Software bug shuts down Nest thermostats, turns off heating for unlucky customers

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Comments

  • Reply 61 of 83
    knowitall said:
    No.

    Most (all?) thermostats aren't connected to mains electricity.  They "parasitically" take power from the control lines for the HVAC system, which I think is 24v (and very little current, since it's basically just a signal wire).
    So yes, indirectly so. My point wasn't the specific voltage (of course) but the fact that power is supplied by external means. So did they shut down the external power with the software update? That would really be insanely stupid and shouldn't be possible because the hardware shouldn't allow it (external power should charge the battery, not the other way around; when the battery is discharged external power should be used and vice versa).
    I think that only several errors by design can account for this failure.

    By the way my smoke detectors use mains power (with a backup battery that beeps when it's nealy empty).
    Works perfectly fine when main power is off and on, but it doesn't have the added complexity of software updates, luckily. 
    I see what you're getting at.

    I think that the problem is when it's using the screen and WiFi at the same time, it probably draws more power than the 24v line can supply.  Remember, as I mentioned the power source is little more than a signal wire - very low current, and hence not able to power much.  The Nest trickle charges the battery, so when you go to use it and the screen powers up, it has enough power stored to run it.

    I believe the problem is that the external power supply is so "small" that the thing just can't run all of its services if the battery isn't there with stored charge to run everything.

    My smoke detectors use mains power too, but the point is, they were installed and wired in to the proper 110v mains supply.  The Nest wasn't.  It was installed as a replacement for an old fashioned thermostat, and has to make do with whatever supply is there, which in this case is a spectacularly low powered 24v line.
  • Reply 62 of 83
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    If Apple did this, the media coverage would be cataclysmic and shares would go down 25%.
    Google... No coverage, stocks will go up...
  • Reply 63 of 83
    Boy when something like this happens, it sure draws out the ignorant, the stupid and the paranoid en masse.  Those whom are afraid of what they don't understand and ready to jump on an isolated incident like this for a chance to spread their own variety of FUD and misinformation.

    Nest screwed up.  No question about it.  They released an update without enough testing.  Perhaps their design is fundamentally flawed also - because there is no manual override.  I don't dispute any of those facts/opinions.  However - it's completely ridiculous and just fear-mongering to suggest that it is impossible to design automated systems with adequate safeguards and failsafe protocols.  Of course it can be done.  That kind of design would certainly cost more - in research and design, in implementation and in performing adequate testing - but somebody will do it.  Just because Nest failed to do so doesn't mean it's impossible!  And to draw the conclusion that a self-driving car will be allowed on the road with systems that on board that could cause any kind of catastrophe when they fail is ignorant.  It's childish and immature to suggest that it's likely.

    If you want to protect yourself - be a more informed consumer!  Ask what happens when a device fails - and if you don't like the answers - don't buy it.  I doubt there will ever be a product designed that is immune to failure - but well designed products will fail in a manner that may be inconvenient - but will definitely be safe.

    all of the arguments people are throwing out their now are arguments that could also be applied to the mature technology and automation that they use every day - such as automobiles, microwave ovens, doorbells, toasters, etc...  Why would ANYONE install a doorbell when it's just as easy to knock???  There is electricity running to the doorbell switch!  It's just not worth the chance of being electrocuted.  I'll stick to knocking thank you bery much!!!! /s

    Nest may never recover fully from this.  They've demonstrated some irresponsibility here which also exposed some flaws in their design.  Other automation companies will learn lessons from this.  Some of them will build better products, with adequate failsafes because of this.  Others will continue to cut corners and take shortcuts.  Hopefully, there will be sites on the internet (like there are now) that compare and evaluate the different offerings and post their findings - but it's up to us as consumers to make sure we make educated decisions when we make purchases and realize that saving $20 is sometimes not the best route to take!

    Botton line:  Home automation is evolving.  Your existing builders thermostat was feared and not trusted when it first came out.  Now it's the go to safe device for those that don't trust the newer more automated systems.  Originally, there were many who didn't trust them and opted to turn on and off the heat manually.  Companies will learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others and build better, more reliable models every year. They will get better and more reliable when they operate properly - and when they fail - they will do so in the best possible way.  Look at a company's track record before you purchase a device.  Ask about what happens when it fails?  Then make an informed purchase.

