The Learning Thermostat – Nest!

The Nest Smart Thermostats are manufactured by Nest Labs – an innovative company owned by Google currently. If you like stories, Nest Labs was started in 2010 by two Apple employees, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. The idea for an innovative, internet connected thermostat first sparked on Tony Fadell; when he was building a vacation home and found all the available thermostats inadequate. Driven by the idea, Fadell roped in Rogers to start Nest Labs in their garage. The first product Nest Learning Thermostat (1st Gen) was released in 2011 – and the product took off in no time. People really loved the new Nest smart thermostat – which was self learning, automatic and can be controlled via internet.

Nest released  2nd Gen thermostats with much improved design and features on October 2012. The company had grew from 0 to nearly 250 employees by this period. On January 14, Google acquired Nest Labs for USD 3.2 Billions in cash deal. So that’s the story about Nest in a nutshell – the first smart thermostat manufacturer.

Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E

Nest currently has two thermostat models – Nest 3rd Generation and Nest E. Both of them are smart thermostats, where Nest 3rd Gen is the full featured model and Nest E is basically a budget model (a trimmed down version of Nest 3rd Gen).

Nest Thermostat Review
Nest E and Nest 3rd Generation Thermostat

Nest E and Nest 3rd Generation 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 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) is enabled in both models of Nest thermostat.

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The key difference between Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E thermostats is in compatibility, build quality and some features like display and color choices. You may read the complete comparison of Nest 3rd Gen vs Nest E give below.

In a nutshell, Nest 3rd Gen is compatible with different types of HVAC systems (covers nearly 95% of HVAC systems in 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 upto 2 stages of heating/cooling only. Read our complete Nest thermostat compatibility guide to get more info. 

Nest 3rd Generation – Review

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 number of 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 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 – 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 itself.

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 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  – 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 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 an 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 USA (backed by government) for products that save energy and protect 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 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 internet using the Nest mobile App.

Energy Reports – helps to analyse 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 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 separate) 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.

FarSight – is a feature unique to Nest 3rd Gen model. “FarSight” activates the sleeping display whenever someone’s presence is detected on 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 Nest 2nd Gen model and the display is clear, bright and sharp.

Ring Colors – Nest 3rd Gen gives you 4 choices in 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 USA. Nest thermostats goes 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 common used HVAC system types in 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.

Secure Boot Technology: Ensures that the Nest software is running alone, by blocking all unwanted or  malicious software. It  also safeguards your data and hence protects your privacy.

Remote Control: Controlling the thermostat from anywhere is possible using your mobile phone, laptop or tablet using application making it very user friendly.

Alerts: Gives alert when something goes wrong.

 

Energy Efficiency: The Green leaf function helps you to identify when the thermostat is working in the energy efficient mode.

Geo-fencing: Sets temperature by learning your location with the help of your Smartphone.

To prevent overheating, they have “Heads-up” feature that will turn off the device to prevent overheating. This feature also helps to save energy.

Installation is pretty easy as it takes hardly 30 minutes for the entire procedure.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

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

Inshort

This version of Nest offers some great features as like updation from near field technology to far field technology. The improved resolution and bigger display gives 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 colour options. Works with Alexa for voice control. It is great choice for every home giving a very attractive appearance.

Nest E Review

It 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 Plain White puck and they really can’t be noticed easily. All you need to do is setting the thermostat in the initial few weeks and then the rest will be taken care by its own built-in intelligence. Frosted glass tops the display making the display look dimmer. It has a simpler interface. Like all other Nest thermostats, E version can be connected to internet and can be controlled using mobile application. Using your phone and other sensors, Nest E can easily identify whether you are at home or not and thereby sets 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 ‘farsight’ feature which enables you to know the time and temperature by turning the display on automatically when you are around. E version 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 . 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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Have the need to have a C wire
  • Fails to support certain HVAC systems
  • Absence of farfield technology
  • Blurred display can cause inconvenience for people with vision problems

Inshort

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, back plate with wire terminals, two mounting screws, optional mounting plate and a detailed installation guide book. Its display hides all unnecessary readings making the display look neat and jus 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 E Vs Nest 3rd Gen

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 routine and uses Nest App. There are only slight variations which will be discussed below.

    • Price: 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: E has an inferior display. It has a frosted glass over the dial giving a dimmer reading. Whereas 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 colours unlike E which is white.
    • Farsight : Nest 3 has this feature which wakes up the display when it senses your presence near the thermostat and shows you the information you prefers to see. E lacks this feature even if it has this same motion sensing sensors. This  cannot be considered as a major drawback.
  • Compatibility with HVAC systems: Nest 3 is compatible with more HVAC units when compared with E. Say if Nest 3 goes well with 95% HVAC units, then for E it will be around 85%. Nest compatibility tool helps you to check compatibility with your devices.
  • Pre-set scheduling: This feature comes with E which helps you to save money instantly. You can also reprogram it using Nest App or using Smart Home Assistance.
  • Sensors: Nest 3 comes with few more sensors than E.

Below table shows a quick overview of the similarities and difference among the two

 

Category Nest Gen 3 Nest E
Size 3.25 in diameter

1.21 in thickness

3.19 in diameter

1.14 in thickness

Display Superior Display

3.25 in diameter

480 x 480 px resolution

Inferior Display

1.76 in diameter

320 x 320 px resolution

Sensors Temperature(10 nos)

Humidity

Near-field activity

Far-field activity

Ambient light

Temperature

Humidity

Proximity/ Occupancy

Ambient light

Connectivity 802.11b/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
Features Auto-Scheduling
Airwave
Nest Leaf
Auto-Away
Energy History
Time to Temperature
System Match
Early On
Heat Pump Balance
FarSight
Water / Boiler control
Auto-Schedule
Airwave
Nest Leaf
Auto-Away
Energy History
Time to Temperature
System Match
Early On
Heat Pump Balance
Water / Boiler control
Price More Less
Material used for making Metal Polycarbonate
Appearance Easily noticeable Blends really well with the walls
Far-sight feature Yes No
Compatibility with HVAC systems Compatible with 95% of HVAC Systems Compatible with only 85% of HVAC Systems

 

Conclusion

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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