Google Nest Cam With Floodlight review: Bright, smart and expensive

Quick verdict: The Google Nest Cam With Floodlight takes the smarts of Google's impressive Nest Cam and – surprise, surprise – adds a floodlight to it. It's a combination that can work well, but it's quite expensive even within its category, especially as you'll also have to pay an electrician to install it.

Pros

  • Bright light with good motion sensing
  • Integrated security camera
  • Smart alerts if offline
Cons

  • Expensive!
  • Requires electrician to install, making it even more expensive
  • Light and camera are separate components in Google Home, which is confusing

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The Google Nest Cam With Floodlight takes the smarts of Google's impressive Nest Cam and – surprise, surprise – adds a floodlight to it. It's a combination that can work well, but it's quite expensive even within its category, especially as you'll also have to pay an electrician to install it.

There's no shortage of smart security cameras suitable for outdoor usage on the market right now. Google's already in this space with its $329 Nest Cam Outdoor model. There are fewer choices if you also want illumination as part of the camera equation. Google's Nest Cam With Floodlight offers good video quality, smart AI and very bright lights.

However, it's an expensive device, especially when you consider nearly everyone will have to stump up for an electrician to come and install it on top of its $549 asking price.


Google Nest Cam With Floodlight review: Design

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The Google Nest Cam with Floodlight is one of those gadgets that really does describe itself in its branding. It's a Google Nest Cam… and it's got a floodlight attached.

Two of them, to be precise, with a pair of 2,400-lumen LED lamps that can get dazzlingly bright. In other words, avoid my review mistakes and try to avoid staring straight at them when you're testing out motion.
Each lamp is on a rotatable arm, so you can direct the lights wherever you need them to be. In the centre of the lights, there's a magnetic attachment plate for the Google Nest Cam part of the equation. That does mean you can move the Nest Cam around as needed for angling its view without requiring a physical arm to do so. The magnet is very strong – watch your fingers! – so outside earthquakes, it's not likely to drop from the mounting.

The split design is an interesting step for Google to take because it means that it truly is just a motion-sensitive floodlight with the Nest Cam attached to the middle.

To put it another way, it's a $220 floodlight because what you're getting in terms of the Nest Cam is basically just the $329 Nest Cam outdoor.

If you're after a security camera that looks imposing – the type that may just scare off a burglar simply by making it obvious that they're being watched – then the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight might not suit you either. The sleek white lines of the Nest Cam make a lot of sense in an interior setting where they won't clash with most décor. In an outdoor setting where they're likely to get a bit dusty and grimy over time? They're much less imposing.


Google Nest Cam With Floodlight review: Installation

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

In the box, you'll find everything you need to install the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight, from the light and camera itself to the wires, connectors and even a handy little hook so you can hang it comfortably during the installation process without needing someone to hold it in place.

However, and I must stress this in the most emphatic terms, you shouldn't install it yourself despite all the bits and bobs in the box.

The Google Nest Cam With Floodlight isn't a device you can install yourself, at least in Australia.
Well, not unless you're a licensed electrician from both a legal and safety standpoint. It absolutely requires wiring into mains electricity, and that is not a task you should attempt with a can-do DIY approach. That way lies disaster, hospital visits, disputed insurance claims and a whole lot of pain best avoided.

The need to hire an electrician to install it does makes the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight an even more expensive proposition. If you don't have an external light fitting, it's going to cost even more to get the wiring in place for that to happen.

To be fair to Google, that's no different from any other wired smart spotlight, but it's worth keeping in mind given how self-install ready the rest of the Nest security range really is.

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

In my case, while Google supplied the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight for review, I already had an external spotlight in place, albeit a considerably older one with at least 22 years of life on it. Still, electricians aren't cheap, and you do need to bear that in mind.

While I employed an electrician to install the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight, I also queried around their assessment of the install process because I honestly wasn't really doing it myself.

While they appreciated the way that Google supplies all the needed tools in the box, they did note that the supplied wire connectors were of a US type that most reputable Australian electricians wouldn't automatically use for safety reasons.

Not that the Google ones were explicitly unsafe, just that they were a little cheaper than my particular sparky wanted to use. Yours may have different tastes when it comes to electrical connectors. He also noted that the conduit that the electrical cabling uses might degrade over time. Google rates the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight at IP54, so it should be workable enough in most weather, biblical level floods notwithstanding.

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Physical installation out of the way, I could get into adding the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight to my existing Google Home set-up. There's an onboard QR code for simpler addition to Google Home, which is the only set-up that it will work directly with.

One of the advantages of the wired connection is that you should never run out of battery on the camera part of the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight, which means you can safely enable more features without worrying about their impact on battery life.

One notable quirk here may kick in if, like me, you're having the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight installed on a ceiling. Google seems to think that most users will mount the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight on a vertical surface, although if you are mounting it against a ceiling (as I did), you'll find that the connection cable for the camera restricts its orientation. By default, and confusingly, this means you end up with an upside-down camera image, although it's easy enough to flip the image within the Google Home app.


