The temperature inside a home is always a point of contention, especially when it comes to deciding to turn on the A/C. It often means giving up some comfort to save money on the bill. This is our product review and buyer's guide for the Nest Learning Thermostat.
The Nest Learning Thermostat has been around since 2011 and is now in its third version. The hockey puck-sized smart-thermostat upped the display size and resolution, making it easier to see from across the room. It has a new “Farsight” function that activates the display from 20 feet away, as opposed to three with the old near-field sensors.
Installing the thermostat is easy, but may take a while. The current thermostat needs to be powered down and disconnected first. The base plate needs to be mounted to the wall with the included screws and screwdriver. Connect the wires and place the thermostat in the base plate. Once it powers on, follow the on-screen instructions to set it up.
The Nest Thermostat needs about a week to calibrate heating and cooling preferences. Once it recognizes the in-home patterns, the thermostat can remain untouched. The “Auto-Away” feature is the highlight of the device. The thermostat uses built-in sensors and phone location to enter an energy-saving mode. Any of the learned settings can be overridden and monitored in the Android and iOS apps.
Several other smart home devices can work in conjunction with the thermostat. Nest recently added integration with Amazon’s Alexa for voice-activated control. It’s compatible with the Philips Hue Color light bulbs and some appliances as well.
One drawback to the smart-device that gives its rival, the Ecobee3, an edge is the Nest Thermostat lacks temperature sensors. That means temperature isn’t monitored on a room-by-room basis. It will monitor the room temperature from the thermostat’s location. Up to 20 thermostats can be connected in a single home. And, despite having an iOS version of the app, the Nest Thermostat doesn’t work with the Apple HomeKit.
At $249, the Nest is a safe bet, especially if it’s your first smart-thermostat. The habit-recognizing software saves money on heating and cooling, and use with other smart home gadgets can save on other costs as well. If you’re already using HomeKit, then the Ecobee3 is the way to go.
The Nest is still the standard, but other smart-thermostats like the Ecobee3 have significantly closed the gap.