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How to set up a connected, comfortable, and secure smart home.

The Cook family’s smart home started with a gift.

John Cook wanted his wife to have an easy way to listen to music when she was getting ready for the day. So he got her a Nest Audio, which has Google Assistant built in, to let her use her voice to play music. Soon, the whole family was asking Google for the weather and news instead of reaching for their phones. 

Shortly after, the Cooks bought a Nest Hub Max for the kitchen and then added more speakers throughout the house, a Nest thermostat, a smart lock and doorbell, and more. 

“At the beginning, you go, ‘Wow, this is really cool,’ but then after a while it’s part of your daily life,” Cook says.

Turning your home into a connected space can have loads of benefits for most households – from making the day run more smoothly to staying connected to one another, conserving energy, and keeping your home safe and secure. And most devices are easy to set up, so creating a smart home is simpler than you might expect.

In fact, the biggest choice when figuring out how to set up a smart home may be where to begin.

How smart home devices can help

One way to start is by considering that a smart home solves problems. Which ones would you like to tackle? Do you want a home that’s more secure, starting with the front door? Or are you looking to make things more convenient, like getting the family out the door faster in the morning? Maybe you’d like to amp up the fun. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Is your wireless internet strong enough?

The foundation of any smart home is strong and secure Wi-Fi that blankets the space and keeps smart home devices running smoothly. If you’re not sure whether your signal is sufficient, use this strength test to find out whether you need to boost your Wi-Fi with a Nest Wifi network. Nest Wifi works by pairing a router with satellite devices around the house, increasing strength and reducing dead zones.1 As you add devices, use the strength test to make sure your connection remains stable. You can add more Nest Wifi devices if needed.

How to keep your home safe and sound

Smart home devices can give you peace of mind by providing an extra eye around the house. What matters most to you, and which devices will work with your home? Compare the benefits, and use the tools below to help you find out which ones are compatible with your home.

  • See what’s going on inside and outside of your home. The combination of Nest Doorbells and Nest Cams can let you know that everything is fine at home. The doorbells have a 16:9 view (very wide and pretty tall), letting you see visitors or packages head to toe. Use this doorbell compatibility test to see if the battery or wired doorbell is right for you. Nest Cams have you covered for any other areas of interest inside the home or out. Some popular spots are back and side doors, pathways, and hallways. Consider pairing any of these with a Nest Aware subscription that will store video picked up by the camera.2 And if you happen to be elsewhere in the house, where it’s hard to hear the doorbell? Nest Mini and other speakers around the house can be paired with the Nest Doorbell to send the sound throughout the house, reaching you wherever you are.

  • Unlock (and lock) your home remotely. At the Cook house, the Nest x Yale Lock on their front door is set to lock automatically after five minutes in case someone forgets.3 You can also create passcodes and get alerts any time the door is unlocked. It fits in the same space as most traditional deadbolts and connects to Wi-Fi and the Google Home app through Nest Connect, a dedicated Wi-Fi bridge that you purchase with the lock. You can use the same Nest Connect if you decide to add more locks.

  • Know immediately when smoke or CO becomes a problem. Nest Protect monitors smoke and carbon monoxide levels and connects to the Google Home app, where you can check the battery level or turn off the alarm remotely. The 5x5-inch device tests itself automatically (400 times a day), knows the difference between smoke and steam, lights your way at night, and lasts up to a decade. How many will you need? The National Fire Protection Association and the Consumer Product Safety Commission advise installing alarms around sleeping areas, in stairwells, and in other important areas in your home.

Nest Hub Max
Help for your home. All in one display.
How to get more help around the house

Automation is meant to make life easier for you, whether that’s helping to get the family out the door in the morning, keeping track of items for the shopping list, or other tasks that come up throughout the day.

  • Get tasks done for you. Nest Audio speakers come with Google Assistant, a voice assistant that helps you get things done. Just say “Hey Google” followed by requests such as “What’s the weather today,” “Play ‘Hey Jude,’” or “Turn off the lights” to any Nest speaker, if smart lighting is connected through your Google Home app.4 Google Assistant routines, a programmable set of starters and actions, can take care of a series of tasks with one voice command. Google Assistant works with more than 50,000 smart devices, which means there’s no shortage of opportunities to create routines that work for you. If you need help in ways that require a screen – such as to view recipes or a shopping list, or to make a video call – try a Nest Hub Max. Face Match on the device recognizes household members, providing personalized information (reminders, the day’s schedule, and more) depending on who’s using the device.5 Its built-in camera allows you to keep an eye on things at home when you’re away, through the Google Home app on your phone.

  • Keep your home comfortable and save energy. The Nest Thermostat and Nest Learning Thermostat let you set schedules such as Home & Away and find ways to save money and conserve energy based on your household’s habits.6 This compatibility checker can help you determine whether your heating and cooling system will work with a Nest thermostat – it will prompt you to remove the front of your thermostat and look at the wires and labels inside. If a Nest thermostat is a fit for you, installation should take 30 minutes or less with a video guide.

