Does Nest Cam Work Through a Window?

A lot of people think that they can put their Nest Camera in a window in order to record what’s going on outside. Perhaps they want to keep the camera inside so it doesn’t get stolen (ironic, right?), or because the model they’re using isn’t waterproof.

So, will a Nest camera work through a glass window?

The answer is yes and no. The Nest camera will have no trouble recording through a window during the day, but at night, it will struggle and may not work at all.

Why Nest Cameras Can’t See Through Windows at Night

Nest cameras can’t record through a window at night. There are two pieces to that. Basically, your main issue is glare. The glare off of the window can cause the image on the camera to not be that good. And you get glare from two different places.

  • One source of glare is if there’s light inside your house and it’s darker outside. The indoor light reflects off the window glass and hits the lens. This makes for a murky image or even one that’s not visible at all.
  • The bigger source of glare is that the Nest camera has a ring of infrared LEDs around it. These LEDs are shining infrared light all the time. If there’s not enough ambient light, the camera will switch to using infrared, much like a night-vision goggle. This allows it to see in the dark.

The challenge is that if you put the camera right against the window, it’s like shining a flashlight of infrared light right against that window glass. All of that is going to reflect right back into the lens. You’ll get a washed-out image, and the camera won’t be able to see through the glass.

How do I stop window IR reflection?

The best way to solve that is to switch off the night vision. You can do that in the Nest app. Or you could even physically cover the ring of LEDs around the side so that they’re not producing as much glare.

If you shut off the infrared system on your Nest camera, you’ll want to use exterior lighting so that the camera can still see at night. Otherwise, you’ll just be recording dark space!

If you have your patio lights or even the motion sensor light outdoors, that might provide enough ambient light that your camera will be able to record a usable image.

Remember to keep the camera very close to the glass to avoid visible light reflection, too. Some people like to drape fabric over the camera to seal out the light.

Does camera motion detection work through glass?

Here’s the good news–unlike traditional IR motion detectors, the Nest camera should have no problem with motion detection through glass.

Why? Nest cameras use pixel-based changes in the image in order to detection motion. They don’t rely on IR emitters for motion sensing, so the glass doesn’t pose an issue.

What Cameras Can See Through Windows?

Believe it or not, there are cameras designed specifically to see through windows. Panasonic makes the Homehawk camera, which is designed to attach to your window and record clear video. They sent me one to test, and it works well.

Of course, there’s another option–you can always just get an outdoor version of the Nest camera and skip the window entirely! Amazon has them at a great price.