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Cold weather concerns with Nest Doorbell Battery

fernadno
Community Member

Hi,

Similar to some other posters here, I recently noticed that my Nest Doorbell battery (activated 2021-08-28), although wired, had lost much of its charge (down to 3%, indicated a 23 hour time to charge in Google Home app).

The 23 hour recharge estimate remained unchanged for 3 hours when kept wired to doorbell wiring.

From another recommendation on the forum, I decided to try unplugging from the doorbell wires and taking the doorbell indoors to charge via USB cable until 100%.

My doorbell remains plugged into a USB port, showing 2% charged, and an 18 hr 29 min time until full. It has been plugged in now for 1 hour, with no noticeable change in charge condition.

Outdoor temperatures have only recently dropped to below 0 degrees Celsius for longer than a few hours (max -7 degrees C).

Should I be concerned about the battery condition and how this doorbell is reacting to colder weather? Winter has yet to truly begin, and I am worried that this doorbell will not be functional as temperatures continue to drop. I know that ambient operating temperatures fall within -20 and +40 C (as indicated here).

 

 

 

1 Recommended Answer

Brad
Community Specialist
Community Specialist

Hey folks,


We appreciate the feedback on our battery Cameras and Doorbells. Our team is looking closely into this behavior, and we will continue to pass along reports we see here in the Community. To learn more about cold weather battery charging behavior in Nest cameras and doorbells, please stop by our Help Center.

 

Best regards,

Brad.

View Recommended Answer in original post

606 REPLIES 606

firmwaredev
Silver Product Expert
Silver Product Expert

I haven't tried taking it off to charge - that's a pain to do when wired.  I'm sure it would charge fine though indoors, as was the case for fernando.   Mine turned back on again this morning once the temp reached around 30F.   It is charging at a faster rate now, as expected.   The problem  is that winter's just getting started.  There will be long periods (weeks even) where it will continuously be lower than 25F.  During that time it looks like it will never be able to keep charged sufficiently without taking it off and charging indoors, which defeats the purpose of having it wired to doorbell A/C.

MplsCustomer, to your point about why the potential difference between these two devices, I'll take a shot.   I'm just guessing here, but I'm an EE and know the kinds of issues one would face powering from the doorbell A/C.  Also, not trying to defend the product design here, but just pondering what issues could have led to this.

One of the key issues with using doorbell A/C power is that under normal conditions there is no current flowing through a doorbell circuit (well, there is potentially, but I'll get back to that in a second).  Under normal conditions the doorbell circuit is open..no current flowing, until you press the button, which closes the circuit, which powers the chime solenoid, which rings the bell.   Now you can draw a little power, and some doorbells do that have a little light in them.  However, the current required to power the little light is not enough to trip the solenoid.  There would be a resister in series with the bulb so that very little voltage drops across the bulb and very little current flows.   When you hit the button, it just shorts across the bulb sending full power to the solenoid, and the doorbell rings.   Now, think about an electronic doorbell like the nest.  It supports that same functionality to ring the actual doorbell solenoid (if set that way in the software - it's optional).  But to do so it would likely have to disconnect from A/C so that all of the power would flow to the solenoid and ring the actual bell.  Most ways of doing that would mean very little voltage available to keep the nest doorbell powered up.   Because of this, they may have just chosen to fundamentally have the thing running off of battery so they don't have to worry about being able to reliably engage the chime solenoid when the doorbell is pressed.  In addition, as I mentioned prior doorbell A/C is prone to being a range of voltages, and that may have presented a lot of difficulty in running off of it directly, although other camera doorbells do (mostly, though, without battery charging at the same time, which would be simpler).  The easier design is to just use A/C  for trickle charging only.   I wish I'd given this more thought before I bought it.  I actually had this in the back of mind, but just assumed they'd figured out a good approach to use the A/C all the time, with battery as a true backup.  It's looking like that's not the case 😕 .

The standalone nest camera battery doesn't have any of these issues to deal with. It's got nice clean constant DC power coming to it from the adapter.  That's much easier to make work directly off of incoming power.

