Nest Thermostat Review

So it has been a little over a year since I acquired a second generation Nest Learning Thermostat.  As Nest expands with new products like the Protect and strong competitors like Honeywell Lyric arrive on the scene, I figured it was time to put my thoughts down.  Is the Nest Thermostat worth it?

The Nest Learning Thermostat is smart Wi-Fi connected thermostat that works with most forced air systems in the United States.  It has a minimalist style, uses an all most iPod inspired click-wheel control which isn’t surprising since its founder is from Apple.  It has since been procured by Google but operates some autonomously.

The Good

I really like the simplistic design and in this kind of setting a click-wheel actually works.  The interface is good both on the thermostat itself and the connected app and website.

It can easily learn your habits and create a schedule for you, or you can create or tweak your own.  The software is constantly being updated, so you feel like you are buying a product that will evolve for the future.

Probably one of my favourite features is the heat-cool mode.  You set a range of temperatures.  For example 68 and 73, if your house falls below 68 it will call for heat.  Likewise, if your house rises above 73 it will call for cooling.  This is really great in the spring and fall months where the weather is unpredictable and you don’t want to constantly switch between modes.  Otherwise the Nest does support standard cool and heat modes.  Also with the apps and the website, you can control your Nest from anywhere.

The Bad

However, for a smart thermostat, you would think there would be more control.  Nest introduced a while back a product suggestion area of their site and allows users to vote up ideas.  Most of those ideas have not been implemented or addressed.  For example, the Nest currently only gives you 10 days history.  Users naturally want to see longer term trends but Nest hasn’t obliged not have they created an API that would allow external sources to store your own data.

In addition, the one suggestion I recall them implementing was allowing a fan schedule.  Well, sort of, I can schedule my fan to run at night, 15 min every hour between 12 and 4 AM.  But, that’s it. I can’t add an additional runtime in the afternoon to bring up some of the natural basement cooling.

The auto away feature that uses a sensor to determine if you are home doesn’t work well for me.  If I’m upstairs, it’s naturally not going to sense me.  The suggestions for networked sensors for temperature and away have been mostly ignored.  The Protect Smoke and CO alarm can work but hasn’t been tested for this review.  In addition Honeywell Lyric has really trumped this area with using your smartphone’s location to determine if you are home or not.

The Ugly

Basic features like Hold don’t exist that even a $20 scheduling thermostat have.  So if I have a party starting at 8 PM and normally it cools before bedtime at around 10 PM, I will have to remember to turn it up when it automatically turns it down.  There is no way to hold the current setting.

Also as a Windows Phone user, there is no native 1st party app.  Though there is a 3rd party.  Despite the fact that there are over 800 votes for this particular production suggestion.  Overall Nest seems to ignore the product suggestion.

Conclusion

$250 is a lot of pay for a thermostat.  Luckily mine was an added incentive thrown in after I had already agreed on the purchase price for a new heating and cooling system install.  So I can’t comment too much on savings.  A cheaper scheduling thermostat is going to be better value, provided you actually implement a schedule.  If your schedule varies you may see additional savings with auto-away provided it can accurately sense if you are home and that varies from install to install.

Nest does have a lot of potential, and is ever expanding into new smart product categories.  But the Honeywell will probably be more refined.  The Lyric already will display the current weather, a product suggestion for the Nest.  In addition a lot of users may appreciate the experience Honeywell will bring to the table with basic features like hold or setting your own maintenance band.

I didn’t have comfort problems and have a very basic two stage gas furnace with humidifier and a one stage AC.  But there is a vocal minority that do have problems that simple maintenance band settings could possibly solve.  Other problems involve a common wire, while the Nest may work without one, I would highly recommend having one.  With a brand new install, that was not an issue.

So my recommendation is to do additional research or consult a professional.  The Nest is still a gamble and waiting to see additional synergy with smart products may be wise.

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