Google confirms its Nest cams and doorbells struggle to charge in the cold

A hand press the button on the Nest Doorbell mounted on a door frame
The Nest Doorbell in sunnier weather (Image credit: Google)

If you've got a Nest camera or doorbell that sits outside the house, it may struggle to charge when temperatures drop, Google has confirmed. It follows complaints from users who had noticed battery levels dropping in their devices.

Google has put up a new support document (via The Verge) to address the issue and provide more information. Battery-powered doorbells and cameras will have difficulty charging in temperatures below 32°F or 0°C, Google says.

That's different to the minimum operating temperature for these products, which is -4°F or -20°C according to Google. Your kit will still work down to those temperatures, but the battery is likely to drain more quickly.

Wired vs wireless

The support document also tries to clear up some confusion over battery-powered doorbells that are wired up to existing doorbell wiring: this is not enough power to stop the battery charge from dropping in colder temperatures.

"If you've connected your Nest Doorbell (battery) to your existing doorbell wiring, the wires don’t directly power the doorbell," says Google. "Instead, the battery is trickle charged by the power that comes through the wires, and the doorbell runs off the battery charge."

This is in contrast to the latest battery-powered Nest Cam, which when wired up, can be powered by the mains instead of the battery. That means mains power will still keep the camera going even if it's too cold for the battery to be charging.

Analysis: this isn't just a Google Nest problem

The reports from users about poor battery performance in the cold show that it's not ideal for an outdoors product, but this does tend to affect any device with a lithium-ion battery. Ring has a similar support document to Google, warning that its products won't charge when the temperature gets low.

"Many devices, including popular models of doorbell cameras and cell phones, use lithium-ion batteries for their high power and long life, but these batteries are also affected by temperatures below freezing," explains Google.

While it's perhaps not much consolation if your Nest doorbell or camera keeps dying over the winter, the same problem affects anything with a lithium-ion battery inside – as you might have found out if you've ever tried using your phone on a skiing vacation.

If you are having trouble with your battery-powered Nest devices, Google recommends bringing them inside to charge at room temperature. The Home app on your phone should keep you informed when it comes to the speed that the product is charging at and how long it will be before the battery is full again.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.