Troubleshoot automatic home and device switching

This article is for homes that use the Home app (Home & Away Routines) or Nest app (Home/Away Assist) to automatically switch their devices between Home and Away modes as people come and go.

Here are some troubleshooting steps if your home, or specific products in your home, aren’t automatically switching as you expect.

Choose your issue for troubleshooting help

Select the issue you’re having from the list below to learn more about possible causes and solutions. These solutions assume that the following is true:

  • Your phone has a good cellular or Wi-Fi connection.
  • Your home’s location is correct in the Home app or Nest app.
  • Your Nest products are online.
If not, see the General troubleshooting tips for specific help about these and other issues.

 General troubleshooting tips

Check your location

Your home won’t switch to Away the second you walk through the door to leave. So you may need to be a bit further away from your home for it to switch to Away.

For example, If you only walked over to your next door neighbor’s home, your home may not automatically switch to Away.

Don’t share your account sign-in credentials

Don’t share your email and password with other people who have access to your home. Instead, you should invite other people to share access with their own email and password. When more than one person uses the same credentials to sign into the app, it can cause unexpected behavior with your home and Nest products.

Pets can affect home switching

Most homes that have Nest thermostats don’t have issues with their pets keeping their home from switching to Away. This is because thermostats are typically mounted high enough on the wall that the Nest thermostat’s sensors won’t sense your pet. But if you have pets that jump, climb or fly, your thermostat may see them and think that you’re still at home.

Nest Protect sensors can usually see motion from dogs and other pets, so your furry friends may keep your home from switching to Away when all the humans are gone. 

If you suspect that your devices are sensing your pets, you can disable the device being triggered from helping with presence sensing.

Check your phone’s power, settings, and signal strength

  1. Make sure cellular data (also called mobile data) and Wi-Fi are enabled.

    Note: Your home rarely needs to use GPS data to decide whether you’ve left or come home with your phone. It only uses it to sync your phone’s location if it has been out of touch for 2 days. It doesn’t continually track your location and is engineered to have a minimal impact on your phone’s battery charge.
     
  2. Check that your phone isn’t in airplane mode.
  3. If your phone is running very low on power, cellular data and Wi-Fi may have been automatically disabled to preserve the battery charge. Connect it to a charger.
  4. If you’re in an area that has a weak cellular signal, your home may not know you’ve left, but your home should switch to Away when the signal gets better.
  5. Check the Home app’s or Nest app’s notifications and data permissions in your phone’s OS Settings. Usually, there will be a list of all installed apps somewhere in your phone’s Settings menu. Select the Home app or Nest app from the list and check that it can use cellular, Wi-Fi and GPS data, and send notifications.

If you were talking on your phone as you arrived or left home

Some phones and some cellular service providers don’t allow you to make calls and transfer data at the same time.

So if you were talking on your phone when you came home or left home, it may not have been able to let your Nest home know that you’re back, and there will be a delay in your products switching to Home.

Your phone will trigger the switch to Home when you hang up on your call and open the Home app or Nest app.

Troubleshoot phone location

Your phone’s settings can affect how well your home switches between Home and Away. For example, if Wi-Fi is turned off on your phone, your home may not be able to tell when you leave home with your phone.

Check Home & Away activity in history

A quick look in the app can tell you why and when your home switched between Home and Away, and give you some guidance on what to troubleshoot.

Home history in the Home app

  1. On the home screen, go to the Feed   Recent Events Go to history, then look for “Home & Away” events.
  2. Tap on a day to see activity events that caused switching to Home or Away for that day.
  3. Check times you think that your home switched incorrectly.
    • For example, you might see “Switched to Home • Phone location 9:35 am” meaning that your home automatically switched out of Away because someone arrived with their phone.
  4. Once you know what caused your home to switch incorrectly, you can try to prevent it in the future.
    • For example, you might move a device that sees too much activity, or turn off motion sensing for that device using the app.

