How to Set Up and Install the Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm

If you want to add a bit more convenience and safety to your home’s smoke alarm setup, the Nest Protect comes with a handful of great features to make that a reality. Here’s how to set it up and what all you can do with it.

If you’re not familiar with the Nest Protect (or smart smoke alarms in general), they act like any other regular smoke alarm, but they also connect to your Wi-Fi network in order to send you alerts on your phone if you’re away from home. You can also silence the alarm without having to find a step stool to silence it on the alarm itself.

Smart smoke alarms, like the Nest Protect, can also be linked together wirelessly. So if one alarm goes off, all the others in the house do too, which is great for larger homes where you may not be able to hear a certain alarm from across the house.

In any case, if you’re thinking about grabbing the Nest Protect, or already have one and want to know how to install it and set it up, just follow along below!

Step One: Set Up the Nest Protect Using the Nest App

Before actually installing the Nest Protect on your ceiling or wall, it’s much easier to set it up first while you have it right in front of you. So the first thing you’ll want to do is unbox it and fire up the Nest app on your phone. If this your first Nest product, you’ll want to download the app (for iPhone and Android) and create an account.

Once you’re up and running with the app, open it up and tap the big plus button on the main screen. If you already have the app and some Nest products set up, swipe down and tap the plus button in the top-right corner of the screen.

Scroll down and select “Add Product” toward the bottom.

Next, you can either scan the QR code on the back of the Nest Protect, or type in its code manually.

Follow along in the app to set up your Nest Protect, which should only take a few minutes. Keep in mind, though, that it will need to test the alarm, so make sure you’re prepared to hear some loud beeping for a few seconds during the setup process.

Once your Nest Protect is set up, it’s good to go and will begin to monitor for smoke and carbon monoxide. At this point, you’re ready to install it.

Step Two: Install the Nest Protect

The Nest Protect is similar to most other smoke alarms when it comes to installation—you screw a mounting plate to the wall or ceiling, and then affix the Nest Protect to the mounting plate.

Start by grabbing the mounting plate and, with the black foam ring facing outward, screw the plate into the wall or ceiling using a power drill. If you want the Nest Protect to face right side up and perfectly straight, make sure the Nest logo on the mounting plate is oriented to the upper left with the screw holes forming a cross straight up and straight across (like in the image below). You also may have to drill pilot holes first if you’re driving into a stud, but for just drywall you can drive in the screws without trouble.

Once the plate is installed, all you have to do is line up the notches with the notches on the Nest Protect, making sure that you first position the Nest Protect so that the top of the logo is pointing to the left and slightly down, just light in the picture below. From there, push it on, and then twist it clockwise about a quarter of a turn until it stops.

Your Nest Protect is all ready to go at this point, but there are still some things you should do to finalize the set up.

Step Three: Customize the Settings

Overall, the Nest Protect is a pretty boring device, and you shouldn’t have to mess with it too often (hopefully never, but the world isn’t perfect). However, whenever you do need to use it, it’s a good idea to have your settings are optimized and customized for you.

You can access the Nest Protect’s settings in the Nest app by selecting it and then tapping the settings gear icon in the top-right corner of the screen.

There are several things you can mess around with. You can change the time of day you want “Sound Check” to occur, which is just a quick sequence that tests the alarm, power, and connection every month. You can also disable “Silencing Alarms” if you want, which gets rid of the convenience of silencing the alarm from your phone, forcing you to do it on the device itself.

By tapping your specific Nest Protect at the bottom of the list, you can access more settings. Here’s a quick rundown of what each selection offers.

  • Pathlight: This is a small nightlight built into the Nest Protect that can light up at night whenever it detects motion, allowing to walk down your hallway without having to turn a light on.
  • Nightly Promise: This is a feature that makes your Nest Protect glow green for a few seconds whenever you turn your lights off, letting you know that it’s working properly.
  • Steam Check: When enabled, the Nest Protect tries to keep false alarms to a minimum whenever it detects steam from a nearby shower.
  • Heads-Up: This feature gives you a gentler warning first when it detects that smoke levels or CO levels are rising.
  • Brightness: This setting adjusts the brightness of the LED glow ring for the Pathlight and Nightly Promise features.

All of the above settings are turned on by default, so make sure to go in and turn off any of the features that you don’t want to use.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.