Nest Learning Thermostat Review

Published by on 22nd April 2014
Nest

Nest Learning Thermostat

There is one product that stands out as a truly innovative thermostat as you will discover in this Nest Learning Thermostat Review. The one thermostat to rule them all! Is that too dramatic? Well ok, maybe, but it really is a neat piece of kit. Who would have thought that something as mundane as a thermostat could be made so cool?

Tony Faddell, that’s who. Otherwise known as ‘one of the fathers of the ipod’ – that slick design making sense now? Whilst building his energy efficient home he became more and more frustrated with what he considered the limited features of thermostats. Rather than settling for one of these other thermostats he decided to design his own. And so Nest was born.

I am sure that knowing this information, it also explains the high build quality of the nest. The minimalism of the interface and use of brushed stainless steel is of the highest order. Very apple-esque. But it is so much more than that as you will see in this following review.

Being a relatively new innovation, first released in October 2011, you may be surprised that there are 2 versions or generations available. There are 2 main differences between the 2 generations. The first is that the 2nd gen has more wire connectors for more connection combinations. This giving the newer Nest greater compatibility.

The second difference is purely down to looks as it has an updated display design. The 2nd gen is thinner, the outer ring is one solid piece and all the sensors are now located behind an opaque black front. It’s just more pleasing on the eye. Both systems use the same version of software so no differences in operation, features or control.

Old v New 2

At time of writing, both systems are still available and are roughly the same price. As the 2nd gen has the greater compatibility with more systems and most of us would buy the updated version, then this review will focus on the Nest 2nd Generation.

INSTALLATION

The Nest thermostat can control a broad range of different systems. Which is great but as we all know, each type of thermostat and system is unique, they all have their own wiring types and requirements. So when it comes down to it, let’s face it, installation is a big deal. It’s one of the first things any of us worry about. The last thing we want to do is invest in a product only to find out that it’s not going to work or that you will have to cough up more money for an electrician just to be able to use the new product.

InstallHas this ever happened to you? You buy a product and get it home. Looking at the box you feel the anticipation start to build. As you un-box everything, you admire how it looks, you start picturing how cool it’s going to be. You read the manual. All the features keep building the anticipation, the excitement. Its building up inside until you are ready to burst. You turn to the last page. The troubleshooting page. And there it is, in BOLD;

PRODUCT ONLY COMPATIBLE WITH 50% OF SYSTEMS.

What? Sorry, WHAT!!

Well that’s one thing that the Nest has covered. The manufacturer states that the Nest is compatible with 95% of low voltage (24v) heating and cooling systems. It can support up to 3 heating stages and 2 cooling stages. It doesn’t matter whether you are using gas, electric, forced air, variable speed, heat pump, radiant, hot water, solar or geothermal. Those are some big claims. In fact, unlike other thermostats the Nest is designed to work even if you don’t have the common ‘c’ wire that most others rely on for power.

Now is as good a time as any to discuss how the Nest is powered. Instead of the ‘c’ wire, the Nest uses a built in rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. To charge the battery, the Nest draws power from the other heating and cooling wires. This is more commonly referred to as ‘power-sharing’ or ‘power-stealing’.

By power-sharing, the Nest should get around the need for a c-wire. Yes, I did say should. There are a small number of reports around the web where after installing the Nest, suddenly the thermostat starts acting like a teenager.

Disclaimer

What do I mean by acting like a teenager? Imagine this. You notice the system is heating or cooling continuously. You consult the Nest (teenager) and it tells you it’s not doing anything. Or you ask Nest, nicely, to start heating or cooling but realise that it just couldn’t be bothered and nothing is happening. This is going to get frustrating very quickly.

So why is the system acting like this? It appears that when the battery needs charging, Nest sends a signal to the system requesting for power. The system misinterprets the signal and turns on or off. This results in the battery not getting charged.

As the battery power depletes it sends more and more signals. Each of these signals getting misinterpreted causing the system to go wild. Suddenly you have a teenager, not responding as you would like…even making unusual and strange noises.

