Smart home gadgets are incredibly useful, but they can also be a nightmare to fix when and if things don't work as expected. While I'm sure Google would prefer if all its Nest hardware simply worked right all the time, that's not something you can always depend on. To help with the troubleshooting process, Google is rolling out a pair of new tools for its Nest Thermostat and Nest Cameras that promise to help make the usually frustrating process a little bit easier.
Nest Thermostat Troubleshooter on desktop (left) and mobile (right).
The new Nest Thermostat troubleshooting tool walks you through a process based on details like a specific error message or blinking lights, following a hierarchical tree that asks you questions about your setup and the symptoms you're suffering. You'll need to be at home and near the thermostat to really be able to use the tool, but its question-and-answer format is very detailed and can walk you through a wide variety of potential issues, even if some of the trees ultimately push you to Google's support team or a "contact a pro" answer for help from a professional contractor — and Google can even help you find one if you don't know any HVAC folks in your area.
Nest Camera troubleshooter on desktop (left) and mobile (right).
The Nest Camera troubleshooter has a slightly different interface, but it works for the Nest Cam, Nest Cam Outdoor, Nest Cam IQ, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, and Nest Hello. Unlike the Nest Thermostat troubleshooter, it relies almost entirely on error codes that immediately present you with explanations for those errors and a hierarchy of increasingly involved tasks to try, starting with simple troubleshooting steps like restarting devices or apps, and escalating through other more complicated things like checking router or firewall settings or physically moving hardware. As with the other troubleshooter, should the various steps fail, Google pushes you to the pros — in this case, Google's support team.
Smart home hardware might make things simpler when it works, but the setup process can sometimes be obnoxious. (I'm in the middle of adding a "C wire" for continuous power to my new house to fix an annoying buzzing issue with my Nest Thermostats, so I know the pain.) While it's a bummer when it doesn't all come together easily, these new tools at least make fixing things a little less complicated — and some of this stuff can get really complex without help.