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Is the Nest Hello Doorbell Wireless? How is Nest Hello Powered?

Nest Power Terminals

There are a lot of smart doorbells to choose from these days, all with a different set of features. Knowing if the doorbell is wireless or not is an important feature in determining which one to buy. Today we’ll be taking a look at nest, one of the two leaders in smart doorbells. Ring being the other leader.

Is the Nest Hello Doorbell Wireless? The Nest Hello doorbell is not wireless, and must be wired in order to receive power. Power can come from existing doorbell wiring, or using the indoor power adapter if there is not a sufficient power source that already exists. It does not run on batteries. The Nest Hello does connect to the internet using Wi-Fi.

Related Content: Can You Use Google Nest Mini Without Wi-Fi? Bluetooth Is an Option.

That answer gives you the need-to-know basics, but it really just scratches the surface. There is a lot more you should know about the indoor power adapter and how it’s installed. Also, if wireless is a must have, then we need to consider the Ring doorbell as well.

If you want to know my recommendation for best vide door bell, click here. Neither the Nest Hello or Ring Doorbells are my top recommendation.

How is the Nest Hello Doorbell Powered?

The Nest Hello Doorbell was originally designed to be powered through a house’s exiting doorbell power. However, after customer complaints, a second option was added that allowed for a power adapter to be installed when needed.

The specs for power supply for the Nest Hello, according to the product webpage located here, are 16V AC–24V AC; with a 10VA transformer and wired doorbell.

Google does have a compatibility checker available here. Honestly, I think most people can figure it out by themselves. It basically asks if you have existing wiring, and if you have the correct voltage at the wires. If you don’t, or if you don’t know, they will recommend professional installation, or the DIY Indoor Power Adapter.

Nest Hello Power from an Existing Doorbell

So, you already have a doorbell installed, but you need to check if it will work for the Nest Hello? There are two quick ways you can check if the existing wiring will work. First though, I am assuming that you have the kind of doorbell where you walk up to the front door, press the button, and it rings a bell inside. That’s what the vast majority of people have, but not everyone.

For those of you that have intercom systems, gated entryways, or doorbells that aren’t located right outside your front door: Nest Hello will not usually work with your setup. You might want to just skip over to the power adapter section, if you have a way to supply power using an outlet.

Find the Doorbell Transformer

Doorbell Transformer
24V 20VA Doorbell Transformer

Find where the doorbell transformer is located. In every house that I’ve lived in, the doorbell transformers have been high up on a wall in the garage. That is where they are typically located, but it’s not too uncommon to find them fixed to a wall in the basement or in a closet near the front door.

They are usually located high up the wall, close to the ceiling, to avoid things coming in contact with them. If you don’t see it after looking in those places try checking the walls in the attic. Sometimes they’re hidden behind some insulation.

Here is an example of what you are looking for. Note, there are area couple wires not shown in this picture that supply the 120V to the transformer.

Doorbell Transformer Mounted to the Wall
Doorbell Transformer Mounted to the Wall

Once you have found the transformer, read its power ratings. It will look something like this. If there are more than one set of numbers, read the number between where the wires are connected.

The average home doorbell operates on a very low voltage. Older homes will have transformers that supply 8 to 20 volts of electricity, but usually 16 volts. Newer houses in America tend to be larger, so the transformers have become larger too. It’s now common to find 24 volts on the output to accommodate longer runs of wire in larger homes.

If you have a voltmeter or a DMM, now would be a good time to measure the voltage between the two terminals to make sure it’s what you expect. This is especially a good idea if you have been having doorbell trouble already. Transformers do go bad over time, but are easy and fairly inexpensive to replace.

Measure the Voltage at Your Existing Doorbell

If you already have a voltmeter handy, but don’t know where your doorbell transformer is located, you can start by measuring the voltage differential at your doorbell. Just pop the doorbell off the wall, typically by removing the two screws, and then measure the voltage across the two wires that are connected. If you measure 16 – 24 V, you’re good to go. Also, the Nest Hello is connected very similarly as these old doorbells. Just connect the two wires, and it’s ready to go. The hard part is mounting it to the wall.

If you’re reading through Google’s instructions on how to measure the voltage, it will warn you about risk of electrocution. Everything past the transformer is low voltage, so assuming your transformer is working correctly, measuring the voltage at the front door should be a very low risk activity. I would say that it’s slightly more risky than putting a 9V battery on your tongue. NO! I don’t recommend licking your doorbell wiring.