Eventually, to conserve power, Nest turns off the wifi connection and the system becomes uncontrollable. Quite a big design flaw, so what are they doing about it? Actually quite a bit. Good News and Bad News time.

Good News; A number of these reported cases appear to have been resolved by simply installing a c-wire. If you do experience this issue, first thing is to contact Nest support before attempting this fix. Why? Well in a lot of these cases, Nest provided a reimbursement for the c-wire installation.

Bad News; unfortunately, this appears to be on a case by case basis and is not widely communicated. The reimbursement is not guaranteed. Make sure you speak to them first.
Good News; this issue appears to affect only a very small amount of systems. With the total diversity of systems out there, this is not totally unexpected. It also means that Nest now have a database of these systems and how to fix them.

Bad News; Nest now know that some gas valves can vibrate and buzz without a c-wire. Also that certain micro-controllers and zone relay systems (the interface between the thermostat and furnace) need the c-wire to be compatible. These include:

Honeywell AQ25110B, EMM-3, TZ-4 and H2311
Bryant 548F036
White-Rogers 36C03-300
Carrier HK42F2011
Nordyne 624631-A, 903915A

Good News; It is only a small number of systems and in most of the reported incidents, Nest have been proactive in resolving the issue. This shows Nest commitment to both the product and more importantly to the customer.

It’s important to remember that the reason that the Nest was designed this way is that most homes do not have an installed c-wire. By not requiring this extra wire, it makes the Nest install easier and much friendlier for the home DIYer. Even with this issue, Nest are still able to make the claim of working in 95% of homes.

Click Here to check the compatibility of the Nest Learning Thermostat.

The only systems they categorically state that cannot be connected are high voltage systems. Those are the systems that are labelled 120v or 240v or have thick wires with wire bolts.

The claims don’t stop there. There are some sweeping statements made about the nest installation process like “3 out of 4 customers installed nest in less than 30 mins”. Or, “99% of the people who installed Nest themselves would do it again.” But how easy is easy? Nest themselves liken it to installing a light fixture.

Are these just bold marketing ploys or are they realistic? There are hundreds of examples of installing the Nest and for the majority of these, the answer is a resounding yes, they are realistic claims! In most cases the install only took between 10 and 20 minutes!

The install is easy and you really can do it yourself in only 10 steps:

1. Turn off the power to the old thermostat.
2. Remove the old thermostat cover.
3. Check the wiring labels (Sticky labels are provided to make this really easy)

TIP: Take a photo on your phone, it helps give you a reference to how it used to look! This is great for anything you are doing, even remembering where you parked your car!

4. Go online and check the compatibility tool on the nest website to get a custom wiring diagram.
5. Disconnect wires (DO NOT let them touch!) and remove the existing back plate.
6. Connect the wiring to the Nest base unit. They are pressure fitted so no need for screws to hold them in place.
7. Attach the base unit to the wall.

TIP: Use the built in level to make sure its straight otherwise the front display will be crooked and, if you are like me, it will drive you mad!

8. Attach the front display; you will hear a click.
9. Turn on the Power
10. Admire your handy work and begin setup!

Simple. The instructions given and the videos online are truly enough to help you do it yourself. But what if you do get into trouble during installation or setup? Nest provides online support and there is an active community that you can consult for answers. There are also a number of certified Nest installers, just in case you still don’t feel confident to install it yourself.

SETUP

KitchenSo you have installed it. What next? Setup! Again this is as simple as the initial set up of your iPod. Once power is restored to the Nest, the interface boots. Then starts a slick step by step process to gather all the relevant information to get the system up and running.

There is nothing too difficult to master. All the options are controlled by turning the outer ring to make your selection. Pushing the front face of the Nest acts like a button which then confirms the option you choose.

The first option is to choose your language, and then you need to find your wifi connection. The next part is the most tedious but essential if you want to connect to the wifi and make the best use of the Nest. Entering the password.

