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When your thermostat display will turn on

You’ll need to be close (typically within 3 feet or about 1 meter) to your Nest thermostat for the display to turn on. However, your Nest thermostat adapts to how much activity there typically is in its location, and it measures the current light level to adjust when exactly it will turn on the display.

How your Nest thermostat decides when to turn on the screen will depend on your thermostat model and the display setting you choose in the app.

Display options

Nest Thermostat

Nest thermostat E cooling

3rd gen Nest
Learning Thermostat

Nest Learning thermostat heating

Nest Thermostat

Nest Thermostat device



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Wake on approach


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Wake when you pass by

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Wake on press

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It turns off when the battery is low

If your Nest thermostat’s internal battery charge gets too low, the thermostat will take steps to preserve battery life, so it can continue to keep you comfortable and help save energy for as long as possible. You should get a notification from your thermostat about a power or wiring issue if the battery charge is low. But you might also notice that you’ll need to be closer to your thermostat than usual for the screen to turn on. When the battery charge gets very low, the screen will turn off completely.

Troubleshoot when your Nest thermostat won't turn on

Where it's installed matters

No matter where you have your Nest thermostat installed, it will learn and adapt to your habits. Depending on its specific location, it can sense when you’re approaching or passing by to use it and turn on the screen. For instance, in a narrow hallway where people are constantly walking by only a few feet away, your thermostats screen will turn on only when you’re very close. On the other hand, if your thermostat is in an alcove where there’s a lot less activity, you won’t have to be as close for the screen to light up.

The temperature setting and lighting matter

In some cases, the Nest thermostat’s screen will automatically turn on, even when no one is near it. For instance, it will light up when there is a target temperature change that has been automatically triggered by the schedule, or if someone makes a change with the app. 

However, your thermostat will only turn on in these cases if the room isn’t too dark. It first checks the light level in the room to determine if it’s unoccupied or if you may be sleeping, so it won’t disturb you.

Farsight turns on quickly

The 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat comes with its Farsight feature enabled by default. It allows your thermostat to turn on the screen as soon as it detects you, from as far as 20 feet (about 6 metres) away.

Farsight overrides all the factors your thermostat would ordinarily use to determine when to turn on the display (activity in the room, lighting, location, etc.). So no matter where your thermostat is installed or how much activity there is in the room, Farsight will always turn on the thermostat display as soon as it notices someone.

Learn about Farsight

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