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Camera placement guidelines and tips

The ideal location for your camera can vary depending on what you want to keep an eye on, and what else is in the field of view. When selecting a location and vantage point, consider what kind of things you're trying to keep an eye on. Ask yourself "What's most important for me to keep an eye on?" For example:

  • If you want to track who or what passes through a certain area of your home, make that the centerpiece of your camera’s view. 
  • To use your camera for security monitoring, make sure it can see the points of entry into your property or home like the driveway, doors or first-floor windows. 
  • Place your camera at a height where you can easily see people’s faces, even if they’re wearing a hat.
  • When using your camera to watch your kids, make sure the camera and its power cable stay out of reach. Review the Safety Guidelines for more information. 
  • If you plan to use Talk and Listen, put the camera in a spot where you can hear people and they can hear you.

Basic placement tips

  • Your camera gets a better view of people when it’s placed at head level or a little higher. Adjust the angle so your camera’s looking slightly downward. 
  • Use the Nest app to check that you can clearly see people’s faces. Please review the  Nest Cam Safety Guidelines if you plan to install your camera more than 6.5 ft (2 m) above the ground.
  • Your camera needs good air circulation. Never install it in any kind of small box or enclosure as this can cause overheating.

Tips on lighting and field of view

  • Make sure your camera is set up to avoid backlighting. Backlighting occurs when the person or object you’re trying to record is between your camera and it’s lightsource. Backlit objects will show up dark or blacked out, and your video quality will be adversely affected.
    • To prevent backlighting, make sure that your camera’s light source faces roughly the same direction as your camera and doesn’t face into your camera. For instance, if you want to record your yard, try to make sure that your camera is in a position where the sun will stay behind it throughout the day. 
  • Anything you may want to record should take up at least ¼ of the height or ⅛ of the width of your camera’s field of view. So, an adult of average height should be no more than 20 ft. from the camera, a large dog 15 ft. and a mid-size sedan 30 ft. 
  • If you want to use Night Vision, place your camera within 15 ft. of the area of interest. At this distance, the infrared LEDs can properly light subjects entering the space.

Tips for indoor cameras

  • Do not use indoor cameras outside. Use them inside only and keep them out of direct sunlight.
  • Some common placements are on a bookcase, atop on top of the refrigerator, or even at the top of a staircase looking down.

Tips for outdoor cameras

  • Install your Nest Cam 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) above the ground. 
  • Use the Nest app to check your camera’s view and make sure you’re not getting glare from the sun in the day or from a floodlight at night. If you do, point the camera downward until you get a clear image. 
  • Mount your camera in a shaded spot such as under an eave, or install a small shade above the camera.

Specific placement tips

See the sections below for more tips and things to consider when deciding where to place your camera. 

Give your camera a clear view

  • Your camera has a 130° wide-angle lens, so you have a lot of options for placing it in a good spot to catch activity. But you won’t get alerts if motion happens in areas obstructed from view, so check the Nest app to make sure your camera can see the whole scene clearly.
  • If your camera’s on a horizontal surface or near a corner, angle it so the adjacent surfaces stay out of view. Otherwise, when Night Vision is on those surfaces could reflect infrared light and hamper your camera’s ability to see things in the distance.
  • Think about conditions that might change throughout the day that could obstruct the view of your camera. For example, the sun might cause glare at certain times, or curtains might move unexpectedly in a breeze, and block what you’re trying to record.
  • If you’re getting a lot of glare, try placing your camera a little higher and angle it downward.

Decide how prominent your camera to be

  • If you want your camera to help discourage intruders, try mounting it so that people will notice it as they approach. The camera includes a status light that makes it easy to see that you’re keeping tabs on things. 
  • If you prefer your camera to blend in with your decor, think of ways it can visually tie into things that are already there, like similarly shaped or colored items on a shelf. 
  • You can secure your camera’s power cord to prevent tampering or theft.

Zoom in to see things faraway 

If you need to place your camera far from the spot you want to watch, use your camera’s zoom feature to get a closer look. Change the Video Zoom setting in the Nest app to keep your camera zoomed in all the time.

Mount your camera upside down

Nest cameras are designed for easy DIY installation with a variety of mounting options. You can even install your camera upside down and use the Nest app to flip the video so it’s right side up.

Make the most of an indoor camera that looks outside

While you can point an indoor camera out a window to see what’s happening outside, this might affect your video quality. For example, the window glass can create reflections, and your view is limited by the size and location of the window. 

Instead, If your goal is to record an outdoor space, install one of Nest’s outdoor cameras to get the best quality video. They are designed to work outside and withstand the elements. 

If you prefer to use an indoor camera, here are some tips for pointing it out a window.

  • To reduce reflections and glare, try mounting the camera so that the lens is flush against the glass.
  • Avoid windows that have a mesh screen as they can affect motion detection.

Keep the TV out of your camera's view (Nest Cam IQ only)

With a Nest Aware subscription, your camera can send an alert whenever it sees a face it doesn’t recognize. To avoid getting familiar face alerts from faces in TV shows and movies, consider pointing your camera away from the TV.

Alternatively, if you can’t face the camera away from the TV and keep your desired viewing angle, you can create an activity zone that excludes the TV or change your camera’s notification settings so it doesn’t send alerts for familiar or unfamiliar faces when you’re home.

Make the most of your camera if you have EBR

Here are a few things to remember when setting up your camera if you have a Nest Aware subscription with Event-based recording (EBR).

  • To minimize unwanted activity notifications, point the camera at areas of low traffic or movement. Areas with high activity, such as high vehicle traffic, a mixture of sun and shadows, or every day neighborhood activity, can trigger an activity notification that you may not be interested in. You can also create activity zones to make sure you’re only getting the alerts that matter to you.
  • Use Event Sightline in the Nest app or Priority events in the Google Home app to focus on important events.
    • In the Nest app, you can enable the Event feed Event history button for your camera’s Sightline. It will show each event identified by your camera, making navigation between events easier.
In the Home app, you can find Priority events by tapping Feed in the bottom right corner of the screen. Here you’ll see all the priority and recent events captured by your cameras.

Respect the law and others' privacy

Remember, you are responsible for making sure that the way you use your camera complies with the law, including any applicable privacy or data protection laws. Please also check out our Tips for respecting the privacy of others when using Nest products.

If your camera supports familiar face detection, use this feature in compliance with the law. Depending on where you live, you might need to get consent to have your camera help identify people visiting your home.

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