I love gadgets that can pretty much take care of themselves with little intervention from me. Some gadgets that come to mind that fit this criteria are smart locks like the Kwikset Kevo Smart Dead Bolt and the Nest Learning Thermostat. I’ve used a smart thermostat for several years, but just recently I got the opportunity to review the Nest thermostat. I wasn’t sure if Nest would be much better than the Venstar ColorTouch thermostat I’ve been using for the last four years, but after only a month, I’m happy to say that it is. Keep reading for the full story.
What is it?
The Nest Learning Thermostat does the same thing that an ordinary thermostat that controls your air conditioning and furnace can do, but the Nest is way smarter. It learns from the way you set the temperature to create an automated schedule for your heating and cooling cycles.
What’s in the package?
Nest Learning Thermostat
Design and features
The Nest Learning Thermostat is a sleek and modern wall-mounted thermostat that features a smooth stainless steel dial that rotates around a bright color display to scroll through on-screen lists. The display doubles as a select button that can be pressed to select items and activate choices.
The back of the Nest has a connector that plugs into the wall-mount and a micro USB connector that can be used to charge the thermostat’s internal battery if the heating and cooling wiring fails to do that.
Installation and setup
Installing the Nest was very easy and actually kind of fun. Nest comes with the base plate that you see above. It even has a built-in level at the top so you can easily make sure you have everything straight.
The first step is to make sure the power is turned off to your heating and cooling system by flipping the appropriate switch in your breaker box. Then you can remove the cover of your existing thermostat and label the wires with the stickers that are included with the Nest. Depending on your type of heating / cool system, each installation can be different, with more or fewer wires.
If your wall doesn’t have a bunch of holes or other imperfections after removing the original thermostat, you can attach the base plate. But if the base plate doesn’t quite cover the damage left to the wall, you can use the white trim kit that is included with the Nest. I had to use the trim kit.
With the wires inserted through the hole in the base plate and everything screwed down tight, you just insert each of the wires in the corresponding slots in the plate and snap the Nest thermostat in place.
After everything is connected and you turn the power back on and the Nest thermostat will guide you through the rest of the setup process on its display. You’ll connect to your home’s WiFi, provide location details and verify that the wiring that you just finished.
You’ll then add the Nest thermostat to your new or existing Nest account using the Nest mobile app. This app will let you adjust temperature levels to turn on your furnace or AC unit even if you’re not home. It is also used to view the history of your heating and cooling usage on a daily basis.
Does the Nest Learning Thermostat work as advertised?
The first thing I did after the install was completed was to verify the accuracy of the thermostat by using a calibrated thermometer/hydrometer that I use to check the humidity levels in my house. I’m happy to say that the Nest has been pretty the same as my calibrated thermometer.
Nest will let you adjust the temperature in your home by turning on the AC or furnace based on what it learns after the first week of your manual adjustments. Turning the Nest’s ring to the left sets the temperature cooler (AC) and turning it to the right sets the temperature warmer (furnace).
Nest has a feature called Farsight which allows you to see the display from several feet away or when you walk by. The built-in sensor will wake up the display so you can see what the current temperature in the room and what the thermostat is set to.
You can also set the wake display to show current weather info , analog clock face, digital clock face, current temp or target temp. I keep mine set to show the current temp.
When the Nest is in cooling mode, the display’s background will be blue and when it’s heating, it’s orange. It will also show an estimate of how long it will take to get to the desired temperature.
Pressing the thermostat will display the main menu. You can scroll through the menus by rotating the thermostat dial.
You can view the schedule and modify it through the thermostat if you like… I don’t really recommend customizing the schedule through the thermostat. It’s much easier to make any changes through the app.
You can also view how much energy was used the previous day to heat or cool. You can see this info in the app too and each month you will receive an email that shows how many hours you used the AC or furnace.
After using this thermostat for several weeks, I have no problem saying that I like it better than my previous smart thermostat. It has easier to use scheduling features and can be controlled through other services like Amazon Alexa and IFTTT among others. It can also be used with Nest cameras.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is easy to install and use. It does almost everything you’d want a thermostat to do including automatic schedule learning, Auto-away features that put your heating and cooling into eco mode to help save electricity and your power bills and the ability to interact with the thermostat using Amazon Alexa and other automation services (like IFTTT).
The only thing missing from Nest is remote sensors so that you can monitor multiple locations in your home for better temperature levels customization.
But even without the remote sensors feature, The Nest Learning Thermostat is one of those “just works” type of products that you’ll enjoy using. I know I am.