    Technology and automation is here to stay.  Don't be scared away from it by the lies and misinformation spread by the ignorant and the scared.  
    paulmjohnsongatorguytenly
  • Reply 64 of 83
    roake said:
    When these Nest thermostats came out, I bought one.  I loved it!  I bought a second for my home and one for my parents.

    Then Google bought Nest.

    Now I eye them with distrust.  Like little Google eyes in my house.  I'm not sure what data Google is stealing, but I'll bet they are siphoning off a great deal.
    Lol watch out - Google now knows what temperature you keep your home
    stevie
  • Reply 65 of 83
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    bdkennedy said:
    Welcome to home automation. Never install automatic updates.
    Because that would be redundant.
  • Reply 66 of 83
    roake said:
    When these Nest thermostats came out, I bought one.  I loved it!  I bought a second for my home and one for my parents.

    Then Google bought Nest.

    Now I eye them with distrust.  Like little Google eyes in my house.  I'm not sure what data Google is stealing, but I'll bet they are siphoning off a great deal.
    Lol watch out - Google now knows what temperature you keep your home
    Ha ha!

    In Roakes defense, I have to say I had a twinge of unhappiness when Google bought Nest because they would know what temperature my home was at.  I am (and was) used to the fact that Google would make adverts pop up based on my browsing history, and am kind of OK with that (though if I'm honest, after I'd been looking at True & Co's website because a friend of mine had gone to work there, I wasn't that happy when pretty much every webpage I went to for a while had a banner ad for lingerie!)

    What I feared seeing happen was, I don't know, adverts for sweaters popping up, because Google knew I was cold that evening and had cranked up the temperature of my Nest.  For me, that would have been somewhat crossing the Rubicon.  As it is, that never happened, so I don't care!
  • Reply 67 of 83
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,035member
    Borderdog said:
    This is my first post on AppleInsider. I have been lurking for years. Been a Mac user since 1984. I have 3 Macs, 3 iPhones, an iPad, and an apple TV. So take all that with a grain of salt. 

    I'm semi-retired now from the construction business; I was a custom home-builder for 40 years. I've built some incredible homes, which included some really complex heating/cooling systems and, complex electrical and lighting systems. I was also deeply involved in energy conservation within the home. 

    What I have learned is: keep your winter-time thermostat at 68º and your summertime at 75º. We used Honeywell's programmable thermostats, but they don't really save you money. The best thing is to leave your thermostat alone at a set temperature; 68 in winter and 74-76 in the summer. When you turn your thermostat down at night in the winter, and then program it to ramp back up at 5:00 AM, you're not saving anything. There is a lot of mass within a house...furniture, interior wall, floors, etc. When that programmable  thermostat sets back the temps for the night or while your gone for the day, it has to expend an inordinate amount of energy to reheat the air plus the mass within your house.
    No reason for any type of smart thermostat. 
    It takes less time to manually reset your thermostat than it does to pull out your iPhone or tablet to regulate your home's temperature. Sheesh!

    Now the same goes for lights. A properly wired house has two switches for a hallway; one switch at either end (that's called a 3-way because of the way it's wired, 3 switches controlling the same lights is called a 4-way). So what is so hard about when you enter or exit a room or hallway to just flip the fuckin' switches. It takes less effort than grabbing you iPhone.

    We are turning into a bunch of techno couch potatoes, without even realizing we would expend less energy by manually turning lights off or on and manually adjusting the thermostat. Home automation is a joke!

    The only place I use any automation is for my home theater/listening room. I can click one button and my system turns on and then after a few seconds, the lights will dim or turn off. 

    I can program any of this stuff, but I still think it's a joke.




    Can not agree with that statement more, this is the part that most people do not understand, they need to take a thermodynamic class or do to understand this. It take less energy to maintain the internal temp of your home than it take to keep reheating each day. Now if you going to be gone for a while going to lower temp does save energy over that people of time.
  • Reply 68 of 83
    maestro64 said:
    Borderdog said:
    This is my first post on AppleInsider. I have been lurking for years. Been a Mac user since 1984. I have 3 Macs, 3 iPhones, an iPad, and an apple TV. So take all that with a grain of salt. 

