Nest is a world-renowned company making thermostats. They currently have two thermostat models: Nest 3rd Generation and Nest E. What are the differences between these two thermostat models?

The main difference is that Nest 3 is a full-featured thermostat whereas Nest E is basically a budget, trimmed-down version of Nest 3. Also, Nest 3 is compatible with 95% of the HVAC systems in the US while Nest E is compatible with only 85% of them.

While the above are the main differences between these two thermostat models, there are other differences as well. Continue reading to learn about Nest e and Nest 3 smart thermostats in detail.

Nest E Vs Nest 3rd Gen Learning Thermostats: Comparison

Nest 3rd Gen thermostat

Nest E thermostat

Nest E and Nest 3rd Generation learning smart thermostats have many key features in common. They both are “self-learning” – which means they program themselves automatically after installation. Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen – both are designed to give high energy savings, and they can pay for themselves within 2 or 3 years of installation (this will vary with your energy usage). WiFi connectivity is enabled for both models and they can be controlled from anywhere via the Internet. They learn your living habits & patterns to re-adjust the schedules themselves. Extra room sensors (temperatures sensors) can be interfaced with both Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E models – to manage any hot/cold spots in different rooms in your home. Voice control and Smart home integrations ( Apple Homekit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa) are enabled in both models of Nest thermostats.

Even with so many things in common, these two models have their differences. Given below are the differences between Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E thermostats;


Nest 3rd Gen is compatible with different types of HVAC systems (covers nearly 95% of HVAC systems in the USA), even with multi-stage systems having 3 or 4 stages. Nest E is compatible with only 85% of HVAC systems, and when it comes to multi-stage – Nest E covers up to 2 stages of heating/cooling only. Read our complete Nest thermostat compatibility guide to get more info.


Nest E is much cheaper as it is made of plastic and not metal like the other versions. Hence it is definitely a budget model.

Design and Appearance:

Nest E has an inferior display compared to Nest 3. It has a frosted glass over the dial giving a dimmer reading. Nest 3 has a bigger screen with greater resolution giving a sharper and clear reading. The frosted display of E blends the thermostat beautifully with the wall giving it a very classy look. Nest 3 comes in 3 different colors, unlike E which comes only in white.


Nest 3 has this feature that wakes up the display when it senses your presence near the thermostat and shows you the information you prefer to see. Nest E lacks this feature even if it has these same motion-sensing sensors. This cannot be considered as a major drawback.

The below table shows a quick overview of the similarities and differences between the two thermostats;

Nest Gen 3Nest ESize3.25 in diameter, 1.21 in thickness 3.19 in diameter, 1.14 in thickness DisplaySuperior Display, 3.25 in diameter, 480 x 480 px resolution Inferior Display, 1.76 in diameter, 320 x 320 px resolution SensorsTemperature(10 nos), Humidity, Near-field activity, Far-field activity, Ambient light Temperature, Humidity,Proximity/ Occupancy, Ambient light Connectivity802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz
802.11a/n @5GHz
802.15.4 @2.4GHz
Bluetooth LE
802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz
802.11a/n @5GHz
802.15.4 @2.4GHz
Bluetooth LE
Nest Leaf
Energy History
Time to Temperature
System Match
Early On
Heat Pump Balance
Water / Boiler control
Nest Leaf
Energy History
Time to Temperature
System Match
Early On
Heat Pump Balance
Water / Boiler control
The material used for makingMetalPolycarbonate
AppearanceEasily noticeableBlends really well with the walls
Far-sight featureYesNo
Compatibility with HVAC systemsCompatible with 95% of HVAC SystemsCompatible with only 85% of HVAC Systems

Nest 3rd Generation – Detailed Review

Nest 3rd Gen thermostat

As you know, “Nest 3rd Generation” – is the full-featured smart thermostat model from Nest. Apart from the key features mentioned above (common for Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E), what makes Nest 3rd Gen unique is its compatibility with more HVAC systems. Nest 3rd Gen also comes in different ring colors (choose from Copper, Stainless Steel, Black, and White colors) – where you can choose a color that best fits your interiors. Nest 3rd Gen also has unique features like “FarSight” – which lights up the display (to show temperature, time, and weather) when someone is spotted in the room.  Let’s go deep into the features of Nest 3rd Gen thermostat.

Features of Nest 3rd Gen Thermostat

As I said, Nest 3rd Gen is a true smart thermostat with a load of useful features. Many of these “smart features” are common to Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E. Let’s see all of them in detail.