Tedious? Absolutely…but not difficult. To enter the password you have to turn the dial (outer ring) to highlight the letter, symbol or number and push the front to enter each character. Now this isn’t going to be too bad with a password such as ‘123456’ or ‘password’. But if you are like me and have complex passwords like ‘pNM!v7vI%43Y’ (used only as an example) then you are going to be here a while.

TIP: Stick to the complex passwords…even if it is tedious!

Why stick to the complex passwords? The more complex the password the stronger it is. The stronger it is the more likely it will stop your network from being infiltrated or hacked.

If you use a weak, simple password you make it easier for unscrupulous types to access your personal information. Your bank account details, facebook accounts and other personal information could be stolen. In extreme cases, someone could even steal your identity, resulting in some dire consequences for you.

That’s why Network security is incredibly important. By supporting Https, ssl and 128 bit encryption, Nest ensures it will not be the weak point in your home network. This means no third parties can ‘accidentally’ get access to your network and your data. Your Network will be fully secure with your privacy and safety being maintained.

Being securely connected is great but not at the expense of network performance. Well, Nest only requires around 50 mB/ month upload and 10 mB/ month download. This is a very small amount of data transfer or bandwidth allowance overall. This is mostly used for automatic software updates and energy reporting.

You will still be able to connect all your other devices without any speed issues, access issues or interruptions. This is a very important factor in today’s connected age and especially for an ultimate smart home. In fact, having the full quota of 10 individual Nest thermostats installed should not be a substantial draw on your network.

But do you need wifi? Technically, no. The Nest will still control your system and act as a basic thermostat. By not enabling the wifi you are going to miss out on most of the features you probably bought the Nest for, though. Functions to allow remote access, energy saving reports, adjusting temperature to allow for external weather conditions and software updates will all be disabled.

It is highly recommended to enable the wifi otherwise the Nest is going to be a very expensive addition to your home and not really smart. After all we are trying to build the ultimate smart home! In a number of cases reported online, there have been issues with the Nest connecting to the wifi. In most cases, this has been easily resolved just by resetting the home router.

BedroomGetting back to setup, the next option may seem a bit strange. You have to choose if you are a homeowner or Professional installer. Why does a thermostat need this information? Is it Big Brother wanting to know more about me? Is it for the type of Warranty that is applied? Neither of these. But this is probably the most important question of the whole set up process…and it isn’t all that clear!

I think this could have been made more straightforward if the option choices were simple system or complex system. By selecting homeowner, you are actually choosing set up for a simple system. This is a system that is a single source. Pretty much the majority of systems found in homes.

If you choose this by mistake during setup it’s not really a problem. The Nest will only set up part of your system, not the whole thing. After setup you can go back in and select pro setup and correct your mistake.

By selecting Pro, you really need to take care. The Pro features are designed for the more complex systems. These are the Dual fuel (hybrid or packaged) systems or those systems with humidifiers or dehumidifiers.

In general, there is normally a combination of heat pump and furnace. The heat pump is used during milder conditions. The furnace is used during the much colder conditions. The point of these systems is that they must not run at the same time in order to ensure each system is protected.

If you do have one of these types of systems then it is highly recommended you consult your installation professional, if you can. If you make a mistake here then it could result in the system malfunctioning and/ or becoming damaged.

Once past this step, the rest is all really simple, straightforward stuff. The fuel source used, the type of heating, Location, Date and time (this is filled in automatically if you have connected your wifi), the total number of thermostats in the house, and you get to name your Nest too!

All these options don’t really change how the system is controlled. The main reason for them is for the energy saving reports and to tell the Nest where in the country you are for the local weather.

So other than the care you need around the Homeowner or Pro there’s nothing too painful and setup is done. Your Nest is now functioning and ready to adjust temperature to your every wish and whim.

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SCHEDULING

Now we get to the really cool part of having the nest. Auto schedule. There is a reason it’s called a smart learning thermostat.