  • Turn devices on or off if you forget, or if grouped with others. Motion sensor support can prompt connected lights to turn off after a certain amount of time – in the garage, say, after you’ve brought in all the groceries. You can also set “device starters” that know what you plan to do when you turn on one smart home device. For example, with a voice command to turn on the TV, a set of actions can also include turning on the lights, setting them to yellow, and dimming the brightness to 50%. A doorbell ring can also serve as a starter: When the doorbell rings, turn down the speaker volume to 50%, or turn on the porch lights if it’s after 7 PM. You can also set schedules according to your daily needs and routines.

How to level up your entertainment

There are so many movies, TV shows, games, and music to choose from. Smart speakers and streamers make it easier to find the ones you want, then watch, play, or listen wherever you’d like.

While Nest Audio makes it easy to hear your favorite music on demand, and Nest Hub Max is a way to stream videos, you can also bring it all together for movies and gaming.

  • Let the entertainment follow you from room to room, screen to screen. Using Chromecast with Google TV, you can start watching a movie and continue right where you left off when you go to another room, simply by asking the stream to move to a different device – from the TV in the family room to the Nest Hub Max in the kitchen, for example.7 You can take your gaming with you as well: The Stadia controller is compatible with most laptops, desktops, tablets, phones, and TVs.7 Add a Stadia Pro subscription for access to hundreds of games.8

  • Find shows quickly and easily. Just ask Chromecast with Google TV for the show or movie you want to watch.9 It learns from your viewing habits, pulling content from your streaming subscriptions onto one screen and making recommendations based on your subscriptions, viewing history, and content you own. It can also match your mood: Just say, “Show me some funny shows,” or “Show me a football game.” Want to watch something from your phone? Chromecast allows you to stream content from other devices connected through Bluetooth.

  • Create an audio system for your entire home. Nest Audio speakers provide powerful audio, as well as adaptive sound that responds to the acoustics of the rooms where they’re located. Link Spotify or YouTube Music to play your favorite songs.7 Two or more speakers will give you stereo sound or sound from room to room. Nest Mini is a smaller option, good for smaller spaces or less immersive listening experiences (think podcasts and doorbell chimes).

Starting small versus doing it all

The best place to start setting up your smart home is wherever your need or interest is greatest. Over time, you’ll see how adding devices increases the benefits: A doorbell is a good way to keep tabs on the front door; when you pair it with a smart lock, you’ll also be able to let in someone at the door. A smart speaker provides help and entertainment on its own; pair it with smart lighting to create Google Assistant routines for the morning and evening that turn the lights on and off. And with Nest Hub Max, you get a central dashboard to manage and sync your devices. 

When is a good time to start? Anytime! Some households have found that moving into a new home is a great opportunity to set up a smart home.

Want help? Bring in a pro.

Most people set up their Nest devices easily using step-by-step audio instructions. But for homeowners who’d like extra help, professional installation through Google partners is available in the US for all Nest products purchased from the Google Store. Installers are background-checked and licensed, and they’re local to your area. You can book an installer through the Google Store.*

Getting started

Ready to get started? This checklist should help you get going:

  • Begin by considering which everyday challenges you’re trying to solve. 

  • Explore Google’s connected home products and select your connected devices.

  • Download the Google Home app and sign in with your Google Account.

  • Plug in your devices and follow the setup instructions in the Google Home app. 

  • If you’d prefer expert assistance, book a professional installer.

  • Use the Google Home app or Nest Hub to manage compatible devices like smart thermostats, lights, and more with your voice.

  • Set up routines to automate your home and complete multiple actions at once.

Takeaways
You can start by adding a single device to solve a specific problemConsider whether you are looking for more security, more convenience, or a focus on entertainmentNest products work better together, allowing you to control and sync them together as you add more
Nest Hub Max
Help for your home. All in one display.
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  1. Based on use of at least 1 Nest Wifi router and 1 Nest Wifi point. Home size, materials and layout can affect how Wi-Fi signal travels. Larger homes or homes with thicker walls or long, narrow layouts may need extra Wifi points for full coverage. Strength and speed of signal will also depend on your internet provider.

  2. Nest Aware subscription required (sold separately).

  3. Some features, including mobile alerts, remote control and custom schedules, require the Nest app, working internet and Wi-Fi, and Nest Connect or Nest Guard.

  4. Compatible smart devices required.

  5. A user with a similar face or photo of your face may be misidentified as you.

  6. Independent studies conducted in the US showed that Nest thermostats saved people an average of 10% to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. Individual savings are not guaranteed. Learn more at nest.com/real-savings.

  7. Stadia Controller requires a Wi-Fi® network and a mobile device running Android 6.0, Marshmallow or later, or iOS 11 or later. Availability and performance of certain features, services, and applications are service-, device-, and network-dependent and may not be available in all areas. All features, functionality, and other product specifications are subject to change without notice. Additional terms, conditions, and/or charges may apply. If you want to use the Stadia Controller with a TV, you’ll also need a compatible Chromecast device.

  8. See support.google.com/stadia?p=pro_trial for terms and conditions. Subscription auto-renews until cancelled.

  9. Subscriptions may be required.

*Google does not perform your Pro installation and has no responsibility or liability for the installation. We partner with Handy and OnTech, who are independent of Google. Handy is a platform for home services that connects individuals to professional installation partners, including OnTech, who will install your Google Nest Products. The professional installer connected to you is not an employee, subcontractor, or agent of Google. For your convenience you can pay for your installation through Google Store, but Google accepts the payment on behalf of Handy, whose network of licensed installers perform the installation.