For many people, smart thermostats are an important part of a home. More intuitive than traditional thermostats, they are able to save people money while still keeping their place at a comfortable temperature.
The most popular, or at least well known smart thermostat, is the Nest, which learns your habits and lifestyle and adjusts its settings accordingly. It has been a great thing for many people, but is facing a good amount of competition from other, similar devices.
Some of them have even tried to separate themselves by introducing temperature sensors, which can be placed in different rooms to give the thermostat an idea of what multiple rooms feel like, rather than just the one where it is placed.
Nest adopted the technology, and it’s…
First off, the sensors do not come with the Nest — they are $39 each or can be purchased in 3-packs for $99 — but will work with the third-generation Nest and the Nest Thermostat E. So if you have an older Nest, they won’t be of much use to you anyway.
But according to The Verge’s Dan Seifert, who reviewed the sensors, they may not help you even if they will work with your Nest. That’s right, they are apparently a disappointment.
Seifert notes that the sensors allow the Nest to at least catch up with what is offered by the Ecobee, which has offered the sensors for awhile now. He wrote that the sensors should make it easier to balance the hot and cold areas in a home, as the temperature would be read by more than just a single thermostat on a wall.
With sensors in specific rooms, they would also be able to get the feel for where you are and when, allowing it to adjust the temperature accordingly. That sounds great, but Seifert found that after spending a summer with the sensors, they left much to be desired.
What was the problem? It’s a little basic
Seifert said setting up the sensors was simple, requiring just the pulling of a battery tab and then adding them to the system via the Nest app. The sensors communicate to the Nest with Bluetooth, and the replaceable battery is rated to last up to two years.
The sensor can be easily placed on a wall or on a shelf, with no real difference between the two. Through the app, you can name each sensor and even tell it when you want it to read that specific sensor.
Disappointingly, you can only choose from four different time blocks: 7am-11am, 11am-4pm, 4pm-9pm and 9pm-7am. More flexibility would be preferable, but if your schedule doesn’t fit into either of those four, there is not much you can do.
Along with that, Seifert pointed out that the temperature settings are connected to those time blocks, with the Nest doing nothing to detect an actual presence in a given room at any time. So even if no one is in the room, the Nest will still adjust things based on its previous settings.
The Ecobee, for instance, can sense whether someone is in the room with the sensor, automatically adjusting the system based on where people are and when. That’s not to say you cannot have that ability with a Nest, as you can get the presence-sensing ability through the Nest Protect smoke alarm, but those run $99 apiece.
Another drawback, Seifert wrote, is that the Nest will only set itself based on a single reading at any given time instead of averaging things based on information from various sensors, like the Ecobee.
As for what it does measure, it is only temperature. Things like humidity or air quality, both of which can differ throughout a home, are not sensed.
It’s not that Seifert believes the Nest and its sensors are a bad idea to purchase and should be avoided at all costs. Rather, he wrote that it looked like Nest did the “bare minimum it could to satisfy customers asking for remote temperature sensors.”
They did improve his Nest’s performance, but given the price of the sensors and how limited they are, he believes they could certainly be better.