How can you defend a product that can't stay on when plugged into a power source? I'm plugged into the wall and the thing still can't maintain operation. Actual garbage 

firmwaredev
Silver Product Expert
Silver Product Expert

As I said, I'm not defending it...just explaining the reality of how it could end up that way with the overall design being driven by using doorbell A/C, not the wall A/C adapter.   I doubt they have the additional circuitry in place to have it run off of the usb power alone when using the usb adapter.  That would be additional cost/complexity.     Agreed, should not have been released this way. 

Don't release it then and or charge more for it if that's what it takes I dont care what it costs just as long as it works. The reality the product is half baked I like Google's software experience but the limitations of this product are just sad I get 7 days in the most restricted settings on battery alone not even close to their estimates. All of these getting returned garunteed and that costs them a lot more then just making something that works. Sorry just venting this thing has been an annoyance since day 1.   

firmwaredev
Silver Product Expert
Silver Product Expert

Absolutely - totally agree.  In general Google has been good at software, but has a pretty poor history on consumer electronics, both in design and in sticking to a product line for the long term.   I was hoping for better with this line.  If they have some tweaks in software they can make, awesome, but I doubt there will be much they can do.  I'll probably be moving to some other non-battery doorbell, but will miss the quite good on-camera AI.    I might consider going to some doorbell that has a generic rstp accessible stream, and just using it with blue iris . I'll probably be  dropping the nest battery camera as well and just move to generic POE cameras, again feeding blue iris.

@firmwaredev 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We have just the Google Nest Battery Camera (along with previous Nest cameras and doorbells) and not the Battery Doorbell, so we're going to stick with it (unless it too can't handle cold weather). That does mean juggling the Google Home app and the Google Nest app. I do hope Google keeps its promise to move existing Nest functionality to the Home app and to create a new website for browser access to our cameras.

100%

MplsCustomer
Bronze
Bronze

My opinion is that the Google Nest Battery Doorbell should be able to function within its stated operating temperature range of -4 to +104 Fahrenheit whether wired or not. Its operating temperature range is the same as our Nest Hello doorbells, which have functioned just fine through a couple of Minnesota winters that have gotten down to around -20 Fahrenheit. And the Google Nest Battery Camera also has the same stated operating range, so it should be able to function like our Google Nest outdoor cameras, which have also functioned just fine through two Minnesota winters.

dassub
Community Member

So I just wanted to post a follow up to my wired-in Nest battery doorbell.  After checking a week ago and seeing 67%, I checked again today and it was at 70%.  So it's artificially kept below 100% at all times.  The weather is 0 degrees celcius at time of writing.


I actually found this statement from Google that seems to back this up:

https://support.google.com/googlenest/answer/10481582?hl=en

Important: To help prolong the life of your doorbell's battery, it will only charge to 75% if the doorbell is wired to the doorbell system. Before you install your doorbell, you can use the USB cable to charge the battery above 75%. However, after the doorbell is wired to the system, the battery will drop down to 75% and stay at that level or below.

MplsCustomer
Bronze
Bronze

See also Google Community Specialist Brad's edited reply above, where he says:

"...these devices should be able to handle colder weather. Collecting your feedback will help determine next steps. "

https://www.googlenestcommunity.com/t5/Cameras-and-Doorbells/Cold-weather-concerns-with-Nest-Doorbel...

Aloha_papa
Community Member

Hi guys! What is the power of your transformer? 24v? 

I have 22 volts coming out of the transformer and 22 volts at the wire ends connected to the doorbell. Charged the battery to 100% via USB and it's still going. However the temperature has gotten much on milder with overnight lows of -15 Celsius. We shall see what happens when temperatures return back to normal below -20C

grandbeach-ca
Community Member

I would be interested in seeing if you add a doorbell lightbulb  across the 2 terminals on the back of the nest  doorbell.  You will need to cut out a bit of wood behind your doorbell.  It may generate enough heat to warm the battery.  You could even double it up if needed.

https://www.amresupply.com/part/PBL2-Broan-door-chime

Let me know if anyone tries this. 

mpb65
Community Member

So can anyone confirm whether a hard-wired Google Nest Doorbell can actually charge when hard-wired?   Is there some sort of trickle charge happening?  