Activity history in the Nest app

  1. Go to Settings Nest settings icon Home/Away Assist, then scroll down to the bottom and select Activity history
  2. The last 10 days of activity history will show. Tap on a day to see activity events that caused switching to Home or Away for that day.
  3. Check times you think that your home switched incorrectly.
    • For example, you might see “Home: Activity in the house. Living Room Thermostat 7:30 PM meaning that your home automatically switched out of Away because your thermostat saw activity.
  4. Once you know what caused your home to switch incorrectly, you can try to prevent it in the future.
    • For example, you might move a product that sees too much activity, or turn off motion sensing for that product using the app.

Your Home

Your home switched to Home when it should be in Away

Your home will always automatically switch to Home whenever the following occurs:

  • Your Google Nest products sense activity.
  • A phone that’s set up to help with Home & Away Routines or Home/Away Assist enters your home.

So if someone enters your home, your home should quickly switch to Home.

Your home may unexpectedly switch back to Home if your Nest products see pets that roam around your house or anything that moves while giving off heat.

Your home may also switch to Home a bit early to prepare for your arrival. So you may notice it’s set to Home before you walk in the door. How early it switches can vary a bit depending on your phone’s cellular and Wi-Fi connections, which affect your location accuracy.

Quick fix

As a quick fix, manually switch to Away in the Home app or Nest app. Your home will switch back to Home if there’s activity or a participating phone arrives.

Troubleshoot recurring problems

  1. To see why your home was set to Away and get some guidance on what to troubleshoot, check activity history in the Home app or Nest app.
    • In the Nest app, go to Settings Nest settings icon Home/Away Assist, then scroll down to select Activity history.
    • In the Home app, go to the Feed Recent Events Go to history.
  2. If you have pets, try removing specific Nest devices in rooms your pets use often from the list of devices that help with presence sensing in settings.
  3. If you have a Nest thermostat, move any heaters out of the thermostat’s view. If you’re unable to move a heater that your thermostat might be able to see, try removing your thermostat from helping with presence sensing in settings.
  4. Check your phone’s location settings for iOS.
  5. Check that your home’s location is correct in the Home app or Nest app.

Your home doesn't automatically switch to Away when you expect it to

Your home will not automatically switch to Away as soon as you walk out the door. This is because the app doesn’t constantly track your exact location.

Instead, it checks whether you’re home or not, and there needs to be a good distance between you and your home before it switches to Away. So, if you’re visiting a neighbor, your home may not switch to Away. 

If your cellular and/or Wi-Fi signals aren’t strong at your home’s location, Nest may not know you’ve left until your phone gets a good connection. 

Solution:

  1. Go to history for your home to check whether your home is reporting whether you’re Home or Away.
    • In the Nest app, go to Settings Nest settings icon Home/Away Assist, then scroll down to select Activity history.
    • In the Home app, go to the Feed Recent Events Go to history.
  2. Check that there are no people (or their phones) still in your home. They will keep your home from switching to Away.
  3. If you have pets and a Nest Protect, the Protect may have noticed them and prevented your home from switching. If so, remove your Protect from the list of devices that are helping with presence sensing.
  4. Troubleshoot possible phone location issues. If there are other people who are using the Nest app for shared access to your home, they should check that their phone’s location is correct in the app too.

    Troubleshoot phone location for iOS
  5. Check that your home’s location is correct in the Home app or Nest app.

Nest thermostats

If you’ve just installed a Nest thermostat

Nest thermostats need about a week to learn about your home and your typical daily schedule.

While your thermostat is learning, it will use your phone’s location and activity sensed from other products to automatically switch to Eco Temperatures. 

Your thermostat’s sensors won’t be used to automatically switch your home to Home or Away during the learning period.

After several days of learning, your thermostat will use its sensor data to help determine whether you’re home or not and when to switch to Eco Temperatures. So you may notice the timing of Eco Temperatures switching change a bit.

Your home is in Away but your thermostat didn’t switch to Eco Temperatures

When your home automatically switches to Away, your thermostat should also switch to Eco Temperatures. If your thermostat doesn’t switch to Eco Temperatures when your home switches to Away, your thermostat may not be set to switch to Eco Temperatures automatically.