    I'm semi-retired now from the construction business; I was a custom home-builder for 40 years. I've built some incredible homes, which included some really complex heating/cooling systems and, complex electrical and lighting systems. I was also deeply involved in energy conservation within the home. 

    What I have learned is: keep your winter-time thermostat at 68º and your summertime at 75º. We used Honeywell's programmable thermostats, but they don't really save you money. The best thing is to leave your thermostat alone at a set temperature; 68 in winter and 74-76 in the summer. When you turn your thermostat down at night in the winter, and then program it to ramp back up at 5:00 AM, you're not saving anything. There is a lot of mass within a house...furniture, interior wall, floors, etc. When that programmable  thermostat sets back the temps for the night or while your gone for the day, it has to expend an inordinate amount of energy to reheat the air plus the mass within your house.
    No reason for any type of smart thermostat. 
    It takes less time to manually reset your thermostat than it does to pull out your iPhone or tablet to regulate your home's temperature. Sheesh!

    Now the same goes for lights. A properly wired house has two switches for a hallway; one switch at either end (that's called a 3-way because of the way it's wired, 3 switches controlling the same lights is called a 4-way). So what is so hard about when you enter or exit a room or hallway to just flip the fuckin' switches. It takes less effort than grabbing you iPhone.

    We are turning into a bunch of techno couch potatoes, without even realizing we would expend less energy by manually turning lights off or on and manually adjusting the thermostat. Home automation is a joke!

    The only place I use any automation is for my home theater/listening room. I can click one button and my system turns on and then after a few seconds, the lights will dim or turn off. 

    I can program any of this stuff, but I still think it's a joke.




    Can not agree with that statement more, this is the part that most people do not understand, they need to take a thermodynamic class or do to understand this. It take less energy to maintain the internal temp of your home than it take to keep reheating each day. Now if you going to be gone for a while going to lower temp does save energy over that people of time.
    That was the whole premise of of my statement. Majority of people don't understand the laws of thermodynamics. You have the internal mass of your house (walls, furniture, floors. etc., etc.). You keep a constant temp, and your furnace or cooling system will actually work less. 
    The most important thing to say to your children or spouse is: close the fuckin' door!..LOL.

    Now, when we travel for extended periods, I do turn down the thermostat, or up in cooling season. When we get back home, I do expect a day of the house reaching equilibrium again. Oh the horror, for being slight colder or warmer for 24 hours. We have things called sweaters.

    Oh, I need Siri to tell me to put on a sweater, or you need to take off your shirt. LOL
  • Reply 69 of 83
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,918member
    Borderdog said:
    This is my first post on AppleInsider. I have been lurking for years. Been a Mac user since 1984. I have 3 Macs, 3 iPhones, an iPad, and an apple TV. So take all that with a grain of salt. 

    I'm semi-retired now from the construction business; I was a custom home-builder for 40 years. I've built some incredible homes, which included some really complex heating/cooling systems and, complex electrical and lighting systems. I was also deeply involved in energy conservation within the home. 

    What I have learned is: keep your winter-time thermostat at 68º and your summertime at 75º. We used Honeywell's programmable thermostats, but they don't really save you money. The best thing is to leave your thermostat alone at a set temperature; 68 in winter and 74-76 in the summer. When you turn your thermostat down at night in the winter, and then program it to ramp back up at 5:00 AM, you're not saving anything. There is a lot of mass within a house...furniture, interior wall, floors, etc. When that programmable  thermostat sets back the temps for the night or while your gone for the day, it has to expend an inordinate amount of energy to reheat the air plus the mass within your house.
    No reason for any type of smart thermostat. 
    It takes less time to manually reset your thermostat than it does to pull out your iPhone or tablet to regulate your home's temperature. Sheesh!

    Now the same goes for lights. A properly wired house has two switches for a hallway; one switch at either end (that's called a 3-way because of the way it's wired, 3 switches controlling the same lights is called a 4-way). So what is so hard about when you enter or exit a room or hallway to just flip the fuckin' switches. It takes less effort than grabbing you iPhone.

    We are turning into a bunch of techno couch potatoes, without even realizing we would expend less energy by manually turning lights off or on and manually adjusting the thermostat. Home automation is a joke!

