Nest recently entered the rapidly growing video doorbell market with the Nest Hello Video Doorbell. The Nest Hello is Nest’s first video doorbell and is intended to compete directly with the Ring Doorbell. The Nest Hello has several features that the Ring doesn’t offer including 24×7 continuous video recording, HDR video, and face recognition. It also integrates well with existing Nest hardware.
I’ve wanted to install a video doorbell for quite a while but when I first considered purchasing the Ring it was still a very new product and the reviews were not good. Ring and video doorbell technology in general has matured quite a bit and most of the early bugs seem to have been solved. When I heard Nest was coming out with their own doorbell I decided that now was the time to make a purchase.
In this post I’ll be sharing my experience with the installation process and my overall impressions with the product.
Nest Hello Compatibility
The Nest Hello requires an existing hard wired doorbell connection. The easiest way to check if you have a hard wired doorbell is to remove the doorbell button and confirm there are two wires connected. You can find the full list of compatibility checks on the Nest support website.
If your doorbell button has no wires then it is part of a wireless doorbell system. In this case you may want to consider either hiring an electrician to install a hard wired connection (which could be very difficult) or going with the Ring Doorbell which can operate using battery power.
If you do have a hard wired doorbell then the next step is to locate the doorbell transformer and check the voltage. Nest Hello requires a doorbell transformer with an output voltage between 16 – 24 volts AC. Doorbell transformers are typically located in the basement. My transformer was mounted to a junction box on the basement ceiling. They are often mounted to the side of the breaker box as well.
Using a multimeter I measured 22 volts AC coming from my transformer which is within the compatible range.
Unboxing the Nest Hello
The Nest Hello comes with all of the required hardware to mount the doorbell to a wood or brick surface. The kit also includes a wedge which can be used to tilt the doorbell 15 degrees left or right. The wedge is helpful for situations where the doorbell is located near a wall or in a corner and can improve the cameras view significantly.
If the provided wedge doesn’t work for your situation then check out some of the 3d printable wedges on thingiverse.
Nest included several other thoughtful accessories to assist with the installation process. They’ve even included a masonry drill bit and anchors for installations on a brick or stone surface.
The clip on wire extenders are also really helpful for situations where the existing doorbell wires are really short.
- Doorbell chime connector
- 15 degree wedge
- Nest Hello release tool
- Masonry drill bit and anchors
- Window decal
- Clip on wire extenders
- Wall plate mount with mounting screws
- Quick start guide
The Nest Hello includes an adapter that must be connected to the doorbell chime. The doorbell chime is the source of the actual sound you hear when someone presses the doorbell so it should be pretty easy to locate. Mine is installed on the first floor above a closet door.
The circuit breaker that powers the doorbell needs to be turned off before installing the chime adapter or the Nest Hello itself. You should check the transformer voltage to confirm it drops to zero to ensure you have turned off the correct breaker.
The cover on my chime simply pulled off without any trouble.
My doorbell chime has two wires connected to it. One connected to the TRANS terminal, and another connected to the FRONT terminal. The wire connected to the FRONT terminal needs to be disconnected and clipped into the white clip of the chime adapter. The TRANS wire connects to the gray clip of the adapter. Finally the white wire coming from the adapter goes back to FRONT and gray connects back to TRANS.
The installation wizard of the app walks you through this process and it can vary depending on the type of chime you have and which wires are present. In general the process is similar to the Nest thermostat wiring process but with less wires involved.
After the chime adapter has been installed the next step is to remove the existing doorbell button and install the mounting plate for the Nest Hello. If you existing doorbell wires are extremely old like mine were be super careful with them. The solid wires inside mine were so brittle that they managed to break off and I ended up having to use the wire extender clips.
The two doorbell wires connect to the screw terminals on the back of the Nest Hello. Since the doorbell uses AC power it doesn’t matter which terminals the wires are connected to.
There is a micro USB port located on the back of the Nest Hello. I suspect this could be used as an alternate way to power the Nest Hello but I have not tested this yet.