Solution: 

  1. Make sure your thermostat is set to automatically switch to Eco Temperatures.
  2. If you want your thermostat to switch right away to Eco Temperatures, manually switch your thermostat to Eco Temperatures. It will maintain in Eco Temperatures until you manually switch it to a heating or cooling mode.

Your thermostat isn't staying in Eco Temperatures while your home is set to Away

If your thermostat switches to Eco Temperatures automatically when your home is in Away but switches off Eco Temperatures unexpectedly while you are still away, here are some possible causes:

  • You or someone with shared access has manually changed the temperature.
  • You or someone with shared access has turned off the option for your thermostat to automatically switch to Eco Temperatures.

Solution: 

  1. If you want your thermostat to stay in Eco Temperatures, manually set your thermostat to Eco Temperatures. It will then maintain Eco Temperatures until you manually switch it to a heating or cooling mode.
  2. Go to activity history to check whether someone in your home changed the temperature. This can cause your thermostat to switch out of Eco Temperatures.
  3. Check that automatic switching to Eco Temperatures for your thermostat hasn’t been disabled.

Your thermostat didn’t switch out of Eco Temperatures when you came home

If you arrive home and you see that your home’s status has switched to Home, but your thermostat still says it’s in Eco mode, your thermostat was probably manually set to Eco Temperatures.

Solution:

Set your thermostat to your preferred heating or cooling mode, and it will resume automatically switching again.

Nest cameras and Nest Hello

Your camera didn’t switch on or off as expected

Quick fix

As a quick fix, manually switch your camera off with the Nest app, or manually set your home to Home or Away, which will also switch your camera.

Troubleshoot recurring problems

  1. If you’re using a camera schedule along with Home & Away Routines or Home/Away Assist for your camera, choose one or the other. We don’t recommend using both at the same time to switch your camera because it can cause unexpected behavior.
    • If you have more than one camera, you’ll need to change this setting for each camera in your home.
       
  2. Check that your current location is correct in the app. For example, if you and everyone in your home has left home, the app should say that your home is set to Away.
    • In the Home app, tap Settings Home information Home address., then verify that the information is correct. If you need to change the address, tap the current address and enter a new one.
    • In the Nest app, go to Settings Nest settings icon Home info  next to “Address,” verify that the information is correct. If you need to change the address, tap Address.
    • If there are other people who share access to your home and control devices, they should check that their phone’s location is correct in the app too.
  3. Go to settings to check that automatic switching to Home and Away as you come and go for your camera hasn’t been disabled.
    • To check Home & Away Routines settings for your camera, open the Home app tap Routines Home Routine or Away Routine. Then, check whether the device action for your camera is listed.
    • To check Home/Away Assist settings for your camera, open the Nest app tap Settings Home/Away Assist Home or Away your camera. Then, check whether automatic switching is turned on.
  4. Cameras are automatically turned on or off only by your phone’s location, so inaccurate phone location can affect automatic switching as you come and go. Try the troubleshooting steps for iOS phone location.

  5. If you need more help, see the General troubleshooting tips for more steps you can try.

Other things to check

If you have more than one phone, only use one for presence sensing

Each person who has shared access to a Nest home can only have one phone or tablet set to help with automatic switching to Home or Away.

If you have two phones (work and personal), you need to leave with the one that’s set to help with presence sensing if you want your home to automatically switch as you come and go.

For instance, if you’re the last person to leave home, but you leave behind a device that’s set to help your home to automatically switch between Home and Away, your home will think you’re still there and won’t switch to Away.

Go to settings in the Home app or Nest app to make sure the phone you have with you is the one set to use phone location for Home & Away Routines or Home/Away Assist.

Check that someone else didn’t change the settings

Anyone that you’ve invited to share control of your home can also change the following settings:

  • Enable/disable your home from using phones’ locations to help your home automatically switch.
  • Choose which devices can automatically switch as you come and go.
  • Enable/disable activity sensors for specific devices.

Check these settings in the app to make sure they’re set how you want. If something was changed, let other people who’ve been invited to your home know to leave the settings alone.