ScheduleOnce you have finished the setup, Nest starts to learn your preferences. How does it do this? Every time you adjust the thermostat on that first day it remembers your adjustment. At the start of the next day it will use the times and adjustments you made to the temperature the day before as your basic schedule.

Adjustments you make that day it also learns and starts to build up your own personal schedule. It does this for around a week until it has enough information to program itself. It then becomes less sensitive to any changes you make.

It then starts looking for patterns in your adjustments and your routine. Get up early for work once. It will not affect the program. Get up early a couple of days in a row. Nest will adjust the schedule to account for this. Only get up early on Mondays. It even picks this up along with differences you may have made at weekends. Come on we all like a sleep in!

Like I said cool stuff. But. Ok maybe only a little but, there are some limits. In those first few weeks you do need to be attentive to Nest to get the maximum benefit. You need to remember to make adjustments. Doing things like turning the temperature down when you go out or when you go to bed are going to be important. In other words, you need to teach it. Once it has your routine and knows what you like then it is hands off and you can let it do its thing.

What if it ‘learns’ something you don’t want it to learn? You can go into the schedule and delete it. You can even add new settings without having to teach it to Nest. This can be useful if want to start getting up early in the middle of winter and don’t want to wait for the auto-schedule to learn the new behaviour.

Maybe you don’t want the schedule to change once it’s been learnt. Maybe you know for the next few weeks your schedule is going to be a little erratic. Maybe you have to work a night shift or have a new baby in the house. No problem. Just turn auto schedule off and Nest acts like a normal programmable thermostat. Best of both worlds.

Nest can even sense when you are not home and make changes to your schedule appropriately. It essentially prevents you heating or cooling an empty home. Once you get back it returns to your normal schedule (also known as auto arrival). This leads to some serious savings on your energy bill.

Sensor WindowSo how does it do it? The Nest has 2 main sensors that it uses to detect whether you are home or not. It has a near field, proximity sensor and a far field, motion detector. As you go about your life, Nest notices movement and continues with the programmed schedule. Once it stops noticing movement it determines you are no longer home and adjusts the schedule.

For somebody like me who would keep forgetting to turn the temperature down, this is a god send. But there are limitations. Even Nest themselves state that it is only effective in 90% of houses.

Why only 90%? Well in most homes the thermostat is in a prominent position. You probably walk past yours quite a bit. In these other 10% of homes the thermostat could be in a cupboard or an area less well travelled. A low traffic area. It’s these homes that don’t work to well with auto away. In this situation, you can still get all the benefits but you will have to set a manual Away.

It may not all be doom and gloom if you do live in one of these homes. If you have more than 1 Nest thermostat on the same account, they actually talk to each other and will co-ordinate auto away. To go one step further, Nest also makes another product, the Nest Protect.

The Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, which can integrate with the Nest Thermostat. This increases the chances of it detecting whether you are home or not. But what if you have pets at home? The Nest thermostat on its own is unlikely to be affected by the presence of pets. It will still be able to switch to auto away.

If you have integrated the Nest Protect then pets will be detected preventing the switch. In these instances you may have to turn off the auto away feature on the Nest protect. Another very important point if you do have pets at home. Actually, even if you don’t have pets at home.

Make sure you set a sensible away temperature!

Auto AwayThere is a balance to setting this temperature appropriately. Obviously the lower the temperature (or higher in the summer months) will save you more money. But this will impact the comfort of your pets and plants.

Also by setting this temperature sensibly you can prevent your pipe work from freezing. Think of it as your own safety minimum. Unfortunately, there is no alarm to let you know the pipes are starting to freeze. This would have been a nice feature to have but if you have set an appropriate away temperature then you should have nothing to worry about.

It doesn’t stop there. It can also learn about peak and off peak electricity rates. Not directly, but you have the ability to program the Nest to account for these. In doing so, you will start to save money (and the environment).

In fact, Nest have partnered with some energy providers* that can make use of other features. Namely, Seasonal Savings and Rush Hour Rewards.

