Nest Cam – exterior mounting tricks

We had been intending to add security cameras when we rebuilt the house.  But the options available at the time, even with our professional company, were more limited than we wanted.  We add a pair of DropCams before our trip to Europe a few years ago, and we now use them to keep an eye on the dogs.  At the time, there was no exterior-rated option for the cameras.  Earlier this year an exterior version was released by Nest (who bought out DropCam).  We put one up in the backyard, also so that we could keep an eye on the dogs.  It took about 15 minutes to install, because I had exterior power right under where I wanted it installed.

I wanted to put one at the front door, but I didn’t want to run the power line around the front of the door and windows of the house to the one exterior plug we had available.   Nest doesn’t expect you to do anything else, so doesn’t give instructions for how you might put the wires into your walls.  I did a quick internet search, and folks have done this, but few details were included.  Our neighborhood had a rash of burglaries and package thefts in the lead-up to Christmas, so this moved up on the ToDo list.

I quickly made a 3/4″ and 7/8″ hole in a piece of cardboard, and the plug went through the 3/4 hole easily — so I got a 3/4″ masonry drill bit.  It was actually a bit small, and I had to both shimmy the bit and use a file to make the hole wide enough.  Given that, and the fact that I had a wall full of insulation, I opted to go directly across (as opposed to trying to run the wire down towards the floor).  I got a single-gang box and was easily able to pull the wire across the wall and then replace the insulation around the wire.  I found an insert designed for running A/V cables through, where the plug end can be quite big compared to the actual wire, and it worked perfectly.

See photos below.

Key points:
  • you need a 7/8″ hole or larger to be able to pass the protected USB connector into/out of the wall
  • it’s easiest to put a single-gang box on the interior side and then use a flexible insert for one of the square switch plates
  • you need something to fill up the rest of the hole after you run the wire through
  • 7/8″ masonry drill bit
  • single-gang box (one intended for use in existing walls, as opposed to new construction)
  • Decora-type single-gang plate
  • flexible Decora insert (usually found in the Audio/Video section, not the Electrical section)