Nest not compatible with Hidden SSIDs on Apple Airport

I just installed my first Nest thermostat in my home yesterday. The install itself went fine (more on that later) but I had a miserable time getting the Nest to connect to my home’s wireless network. I use an Apple Time Capsule with WPA2 security and I’ve hidden my SSID of my main network.

An hour or so of tinkering on my own and review of the troubleshooting tools on Nest’s website were no help. I finally called Nest technical support and they were very helpful and friendly. The first tier tech support stayed with me about 20 minutes and walked me through a hard reset of the Nest and a couple other tricks. Nothing. Finally she consulted with someone else and came back and told me that hidden SSIDs were not supported on Apple devices.

Nest clearly intends to support hidden SSIDs as they have steps to walk through manually entering a network name if your SSID is hidden, but a bug prevents it from working with Apple hardware. Once I unchecked the box to create a hidden network and rebooted my Time Capsule and the Nest was happy. Hopefully this post will save someone else the hour of frustration I had before I could play with my new toy. Not sure if the incompatibility is on Nest’s part or Apples but I hope they get it worked out. Until then, Nest, please add a note about this on your support site. I bet Apple customers make up a large percentage of your customers and hidden SSIDs are not that uncommon.

Before you send the emails, yes I realize hiding my SSID doesn’t really add more security, but what I found it offered was more convenience. For example, I run a guest network that I do broadcast the SSID. When guests are over that’s the only network they see and I just tell them how to connect to it. I don’t have to have that conversation about “Why can’t I join the other one?” Maybe it’s a “teachable moment” to talk about the advantages of guest networks I could take advantage of but maybe it also sounds rude “yeah, I trust you enough to invite you into my house, but not on my main network, sorry.”