Nest is Recalling More Than 400k Protect Smoke Alarms (Updated)

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

A little more than a month after Nest announced it would halt the sale of its Protect smoke and CO alarm, the company has announced the official recall of every alarm sold thusfar. A report filed on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website announced the recall.

The safety issue is the same one that triggered Nest to stop selling new Protects in April: Nest Wave, an algorithm that allows users to "wave to hush" some alarms and tests. It was one of the coolest design details of Protect, sadly—the fact that, rather than getting up on a chair and hitting your smoke alarm with a broom to turn off a false alarm, you could simply wave at it and its embedded motion sensor would silence the noise.

But that awesome feature is also potentially dangerous. Let's say there's a real fire in your kitchen: As you're rushing to leave, Protect could theoretically interpret your movement as a "hush," and silence the alarm. In other words, functionality designed to stop false alarms could actually shut off a real, life-saving alarm.

So far, Nest hasn't received any reports of this scenario actually occurring—no one has been hurt, and no damage has been inflicted on homes because of the mistake. Still, the company is playing it safe, recalling all of the Protects sold so far. If you prefer to keep your system, though, there's an easy fix: Nest has already pushed out a software update that disables the Wave algorithm for existing users (here's how to make sure it works).

It seems that Protect's cleverest functionality is also its achilles' heel. Learn more about how to return or update your Protect here.

Update: Nest has passed along a statement about today's news: "The CPSC press release issued today refers to the same corrective action referenced in our April Safety Notice from the CEO, and in fact, we'll be bringing Nest Protect back on the market soon. We have been working with CPSC and they have approved our corrective action as previously announced."

Update 2: Speaking yesterday to the Guardian, Nest expanded on reassurances for owners of Nest alarms:

"Nothing has changed since our initial announcement last month," a spokesman said, "and in fact, we'll be bringing Nest Protect back on the market in a few weeks."
"Current customers can continue to use their Nest Protects once the Nest Wave feature has been disabled via software update. Even with the Wave feature disabled, the Nest Protect Alarm will continue to perform its essential safety functions, monitoring for increased levels of smoke and [carbon monoxide], and alerting users via voice alerts and Nest app alerts (if set up) as soon as there is a potential issue."
Although the CPSC release describes Nest's decision as a "recall", the body of the document refers to the same software update. "Consumers who have not connected their Nest Protect devices to their wireless network and linked them to a Nest account should immediately do so," it instructs.