(* at this time the energy partners are: National Grid, Reliant, NRG, Infinite energy, Austin Energy, ComEd, Green Mountain Energy, and South Californian Edison.)

You can check it out here if there is any rebate in your area for the Nest Learning Thermostat

So what are seasonal savings? Twice a year, at the beginning of summer and winter, you will get the option to enable this feature. The main way this works is that it takes your schedule and slowly shaves a degree here and there. It happens slowly, over weeks, so you don’t notice that they have happened.

Although it’s quite subtle when you are at home, it makes the most changes, and so biggest savings, when you are away or asleep. Why do it? You will use less heating or cooling in an empty home which directly saves both power usage and of course, cost to you.

Ok so that’s seasonal savings, what about Rush Hour Rewards? To understand this we have to understand how energy providers work. Most of us work the standard 9 – 5 day. Generally, we all get home at around the same time and that’s when there is a sudden surge in energy requirements. Lights go on, cooking, heating/ cooling…you get the picture.

To cope with these surges, energy providers need to find extra energy generation. To do this they have to start additional generators and use different forms of energy. This increases the cost of generating the energy and this cost is passed on to the consumer. This is called ‘rush hour’ or ‘peak times.’

Using your energy source outside these times or during ‘off peak’ will be cheaper. As an incentive, some providers offer rewards/ rebates to the more energy conscious among us.

Nest uses this information from the providers to work out the best times to use energy when they are cheaper. Instead of waiting for the peak times, it will adjust your schedule to pre-cool or pre-heat your home. Then over the more costly peak time period, it will only need to top up with a much smaller amount of energy usage.

This helps the companies as the will have less demand at these times. It helps you as not only are you being more energy efficient and saving money, but the energy providers also reward you with rebates on you bill. It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN situation.

The extra WIN is for the environment as most of that extra energy is generated by burning fossil fuels!

INTERFACE

We’ve already mentioned the slick design and it really does deserve a second mention. The outer ring is made of solid stainless steel and feels substantial and not flimsy when used. This ‘design feature’ apparently allows the Nest to reflect the background and blend in. Not too sure if that is true but it does look good on the wall.

HeatingThe front panel acts like a button to let you make choices or confirm selections. It’s also the main display screen. When the Nest is at temperature, the front panel is black with the temperature displayed. When heating, the panel turns a red – orange colour. Conversely, the panel turns blue to indicate that the system is cooling. This is a nice touch, letting you know what is going on without having to actually look at the schedule.

When it’s in normal mode i.e. displaying the temperature, pushing the front takes you to a menu. The options are displayed around the outer rim and pushing the front on one of the options makes your selection. Here you can tell the Nest you are going away which helps it learn, check the schedule, or look at your energy history.

By selecting Energy you get an overview of your energy usage. The longer you have the Nest the better the information you get. It can tell you whether you are using the most energy when cooling or when you’re heating. It will even tell you the biggest cause of your energy usage. Was it one of the features? Was it the schedule? Or was it the freak weather system that just hit? Seriously, it can. It can also tell if it was you!!

You can also alter a number of settings from the menu. What kind of settings? Here you can set the simple things like brightness, whether you want to the screen to come on as you get close or wait until you push it, °F or °C and even a clicking sound when you turn the ring. This last one is a good one if you want to annoy somebody!

Then there are the more useful, setting reminders for changing filters, syncing to your nest account, equipment settings (like running the Pro settings again) and technical information telling you about your system. If there is something you don’t like or not working how you like then here is where to change it.

There is even an option to turn the Nest off…Why would you do that!

NEST LEARNING THERMOSTAT CONTROL

Heating Word Cloud resizeUp until now we have been talking about what the Nest can do with your heating and cooling system. But what type of systems can it control? Do you have a fan? Covered. Do you have a humidifier/ dehumidifier? Covered. Pretty much, unless you have a propriety system (those that must be controlled by the manufactures thermostat) Nest has you covered. This includes:

Single stage

These systems have only 2 settings. On and off. It’s an all or nothing approach meaning that it can be more expensive and always cycling.

