Nest Cam – Great Addition to your Home Security Platform

DIY home and business security is all the rage these days. I’ve previously written about Abode and what they can do to help you secure your home. Though they have some basic cameras that integrate well with their systems, I feel that there is room for improvement, which is where Nest Cam can step in and help. If you don’t have a security system, that’s nothing to worry about – these cameras operate perfectly on their own.

I’ve personally used Nest cameras for a couple of years, just after Nest was purchased by Google, and am running both the indoor and outdoor versions. The simplicity of their app, and in my case, the ease of integrating the cameras with my home security system in a blessing. There was a time when I really enjoyed playing around with tech stuff at home – tweaking all of the settings and making things perform just right. Now that I have a family and other things to spend time on, most of the time I just want to do the research and purchase products that work out of the box. Be aware that the Nest Cams do have a semi-optional subscription that go along with them, but it provides some interesting benefits as well.

I want a Nest Cam, but which model should I choose?

This is actually a pretty easy decision to make. At this time, Nest offers 3 different camera models, all with varying features.

First question to ask yourself: Is the camera going to be mounted outdoors? If the answer is yes, stop right there – buy the Nest Outdoor Cam. That’s the only weather-sealed model that they offer today, though additional models will be released next year. You’ll get 1080p video, infrared night vision LEDs, a two-way microphone, and full integration with their app.

OK, so your camera is going to be mounted indoors. You have 2 choices – the Nest Cam IQ or the Nest Cam Indoor.

  • Nest Cam Indoor: This is the older model, but don’t let that stop you from considering it. If this model will work for you, you’ll save $100 compared to the IQ. The Nest Cam Indoor carries the same feature set as the Outdoor model. For most people, this is the best option and provides the most bang for your buck.
  • Nest Cam IQ: This is where things get a little more interesting. Aside from an updated aesthetic, though this camera still records and uploads video in 1080p, it has a 4K sensor. That provides some big benefits without overwhelming all of your available internet bandwidth just to upload video. The IQ will use that 4K sensor to find the action in the frame, and then “zoom in” on it, giving you crisp 1080p video of exactly what you want to see. Due to faster processing, it can identify faces, has improved LEDs for night vision, and even boasts a daytime HDR feature for better video quality. As an aside, it has an updated speaker and microphone with noise and echo suppression. For the extra $100, you’re getting a lot of features. Too bad they haven’t put these features in an outdoor camera yet (though they will be in 2018)!

One thing to note – you might be thinking about setting up an indoor camera to point through a window to see outside. You most likely will not want to do that. The infrared LEDs, though you can’t see them with your eyes, will reflect off of the glass, making a nighttime video completely blown out and unusable.

Now that you know which model will work best for your home or business, how tricky are these things to install?

How hard is it to set up the Nest Cam?

The idea behind the camera set up process is simple. You’ll need a Wi-Fi connection because these are strictly wireless. Aside from that, you’ll need power somewhere nearby.

Nest has a great system (also used on their other products such as the Nest Protect) that allows you to simply download the Nest App, create an account if you don’t already have one, and add the product from within the app. Each camera will include a QR code that the app will recognize. You’ll click add, scan the code, label the camera (this label will show in the app, so you’d choose something like “garage” or “patio” for usability. At that point, follow the prompt to connect it to Wi-Fi and you’re done with the setup.

Physically installing the camera is very simple as well. Each model comes with a magnetic base that you can attach with screws, or optionally just attach the camera to something magnetic. You can even stick the indoor cameras on a tripod, such as a Gorilla Pod if you’d like. The indoor and outdoor cameras have a 130 degree wide-angle field-of-view so you might be surprised how much area you can cover while sticking the camera out of the way somewhere. Plug the camera into power and you’re ready to rock.

Do you really need to pay for the subscription?

In the opening of this article, I called the subscription service (dubbed Nest Aware) semi-optional. The reason behind calling it semi-optional is due to the fact that you miss out on the neat “cloud” features if you don’t subscribe, and you also don’t get much retention at all.

