(Pocket-lint) - Smoke alarms are generally something we install then forget about. Yet these devices are essential to the safety of our homes and potentially, our lives. Smart smoke alarms are the latest in a long line of intelligent devices designed to make our lives easier and safer too. 

These devices monitor themselves to ensure they don't run out of battery when you need them most. They also keep you up-to-date with alerts right to your phone, so even if you aren't home you'll know if there's something wrong. 

If you're considering upgrading your smoke detectors, then there are a few options, the most interesting of which are the Netatmo smart smoke alarm and Nest Protect. We've got the info you need on the differences between the two devices and which you should buy. 

Installation and usability

  • Netatmo smart smoke alarm: Multi-room installation options, WiFi connection, easy installation process, 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz WiFi connection
  • Nest Protect: Connects to Nest app, available in battery powered and wired versions, 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz WiFi connection

Netatmo smart smoke alarm is a battery powered alarm that can be easily installed in your home. It can replace your current battery-powered smoke alarm or be installed anywhere in your home with ease. An easy install backplate makes this smoke alarm a simple plug and play affair. Screw the backplate into your ceiling and attach the smoke alarm and you're away. 

The Netatmo smart smoke alarm then connects to your home WiFi via the accompanying app for Android or Apple devices.

Nest Protect also works with your home WiFi and is simple to add your home via the Nest app available for Android and Apple devices. This smart smoke alarm comes in both wired and battery-powered variants giving you the freedom to choose the right one for your home. 

Like the Netatmo smart smoke alarm, the battery-powered version of Nest Protect is easy to install. You only need a couple of screws in the ceiling to hold the backplate in place, then the device itself can simply be slotted in. The wired version requires mains power, so maybe a bit more difficult to install unless you're replacing a smoke alarm that's already wired in. Nest offers a professional installation service to help though. 

Both these smart smoke alarms can be silenced from the device with a simple press - just like your standard smoke alarm, but you can also turn the alarms off from the apps too. 

Design features 

  • Nest Protect: 6-RGB colour light ring including a nightlight, split-spectrum sensors to identify fast and slow burning fires
  • Netatmo smart smoke alarm: Integrated LED light, automatic self-check systems

The Netatmo smart smoke alarm features an unobtrusive white design. There are no obvious buttons, but the entire unit can be pressed to silence alarms if you don't have access to your phone. This smart device includes an LED status light to let you know it's functioning ok.

It also has a self-check system that automatically monitors its own battery, smoke detection sensor and Wi-Fi connection regularly. All these updates and any alarms notifications get sent right to your phone. 

Nest Protect's design includes a multi-colour lighting ring which a multitude of uses. When you turn the lights off at night, the ring lights up green briefly to let you know everything is ok. If you get up in the night to pop to the bathroom, the ring doubles as a nightlight lighting your path. When smoke is detected, a yellow ring indicates a heads-up warning and a red ring warns of emergency problems. 

Both devices send alerts to your phone when problems are detected. It's recommended to install several alarms throughout your home to get specific alerts so you know where the problem is happening. A notification that a fire has broken out in the kitchen, for example, will be useful in an emergency when you need to know how to deal with the situation or the best way to evacuate. 

Battery life

  • Netatmo smart smoke alarm: Built-in 10-year battery with self-test functionality
  • Nest Protect: Powered by six long-life AA batteries or wired into the mains 

The Netatmo smart smoke alarm is built to last. Smoke alarm manufacturers recommend replacing the batteries regularly in your device, but this smart smoke alarm is designed to go one better. A built-in battery in this smoke alarm ensures it will last and last until it needs to be replaced. That might be one downside as the device itself needs to be fully replaced once the decade is up. 

Nest Protect is either powered by six long-life AA batteries or wired directly into your mains electricity supply. Nest say the long-life batteries should last five years. The company also recommends replacing the smoke alarms every 10 years.

Alarm sounds and notifications

  • Netatmo smart smoke alarm: 85dB alarm siren and real-time smartphone alerts, photoelectric smoke sensor
  • Nest Protect: 85dB siren, 2-watt speaker 10-year carbon monoxide sensor, built-in microphone for testing, a humidity sensor to prevent false alarms

Netatmo smart smoke alarm uses a photoelectric smoke sensor to detect problems in the home. Its capable of sending smart alerts directly to your phone when a problem is sensed to let you know where there's an issue. 

Nest Protect is capable of detecting both smoke from fires and problems with carbon monoxide (CO) too. Nest Protect's design includes a humidity sensor to help prevent false alarms by differentiating between steam and smoke.

It also has different alarms depending on the situation - a heads-up siren that will alert you if a little smoke from burnt toast is detected and a full emergency alarm for fires. 

Nest Protect is also capable of self-monitoring. This smart smoke alarm checks its own batteries and sensors over 400 times a day. With a built-in microphone, it can also check the alarm is still working itself. Ensuring it's always capable of letting you know when there's an emergency in the home. 

Both devices have an 85dB alarm siren - loud enough to alert anyone in the home of a problem that needs attention. If you're not home, the smart alerts come directly to your smartphone will tell you when and where there's a problem. False alarms can easily be silenced from within the apps too. 

Smart compatibility

  • Netatmo smart smoke alarm: Works with Apple HomeKit and IFTTT. Smartphone app and Netatmo Webapp on Mac/PC, support for Bluetooth LE devices
  • Nest Protect: Support for Bluetooth LE, IFTTT compatible

As well as working with your smartphone, the Netatmo smart smoke alarm is also compatible with IFTTT and Apple HomeKit. This means you have some flexibility with your setup that includes clever tricks like getting your Philips Hue lights to flash red when a smoke alarm is active. 

Nest Protect is IFTTT capable too

Conclusion and pricing

On the face of it, both devices offer similar specifications and features. Both the Netatmo smart smoke alarm and Nest Protect have an 85dB siren and are capable of alerting you in real-time to fires in your home directly on your phone. 

Nest Protect has a slight edge in that it offers carbon monoxide sensors as well as standard smoke detection capabilities. Other highlights to this device include simple things like the nightlight functionality. 

The Netatmo smart smoke alarm is slightly cheaper though, so if you're planning on fitting out your entire home, this might be the more affordable option. 

Writing by Adrian Willings.