Multi stage

These are like single stage except they have more levels and more control. The single stage is either on or it’s off. A 2 stage or dual stage has a high setting, a low setting and off. Most of the time the low setting is used. When there is a call for more heating/ cooling then the high setting kicks in.

In the same way a 3 stage system has high, medium, low and off settings. The more stages the more control and the cheaper it is to run. The Nest (2nd generation) is able to control 3 heating and 2 cooling stages.

Dual fuel (hybrid or packaged)

Very similar to the dual stage system above except instead of one unit providing 2 stages, 2 separate units are used. For example the high setting, for colder weather is provided by a furnace, whilst the milder conditions is controlled by a heat pump. These work in concert with each other, automatically switching and are very efficient.

Zonal heating systems

These can all be of 1 type from above or all different. The point of these is that distinct areas of your home are controlled and managed by different systems. There could be 1 in the bedroom area, 1 in the living area and another in the loft or basement.

Zoning provides more comfort, better control and much better efficiency. The only stipulation is that each zone must have its own Nest thermostat for control. Now, as mentioned for the auto away, they will coordinate between each other but they will each have a unique schedule. This also means that they can all be controlled independently.

An important note, some multizone systems are controlled by sharing 1 system. To do this, microcontrollers and zone relay systems are installed. In these systems the Nest sometimes cannot get enough voltage in order to charge it’s built in battery. This is when a c-wire is required.

So what is the maximum number of zones that you can have in your home? There is no real maximum; you can have as many as you want. The limitation is your nest account. At this time you can only associate 10 thermostats.

Only 10! Ok, this is more than ample for most homes but what if you have a second home. Maybe you have a vacation home or a rental property. Your Nest account allows you to manage your 10 thermostats over 2 homes. In fact you can also manage up to 10 Nest protects too. But how do you manage them in different locations?

All the way through this review I have been talking about all the things the Nest can do when you are physically using the display. But can you control it remotely? Absolutely, all you need to be able to do this is to set up a Nest account. Again nothing can be simpler.

There are a number of ways to do this. Go to the Nest website and join there. This allows you to connect via PC. Or just connect using the app for your phone or tablet. The app is available through the app store for apple or for android through google play and through the amazon app store, all for free.

RemoteOnce signed up this gives you access to the Nest community and also adds your Nest thermostat to your account. It even automatically detects if the thermostat is on your network. Then it’s just a short trip to the thermostat to confirm that you want to connect with it.

Once you are connected then you get to see how customizable and easy to use and control it becomes. Imagine you leave the house and forgot to turn the temperature down? No problem, pull out your phone and done.

What about when you are on vacation and see that the weather at home makes you wish the thermostat was a little higher/ lower? No problem, out with the phone and voila! What if you need to replace the filters in the system? Oh look, an alert direct to my phone or email.

You can access all the features on the Nest but with more detail and most importantly more control. Adjusting your scheduling is a breeze. You even have access to all the thermostat settings, just in case you need to make a change.

If you want a bit of fun and you know somebody is in the house how about changing the temperature then locking the thermostat with a pass code from the office. Ok that could be cruel but I am sure you get the idea.

OK so I have to tell you about this. One issue that keeps coming up during my research is the way the Nest holds it temperature. What do I mean? Well if you set a temperature at say 70°, the Nest will hold the actual temperature between 67° and 73°. So what is the big deal?

Other thermostats only have a range of ±1°. To me, I don’t think this is a big deal but I do know that there is a large group of people who have concerns about this. Yes, I agree that the Nest should be able to control this temperature better (and in most cases it can) but realistically most people are not sensitive enough to these small temperature differences even notice.

According to the Nest engineers, there is a very good reason for this temperature swing. It all comes down to how thermostats control temperature. Simply, when a thermostat detects the temperature rise over a set temperature, it starts to cool. When it reaches the desired temperature it stops cooling. If it detects that the temperature has dropped and cooled too much, then it starts the heating system.

