Any programmable thermostat reviews have to include the Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation. Nest, the company, was founded by a group of former Apple design engineers, and a lot of the Apple design philosophy can be seen in Nest, the thermostat. It certainly has a sleek design, it is feature-packed and, almost inevitably, it is priced at the top-end of programmable Wi-Fi Smart thermostats. But, is it any good?
If sales alone were the marker for how good a product is, the Nest product would be well out in front. But how does it perform is the real question? Are some of the highly sophisticated features a little more complex than most users want or need?
The ‘Learning’ in the name of this thermostat refers to the ability of the thermostat to learn your routines and then program itself to suit them over a period of 7 days. The rationale for this is that most people don’t program their thermostats and this saves the effort.The ‘Auto Away’ function can be very useful. It detects whether there has been movement in the past 2 hours, if not it turns the thermostat automatically to the ‘away’ settings. This does mean that you have to be careful where you locate the device to make sure that it is in an area which sees some levels of movement. It also means that if you fall asleep in front of the TV you can wake to a cold house.
It does have some very useful features. When you adjust the temperatures a little green leaf appears on the display when you are at an energy saving level. A few degrees in temperature, which is hardly noticeable to you, can save a noticeable amount on your energy bills.
Using the app, you can check your energy use over the last 10 days in quite fine detail. This allows you to see what energy you have been using, the temperatures, and areas where energy has been used most efficiently.
The circular design of the Nest was a step change from the standard white box that was the norm for all thermostats. Other manufacturers have obviously been inspired by this. The latest thermostat from ecobee, the ecobee3, has moved away from the white rectangular box to something more rounded.
Nest Thermostat Review – The Good / The Bad
- Sleek, stylish design
- Motion sensor to detect when the space is unused and switch to ‘Away’ mode
- Learning mode automatically programs itself over 7 days by learning your routines
- Controllable remotely through PC, smartphone or tablet
- Compatible with 95% of North American heating and cooling systems
- The initial setup takes time
- Needs to be located in an area where movement can be seen by the motion sensor, which means that locating it where the current thermostat is may not be practical
Ease of Use 4.3/5
With many of the current programmable thermostats, they can be quickly (and instinctively) be set up through an app. With the Nest, you need to read up on the setup first and then hope that you have your standard routine in place as the Nest learns. That being said once the Nest is set, many of the functions are done automatically making it very easy to use.
Nest say that most homeowners can install the thermostat in 30 minutes. It is possible to install it without a ‘C’ wire, but it depends on how much power can be drawn from other feed. If this is insufficient it can lead to it losing Wi-Fi from time to time. The system functions best with a ‘C’ wire, but if you don’t have the ‘C’ wire there is a possible work around which will work for some systems. If the existing thermostat is in a position that does not ‘see’ movement, you may need to relocate. This can be very easy and quick to install or a lot more involved – it depends on your existing setup.
How easy it is to program the Learning Thermostat very much depends on your point of view. In theory, the learning element saves you having to program separate on and off times for every day. You just select the temperature you want, when you want over the course of a week and it is all remembered. No need to sit down and pre-set days and times.
When you are setting your temperatures there is a small green leaf in the display which lights up when you are on the most economical temperatures.
But, especially when you consider that most Wi-Fi programmable thermostats can be easily and quickly setup from a PC, tablet or smartphone, is this a real benefit. Some people will like it while others prefer different methods.
You can choose to lock the programmed settings with a PIN code to stop others from altering them. This is useful in commercial settings and where little fingers like to play with things.
Energy Saving 4.7/5
The potential to save energy and costs with this thermostat is very much higher than many of its competitors due to some of the features and the information that you are supplied with.
The ‘Auto Away’ function, which detects when there has been no movement in the area for 2 hours and switches the heating of cooling down, is a real energy saving benefit if you have a changeable schedule.
The small green leaf at the bottom of the display lights up as you adjust the temperature, the green leaf shows when you are at the lower energy use settings.
The 10 report can help you see where your energy usage has been high and could be reduced in the future. This does rely on positive action by the user to benefit from this, though.
In some areas energy suppliers offer rebates or discounts for having an approved programmable thermostat, like the Nest, installed.
Bottom Line 4.2/5
So, to answer the question, how good is the Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation? It depends.
Many people will like the technology used and the features available. The potential to save on energy use is quite high due to the ‘Auto Away’ feature, the green leaf that suggests the most economical temperature settings and the very detailed 10 day reports that are available. To use the ‘Auto Away’ feature, the thermostat may need to be relocated to a position where it can detect movement.
Most people will agree that the Nest is a very stylish design and completely different to the standard white box on the wall that was common to all thermostats before this came along. We hope you find our Nest thermostat review useful.
The Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation has a lot in its favor, but even though it is the top selling model on Amazon, is it the best Wi-Fi thermostat available?
Costing almost twice as much as the Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Programmable Thermostat, which does lack some features of the Nest and is of a white box design, personal choice of cost against looks and features will be guide most people’s buying selection.