to your kitchen or any other areas you might prepare food.
Nest vs. Siri
Not only are these devices fantastic smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with wifi capabilities, they have integration abilities as well. The Nest Protect, for instance, is part of an already expansive ecosystem. You can use other devices already within the established Works with Nest network, and you can easily integrate with other IFTTT (If This Then That) features as well.
For instance, you can use both Philips Hue and Lutron Caseta smart lighting and light bulbs with your Nest Protect. If the Protect identifies an alarm it has the ability to automatically launch your Nest Cam and begin a recording session while turning on your lights so you can find your way outside.
It’s this type of functionality that makes the Nest Protect a good choice. That and the fact that Nest continues to add devices to its already extensive list of components that “Work with Nest.”
In comparison, OneLink is hopping on board the HomeKit platform. The system is new and still growing, but Apple has done a great job of creating an ecosystem that given time will rival that of smart home systems like Works with Nest and SmartThings.
Similar to the Nest Protect, you can use HomeKit with OneLink to get the same type of smart light automation, however, it does require a little more effort. You need to ensure that the lights you select are compatible with HomeKit, and then you’ll have to create a scene that will trigger the lights in the event of an emergency.
While the lights will work with the HomeKit system, the amount of time it takes for the lights to turn on pales in comparison to the Works with Nest system. It takes a solid two minutes for the platform to turn on the lights after the audible alert had already been sounding. While it’s not ideal, HomeKit is always making improvements to its ecosystem, and it will only be a matter of time before this is no longer an issue.
It’s not difficult to say that the Nest Protect outperforms the OneKit when it comes to platform robustness and system integration. The HomeKit system works with OneLink, just not as quickly or easily as a user might like. Additionally, the process with OneLink is more involved and less reliable. Thanks to its reliability and simplicity, the Nest Protect is the clear victor in this department.
|Model||2nd Generation Protect||First Alert|
|Battery Life||Multi-year||10 years|
|Integration||Works with Nest||HomeKit enabled|
Depending on how far you are into developing your smart home system, you might have a choice to make between these two smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Both the Nest Protect and OneLink are solid devices with similar features. Of course, they have their differences, but they aren’t really enough to set them apart from one another.
If you look at the devices as simply a basic detector/alarm, you’d be hard pressed to say that one is better than the other. But if you take the smart features into account, then it’s easy to see that the more reliable and robust device is the Nest Protect. It’s simply the better buy with a cleaner look, more integrations, and a bigger ecosystem.
However, if Apple is your thing, then it might be worth it for you to invest in a OneLink device. If you haven’t built up your smart home yet, and HomeKit is the platform you want to use, then the OneLink is a great device to get you started.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!