Without Nest Aware, in the app, you can view your video live, and see snapshots of detected motion for the past 3 hours. Yep, that’s it. I’m guessing that if you are purchasing these for home or business security that a few snapshots won’t cut it. In that case, you’ll need Nest Aware, there are 2 plans from which you can choose.

With Nest Aware, you gain a lot of features. Continuous video history is offered, meaning that you can go back to any point in the day for the past 10 or 30 days, depending on your plan, even if Nest doesn’t detect motion. You can create clips and time-lapse footage from your video as well. However, besides retention, the other big feature you get is intelligent alerts. You can define zones within the frame of video and receive customized alerts based on that. Nest will even identify doors if it can to provide alerts based on people walking through. Want to know if a person was spotted? Nest will try to tell the difference between and object moving in your video and a person walking through and will alert you accordingly. If you have the IQ, you will gain familiar face alerts with Nest Aware as well and can filter the alerts based on the recognized face.

In my experience, the person detection has not been 100% accurate, though it does a decent job. In certain cases, it will see an object, such as a golf bag standing vertically, in changing light conditions as a person. Not a huge deal since you can quickly verify the image on your mobile device when you receive the alert, but something you should know.

Nest Aware can be purchased on a monthly basis, or you’ll receive a bit of a discount if you pay annually and you can choose between 10 days of video retention and 30 days. The 30-day subscription is very expensive and I’d highly recommend the 10-day plan for most people. The 10-day plan is $100 per year for the first camera and $50 per year for all subsequent cameras you add to the plan. Jumping to the 30-day plan will cost you $300 per year for the first camera and $150 per year for the remaining cameras.

In my opinion, if you decide to purchase Nest cameras, you should budget for the Nest Aware subscription to go along with them. If you don’t want to pay the premium for cloud storage and analytics, perhaps a system that records locally would be a better fit for you.


In my experience, I’ve found the Nest activity notifications to be very timely and helpful. On my iPhone, I get alerts on the lock screen and can 3D Touch them to quickly review the clip. On my Apple Watch I get a quick alert with a snapshot of the motion that was detected. Email notifications are also an option and provide you with an image of the detected motion as well.

Of course your notifications are customizable and if you’re using the Android family of mobile devices, the integration is excellent as well.


Many products out there carry the “Works with Nest” branding. Check out my article on Abode to see an example of these cameras working with a home security system. Be aware that the current Nest APIs do not allow third parties to live-stream the video. You will be able to see snapshots of action in other products, but aside from that you’re limited. To me that isn’t a huge deal, because if something important occurs, I have no problem opening a second app on my phone to check it out.

Final thoughts and long-term impressions

Like I said, I’ve owned these cameras for quite a while now and I feel that I am well qualified to comment on their longevity and performance over time.

First of all, you’ll need to make sure that you place your cameras in a location that has GOOD Wi-Fi reception. If your connection isn’t great and you can’t upload video reliably, the entire service will suffer. It takes some bandwidth to upload 1080p video, so if your ISP only gave you 1 MB/s upload, don’t plan on running 5 cameras thinking it will work. The cameras will down-sample to 720p if needed and require as little as 200kb/s-500kb/s per camera, but plan on 1.2Mb/s upload for high quality Nest Indoor and Outdoor cams, and up to 4MB/s for the Nest IQ.

On my outdoor cameras, though it seems silly, I spent $10 or so to get a couple of silicon covers to both protect the cameras and to roughly color-match to my house. These are the models I purchased and I have been pretty happy with them.

Overall, my wife and I love the convenience these cameras provide and the ease with which we can see what’s going on at our home while we’re away. If you feel comfortable paying for the Nest Aware subscription, I highly recommend the Nest Cam to use at your home or business.

Click here to check the current prices on Nest Cams at Amazon. Save money by buying multiple cameras at once.

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