Google Nest Cam With Floodlight review: Performance

Google Nest Cam With Floodlight review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

While they sit together and wire in together, testing and evaluating the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight really was an adventure of testing 2 distinct devices, and even Google recognises this.

When you set up the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight within Google Home, you don't end up with just the one "Nest Cam With Floodlight" device. Instead, the Nest Cam is its own camera, named however you like, and the floodlights are another. They share a light switch, which you'll need to remember to keep switched on if you want the camera to continue working. Otherwise, they're effectively standalone devices.

This can get annoying if you're watching the Nest Cam stream and you want to put the floodlights on, because there's no way to do that within the camera interface, even though you bought the one box with both components in it. Instead, you've got to jump out to your lighting and adjust it there, whether that's within the app or via a Google Assistant voice command.

The actual floodlights work well, picking up motion from a reasonable distance in my test environment. My one caveat there is that the nature of my own install meant that there was a support beam blocking some of its field of vision because of where the old floodlight was already installed. I never had an issue with lights not coming on when anyone moved into the carport area, but I could see where a wider field of vision might bring faster results.

Google Nest Cam With Floodlight review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

It's possible to dim the brightness of the floodlights, but only as a pair, and only in brightness, not colour intensity, with a set 4,000K bright white illumination pattern. You're probably not after mood lighting outdoors from floodlights anyway.

The Nest Cam itself has the same feature set as any other Nest Cam, or indeed the Google Nest Doorbell Battery. This includes AI detection of people, packages, animals and vehicles alongside regular motion detection. You can specifically filter for certain motion types, too, which is great if you don't want every single motion-detection alert.

In my case, my neighbour's driveway was within spotting distance of the Nest Cam, and it was easier to disable the vehicle alert than it was to set up a motion zone to exclude it. Even in an EV age, it's usually pretty easy to tell when a car drives into your carport, and the Nest Cam will pick up the person as its own motion event anyway when they get out.

Google Nest Cam With Floodlight review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Like the Nest Cam Doorbell, there's also an additional Nest Alert subscription option, priced at $9 a month. That buys you rolling cloud archives of events for up to 10 days, as distinct from the 3-hour free window you get otherwise, as well as facial recognition features.

Most smart camera/security devices have some level of subscription tier, and at least in Google's case, it's a one-size-fits-all sub, covering any Nest devices in a single location. If you need more tracking, Nest Aware Plus runs $18 a month with 60 days of event history and 10 days of 24/7 video history.

Alerts and notifications are handled via Google Home and mostly worked well during my review period. There's an obvious limitation depending on your home broadband's upload speeds and the connection speed of whatever device you're streaming from.

Often I'd get a notification, click on it and be told that the video wasn't yet available, and this was coming from an NBN 250/25 connection. In those cases, the Nest Cam does drop you to a live feed with the processed video appearing in your history shortly afterwards, so you can still do an essential security check.


Should you buy it?

  • Buy it if you're already in the Google ecosystem and can wear the asking price.
  • Don't buy it if you want an affordable or fully integrated smart floodlight and camera.

Does the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight provide illumination and security features as it promises on the outside of the box? Yes, it totally does, and what's more, it does so in a way that (mostly) integrates smartly with other Google Assistant and Google Home products. If your smart home already encompasses a lot of that equipment, it's going to work well with them.

However, that utility comes at a stiff asking price because it's not just the $549 list price you've got to consider. For most of us without an electrician's licence, you're looking at additional cost for installation even if you're replacing an existing floodlight. If you want actual ongoing tracking from the Nest Cam part of the equation, that's going to cost you even more.

That's the biggest issue with the Google Nest Cam With Floodlight because most of its competitors are less expensive, and in some cases considerably more so if they don't require direct electrical connections.

Google Nest Cam With Floodlight review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder


Google Nest Cam With Floodlight review: Pricing and availability


How we tested

The Google Nest Cam With Floodlight was installed at the author's Sydney home at his own expense and used over a 2-week period to track mail delivery, family movements, neighbourhood cats and quite a few wandering brush turkeys as well. It was tested using an NBN HFC 250/25 connection through Aussie Broadband (disclaimer: the author's podcast, Vertical Hold(https://verticalhold.com.au/) is sponsored by Aussie Broadband) with testing in location and for streaming purposes over Telstra's 4G and 5G networks. The Google Nest Cam With Floodlight used for review was supplied by Google.


Specifications

Dimensions, Weight, Color

Width
31.5 cm (12.4 in)
Length
16.5 cm (6.5 in)
Height
9.3 cm (3.66 in)
Weight
1165 g (41.09 oz)
Color
Neige

Camera

Lens
1/2.8
2-megapixel sensor
6x digital zoom
16:9 aspect ratio

Video

Quality
Up to 1080p at 30 FPS, HDR
960 x 1280 pixels
up to 30 FPS
24/7 live view
Night vision
HDR
H.264 encoding

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