Organize & Clean

How To Install a Nest Thermostat

updated Jul 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Chris Perez)

Things have changed since we last gave a how-to on installing a new programmable thermostat. Namely, a little thermostat called Nest hit the market. A smart, self-learning thermostat that you can control via a smartphone. The elegant and clean design of the Nest even trickles down to the installation and setup process. We give you the full step-by-step for installing your own in this how-to.

What You Need

Nest Thermostat – $249 for second generation (shown), $179 for first generation • Drywall Anchors (optional)


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
1. Unbox the Nest Thermostat

You can pickup the Nest online, and at quite a few big box suppliers like Home Depot or Lowe’s…it’s likely your local hardware store has them to. Inside the box you’ll find the display, base, screwdriver, screws, and optional trim plates.

2. Switch off Power Anytime you deal with electricity and potentially exposed wire, you have to cut the power to avoid electrical shock, and potentially blowing a fuse. Find your fuse box and switch off power to the A/C connected to the thermostat you’ll be replacing.

3. Remove Cover and Take Notes Remove the cover to your old thermostat and take some notes. You’ll want to take notice of the current configuration to your thermostat. Heat Pump or Conventional system? Does the white wire go to W or O/B, etc. Take a smartphone picture or two while you’re at it.

4. Remove Old Thermostat Disconnect the wires from the old thermostat and any jumper wires. Nest doesn’t need jumpers, so an R wire can go into either an Rc or Rh. Unscrew base to the old thermostat.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
5. Label Wires With the thermostat removed, label your wires with the included blue labels in your Nest installation manual.

6. Mark and Level The Nest thermostat even has a built-in level, use it straighten your Nest and then make marks for where the screws will go for a  perfectly aligned installation.

7. Attach Base With your holes marked and any pre-drilled holes made for dry-wall anchors – simply screw in and attach the Nest base to your wall with the included screws.

8. Reconnect Wires Reconnect all wires according the their labels and your wire chart. You’ll notice the grey buttons on around the perimeter of the thermostat depress when a good solid connection is made.

9. Attach Display Simply plug in the Nest display into the base and the power back on.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
10. Setup Your Nest You know your Nest is special right when it boots up. And the setup is actually fun too. Simply turn the dial to find your wifi network, enter your password and connect.

11. Check your Connection Nest even checks your connection. You’ll notice the red marks on OB and Y indicate poor or non-existent connections.So I removed the base, made more solid connections and tried again. Now everything is right how we need it.

12. Continue Setup Continue setup to set your desired temperatures, heating and cooling modes, etc. Then just step away and let Nest do the rest. The motion sensor on the front will notice when you’re away and try to seteup a schedule for you.

Now that we have our Nest installed, we’re excited to see what cost savings it can offer. Join us later for a full review.

(Images: Chris Perez)