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Late last night I was up on my stepladder, sticking glowy-stars to my bedroom ceiling, when my brand-new Nest Protect smoke and CO detector first flashed yellow, then turned red and started shrieking at me.

"Emergency, emergency," it said (yes, it talks). "There is smoke in the room."

The Next Protect smoke detector

So, because there patently was not smoke in the room, I pushed the big button. The voice said, "Alarm muted," and the Protect obediently went silent, but the big LED circle was still pulsing red.

My windows were open to the fresh night air. I switched on my brand new ceiling fan, then made an inspection. There was no source of combustion anywhere. No near neighbors were barbecuing, bonfire-ing, or getting royally toasted. My gas stove was off and there's no other source of carbon monoxide in or near the house.

The alarm started shrieking again. The voice calmly told me again that there was smoke. I hit the big button once more, then got out the instruction manual to find out how to disable the thing. All it said was to press the big button.

The cycle repeated twice and was clearly going to keep repeating. In between bouts of shrieking and calm-lady-voice telling me that life support failure was imminent and that Mal had better get the damn compression coil to the engine, I Googled for advice.

I'm not the only Protect early-adopter with false alarm problems, I was relieved to learn (because what if it wasn't a false alarm and I fell asleep and breathed carbon monoxide from god-knows-where and died????).

I found the installation manual, which let me reverse-engineer uninstalling it. I climbed the stepladder, pulled the Protect out from the wall, yanked out the power line, and climbed back down with it.

But the Protect, being a safety device, has battery backup. So now it started shrieking and saying, "This alarm cannot be muted." I'm not kidding. I stuffed it under my pillows while I frantically went in search of a small screwdriver to open the case.

I yanked out the batteries. It fell silent at last.

Turns out, approximately ten minutes after Nest sent me my Protect in April, they pulled the product off the market.

Its big selling point (to me and lots of other people) was that it had an excellent sorry-that-was-me-cooking-a-steak false alarm feature where you wave your hand in front of it and it shuts up, even before any actual smoke clears.

Seems there was a software glitch that could have allowed a real alarm to be accidentally silenced. They issued a patch (the device is internet-connected) to disable the wave-to-silence feature, but my experience last night suggests that the patch has also taught the Protect that there's no such thing as a false alarm. Ever. And that air is smoke, apparently.

There won't be any problem getting my money back, but I'm kind of bummed, because it was a really cool smoke detector.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 12th, 2014 08:52 pm (UTC)
Since getting out on my own I don't think I've lived in a place where the main smoke detector wasn't disabled within a few weeks of moving in due to it going off too often just due to basic cooking. One of these days someone will invent one that you can press a button for 'I acknowledge your alarm but there is no smoke right now, bother me again in an hour' or something like that.
May. 12th, 2014 09:01 pm (UTC)
And that is exactly what this one was designed to do, and was its big selling point (that, plus the internet connectivity, so that you can be alerted by smartphone if the alarm is going off when you're not at home).

I haven't had a working smoke detector in this house for probably ten years, so I've been living on the edge, baby. I was so delighted to be adding an actual hard-wired one that wouldn't require me to change out a stupid 9-volt battery twice a year when we change the clocks yadda-yadda.

I'm actually hoping the manufacturer can help me troubleshoot this one, because apart from it not working right, it's totally awesome. :D
May. 12th, 2014 09:47 pm (UTC)
Should I be laughing this hard? Not that I'm not sympathetic but this: my experience last night suggests that the patch has also taught the Protect that there's no such thing as a false alarm. Ever. And that air is smoke, apparently.

*cries with laughter*
May. 12th, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC)
IKR? Even as I was freaking out, I was laughing. Because that fucking Nazi of a smoke detector was having the last word till I ripped out its batteries and shoved them down its

I mean, put them on the shelf.

I'm (tentatively) happy to report that with slightly more attention and patience than I had last night, I've been able to read all directions, perform a couple of resets, get the damn thing talking to the internet (silently), and no longer mistaking air for smoke.

We shall see...
May. 12th, 2014 11:13 pm (UTC)

I'm sure it was the resets and not fear for its little plastic life. :D
May. 13th, 2014 01:22 am (UTC)
Its little plastic life. LOLOLOL
May. 13th, 2014 01:32 am (UTC)
life support failure was imminent and that Mal had better get the damn compression coil to the engine - LOL!

Loving the Continuing Adventures of Life post-career!
May. 13th, 2014 01:40 am (UTC)
As far as I could tell, English and Spanish were the only languages offered in the initial setup. Mandarin would have been kind of fun!
May. 14th, 2014 07:39 am (UTC)
Oh wow, you have a smoke alarm that talks! And also, you could un-install it all on your own! Whenever my non-talking alarm went crazy, I couldn't do more than turn it off, the rest I have to call tech support!
May. 14th, 2014 05:59 pm (UTC)
Well, the only way I could turn it off was to plug my ears and try to figure out how to yank it down off the wall and pull the wires out.

I did manage to get it re-set, and so far it's behaving as per spec, but I must admit that I'm still mistrusting of it.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )



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