Nothing is happening..it just drains slowly under cold conditions until dead. That's the issue. 

firmwaredev
Silver Product Expert
Silver Product Expert

It definitely charges  when hard-wired. I've had mine for a few months and I've never had to unwire it and take it in to charge.   It's just that when it gets cold, it appears that charging efficiency drops dramatically, below the point where it can keep up with consumption indefinitely.    I haven't collected much data (and I will try to start doing so), but it looks like mine is into net negative charge/discharge below around 35F or so.  I'm not recording that many events per day with current settings either - maybe 15-20 events per day, or something like that, most very short.

Dan_The_Man
Community Member

Is there anyone with a physics background here? Doesn't colder temperatures reduce electrical resistance, but that is dependent on material used right? Would hooking up a multimeter to inside components debug this?

firmwaredev
Silver Product Expert
Silver Product Expert

Colder temperatures do reduce resistance in metals, in general.  However that's not relevant to the issue here, and the effect would be small (and would improve performance, not decrease it).  The issue with rechargeable batteries is that the chemical reactions within slow down considerably with cold temperatures, which has the effect of increasing internal resistance - to the point where it is very difficult to charge (and less so, difficult to extract energy/discharge).      Here's a good article on the impact of temperature (both low and high) on Li-Ion batteries:

 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1002007118307536

As mentioned in the article, there are things you can do with regard to charging technology and process to improve things a little, as well as changes to battery chemistry.  But you can't really get around the basic physics here, especially as you get into very cold temperatures.  This is why many all-electric vehicles have battery heating systems to keep the batteries within the optimal temperature range for performance and lifespan. while in cold climates. They also have systems to deal with the high end of the temperature range as well (thermal management materials, heat sinks, etc).

firmwaredev
Silver Product Expert
Silver Product Expert

An update.  Our temps got up into the 40's F yesterday.  As expected, charge rate dramatically increased, and it was charged to full and showing the infinity sign in the app in about an hour or so.  This is wired into the doorbell A/C.   I'll pay a little closer attention as temperatures drop again to get a better idea of what temperature it takes to start loosing ground.   My current estimate is that below around 35F, mine doesn't get enough charge to stay above water, and thus in time spirals down to <3% charge and turns off.  This is with notifications and recording set to a zone just close to the door, but with max video resolution set, and high trigger sensitivity.  Events have been 5-10 per day, plus a couple of doorbell presses.   This is disappointing, as in Jan and Feb it will be below that temperature almost entirely 24x7, and in the teens almost every night.  I'm glad I don't live in MN anymore, as it would be a lot worse there :).

Good point to mention your other settings.

Since my week of low/no battery charging (and since I started collecting data/temperature readings on my end, my doorbell configuration has been the following (all others left to default):

- Battery Usage > "More battery life"

- Events > specific zone at my front door, notifications for people, packages only.

- Wake-up sensitivity > Low

- Max event length > 15 sec.

- Video quality > High (not Max)

- Status light brightness > Low

 

In terms of events being triggered, busiest day had approximately 30 events, while average is mostly around 5-8 including at least one doorbell ring per day.

Temperature hasn't dropped to below double-digit in Celsius for more than 12 hours at any given time, so @firmwaredev i'm with you on the whole 'we'll see what Jan and Feb' will do to the battery and charging cycle.

Brad
Community Specialist
Community Specialist

Hey folks,

 

Thanks for sharing your results and updates! I am still monitoring this and collecting information so I can send it forward. I appreciate your patience, and I will update with next steps as soon as I can.

 

Best Regards,

Brad. 

dassub
Community Member

We appreciate you listening to our experiences. I've noticed my hardwired battery doorbell go from a consistent 70% to now 60% during cold days (0 degrees Celsius). I'm really hoping something like charging character can be updated via firmware/software updates.

mpb65
Community Member

Mine has gone from 75 percent to 15 percent during our recent cold weather;  all settings have been optimized for long battery life.  There definitely needs to be a firmware or hardware update.  No point to having to USB charge wired device that is suppose to be receiving a trickle charge.

mpb65
Community Member

I think you have enough information, no?