    The only place I use any automation is for my home theater/listening room. I can click one button and my system turns on and then after a few seconds, the lights will dim or turn off. 

    I can program any of this stuff, but I still think it's a joke.




    Electricity costs more during peak hours. It's about saving the Benjamins and not necessarily energy. 
  • Reply 70 of 83
    The smartest thermostat is your body.
    I live in Virginia, so I know how humidity and wind affect your comfort level. I've worked outside a great portion of my life. I said earlier that I built many large custom homes. I didn't do that from the comfort of my home or my truck. I was in the elements. Winter and Summer.

    After spending all day outside on a winter day, a 68º house felt hot. I didn't turn down the thermostat, I just took an extra layer of clothes off. An hour later I was fine.
    After spending all day outside on a hot and humid day, my 75º air-conditioned house felt cold. I'd take a shower...cool the body off. And I was fine.
    In both instances, winter or summer, I listened to my body. 
    If it feels cold in the house, even though you are at constant temperature. Wind and humidity play a big part. The air temp reads 68º, but you feel chilly. Rather than turning up the thermostat, put on a sweater. If it feels hot inside your house, take off your shirt or just put up with it until your body adjusts.

    No smart thermostat can adjust to these things. I'll say it again: The smartest thermostat is your body. 
  • Reply 71 of 83
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,365member
    larrya said:
    Nest software updates - from the people who brought you Android. 
    Why do appliances even need software updates? They just do one thing. They are not goddamned PCs.
    To add more data collecting features that are sent home to Google no doubt.   That video feed they collect 24/7 probably has a better face recognition now...  My first version is still going thank heavens.  Perhaps the early ones cannot be updated the same way since they were made prior to Google take over and maybe lack the 'backdoor'.  Any info on this?
    AFAIK what data goes to Nest stays with Nest. It's not shared with Google at all unless you've specifically requested that certain bits be used for something like Google Now to use their voice control features to control home temperature or such. For now I don't think you have much of anything to worry about. Unless of course you never trusted Nest in the first place which would beg the question why you bought their devices. 
  • Reply 72 of 83
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,471member
    jagnut said:
    I love my Nest thermostats, have two, upstairs and downstairs.  I preordered them when first announced and they have worked flawlessly since.  Even the software updates have installed seamlessly and they have saved me money on my power bill.  They have been a great investment.  I wish some other technologies would work as well as these have. 
    Like me, you have the first iteration.  I have to wonder if ours are actually safe from these sort of issues because that version was pre Google and doesn't have extra capabilities Google added for their own reasons in the later versions.
  • Reply 73 of 83
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,365member
    jagnut said:
    I love my Nest thermostats, have two, upstairs and downstairs.  I preordered them when first announced and they have worked flawlessly since.  Even the software updates have installed seamlessly and they have saved me money on my power bill.  They have been a great investment.  I wish some other technologies would work as well as these have. 
    Like me, you have the first iteration.  I have to wonder if ours are actually safe from these sort of issues because that version was pre Google and doesn't have extra capabilities Google added for their own reasons in the later versions.
    What did they add that could be considered a problem? I know it's now thinner and the display is larger and higher res. They also changed from a near-field sensor to a far-field one so that you can more easily see the current time and temp without having to walk right up to it. There's also some new furnace monitoring features that I wouldn't need. Is there something else added that concerns you? Honest question as I've briefly considered the Nest along with Honeywell's thermostat for each of our A/C systems. 
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 74 of 83
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,680member
    jungmark said:
    Borderdog said:
    This is my first post on AppleInsider. I have been lurking for years. Been a Mac user since 1984. I have 3 Macs, 3 iPhones, an iPad, and an apple TV. So take all that with a grain of salt. 

    I'm semi-retired now from the construction business; I was a custom home-builder for 40 years. I've built some incredible homes, which included some really complex heating/cooling systems and, complex electrical and lighting systems. I was also deeply involved in energy conservation within the home. 

