Nest originally started with just a smart thermostat, but the company has grown quite a bit over the years. And now, they have their own security system called the Nest Secure. Here’s how to install it and set it up.

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In the box, the Nest Secure comes with two keychain tags (to easily arm and disarm your system without entering in a passcode), two sensors (which can act as a motion sensor and an open/close sensor for doors and windows), and the main unit that acts as the keypad, alarm, and another motion sensor.

Plus, you can integrate your other Nest products (like a Nest Cam)—as well as a handful of other smarthome gear—into the Nest Secure system for an even more robust setup. For now, though, we’re just going to show you how to install and set up the Nest Secure to get it up and running.

If you already own a Nest product, you probably already have the Nest app installed on your phone, but if this is your first Nest product ever, you’ll need to download the app (available for iOS and Android devices) and tap on “Sign Up” to create a Nest account.

Continue through that process until you get to the main home screen of the app. You’re now ready to set up the security system.

Setting Up the Nest Guard

The Nest Guard is the main unit in the system, and you’ll be setting that up first. Tap on the big “+” button to get started.

The app allows you to scan a QR code on the back of the device you’re setting up, so allow it to access your camera and use it to scan the code.

This will automatically detect what product you’re setting up. In this case, it’s the Nest Guard. On the next screen, the app will discuss what the device does. Hit “Next” at the bottom to continue.

Plug in the Nest Guard using the included cable and power adapter. Then hit “Next” in the app.

The device will eventually emit a chime noise and a voice will guide you through the connection process. You’ll then connect the device to your Wi-Fi network, so select your network from the list.

Enter in the password for your Wi-Fi network and hit “Next”.

Give a few moments to connect to your Wi-Fi. Once that’s complete, tap “Next” at the bottom.

Try out the Next Guard’s built-in motion sensor by walking in front of it. It will light up whenever it detects motion. In the app, you can turn on “Reduced Sensitivity” if you have small pets that would likely set it off otherwise. Hit “Next” to continue.

On the next screen, select where you’ll be placing the Nest Guard in your home.

Now it’s time to set up passcodes, which are used to arm and disarm the security system from the keypad, as well as turn the alarm off if it sounds. Hit “Next” in the app to continue.

The app will give you a generated passcode to use, but you can tap on “Change the Passcode” at the bottom to change it if you want. Otherwise, tap on “Keep this Passcode”.

Nest will automatically email everyone that’s in your Nest’s family account a unique passcode, but you can also add more people.

The Nest Guard is now set up and ready to go. Technically, you could just use this one device to secure your home, but if you have multiple entry points, you’ll want to set up the other sensors that came included with the system. Let’s do that now.

Setting Up the Nest Detect Sensors

Tap on “Add Another Product” in the app.

Just like with the Nest Guard, there’s a QR code attached to the sensor that you can scan. Once scanned, hit “Next” in the app to get started setting up the sensors.

Pull off the QR code tab and wait for the light on the sensor to glow blue. If it doesn’t, press the “Nest” button on the sensor to turn it on. Hit “Next” in the app to continue to the next step.

Wait for the sensor to pair with the Nest Guard. When it’s finished, tap on “Continue to Installation” in the app.

Next, select where you plan to place the sensor, either on a door, wall, or window. Choosing one will determine what activities the sensor can detect and whether or not you’ll need the open/close magnet. I’m going to choose “Wall” and then hit “Next”.

After that, I’m going to choose where exactly I’m placing the sensor, either in a corner or just straight on the wall somewhere. Hit “Next” after choosing one.

Next, choose where the sensor will be placed on your home.

After that, it will tell you what you need to install the sensor and take you through that process, including how high to install it for the most accurate motion detection. When it detects motion, a white LED will light up on the sensor, which also acts as a night light of sorts when you’re making your way through your house at night when the lights are off.


After that, you can continue to add more sensors, but we’re going to move onto setting up the Nest Tag for the sake of this guide.

Setting Up the Nest Tags

Tap on “Add Another Product” to begin setting up one or both of the Nest Tags that came with the system.

Again, scan the QR code on the back of the tag and then hit “Next” in the app.

Assign the tag to someone in your Nest family account and hit “Next”.

Give the tag a name (if you want) and then tap “Next” at the bottom.

Tap “Next” again when the tag connected to your Nest account.

Try out the tag by placing it near the Nest Guard. If it worked, it will make a chime sound and the light will turn green. Hit “Next” in the app.

Hit “Next” again to complete the setup.

Once you have everything set up and added to your Nest Secure system, tap on “Done Adding” at the bottom.

On the next screen, you can watch a video showing you the different features of the system. Then hit “Next”.

If you want to customize various settings of your Nest Secure system, tap on “Settings”. Otherwise, hit “Done”. You can access these same settings at any time.

You’ll now see your security system on the main home screen of the Nest app. You can tap on it to arm or disarm your system.

There are three arm/disarm settings to choose from: Off, Home, and Away. Home (aka Home and Guarding) will arm the system and sound an alarm, but only for doors and windows that open—motion is exempt from this setting. Away (aka Away and Guarding) is similar to the previous setting, but also includes motion. Whenever you set it to Away, you’ll have 60 seconds before it officially arms, but this time limit is customizable in the settings.

You can also use the keypad on the Nest Guard to arm and disarm the system, as well as use your Nest Tag. However, using your Nest Tag will only let you switch between Off and Away.

At this point, you’re good to go! Be sure to explore the different options and settings in the app to familiarize yourself with all of the features.

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Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile.
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