Self Learning

Self-learning is the highlight feature of both Nest thermostat models – Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E. You don’t need to program your thermostat by manually inputting temperature schedules. Instead, just install your Nest 3rd Gen or Nest E and leave it alone. The Nest thermostat will start building patterns based on your lifestyle/living habits and programs themselves.

The “self-learning” feature is built on top of sophisticated artificial intelligence software, that it understands when you’re sleeping (adjusts the temperature for a good nights sleep), when you wake up (adjusts temperature for a warm morning), when you go away to the office (moves itself to eco mode to give you max energy savings) and more.

Note: If you prefer a custom schedule over the “self-learning” feature, you can program Nest thermostats using the Nest App – the mobile app for android/iOS devices.

Energy Savings

Energy savings is the next key feature of Nest smart thermostats. Both models (Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen) are built to provide high energy savings by controlling your HVAC system to operate at maximum efficiency. As claimed by Nest, both thermostats are capable of giving an energy savings of 12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills. These numbers would vary with regions, types of HVAC, and a lot of other factors. I believe anyone can expect a savings rate in the range of 8% to 15% on annual energy bills.

Paying for itself

If you look at a white paper in Nest, they claim a Nest thermostat can pay for itself in 2 years time frame. Nest claims average savings in the range of $100 to $150 annually.

Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen are both “ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED” thermostat models. “ENERGY STAR” is a certification provided in the USA (backed by the government) for products that save energy and protect the environment.

Voice Control & Smart Hubs

Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E can be controlled using your voice. To enable voice control, you need to interface your thermostat to a smart home hub like Apple HomeKit. Both Nest thermostats are compatible with all popular smart hubs like Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, and more. You can change temperature settings, turn ON/OFF, and do many other things using voice control. The key benefit here is, you don’t need to depend on your mobile app to adjust the temperature or do some action on your thermostat.

WiFi Connectivity & The Nest App

Does it sound cool to control your home thermostat sitting in your office chair? Both Nest models are equipped with WiFi connectivity and can be controlled over the internet using the Nest mobile app.

Energy Reports

Energy reports help to analyze your home energy usage. “Daily energy usage” is monitored and displayed on the Nest App. Reports are created every month showing analysis & patterns of energy usage. Based on the report, you can adjust your living habits or schedules to save more energy in the coming months. Energy reports are available for both Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen models alike.

Extra Room Sensors

You can interface extra room sensors (you’ve to buy separately) with both Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E thermostats. You can install separate room sensors in individual rooms, say your kids’ room or master bedroom or wherever you prefer. This way you can manage any hot/cold spots in your home. A zoned HVAC management system can be built using a single Nest thermostat and a couple of extra room sensors.

Unique Features of Nest 3rd Gen Model

All of the features discussed above are common to both Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E models. Now let’s see what makes Nest 3rd Gen model unique and premium.


This is a feature unique to the Nest 3rd Gen model. “FarSight” activates the sleeping display whenever someone’s presence is detected in the installed room. Nest detects any human presence within 20 feet radius of the installed location.

Bigger Display

Nest 3rd Gen has a bigger display with high resolution. The screen is 40% larger compared to the Nest 2nd Gen model and the display is clear, bright, and sharp.

Ring Colors

Nest 3rd Gen gives you 4 choices of ring colors – Copper, Stainless Steel, White and Black colors. You can choose one that best suits your home interiors.

Higher Compatibility

Nest 3rd Gen is compatible with almost 95% of HVAC system types used in the USA. Nest thermostats go well with central furnace systems, boiler based systems, Heat pumps with or without auxiliary heating, and systems with central air conditioning – which are the most commonly used HVAC system types in the USA.

Note: Nest thermostats (both Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E) are not compatible with line voltage systems like baseboard heater, convection heaters, and forced fan heaters.


  • The  green leaf icon lights up when the thermostat is in energy saving mode. This feature helps us to reduce energy consumption.
  • Takes minimal time for installation.
  • Bigger display with greater resolution giving sharp and clear reading.
  • Enhanced learning capability.


  • Nest Gen 3 has no remote sensors, hence the thermostat monitors only the temperature near it.


This version of Nest offers some great features like updation from near-field technology to far-field technology. The improved resolution and bigger display give more clarity to the readings. It is considered to be the easiest model to install and works with many Smart Home Partners. It supports water boilers and comes in different color options. Works with Alexa for voice control. It is a great choice for every home giving a very attractive appearance.

C Wire Requirement for Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E

C wire requirement for Nest 3rd generation and Nest E Nest claims that both its thermostat models Nest 3rd Generation and Nest E will work without a C wire or the common wire in most systems. But this claim is far from reality! Many buyers have posted reviews stating Nest will run into power issues when used without a C wire. The common problem reported is the thermostat turning Off due to lack of continuous power supply.

