The Nest Hello video doorbell in the UK

As a result of s new boiler installation recently I wanted a smart thermostat as part of the installation. I’ll be honest that I’m a bit of a Google fan when it comes to smart things, and having looked at various devices decided Nest, with it’s Google heritage, was the one I wanted.

I’m very pleased with it so far, the programming is simple and the smart features work very well.

As a result of the boiler being moved from downstairs to our airing cupboard, I decided having a Carbon Monoxide alarm in the adjacent bedroom would be a good idea, I then discovered the Nest Protect Smoke and CO alarms, which are pricey, but have some cool features, in particular the ability to shut down the boiler in the event of CO being detected, through the Nest thermostat. I found some good deals and ended up with a couple of Nest Protects in the house.

So to the Nest Hello. I’ve been looking at the smart video doorbell ecosystem for a while, mainly the Ring products. I only became aware of Nest Hello after getting the thermostat and after a recent deal with 20% off and a free Google Home mini, I bit the (admittedly expensive) bullet and purchased the Nest Hello.

Several features appealed about the Hello, it does continuous 24/7 video recording, so part of the justification was that it’s not only a doorbell but a 24/7 security monitor for the house.

It also has some clever AI features, like the ability to identify specific individuals (family members) announcing their presence at the door, along with marking zones and getting alerts based on activity within them – the ability to only trigger notifications on people rather than just motion is very useful for getting relevant notifications rather than noise from traffic.

It does require a wired connection and a physical doorbell / chime so if you don’t have those, you need to factor that in. Even if you have a wired doorbell, there’s a very high chance it is not compatible with the Nest Hello,  more on that shortly…

The challenge that I hadn’t realised when I purchased is that this is a product that was initially launched in the US market and is not really well-tailored for the UK.

Firstly, the device needs a 16-24V AC power supply, most UK and European wired doorbells use much lower voltages, often between 8V AC and 12V AC. The solution may seem easy, just buy a higher voltage transformer, or a new chime with an in-built transformer, and you’re done.

Unfortunately it isn’t that simple, there are very few available transformers in the UK, and you then find that you really need 16V as doorbell chime choice is even more limited. There’s a handful of units available in the UK that support 16V, almost none that are rated at a higher voltage.

Nest published the following list of compatible chimes and transformers: –

Chimes:
Grothe Läutewerk LTW 1171A 24V AC
Honeywell / Friedland D107 8-16V (at 16 V)
Honeywell / Friedland D113 8-16V (at 16v)
Honeywell / Friedland D117 8-16V (at 16v)
Honeywell / Friedland D126 8-16V (at 16v)
Honeywell / Friedland D128 8-16V (at 16v)
Honeywell / Friedland D142 8-16V (at 16v)
Honeywell / Friedland D143 8-16V (at 16v)
Honeywell / Friedland D230 8-16V (at 16v)
Honeywell / Friedland D239 8-16V (at 16v)

Transformers:
Gewiss GW96426
Gewiss GW96432
Gewiss GW96434
Gewiss GW96782
Dantech DA652

Transformers with a 16v output option.
Protek BT8-16
Protek BT8-24

As I didn’t have a wired doorbell, I bought the Friedland D117 ‘Ding-Dong’ chime and decided to go for a plug in transformer option to power the unit, and bought a Guagemaster WM3 transformer (http://www.gaugemaster.com/item_details.asp?code=GMC-WM3&r=1) which turned out to be an Ideal Power 77DB-16-16, a 16V AC PSU rated at 16VA (1A). The hello needs 0.5A (8VA) so it has plenty of capacity to power the system.

The Friedland chime has plenty of space to accommodate the Nest adapter, making for a tidy installation. The wiring scheme is shown below: –

The second issue I discovered that applies to non-US countries is the doorbell has hardware to support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands, but Nest state that as it is regulated as an outdoor WiFi device in the UK, they can only use the 2.4GHz band. This sucks if like me you can see some 20 or so other WiFi SSID’s and devices. There’s only three non-overlapping WiFi channels in the UK, making finding a clear channel difficult, especially for a device that is streaming video 24/7 to a remote server (more on that later too…)

Having looked at this Band B of the 5GHz channels can be used indoors and outdoors, so why Nest haven’t limited it to this band I don’t know?

Anyway, with all the above considered, I got the unit installed and after some tweaking of WiFi settings the unit performs superbly. The smart AI features work brilliantly, clearly identifying people from other movement and learning to identify familiar faces accurately. The unit also announces visitors on any Google Home devices in the house, which means it’s easy to put a ‘doorbell’ in other rooms.

The other aspect to factor in to the already high price, is the necessity (if you want to fully benefit from the more advanced features) for a Nest Aware subscription, which gives cloud storage for the 24/7 recording and enables all the smart features like familiar face detection.

The cost of this is not insignificant, starting at £4 / month or £40 / year for 5 days recording.  10 day and 30 day options are also available, see the Nest site for details

Despite the high costs and the challenges of a UK install, the results are fantastic video quality is excellent and the viewing angle of 160 degrees gives an amazing field of view, clarity is excellent day or night. The camera supports HDR which means even in the presence of bright sunlight in the background, objects in the foreground are perfectly viewable.

If you are not part of the Nest ecosystem definitely consider the alternatives, but for me looking at the Nest Hello as both a smart video doorbell and an excellent, smart 24/7 security system makes the cost more palatable and so far the user experience has been great.

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