Once the mounting plate is installed and the wires have been connected the doorbell snaps securely into the mount. To remove the door you must use the include doorbell removal tool.
After mounting is complete you can safely turn the circuit breaker back on. If everything is wired corrected the Nest Hello should begin to boot up and the LED around the button should turn blue. If it turns yellow then it is not receiving enough voltage and the transformer will need to be replaced.
If the LED does not turn on at all then the doorbell is not receiving any power. This could be caused by the chime adapter being incorrectly installed or a bad connection on the back of the doorbell.
Remove the doorbell and carefully test the voltage coming from the pair of wires. You should measure the same voltage that you measured coming directly from the doorbell transformer. If you do not get a voltage reading and you’ve checked the connections then turn off the breaker again and double check the wiring of the chime adapter.
Below is a diagram for a standard doorbell circuit. Normally the button simply completes the circuit between the chime and the transformer. In this configuration there is no voltage present at the button. The Nest Hello chime adapter alters this circuit so that voltage is sent to the button wires.
The camera on the Nest Hello has some pretty impressive specs. So far I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the video the camera has been producing. The video is clear with excellent colors and definition which makes faces show up very clearly.
Nest chose to go with a 4:3 aspect ratio for the video in order to capture people from head to toe. As a result the video is not as wide as video produced by the Ring but it is much taller.
Nest Hello Camera Specs
- 3 megapixel (2K) color sensor with HDR
- 8x digital zoom
- HD UXGA 1600 x 1200 resoloution
- 30 frames / second
- 4:3 aspect ratio
- 160 degree diagonal field of view
- 850 nm infrared LEDs for night vision illumination
The image below highlights the colors and image quality produced by the HDR sensor.
Night vision is equally impressive. The infrared LEDs do an excellent job of providing illumination in dark environments. When my porch light was turned on the camera compensated accurately and still proceeds great quality video.
App Performance and Features
The Nest Hello is well integrated into the Nest app and very easy to use. The video timeline can easily be filtered by different events including sound, motion, doorbell rings and familiar vs unfamiliar faces.
The facial recognition feature is probably the best feature this doorbell has to offer. When the camera detects a new face for the first time the app will prompt you to identify if this is a familiar or unfamiliar face. The more times the camera identifies the same face the better the detection becomes. This feature provides a great way to filter out alerts for familiar friends and family who are often at the front door.
One feature I’ve found lacking is the ability to create motion zones in the camera. I’d really like to be able to completely exclude the road from motion detection. My indoor nest camera supports this feature so hopefully they will extend it to the doorbell as well.
One current advantage Ring’s software does have over Nest is their community feature. Ring allows you to easily create clips and share them with nearby community members that have the Ring app installed. The communities feature is really nice for easily sharing video of crime or other suspicious activity with your neighbors. While Nest doesn’t currently offer this it is something they could easily add in the future if they choose to do so.
My only other real complaint with the Nest app is that sometimes video can be sluggish to load. Once it loads playback is always smooth but sometimes it takes too long for the initial stream to start playing.
Is it worth it?
With a price tag of $229 the Nest Hello is not cheap for a doorbell but it is slightly less expensive than the Ring Pro. The overall specs of the Nest Hello are quite a bit better than the ring pro though. The Nest software also offers several advantages over the Ring, most notably the ability to detect people and faces.
The other cost that must be factored in is the cloud video storage subscription costs. The 5 day video history subscription costs $30/year. You can upgrade to 10 days of video history for $50/year or a full month of history for $250/year. I think $30 per year is a reasonable cost for 5 days of video storage which should be sufficient for most people. Having the video stored in the cloud is a great security feature compared to an onsite NAS which could potentially be stolen.
I’m really happy with my Nest Hello overall. If you already have a hard wired doorbell I would highly recommend going with the Nest Hello. Most people should be able to complete the installation themselves but Nest also offers professional installation services through their Nest Pro offering.
If you don’t have a hard wired doorbell and you still want to implement a video doorbell then the Ring is the way to go.