So if you don’t have a c wire/common wire in your current setup, you may solve the c wire problem by using a c wire adapter (an external transformer or a furnace adapter). The take away here is, if you’ve a c wire/common wire already in place, you’re perfect. You just need to install the Nest thermostat and it will work perfectly. If you don’t have a c wire, you may install the Nest thermostat along with a c wire adapter and the thermostat will work perfectly.

To learn more about this, refer to our post about does Nest thermostats need a C wire?

Nest E Thermostat: Detailed Review

Nest E thermostat

Nest E is the latest model of Nest thermostat, launched in 2017. It comes with a new simplified design with almost all features and is cheaper in price. They look much plainer rather than having a big metal ring with a bright screen. Nest E thermostat looks duller with the plain white puck and they really can’t be noticed easily. All you need to do is set the thermostat in the initial few weeks and then the rest will be taken care of by its own built-in intelligence. Frosted glass tops the display making the display look dimmer.

Nest E has a simple interface. Like all other Nest thermostats, Nest E can be connected to the internet and can be controlled using a mobile application. Using your phone and other sensors, Nest E can easily identify whether you are at home or not and thereby set the temperature accordingly. It helps to save about 12% on heating and 15% on cooling bills each year. The only difference from other thermostats is that it doesn’t have a ‘farsight’ feature which enables you to know the time and temperature by turning the display on automatically when you are around. Nest E is compatible with almost 85% of heating or cooling devices at your home. Like all other thermostats, E has sensors to detect motion, humidity, proximity, and temperature and can also integrate with third-party services like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant or Apple’s HomeKit. A few of its main features are:

  • Remote Control:  You can control the thermostats from anywhere using your mobile phone, laptop or tablet using application making it very user friendly.
  • Energy History: They help you to know how much you save on your energy bills and also provide awareness on how to save more.
  • Fault Alerts:  Nest can indicate if any of your HVAC systems that are connected to the thermostat goes faulty. Hence you can identify and rectify the faulty system.
  • Nest Leaf: The display lights up when the temperature setting you have chosen is an energy efficient one. This feature clearly helps you to identify if you are on the right setting.
  • Scheduling: Set the thermostat in the initial few weeks of purchase as per your requirement, later on the thermostat itself will learn your schedule and sets the temperature accordingly but providing you with the choice of changing it anytime from anywhere.
  • Sensors: The sensors added to it help you to identify temperatures of different rooms and enables you to set priority accordingly.
  • Away Mode: With the help of motion sensors and by studying your current location with the help of your mobile phone, the thermostat can turn itself off after ensuring you are away.
  • Easy Installation: Its simple structure made the installation part easier and it hardly takes around 30 minutes to install Nest E.
  • Attractive Design: The display is topped with glass giving it a frosted look and thereby it blends beautifully to where it is affixed. One can hardly notice it especially when it is off.
  • Alexa Enabled: You can just talk to your Echo or Dot regarding temperature settings and the thermostat responds accordingly.


  • They can study your routine
  • Very attractive model
  • Compatible with most of the HVAC devices
  • It can be programmed to set desired temperature
  • Simple installation
  • Simplified design where you can twist the dial to adjust the temperature
  • Reduced price but  offers all important features
  • They have pre-cooling or pre-heating features


  • Fails to support certain HVAC systems
  • Absence of farfield technology
  • Blurred display can cause inconvenience for people with vision problems


The strength of Nest E is mainly its simplicity to use and its simple design at a reduced price. The Nest Thermostat E box contains the thermostat, backplate with wire terminals, two mounting screws, an optional mounting plate, and a detailed installation guidebook. Its display hides all unnecessary readings making the display look neat and just displaying the temperature in a bigger size. Except for its inability to support some of the HVAC systems, it is great for your home offering you get all the important features at a reduced price.


Nest 3rd Gen thermostat

Nest E thermostat

We’ve seen the features & specs of both Nest E and Nest 3rd Generation thermostats. Nest E and Nest Generation 3 -both look almost the same with almost similar features. Your choice can mainly depend on the budget or the appearance. Both have similar learning routines and use Nest App. There are only slight variations which will be discussed below. So let’s begin Nest thermostat comparison!

To wind up, it is very much clear that both versions of Nest aren’t much different except for very few features. So either Nest E or Nest gen 3 is going to make your home smarter, ensuring a comfortable atmosphere all around.


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