Home Automation – The Electricity Strikes Back

Full disclosure, this should have been posted back in 2014. Alas there is so much time to do things with a 7 month old around the house and a full time job. Some time ago I posted about setting up the Nest Learning Thermostat and the hoops jumped through to get it up and working. Well, I decided to take the plunge and instead of paying someone smarter than me in the field of electricity, wire my own Nest Protects.

Everything that came in the Nest Protect boxes was pretty straight forward and I definitely recommend reading the installation manual before going solo on this. The box contained the Protect itself, the back panel that gets installed on the ceiling or wall, the black and white connector cables that hook into your houses wiring and 4 screws to install the back panel to the wall or ceiling if need be.

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I started by going down to the breaker panel in the laundry room in my house and determine those that would turn off the power to the old smoke detectors. This in itself was a task as the wiring in out home is all over the map. With nothing labeled correctly it was a challenge and I finally figured out that the one labels bottom stairs and basement lights (2 seperate breakers) turned off the smoke detector. After throwing these I found out it also turned off the upstairs kitchen, basement lights, hallway lights and laundry room lights.


Getting the old smoke detectors off was a breeze and getting the old wiring unscrewed from the electrical caps was easy as well. The thing that weirds me out about stuff like this is even though it is assumed the wires are not live I still believe I may be elctrocuted. Delicately seperating the wires away from easy other I followed the instructions that came with the Nest Protect before mounting them.


The first thing I did was remove the tag and pressed the Nest Protect center button once for english. After that I scanned the barcode on the back of the Protect in the Nest application on my phone. Once connected to the WiFi it was time to mount them. The back plate screw holes were too far from where my box was so I screwed in between the grate holes as seen in the image below. I assume this is safe but we will see if it holds in a year or two.


Once the back plate was on and the wires I so delecately seperated were pulled though I grabbed the wire connector that goes on the back of the Nest Protect and matched black wire with black wire and white with white. If you try this and your old smoke detector has a red wire you can just cap it as the Protect does not need this one. Once the wires were capped together I plugged it into the Protect and twisted it onto the back plate.


Once this was done I went downstairs and flipped the breakers so they were live and prayed for the best result. After not hearing any explosions from the wiring I had done I proceeded to set up the Protect. It needed to run a test to make sure everything was good. I clicked the center button to tell it can proceed and the below video was the result.

With this done I checked the Nest application and my Nest Protects were all good to go with Green beside both indicating they have power and no smoke or CO was detected. One of the cool things about these is the Nest Protect Path light which will light the way when you pass near it. The center light that indicates problems will illuminate a white light to make the area it is in a little brighter.

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I assume now that I have installed electronics in my house that need a 120v charge from a breaker box I can consider myself a master electrician. I am not sure where I can get the certification from but I am sure it won’t be hard to get :).