The Thermostat That Can Be Trained!
There were a plethora of titles that sprang to mind for me when I started this review, because the model I’m going to tell you all about has enough features you could probably fill a page with “snappy headings”. I finally decided on the one you see above because it’s my favorite feature.
I am of course, talking about the Nest Learning Thermostat which is incredibly popular for a lot of reasons. Sure, it may not be the cheapest model on the market but when you’ve finished reading this review, I think you will realize you actually get a lot for your money.
Looks and Colors
If you like the space-age look, this thermostat will tick that box for you. The manufacturer has clearly thought about the overall design and what’s great is you can make use of the backlight (if you want to) so it will light up when you move the dial, or walk by it.
The fact it will light up when you walk by can be very useful if you just want to see what the current temperature is without the need to press a button. The colors available have also been carefully thought about. If the thermostat is working in “cool” mode, the backlight is blue. If it’s working to keep you warm, the light shines an orange color. It will even let you know if it’s not doing anything at all by just having a black background and white text.
My Favorite Feature
As the name suggests, this thermostat from Nest can learn, or as I like to think of it “be trained”. This takes an awful lot of hassle out of having to program your thermostat although you do have to be patient. Well, maybe a week of continuous use patient.
For instance, you may like your home to be at, say, 70 degrees in the early evening from Monday to Wednesday. You may then prefer a temperature at that time of day Thursday and Friday at, say, 74 degrees. You might even have another preference over the weekend.
All it takes is a few days of selecting these temperatures and you can train the thermostat so it will automatically switch for you. Some of you might think that having to wait for the device to learn a set of temperatures you like is a bit of a bind. However, if you’re no stranger to programmable thermostats, you will know how long it can take to figure out the program you’re happy with.
Another point worth mentioning here is if you have to make a one off change, you can do this without confusing the thermostat. Just remember you have to make the same selections a number of times before it will change the schedule overall.
What I will say for those of you who are serial thermostat accuracy checkers, do not test this model too much. It will take a few days to learn your schedule, but if you consistently mess with the program, it will take longer for the device to learn how long it takes to heat or cool your home.
If all of this sounds too complicated or you’re unsure if this is going to work for you (it will, trust me, but just in case..), you can always turn your Nest into a regular programmable thermostat.
Speaking of Saving Energy…
Aside from having a smart thermostat that learns your heating and cooling preferences, this model also has a really handy green leaf icon (on the device itself and on the app, you can see it lighting up on the blue and black background of the colors image above).
It’s a little complicated to explain how this works, but basically the leaf tells you when you’re saving energy, so you could say the learning works vice versa this time as YOU are the one who learns what will save energy (you can go here if you’d like to know more about this).
When you use the app (more on that in a minute), you can also view the energy history and it will show you how long the cooling or heating was on for, what temperature changes there were and how efficient you’ve been running your system.
Another handy feature that I really like is the Auto-Away option.
What this means is if you don’t walk past the thermostat for about 2 hours it will assume you’re not at home and switch to the “auto-away” temperature setting. However, if you always leave home on Tuesday and Friday at, say, 5:30pm to go to the gym, Auto-Away will kick in as soon as 6:00pm. Your Nest Thermostat has learned to activate sooner!
The only problem you may come across with this function is that if you install the device in a place the motion detector won’t notice you, you might find the auto-away setting will activate when you don’t want it to. Of course, you can always turn this feature off, but since it really helps with saving energy you may want to consider another location for your Nest.
This is one of the biggest sticking points for many people who are looking for a new thermostat, and the manufacturer has really thought about ease in this respect. If you’re replacing a thermostat it can be as easy as removing the old one, installing the base-plate, connecting the wires and plugging the main unit into its base.
You don’t even have to tell this thermostat what type of system you’re using because it does that for you. In fact, it will work with about 95% of all systems out there although they do have to be low voltage. If you have oil, gas, electric, heat pump, radiant or a forced air system, this thermostat will work just fine.
To be 100% sure, Nest has a handy compatibility widget so you can make sure your system is compatible before you even think about hitting that “purchase button”. If you find your system is compatible and you’re still concerned about doing a DIY installation, I have also added a really useful installation video so you’re armed with all the knowledge you need prior to making a purchase.
Wi-Fi / App
Having access to the climate control in your home when you’re not there is pretty important to a lot of people these days. For me, it’s all about making sure everything is working as it should be. It’s also about having the luxury of being able to set a temperature that will suit me when I arrive home.
Right from installation, it’s possible to connect the Nest to your Wi-Fi from a laptop, tablet or smartphone and the App is available for Android, iPad and iPhone. Once you have the app, there are various features that will help you stay in control of your heating and cooling system.
Things like changing the temperature, adjusting your schedule (something many other wireless thermostats don’t allow) and seeing how much energy you’ve used are all possible no matter where you are. You can even view a detailed energy use report from up to 10 days ago, plus it will send you a monthly summary with hints and tips on how you can better use the thermostat to save even more money.
One of the other benefits of the Wi-Fi function with this thermostat is the manufacturer can automatically send software updates as and when they decide to release them which eliminates the need to go hunting for them manually.
Other Neat Features
I already touched on the auto-away function but this model also has a simple “away” function which is great if you happen to be going on vacation or don’t plan to be around at the weekend. This means you can set a minimum and maximum temperature but do remember you will have to switch the unit into away manually so it knows that you don’t want to use the auto-away function.
Security is something people are worried about, especially where the internet is concerned. However, the connection used with the Nest is secure, reliable and completely private. You can also stop “little fingers” from getting busy on the unit itself by setting a pin code that only authorized users have access to. Plus, as long as you associate the pin you choose with an email address, it’s easy to reset if you happen to lose it.
2nd Generation vs. 3rd Generation
I’m not sure how long Nest will continue to sell the second generation of their product, but currently the second and third generation of the Nest thermostat are both being sold, so that raises the question which one to buy. Personally I always go for the latest and newest products to ensure maximum support, but Nest has a reputation to uphold and simply can’t afford to forget about its customers from older models. They still support the first generation Nest with updates and apps, and I don’t see why that should be any different with the second generation.
So with that said, what could be the reasons to shell out an extra $50 for a third generation Nest?
First and foremost, you will get a bigger screen with higher resolution. The unit itself hasn’t grown (well it has, by a tiny miny amout) but the actual screen of the display is 40% larger than the previous model. This means it’s easier to navigate and easier to see from a distance.
Second, thanks to the so-called FarSight detector, the Nest 3 is more sensitive to movement than its predecessors. Yes the 2nd generation Nest lights up as well, but only if you pass by it closely. With the third generation, depending on its location, you can activate the display from 10 to 20 feet.
Well I could mention the new Furnace Heads-Up feature that automatically scans forced-air furnaces for malfuntions, but older models will soon get updated with this feature as well. So bottom line, if you still can get the second generation and you don’t need to read the temperature from across the room, then just go for it. You won’t miss any important features.
I know this review is a lot to take in. There are a large number of features you may have never heard of before, but the main thing is this thermostat will take the hassle out of programming, help you save energy by learning your schedule and looks really nice too!
If you’re still undecided between this model and any of the other wireless thermostats I have on my website, feel free to take a look at the wireless thermostat comparison page I’ve added here. On this page, you will find the most important features every model I have reviewed has (or doesn’t have) so you can see at a glance which you think will suit your needs better.