Nest Issues Update to Fix Thermostat Glitches

A faulty software update caused some Nest smart thermostats to shut down or behave erratically. Nest issued an over-the-air update to fix the problems.

Google Nest fix

Google-owned smart thermostat maker Nest has released a software update to address an issue causing the battery in some of its devices to either shut down completely or behave in an erratic manner.

The over-the-air update has been pushed out automatically and should alleviate the situation for a "vast majority" of affected customers, Nest spokesman Bill Burnett said in an emailed statement. "On top of this, we are also planning additional fixes in the coming weeks to further improve performance."

Nest users still experiencing problems with their devices even after the OTA update might want to do a manual restart of their thermostats, the Nest statement said. A document published on Nest's support site outlined what Nest users need to do if their thermostats will not turn on or remain slow and unresponsive.

In its statement, Nest said that it is aware of a software bug causing some devices to become slow and unresponsive. The company described the issue as affecting only a "small percentage" of Nest users.

According to the company, the problem affects Nest devices that were recently updated to version 5.1.3 of the smart thermostat software. Some devices running the version have been found to become unresponsive. In other instances, the software update has caused the battery not to charge in a proper fashion causing the thermostat to shut down.

Devices with the faulty update might exhibit different symptoms, Nest said. The most obvious one is that it stops controlling the heating and cooling system entirely. In some cases, the thermostat goes offline in the Nest app and becomes disconnected from the WiFi. In other cases, it might indicate the need to shut down because of a low battery. Thermostat animations that are noticeably slower than normal and a message asking people to remove the device from its base and reattach it are two other common symptoms.

Nest encouraged users experiencing such problems to unplug the devices and manually restart them. The company likened the process to unplugging a computer instead of shutting it down and said it could cause some unsaved energy usage information to become erased.

Nest users first began complaining of problems with their devices earlier this month. In comments posted on the Nest Community forum, owners talked about thermostats that had shut down because of a drained battery or of the device being set to the wrong temperature.

"Woke this morning to a dark Nest. Had to plug it into the computer long enough so I could use it manually. The battery was completely drained," one user wrote on the forum. "During the winter, this isn't a good thing. This means we have no heat."

"Same issue here ... woke up to a dead Nest and a very cold house," another user wrote. "Not good when you have a baby sleeping!"

Nest's smart thermostats are among a growing category of Internet-connected products that are designed to help consumers manage home heating and cooling units as well as lighting, security and entertainment systems more efficiently. Nest claims its thermostats are capable of learning a home's energy usage patterns over time so it can automatically adjust heating and cooling settings as the seasons change.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.