Please forward it as soon as possible and let us know what the solution will be.

I don't think any of us want to spend the winter removing our door bells every other day to USB charge them.

Even today, mine is now only hovering at an 11% charge which is not really acceptable performance.

milne
Community Member

I'm in MN. I've had the doorbell since launch. No issues until this past week. I have it hardwired via 24 VAC 40 VA transformer.

 

 

 

I switched a bunch of settings to lower battery usage. I'm not sure why any of this should matter when it is hardwired. There must be a fix incoming for this. Really disappointed with the product now. 

 

firmwaredev
Silver Product Expert
Silver Product Expert

The problem is that the ability to charge the battery drops significantly when cold, and apparently the device can not run on the incoming power alone.  This isn't too surprising, as you can only draw off a little bit of power from a doorbell circuit.  Since the doorbell is in series with the chime solenoid, if you draw too much, you'll trip the chime.  So, there is an upper limit on how much you can draw in any condition, and that amount is likely not enough to power the device while it's awake and working events ( but is, at higher temperatures enough to trickle charge the battery and keep up with overall demand).  When it gets cold enough it won't charge enough to keep up with demand, and eventually runs out of juice completely.  

Okay. Thanks for the info. Does Nest Hello have same issue?

firmwaredev
Silver Product Expert
Silver Product Expert

I've never had the Nest Hello myself, but as far as I know it doesn't have a battery so just runs directly off of the doorball A/C, so this shouldn't be a problem.  I presume because of the lower specs of the Nest Hello, it was able to run direct from wired power.    But I'll let others chime in here about that device.   All that I've seen written on it says that it's fine in cold weather, and that would be what I would expect.

Sadly it isn't.  It's 13C today in Toronto.  I'm at 8% (hard-wired).

dassub
Community Member

The weather has been pretty good for me in Toronto this past week.  My (wired) battery doorbell is up to 72% today.  Which transformer are you using?  Mine is the 16V30VA one from Home Depot.   I don't trust this doorbell in cold weather, but I have enough faith in this current weather.

No. I have had the nest original doorbell for many years and am in Winnipeg Canada which has had weeks of -30c  without issue.

Interesting....looks like the new wired one is having major issues.

Sadly, the new one cannot survive at -30c.  Mine is struggling at 13c today.  8% only on the battery.  Ridiculous.

grandbeach-ca
Community Member

Has anyone test with a 20 v ac adapter that is only being used for the doorbell ?    Not in series, but directly wired so it only uses the phone or external nest home speaker as the chime?

Mine is only being used for doorbell. 

So your using a 16v or 24 v ?  its wired only to the nest  hello  no doorbell inside?  and its  not charging in extreme cold still ?

firmwaredev
Silver Product Expert
Silver Product Expert

Yeah, hooking it up without a chime wouldn't likely make a difference. They have to assume that it is hooked to a chime unless they had a setting or switch to tell it whether it was or wasn't (and have the additional circuitry that you could switch in to utilize the higher current capability).  Even if they did have that, just having it hooked to less constrained A/C won't by itself improve anything.  The charging issue is due to the battery being cold.  Higher voltage will help, to a certain extent, but only some.  If they wrapped the battery in a heater and used the extra current for that...now that could make a difference.   Now they could run the thing totally off of external power in that mode, and honestly, that's how I would have designed the thing from the start.  Basically make it have two modes...one where you're required to unhook from the chime and it can run totally off of A/C (with some battery backup), and another mode where you can have it hooked to the chime, but only gets a trickle charge and a warning that it won't work well in cold weather.

I still think using the light bulb from the old doorbell may produce enough heat on the back plate .The battery is mounted to that black metal plate.    https://youtu.be/DHQ-qW5uvZs?t=736

 

Without the chime in place, yeah that could possibly work.  Now, there is also the high temperature issue as well, and would need to be mindful of that.  If the bulb's hot enough to keep the battery warm when it's really cold, it may be warm enough to heat the battery enough when it's hot out to be unsafe.  Would want to do something to keep that in check.  At a minimum, maybe just a switch in series so you can disconnect it easily when it's not winter.  Better yet some sort of thermal cutoff switch.