Check that Nest products have power and are connected to Wi-Fi

If one or more of your Nest products is listed as “Offline” or are disconnected from Wi-Fi, this can affect what happens when your home switches between Home and Away.

  1. One or more of your Nest products may have lost power. Make sure they’re plugged in and charged. 
  2. If some or all your Nest products are still listed as “Offline,” see this article to troubleshoot.

Check that your home’s location is correct

Incorrect home location can affect accuracy and timing with automatic switching between Home and Away. If your home is not switching to Home when you expect it to, check that your home’s location is correct in the app.

In the Home app

Change your address:

  1. Tap Settings .
  2. Select Home information.
  3. Tap Home address.

In the Nest app

  1. On the home screen, tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  2. Select Home info.
  3. Tap on Address.
  4. Tap the current address to edit it if you need to. Then tap Next.
  5. You can then drag the map to move the pin that marks your home’s location.

Things to know about presence-sensing behaviors with Nest Products

The basics

  • Presence sensing uses phone location and activity sensors to know when you leave or come home so that your connected devices can automatically switch to Home or Away. You can set up Home & Away Routines in the Home app or Home/Away Assist in the Nest app.
  • Presence sensing will only use your phone’s location if you give the app permission to use it. If you ever change your mind, you can disable or enable access to your phone’s location in app settings.
  • You can disable activity sensors for specific Nest devices at any time in settings. If you disable all connected home devices from helping with presence sensing, your devices may only use phone location to automatically switch as you come and go.

Home behaviors

  • Your phone’s location doesn’t override your Nest product sensors, so if your Nest thermostat or Protect senses activity, your home will switch out of Away to Home even if your phone is not at home.
  • Automatic switching to Home or Away can override manual switching. So even if you manually set your home to either mode, it will switch after everyone leaves or when someone comes back home.
  • The time it takes to automatically set your Nest products as you come and go can vary. The delay depends on how regularly you and other members of your household leave and come home. For example, if you have a consistent daily schedule, the delay will be shorter.

Nest thermostat behaviors

  • If you manually set your home to Away, your thermostat will automatically switch to Eco Temperatures. When someone comes home and your home switches to Home, your thermostat will automatically switch back to heating or cooling mode.
  • If you manually set your thermostat to Eco Temperatures, it won’t automatically switch back to heating or cooling when someone comes home. Manually set it to your preferred heating or cooling mode, and it will resume automatically switching again.
  • The time it takes for your thermostat to switch your home to Away (and switch itself to Eco Temperatures) can vary. The delay is based on how regularly you leave and come home, and how often your thermostat sees activity in your home.
  • Manually setting your thermostat to Eco Temperatures will not switch your home to Away.

Nest camera behaviors

  • Cameras can only be automatically turned on or off by your phone’s location. However, you can manually switch your camera off with the Nest app, or manually set your home to Home or Away, which will also switch your camera. 
  • Your camera doesn’t use sensors to help decide if you’re Home or Away. So if you simply walk in front of your camera, your home won’t switch to Home. 
  • Activity seen by other Nest products won’t turn off cameras because they can’t be sure if it’s an intruder, you, or a family member. Cameras in your home won’t switch on automatically until all phones set to help with presence sensing are gone, and they won’t turn off automatically until one comes home. 
  • Confusing camera switching behaviors can happen if your camera both automatically switches as you come and go and has a camera schedule. We recommend that you use one or the other.
  • You can find more details about how Nest cameras work with presence sensing in our help center.

Secure behaviors

  • Nest Secure cannot be automatically armed or disarmed by Home/Away Assist. You’ll need to use a Nest tag, enter your code, or use the app to arm or disarm your security system. However, when you switch your home’s mode using the app, Nest Secure can change its security level to match.
  • The Nest app will help send notifications to remind you to arm or disarm the alarm when you come and go. So if Nest Secure is unarmed when the last person leaves home, they can get a Remind Me notification on their phone to arm Secure. When the first person is almost home, the app can ask if they want to disarm the alarm before they walk in the door.

Protect behaviors

Nest Protect behavior is not affected by switching between Home and Away. However, wired Nest Protects can prevent your home from switching to Away if their sensors see activity.

 

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