Now let’s look at a simplified but extreme example of this. Imagine a thermostat with a range or temperature swing of ±1° set at 70°. At the set point the system is essentially off. As the temperature drops first to 69 and then 68, the thermostat responds. It sends a signal and begins a heating cycle.

The furnace is on and continues to heat until it reaches the setpoint. The thermostat stops asking for heat but the heat already supplied continues to make the temperature increase until 72°. Now the thermostat asks for cooling and back it goes the other way. I hope you can see how this could become a continuously cycling heating and cooling system.

Now enter the Nest. It is “less sensitive” to temperature changes with a ±3° temperature swing. It doesn’t call for heating until it reaches 67°. Then the furnace comes on. It delivers the same amount of power and so heat. When the temperature reaches the set point Nest stops asking for heating. The latent heat supplied increases until 72°…and the Nest just monitors. No cooling required.

So why is this good? Well the furnace expended a similar amount of power but the Nest did not need a cooling cycle. This will translate in a more energy efficient system and reduced power bills.

Right, now I have got that off my chest. Energy reports too are enhanced by having an account. Every month, at the beginning of the month you will receive a report. The report tells you all the heating and cooling energy usage for the past month. It even gives you tips on how to be better at conserving power.

Just be aware that your first report is going to be incomplete. This isn’t really an issue as you have to take into account when you installed it and how well the Nest has learnt over that month. Over time, about 90 days according to the manufacturer, the reports will become more accurate and will become a valuable source of information…especially if you are trying to save money and/ or the environment!

It will give you a month to month comparison to let you know how you are doing. It will even show you where you used your energy and what caused the change. It tells you how many leafs you earned and how you compare to other users.

Wait a minute! Leafs you earned? What the heck are leafs? Leafs are a little symbol that appears on the Nest when you make energy efficient decisions. Things like turning the temperature down by 1° can result in you getting one of these little devils.

Each time you get a leaf it gets logged and gives you an indication on how you are doing with your energy usage. It’s supposed to a fun way to challenge you to be more energy efficient. I am sure for some people this will be fun but for me the jury is still out on this feature.

NEST LEARNING THERMOSTAT FEATURES

But the leaf is just one feature in a whole range of features that are referred to as Nest Sense. These include:

Nest-Features

Auto Schedule

As we discussed earlier, it creates a schedule based on your preferences, habits and routine. Most of us don’t program our thermostats. A correctly programmed thermostat can save around 20% on energy costs.

Auto Away

Using the built in light and proximity sensors, Nest can sense you are gone and adjust the conditions. As long as you have trained it! Once up and running this feature can save anywhere up to 5% on your energy bill.

Sunblock

This feature is designed to stop the temperature spikes that can be detected by the Nest when in direct sunlight. By using the local sunrise, sunset times and light sensors it adjusts the temperature so that it doesn’t over compensate. This allows for better, more accurate temperature readings that can prevent unnecessary energy usage.

Time to Temperature

Learns how long it takes to warm or cool your home and makes the appropriate adjustments to the schedule to ensure your comfort. We are all guilty at least once of ramping up the temperature way above where we want it so that we get to a desired temperature quicker. Unfortunately all we are doing is needlessly using energy. The time to heat up is the same. Nest can tell how long it will take and displays this when you turn the dial. This stopping the overuse of energy and saving money.

Early on

Very similar to time to temp. This ensures your home is heated or cooled to the scheduled temperature before you get up. Nest learns how long it takes to warm your home so if takes 30 minutes to reach your desired temperature when you get up. It will start raising the temperature 30 minutes earlier. Again stopping the overuse of energy and saving you money overall

True Radiant

Another feature that works in a similar way to time to temperature. Radiant systems are very efficient in heating but take a long time to get to temperature. The Nest Thermostat learns how long it takes to heat up and then turns it off early. By doing so the latent heat of the radiant heating system is used to reach the desired temperature. This again stops the overuse of energy to heat your home and the savings will be seen on your energy bill.

