(Pocket-lint) - The Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm is a clever smart alarm which, when paired with the app, can be easily used and monitored wherever you are.
Smart smoke alarms are nothing new, but a combination of Internet-of-Things (IoT) and home security tech makes plenty of sense. A smart smoke alarm gives you peace of mind knowing your family and things are protected all the time wherever you are.
Is the expense worthwhile though? Or are you better off with a traditional 'dumb' smoke alarm? We've been living with the Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm to find out.
Design features and setup
- Integrated LED light
- Automatic self-check systems
- Built-in 10-year battery with self-test functionality
- 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz WiFi connection
The Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm features an unobtrusive white design. There are no buttons or over-the-top design quirks here. A small LED shows when there's an issue or when the alarm is ready to pair, but otherwise, it's subtly designed.
The instructions say to mount and install the smoke alarm before connecting it to the app. We prefer to prepare things before installing as you don't want to put the smoke alarm up only to find it has no Wi-Fi signal where you've placed it. As it's the connecting of the alarm to its backplate that powers the device, however, this is why Netatmo suggests such an install. However, there's a clip to allow you to remove it if necessary – which meant we could setup and test properly before installing on the ceiling.
Installation requires a drill, ladder and other sensible equipment. The process is fairly straightforward though. Find and measure the right spot, drill and screw the backplate in, then click the device in you're away.
Since it's battery powered, there's no fussing with dangerous electrical wires. But this alarm will also be easy to replace in 10 years time, when the batteries are low. Built-in, long-life batteries ensure a lifetime's worth of use from this smart smoke alarm. Manufacturers and Governments recommend replacing smoke alarms every 10 years and Netatmo is no different. It's not like the Nest Protect, however, which has replaceable batteries.
Once the Netatmo's installation is complete, the app then connects the smoke alarm to your home Wi-Fi network and guides you through the process. Communication between your phone and the smart smoke alarm is handled via a Bluetooth LE connection, so your Bluetooth needs to be on during use. Especially if you're testing or trying to check everything is working as it should be.
An oddity of the Netatmo setup is the way the apps work. Whereas Nest Protect connects within the Nest app, alongside cameras and the company's thermostat, the Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm requires Netatmo's Security App – which is otherwise solely for its camera products.
This app is available for both Apple iOS and Android devices. There's also a webapp that allows you to view the smart smoke alarm remotely. Netatmo has multiple apps for its different devices, which is a bit of a confusing user experience in our mind.
For monitoring and using the Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm it's relatively straight-forward. The settings of the app allow you to see the device's history – when alarms have been triggered, when tests were carried out, when the alarm was hushed and whether it's connected to the Wi-Fi or not.
When an alarm sounds you receive a push notification on your phone and more information within the app. If you have multiple devices – which the company recommends you do – then you'll be notified as to where the alarm sounded and when.
The app allows you to carry out sound and siren tests and even setup reminders to manually test monthly, annually and biannually during its lifetime. This self-testing and manual testing logic ensures you have peace of mind that the smoke alarm is always functioning as expected.
Sensors and sirens
- 85dB alarm siren
- Real-time smartphone alerts
- Photoelectric smoke sensor
The Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm uses a photoelectric smoke sensor to detect fires and problems with smoke in the home. It does not have the sensors to alert you to issues with carbon monoxide, but is capable of distinguishing between minor smoke issues and full-blown fires.
Of course, alerts are sent to your phone when a problem is detected, but the 85dB siren will also sound when smoke is detected like any standard smoke alarm.
We tested the Netatmo with a can of professional smoke alarm tester. It almost immediately sprung to life with a shrill and attention-grabbing siren. This is certainly an ear-piercing siren. Getting real-time notifications on your phone means you'll also get the message even if you aren't home.
We installed the Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm in the downstairs hallway just outside the kitchen. Despite this placement the alarm didn't unnecessarily sound when food was left under the grill and there was a whisper of smoke – it needs to be more than that.
As we've mentioned, this smart smoke alarm seems to require Bluetooth in order to send data to your phone. It connects to Wi-Fi but uses Bluetooth to send history and alerts to your phone. Without Bluetooth turned on, you don't get the full picture at least not instantly. The smoke alarm will function without it though. This is a power saving move, so the smart smoke alarm doesn't need to be connected to WiFi constantly, but will connect and send alerts if and when smoke is detected.
We had occasional issues where the smoke alarm would disconnect from the Wi-Fi after being activated and then needed to be manually reconnected within the app. These were intermittent issues though.
When a siren does sound, you can silence it easily within the app. This silencing is known as 'hushing' as it will silence the alarm for 15 minutes. The alarm will still sound again after that time if smoke is detected. This gives you time to air the house out if there's been, say, food burning that has set the alarm off.
This is one of the benefits of a smart smoke alarm system – no more battling with a ceiling mounted box to remove the batteries on a device that's constantly going off during a false alarm.
Other smart intelligence
- Compatible with IFTTT and Apple HomeKit
- Bluetooth LE support
The Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm is compatible with IFTTT, which allows you to link it with other smart devices in your home. There are several things you can do with this pairing. For example: if an alarm is sounded, you can use this recipe to set all the Philips Hue lights in your home to red.
Something simple like this means you can tie-in the Netatmo smart smoke with other intelligent products in your home. If all the lights are flashing red, it'll be easy to see there's a problem even if you can't hear the alarm.
This smart smoke alarm is also compatible with Apple Homekit, meaning you can easily connect your devices to this system and manage everything from one place.
The Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm is an interesting smart home device. It's certainly more capable than your average smoke alarm and there's something to be said for having an alarm that can test itself. Alerts on your phone, as well as pairing with IFTTT and Apple HomeKit, make the Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm extra flexible.
If you already have Netatmo products or are looking to splash out on multiple devices to cover several rooms in your home, then this is a great option. Occasional connectivity issues aside, the Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm is a great bit of kit that only alerts you when it should.
Built-in long-lasting batteries, regular self-testing and a status view right on your smartphone are all reassuring design features of an already brilliant security device.
Netatmo has recently been acquired by Legrand, the French market leader in electrics and building. Future products may well be seen installed in new homes as standard, which could be interesting.
If you're looking for something all-singing, all-dancing, then Nest Protect is it. This smart smoke alarm features a multitude of sensors and is capable of monitoring for both fires and carbon monoxide problems. It also has an RGB lighting system which doubles as a handy nightlight as well as offering a heads-up to what's happening. We also like the way Nest Protect ties in with other Nest products – like being able to turn off your heating if carbon monoxide is detected (if you have Nest Thermostat).