How to Install a Nest Camera

A new Nest Cam security camera can be installed inside or outside of your home, depending on the camera model. The Nest Cam Outdoor and IQ Outdoor cameras are designed for outdoor installation but also can be used indoors. The Nest Cam Indoor and IQ Indoor cameras must be installed indoors. Whatever camera model you choose, the basic process involves three main steps:

  1. Setting up the camera through the Nest app
  2. Choosing a location for the camera
  3. Installing the camera

All Nest Cam cameras use a power cord that must plug into a nearby electrical outlet, and you can use an extension cord, if necessary. The camera streams video via WiFi, so it's important to test the video quality at your chosen camera location before installing the camera. If you have any questions along the way, the Nest app includes an installation guide for each camera model.

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor camera
credit: nest
Nest cameras designed for outdoor use can also be used for indoor locations, but indoor cameras are suitable only for indoor use.s

Things You'll Need

  • Drill-driver with screwdriver bit

  • 1/2-inch drill bit

  • 3/32-inch drill bit

  • Pencil

  • Exterior caulk

Nest camera exploded.
credit: Nest
Except for a power source, no wires are necessary. A Nest camera streams its video through wireless technology.

How to Install a Nest Cam Indoor or IQ Indoor Camera

Both indoor camera models include stands so they can be set on any horizontal surface. They can also be mounted to a wall or ceiling, using an included mounting plate. Additionally, the IQ Indoor model can be mounted to any compatible tripod, while the Indoor model can be stuck to any metal surface, using its strong, built-in magnet.

Step 1 Set Up the Camera

You must have the Nest app installed on your smartphone to set up the Nest camera. Be sure to use the same Wi-Fi network for both the camera and the phone.

  1. Plug the camera power cord into the Nest camera and a wall outlet. The camera should turn on.
  2. Open the Nest app, then select Settings.
  3. Select Add Product.
  4. Scan the camera's QR code, using your phone.
  5. Write down the camera's serial number and entry key; these are helpful for troubleshooting
  6. Enter a location name for the camera; for example, "Nursery" or "Front Entry."

Step 2 Test the Camera’s Video

Plug in your camera, then place or hold it in the desired installation location to make sure the video works. Use the Nest app to test the video signal. If the video comes through clearly, you can proceed with the installation. If there is no video, experiment with different camera locations until the video is satisfactory. You probably need to move the camera closer to your Wi-Fi device, but it might not take much.

Step 3 Mount the Camera

If you're placing the camera on a horizontal surface (using the stand) or are mounting a Nest Indoor Cam to a metal surface (using the magnet), the installation is done, and you're ready to start using the camera.

To mount the camera to a wall or ceiling, hold the mounting plate against the surface in the desired location and drive the three provided screws through the slots in the plate, using a drill-driver. The screws are self-tapping and shouldn't need pilot holes or wall anchors. Tighten the screws until they are just snug, being careful not to over-tighten and strip the screws.

If the surface is brick, concrete or block, drill a pilot hole with a masonry bit, and install a masonry anchor for each screw, then mount the plate with the provided screws.

How to Install a Nest Cam Outdoor or IQ Outdoor Camera

The basic installation of the Nest Cam Outdoor and IQ Outdoor cameras are similar to that used indoors. However, the Outdoor model can plug into an outdoor or indoor electrical outlet, while the IQ model must plug into an indoor outlet. Also, the power cord on the Outdoor model includes a power adapter that must be mounted to a wall. The IQ Outdoor model's cord does not have such an adapter.

Adapter kit for Nest camera
credit: Nest
An adapter kit makes it easy to plug a wall-mounted exterior camera to an existing power outlet

Step 1 Set Up the Camera

You must have the Nest app installed on your smartphone to set up the camera. Be sure to use the same Wi-Fi network for both the camera and the phone.