Airwave

This manages the air conditioning in the house by monitoring the humidity. It then uses less air to ensure you remain cool. Nest takes advantage that the compressor coils of the Air conditioner can still provide cold air after it has been turned off. As running the compressor is the most expensive part of running an AC unit, Nest runs it less. This in turn providing savings to you.

Cool to dry

Helps keep your home dry when you live in a hot, humid climate but without a dehumidifier. Nest cycles the air conditioning unit on and off So that the warm humid air has to pass over the cold coils of the compressor. This condenses the moisture to provide dry, cooler air. This is only useful if you would normally be running the AC unit nonstop. If you don’t need the AC unit running this could become a very expensive option!

Auto tune

Nest have partnered with a number of energy providers to provide features that can help lower your energy bills.* There are even rebates in some areas!

(* at this time the energy partners are: National Grid, Reliant, NRG, Infinite energy, Austin Energy, ComEd, Green Mountain Energy, and South Californian Edison.)

You can go here to check out if there is a rebate available in your area for the Nest Learning Thermostat

NEST LEARNING THERMOSTAT DIMENSIONS

Nest Dimensions

Display:

Mass = 215g/ 7.6oz

Diameter = 83.0mm/ 3.27”

Height = 28.0mm/. 1.10”

Base:

Mass = 37g/ 1.3oz

Diameter = 76.5mm/ 3.01”

Height = 10.7mm/ 0.42”

Assembled Unit:

Mass = 252g/ 8.9oz

Diameter = 83.0mm/ 3.27”

Height = 32.0mm/ 1.26”

PROS

  • It’s Cool!

  • Simple installation, simple setup, simple to use…simple!

  • Very good build quality

  • Compatibility to household heating /cooling systems is very good

  • Very good connectivity and mobile, remote access

  • It’s cool (have I mentioned that?)

  • 2 year limited warranty

  • Great support and active community

CONS

  • Complaints about holding temperature accuracy

  • Only available in US, Canada and UK (plus several European countries through the UK) at the moment (you can get a hack to make it work elsewhere but will not be covered by any warranty)

  • Using the ring to enter complex passwords is tedious

  • No Z-wave compatibility (see below)

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NEST LEARNING THERMOSTAT CONSUMER RATINGS

Pintrest bannerOverall, online the Nest has been getting some favourable and high ratings. When compared to other wifi thermostats available it is by far the most popular and still surprisingly competitively priced against them. Surprising, as innovative products normally come at a higher price when compared to existing marketed products…and interest only seems to be growing.

In fact, in January 2014, Nest attracted the interest of Google. This acquisition by Google can only mean good things for Nest. One criticism that I have (and many others online for that matter) for the Nest thermostat is that it is not yet Z-wave capable. Until now, Nest has been clear, that they have not been interested in integrating this capability.

In case you don’t know, Z-Wave is a communication protocol for home automation products. It allows for a central network of different units to be controlled and communicate with each other. Imagine leaving your home and using your phone to close and lock your door, then automatically close all the windows, turn off the TV, turn off all the lights, set your home alarm system, turn down your thermostat, all with a push of 1 button on an app on your phone. That’s Z-Wave.

With Google now effectively bankrolling the company, I think we can expect to see a lot more of these innovative type products like the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect on the horizon. These Nest products integrated with Google’s programming know how makes for a mouth-watering possibility for the future. With Google’s interest to move into the home automation market, issues like Z-wave capability become more of a ‘when it happens’ rather than an ‘if it happens.’

All in all, the Nest is a very capable thermostat. It’s simple installation and setup appeal to the not so technologically gifted whilst the feature rich aspects make most technogeeks drool.

If you crave complete control, want your temperature to be maintained to within a small margin and prefer to manually program your thermostat, then the Nest may not be for you. If however you want an easy, hands off and energy efficient thermostat then you should consider the Nest.

…plus it looks cool too!!

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