Nest Hello Power from a Power Adapter

Nest Hello Indoor Power Adapter Install Gear
Nest Hello Indoor Power Adapter Install

Having to wired using existing wiring was one of the biggest complaints about the Nest Hello. In 2020, Google introduced the Indoor Power Adapter by the brand Ninety7. It’s a $30 solution that solved many people’s complaint. You can find it on Google’s website here. There’s only one problem; the Ninety7 Indoor Power Adapter is often sold out.

Ninety7 Indoor Power Adapter
Ninety7 Indoor Power Adapter

I’ve got good news for you though!

Remember how the Nest Hello specs said they need a 10VA transformer? That 10VA means 10 Volt Amps. A Volt Amp is the same thing as the more commonly known Watt (W), which is a measure of power. Since we know that the Nest Hello requires 10 VA, and 16 V – 24 V, we can determine the Amperage requirements as well.

10 VA/24 V = .42 A

10 VA/16 V = .625 A

So, we now know that the Nest Hello doorbell takes between .4 –  .625 Amps and between 16 – 24 Volts.  Knowing that information, we can go find a power supply of our own. There are ton’s on Amazon. In fact, other companies market power supplies as being for the Nest and they’re far cheaper. The one thing I would recommend before buying a different brand is to make sure the power supply is UL listed.

You can see what my search on Amazon found by clicking here.

UL is a safety certification company in the United States that certifies all sorts of electronic devices. They are an industry standard. If it has a UL tag on it, you know it is safe to use.

I see two big downsides of using a power adapter. The main downside is that you have to drill a whole through your house. Literally. From the exterior wall, all the way through to the inside, so you plug the socket into the wall and then push the wire through to the doorbell.

The second downside of this is the aesthetics. Most people view wires running through the house as unsightly, and these wires aren’t too easy to cover up. The Ninety7 Power Adapter does com with tacks, so you can tack it to the wall, and at least make the cord follow the baseboards and siding. That’s still unsightly.

One solution to these problems is to actually run the wire through the wall. You can assume that the wall will have insulation. Get yourself a fish tape and someone to help you out. You should be able to push the tape through the insulation to the bottom of the wall, where you can then run the wire under the baseboard. It’s a bit more work, but the only wire visible will be where the adapter is plugged into the wall.

Benefits of a Wired Doorbell Over Battery Powered

Having to take care of wiring is a big hassle if you don’t have existing wiring that will work. You may be wonder, “What are the benefits of having a wired doorbell over a battery powered doorbell?” Why would Google or Nest do this?

I think that Google went this route for good reason, as video consumes a lot of power. Google makes four points, but here are the two I think are most important:

   Never change a battery. Sure, the initial setup may be a hassle, but once it’s done, it’s done. A wired video doorbell does not require the routine maintenance of battery changes. View your video stream as often as you want without draining the battery. The only downside is if you have a power outage. But if the power is out, your internet and Wi-Fi will likely not be functioning either.

    24/7 Continuous Video. The Nest Hello is always recording and streaming what it sees. This isn’t possible with battery powered doorbell cams because it would kill the battery in no time.

And if you want to know the other two points that Google makes, here they are:

    No delays. To preserve battery charge, battery powered cameras only turn on when they sense motion. Even a short delay while a camera turns on can mean that important video may not get captured.

    Algorithms for video analysis. A constant source of power lets Hello analyze the motion it senses, so it can tell you when there’s a person at the door as opposed to a tree branch swaying in the wind. That way, the alerts you get from Hello are more relevant.

Source: Google Support

Nest Alternative That is Wireless: Ring Doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell 2020
Ring Video Doorbell 2020

If you’ve read all this and think you still may want a battery powered doorbell cam, then Ring Doorbells are the way to go. They are the main competitor to the Nest Hello, and have a lot of similar features. The Ring can also run off doorbell wiring—or a removable, rechargeable battery. Depending on how often the camera is used, users report that the battery last from 6 to 12 months before needing recharged.

The second big difference is that the Nest records video in a 4:3 format, which is designed to show people head to toe. The Ring records video in a wide-screen 16:9 format, which can cut off people’s heads and feet if they get too close to the doorbell.

You can find out more about Ring doorbells and all their products on their website located here.