Armchair Builder

Google and Your New Home

January 16th, 2014

Have you been wondering when the term “connected” would actually do something useful for your home?  As a home builder, I can honestly say I have been very skeptical of all the “smart home” talk up to now.  In my humble opinion, it’s mostly just hype that makes good conversation at the home and garden shows.  But in case you didn’t hear the big news this week, Google announced that it was purchasing Nest Labs, the inventors of the Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect fire/smoke detectors.  “So what” you say?  Well, with the money and technology capability of Google, this may just be the boost that we need to smarten up our homes.

Nest Thermostat

Maybe you have seen the Nest Thermostat in your local home improvement store.  It’s basically a smart thermostat that records your settings over time and then adjusts itself as it “learns” so you no longer need to make the adjustments.  According to the company, it’s a programmable thermostat that doesn’t need to be programmed.  You do what you’ve always done with your old manual thermostat and the Nest starts to anticipate what you want.  It’s kind of like the Tivo of your heating and cooling system.  In addition, it can be controlled by your cell phone.  So, if you’re coming home early and you want the heat turned up before you get there, you can do that from work or wherever you are.  This product retails for about $250 so you will be paying for the extra convenience versus a standard programmable T-stat that can go for as little as $25.

Nest Smoke Detectors

I’m definitely challenged when it comes to cooking.  I could build a house in the dark with my hands tied behind my back but something as simple as toast seems to escape my abilities.  This gives my home smoke detectors a serious workout on a regular basis.  So when I heard about a smart smoke detector, I was intrigued.  If this product works as described, could be the coolest product to be created for homes since the microwave oven.    We are constantly waving magazines, towels, and pot holders to get rid of the smoke and turn off the old screeching models in my home.  In comes the Nest Protect.  I can honestly say I haven’t tried one of these but the marketing intrigues me.  It will give you a heads-up when it detects smoke, saving you the ear piercing noise.  You can wave your hand in front of it to turn it off.  Some other interesting features according to the Nest website include…

  • Provides a night light which also serves as the notification that the batteries are still good
  • Voice prompts tell you which room is having a problem
  • Communicates with Wi-Fi to give updates on status through the Nest App
  • Sensor recognizes a quick rise in temperature and makes the unit more sensitive to smoke 
The Nest Protect is also quite expensive at about $130, versus $15 or so for a standard smoke detector.

Google and The Future

Are these current Nest products going to change the world?  Not at the moment.  But with Google’s tech ability, their unique way of thinking, and deep pockets, this could be the start of something really big.  Only time will tell.  For those of you that have used a Nest product, please send us an email at to let us know your thoughts.  And if you are thinking of  building a new home, be sure to stop by our E-Store for some awesome money saving resources.

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