If you can do some basic wiring, you can hook up a Nest — but there still are some important instructions to follow
One of the first things you will read when checking out user reviews of Nest Thermostat — something that is also repeated to some degree in professional commentary on the product — is what a pleasure the hardware is to install. Nest worked hard to make its thermostat something that could be installed by as many people as possible, and when compared to the other thermostats I've had to install over the years (most notably the other connected thermostat I installed last year, which shall remain nameless to save from embarrassment) it seems like the company was successful. You'd be hard pressed to find many people saying anything bad about the way this device is installed, which is an impressive accomplishment when you consider this was the very first product Nest Labs had ever made as a company.
That having been said, before you bust out your tool belt and rip your existing hardware off the wall, there are a few things you should know about installing the Nest Thermostat.
Read Part 1: What is Nest, and why would you want one?
Step 1: Follow Nest's instructions — don't be a hero
There are many configurations for heating and air conditioning in houses nowadays, and while Nest seems to have worked hard to support as many setups as possible there's just no way to make a universal Do-It-Yourself kit and have every configuration be simple and straightforward. Fortunately, Nest Labs worked hard to include both an incredible amount of support documentation on their website — and a helpful little screwdriver included in the box. (Seriously, even it is nicely designed.) Together you can quickly assess what your current setup is to determine how ready you are for Nest.
You'll also need to determine whether you want to install your Nest directly to the wall, or use the optional mounting plate. It really just depends on your setup and what's going to look best. Most of us probably didn't have a round thermostat before, and there may be cosmetic issues at play. (Thus the plate.)
Professional A/C services are much more used to seeing Nest these days.
The first stop for anyone considering Nest should be the interactive wire guide on the Nest website, which allows you to note which wires are connected to your existing thermostat. Filling this guide out will tell you whether or not Nest is supported through your existing wiring, but gaining access to these wires means removing the front panel of your current thermostat. If you still have questions, you can go so far as to send Nest a picture of your wiring. They'll check it out and let you know what they think.
You'll also find several important questions in the Nest documentation that may lead to a recommendation for professional installation. This includes setups that require multiple thermostats, multiple heat sources connected to your home, or one of several wiring setups that just plain need a professional involved. Should Nest determine that a professional is necessary for installation, there's a separate part of the website that will list companies near you that are certified to install this tech. Since Nest has been around for a little while now and has become quite popular, there are a lot of HVAC companies out there that have started offering Nest installation support. This thermostat is something any HVAC tech can install, but Nest-certified professionals can install the hardware and then walk you through the energy efficiency parts of the Nest experience and help you get the most out of the software.
Once your thermostat is installed, the software setup can be done from either your phone or through the Nest OS. You'll be asked to connect the thermostat to the Internet and your zip code will need to be provided for local weather data, but once you've reached this point the important parts that control your heating and air conditioning are already handled. What's important here is that you follow the Nest guide to make sure your home is safe after the install should you decide to install the hardware yourself, and if Nest says to have a professional install the thermostat you should absolutely do exactly that. Pricing for those installations will vary depending on who is available in your area, but the end result is you get to enjoy Nest without any issues and can get back to building your connected home.