  • Plug the power cord into the camera and into an indoor wall outlet. The camera should turn on.
  • Open the Nest app, then select Settings.
  • Select Add Product.
  • Scan the camera's QR code, using your phone.
  • Write down the camera's serial number and entry key; these are helpful for troubleshooting.
  • Enter a location name for the camera; for example, "Front Door" or "Garage."
  • Confirm that the video stream is working, using your phone.

Step 2 Test the Camera Location

Test the video streaming at the desired outdoor location before drilling any holes or mounting the camera permanently.

  1. Take the camera outside and plug it into a nearby outdoor outlet.
  2. Hold the camera in the exact location where you would like to install it.
  3. Test the camera's video streaming on your phone. If the video works, you can proceed to the camera installation. If the video is not working, experiment with different locations until the video is satisfactory. Start with nearby locations; you may not have to move it far to get it to work.

Tips

Nest outdoor cameras are weatherproof and can be installed in exposed areas, but to prevent rain, snow or direct sun from affecting the camera's view, it's best to locate it under an eave overhang or porch roof, whenever possible. If you want to see the faces of visitors at the door (and to speak to those visitors), place the camera 7 to 10 feet above the ground, above or just to the side of the door.

Step 3 Route the Power Cord

The power cord for a Nest Cam Outdoor model can stay entirely outdoors if the cord is long enough to reach an outdoor outlet. If you want to run the cord indoors, or if you have an IQ Outdoor model, you can drill a hole in the exterior wall to route the cable through, or use an existing opening, such as an attic air vent. With an IQ Outdoor model, you have the option of locating the hole behind the camera base so the cord and hole are hidden when the camera is installed.

Confirm the best route for the power cable, including the access hole location for the power cord, as applicable. Drill a 1/2-inch hole through the exterior wall and interior wall surface, using a drill-driver and a 1/2-inch bit. If the house wall is masonry, use a masonry bit.

Step 4 Mount the Camera Base

The Nest Cam Outdoor model has a magnetic base that can simply stick to an outdoor metal surface, or you can mount the camera to a wood or masonry wall with a different mounting plate. The Outdoor model also includes a separate mounting plate for the power adapter. The IQ Outdoor camera must be mounted with a plate and does not have an adapter.

To mount an Outdoor or Outdoor IQ camera base to a wood or masonry wall:

  1. Hold the mounting plate against the wall and mark through the screw holes with a pencil.
  2. Drill pilot holes at the marks, using a 3/32-inch bit. If the surface is masonry, drill larger pilot holes, using a masonry bit, and install masonry anchors in the holes.
  3. Apply a bead of exterior caulk to the perimeter of the mounting plate, along its back side, leaving a small gap at the bottom for moisture to drain out.
  4. Position the plate on the surface and secure it with the provided screws.
  5. Install the adapter plate (for Outdoor models only), using the single provided screw; use an anchor for masonry walls.
Phone showing security camera image.
credit: Nest
Once installed and set up, the Nest camera can be monitored from a smart phone or tablet device.

Step 5 Complete the Installation

Once the installation is complete, you can paint the power cord, if desired, but do not paint the camera unit or the power adapter (Outdoor model only).

  1. Feed the power cable through the access hole from the inside of the wall.
  2. Plug the power cable into the camera.
  3. Fit the camera onto the base: The Outdoor model attaches to the base with a magnet; the IQ Outdoor model clicks into its base.
  4. Fit the power cable adapter onto its mounting plate (Outdoor model only).
  5. Secure the power cable to the exterior and/or interior wall or ceiling surfaces, as needed, using the provided cable clips.
  6. Seal the cable access hole with exterior caulk, as applicable.
  7. Plug the power cable into the interior or exterior wall outlet.

Philip Schmidt

Philip Schmidt

Philip Schmidt is author of Install Your Own Solar Panels, The Complete Guide to Treehouses, and 18 other home-related how-to books. A former carpenter, he has been a full-time writer and editor for over two decades, teaching DIYers about houses and everything we do with them.