The idea behind the Nest Learning Thermostat is that it completely rethinks thermostats and it learns your preferences over time so you don’t have to program it. I was intrigued by this smart home thermostat because out of all the programmable thermostat reviews I’ve read, this was the only one that was consistently at the top of everyone’s list. The new version is a little bit slimmer by about 20% and also has a one piece bezel like the original version. It has a very sleek profile especially when compared to traditional boxy/square thermostats. Also, the Nest has a reflective coating which means it will reflect the color of the paint around it and match the color of your wall. Very, very cool!
The Nest home thermostat is basically one giant button and when you press it, it brings up a menu with all the different options. Most of the changes to this new model happen in the software level which is exciting because it’s also available to first generation owners. One change, though, is in the ‘Away’ setting. It still knows when you’re away from your house but this version knows faster too so you save even more energy and money over time. And when you come back and it senses your movement, it wakes up and brings your house back to the temperature you wanted. Additionally, it has a motion sensor on the front that keeps track of whether there is anyone walking by. If no one walks by after a couple of hours, it will put itself on auto-away mode. This mode turns off either the heat or the air conditioning unless the temperature goes above or below a certain threshold (which you can change in the settings).
The Nest also knows what to do with different types of heat sensors. It has more options for connecting to different types of heating systems and it’s also going to know what to do with those different types of systems, too. For example, a forced-air heating system might heat up at a different rate than, say, a radiant-heat system which you might want to heat up slowly over time for maximum comfort or for saving energy.
There are some features on this energy saving thermostat that do help with lowering your monthly bills. For example, it will continue to use the fan for a couple of minutes after it turns off the air conditioner to get every last ounce of cooling. This actually has the effect of cooling your house slightly too much, and then the air conditioning won’t turn on until it is slightly too warm. This is a good thing, though, because it means that overall your A/C unit will not run that much during the hot summer days. It does a similar thing for the heater, too.
The Nest also has some nice little changes to the way the panel works – you screw it in at the top so it uses gravity to level itself and it’s generally a little bit easier to get the wires in and it took me maybe 15 minutes to install this (compared to about half an hour when I installed the original Nest). Once you have the installation part taken care of, you can add it to your Wi-Fi network and control it from your phone, tablet, laptop, or pretty much anywhere as long as there’s an Internet connection. Also, the instructions tell you to turn the temperature up and down normally and that it would learn your habits in about three days. Sure enough, after a couple of days, the on-screen display said that it had learned enough to work on its own and that I should continue to set the temperature manually as it continues learning over time.
- Easy to install (no need for professional installation) and use
- Gorgeous design – sleek, modern, low profile, & simple interface
- Learns your heating and cooling preferences over time
- Wi-Fi networking and iPhone/iPad/Android apps let you control and monitor the Nest anywhere
- Keeps track of temperature history settings
- Displays moisture (humidity percentage) reading
- Expensive for a thermostat
- Large homes may need more than one Nest
- No recirculation
- Unstable Wi-Fi connection
- Compatibility issues with some heating & cooling systems (check compatibility first!)
- Auto-away mode can sometimes kick in while you’re at home
I used the first generation Nest for about seven months and it helped me save a ton of money. Due to my wonderful experience with it, I ordered the new version as soon as it became available because the new software combined with the streamlined next generation hardware make for an incredibly complete product. As soon as I got everything set up, I can’t help but to keep playing with the Nest Learning Thermostat… spinning the solid steel ring and scrolling through all the new and nifty features! For the first time ever a thermostat can understand what I and my home need to save energy and stay comfortable, then automatically adapt to make it happen. Oh, and did I mention that it looks absolutely amazing?