    What I have learned is: keep your winter-time thermostat at 68º and your summertime at 75º. We used Honeywell's programmable thermostats, but they don't really save you money. The best thing is to leave your thermostat alone at a set temperature; 68 in winter and 74-76 in the summer. When you turn your thermostat down at night in the winter, and then program it to ramp back up at 5:00 AM, you're not saving anything. There is a lot of mass within a house...furniture, interior wall, floors, etc. When that programmable  thermostat sets back the temps for the night or while your gone for the day, it has to expend an inordinate amount of energy to reheat the air plus the mass within your house.
    No reason for any type of smart thermostat. 
    It takes less time to manually reset your thermostat than it does to pull out your iPhone or tablet to regulate your home's temperature. Sheesh!

    Now the same goes for lights. A properly wired house has two switches for a hallway; one switch at either end (that's called a 3-way because of the way it's wired, 3 switches controlling the same lights is called a 4-way). So what is so hard about when you enter or exit a room or hallway to just flip the fuckin' switches. It takes less effort than grabbing you iPhone.

    We are turning into a bunch of techno couch potatoes, without even realizing we would expend less energy by manually turning lights off or on and manually adjusting the thermostat. Home automation is a joke!

    The only place I use any automation is for my home theater/listening room. I can click one button and my system turns on and then after a few seconds, the lights will dim or turn off. 

    I can program any of this stuff, but I still think it's a joke.




    Electricity costs more during peak hours. It's about saving the Benjamins and not necessarily energy. 
    Not to me. I pay the same per kWh regardless of when consumed.
  • Reply 75 of 83
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,044member
    larrya said:
    Nest software updates - from the people who brought you Android. 
    Why do appliances even need software updates? They just do one thing. They are not goddamned PCs.
    Yes they do because they have to keep up with latest mobile OS and WiFi technology for compatibility. Are you still using feature phone?
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 76 of 83
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,044member
    I don't understand why people even use this overpriced pos. $250 thermostat for monitoring temperature in 1 room? Are you fucking kidding me? Look at Ecobee3, at least with that price, you can have 2 rooms monitored and $40 more for any additional room by adding remote sensor. Yeah, average house in US has minimum 4 rooms to be monitored...talk about $1000 on Nest products, people.
  • Reply 77 of 83
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 1,027member
    Borderdog said:
    maestro64 said:
    Can not agree with that statement more, this is the part that most people do not understand, they need to take a thermodynamic class or do to understand this. It take less energy to maintain the internal temp of your home than it take to keep reheating each day. Now if you going to be gone for a while going to lower temp does save energy over that people of time.
    That was the whole premise of of my statement. Majority of people don't understand the laws of thermodynamics. You have the internal mass of your house (walls, furniture, floors. etc., etc.). You keep a constant temp, and your furnace or cooling system will actually work less. 
    I am not convinced this is true in most circumstances. I understand a good deal about thermodynamics (yes, I've even taken a course in it) and the science behind it contradicts what you are saying. What occurs is exactly the opposite of what you are writing. Some sources:





  • Reply 78 of 83
    I wish that was my only problem with the Nest Thermostat. I bought two of them last week on the assurance from the company they they were compatible with my system. 
    $500 dollars later, and 3-4 hours on the phone with support only to find out that they are not compatible. They suggested that I replace a board on my furnace to get them to work. Needless to say, they are both going back. In all fairness, and for complete transparency, we were able to get one to work. It just wouldn't link up with my other thermostat. When the one was working, it was very sweet. Sitting at work, I could just got to the app and run up the heat so the house was nice and warm when I got home.
  • Reply 79 of 83
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,680member
    nemoeac said:
      Look at a company's track record before you purchase a device.  Ask about what happens when it fails?  Then make an informed purchase.

    Fair 'nuff, but my threshold question of "what is the value to me of this thing?" has a high bar. I didn't adopt the doorbell until I considered the package thefts in my neighborhood, and then found an inexpensive wireless system that could be installed by taping to the door and plugging a unit into a wall.
  • Reply 80 of 83
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,680member

    fallenjt said:
    Why do appliances even need software updates? They just do one thing. They are not goddamned PCs.
    Yes they do because they have to keep up with latest mobile OS and WiFi technology for compatibility. Are you still using feature phone?
    If all I was doing was making voice calls, I would switch back to a feature phone in a heartbeat. Cheap, reliable, and simple. These are all I generally want from an appliance. They are not goddammned PCs...that are intended for multiple purposes and multiple functions.
    edited January 2016
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