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Nest Learning Thermostat review

Gordon Kelly

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Learning Thermostat

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Super industrial design
  • Intuitive to use and setup
  • Exceptional smart learning
  • Excellent software support

Cons

  • Thermostat requires constant power connection
  • Less granular control than Honeywell Evohome
  • Can't control hot water

Key Features

  • Automated temperature control
  • Remote control via browser and apps
  • Smart schedule learning
  • DIY or professional installation
  • Manufacturer: Nest
  • Review Price: £249.00

What is the Nest Smart Thermostat?

By now you surely know the answer. The Nest thermostat is the flagship product from smart home / Internet of Things manufacturer Nest, the home automation company bought by Google in January for $3bn. It joins the company's excellent Nest Protect smart smoke alarm and reaches the UK more than one year after it first launched in the US. But don't fret, the Nest thermostat is now in its second major iteration and UK owners will benefit from that.

Nest – Design and Features

Nest co-founder Tony Fadell was famously dubbed the 'father of the iPod' during his time at Apple and his eye for design is central to the Nest thermostat's appeal. In short, this is by far the most attractive and best built smart thermostat we have seen and it oozes style and premium build quality.

The centrepiece is the thermostat itself: a stubby, cylindrical aluminium unit with razor sharp colour display. It has been at the heart of all Nest's advertising and with good reason. The machined finish is flawless and the aluminium chassis rotates for menu navigation (more of later) and manual temperature adjustment using a weighty, clicker motion that makes you want to needlessly adjust it. The Apple DNA is strong.

But there is substance beneath the style. This second generation cuts the depth of the thermostat almost in half, yet it still houses the thermostat, a proximity sensor and two wireless receivers.

This is crucial to the Nest's appeal. The first wireless receiver uses a proprietary low-band wireless frequency to connect to the 'Heat Link' — a second bundled device that replaces your current physical wall thermostat and communicates directly with the boiler.

SEE ALSO: Smart Thermostats in the UK Guide

heatlink

Meanwhile, Nest's second wireless receiver is standard 802.11n WiFi as it connects directly to your router. This means, unlike every other solution on the market, there is no need for a third bundled device — the dedicated Internet gateway — which clutters things up and requires another power socket.

The downside to squashing everything inside the thermostat is it does need a constant source of power, but it can still be either wall mounted (with wires channelled) or there is an attractive £29 stand that can be bought separately.

That may mean extra hassle and expense, but we'd rather have two units than the usual three seen in every other smart thermostat setup to date and it allows the Nest to cram in more functionality than almost any of its rivals.

SEE ALSO: Nest vs Hive

For starters, its proximity sensor recognises movement so, like the Tado, it knows when to automatically turn down the temperature when the house is empty. Like the Tado and British Gas Hive users can set predefined schedules, but the Nest will also learn patterns based on when you are home and away so you don't need to program at all. Lastly, like all rivals, its temperature can be controlled remotely from both a web browser (grab above) and an Android or iOS app.

The exception to Nest's all conquering feature set is the Honeywell Evohome, which can individually control temperatures in every room. The Evohome is a more expensive solution, however, something Honeywell recognises having announced Lyric, its direct Nest rival, earlier this month.

The other weakness is it can't control a separate hot water system, a feature Hive supports. This means it's best suited to households with a combi boiler.

lw

June 17, 2014, 12:47 pm

As pointed out before, Nest can't control your hot water when it is provided by a hot water tank, as it is in the majority of UK homes. Hive can. Other similar systems like Evohome can. Nest can't. It can be as 'smart' as anything, but if it can't control one of the major components of the system, then that has to be a major deficiency wouldn't you think? Style over substance.
But no, you keep on plugging the Nest for some reason as the best solution - a paid advertorial rather than a review perhaps?
Do you not take any notice of the comments people make on your reviews? If not, what is the point?

andyvan

June 17, 2014, 1:25 pm

It's a fair criticism of Nest and I will update this review to re-iterate this weakness.

However, I think you're overstating the the problem here. The last three places I've lived in have had combi boilers, and the last one I didn't delivered hot water 'on demand' rather than requiring it to be stored. I don't have hard evidence of the percentage of combi to non-combi households in the UK, but if you can find a verified number then that would be very useful.

Ultimately, there is no single perfect system, but provided you have a combi boiler Nest is clearly one of the best. Personally, I'd also argue there's far less need to control hot water in a 'smart' manner. Provided you have some other means of controlling the water, surely that and a Nest would be sufficient? That's up for debate.

We do read comments all the time, but we publish lots of articles and have lots of comments on the site, so we can't catch, respond and take on board every single one. Some will slip through.

As for your 'paid advertorial' nonsense, just because you don't agree with something that doesn't make it corrupt. Nest is a very successful product for a very good reason: it's a good product. I think there's enough third-party evidence by now to prove that point.

lw

June 17, 2014, 2:04 pm

Combi boilers providing hot water on-demand for the whole house are a more recent introduction, and more common in smaller homes and apartments. But most UK homes would still have a traditional hot water tank. I have never lived in a home with a combi boiler.

Of course, you can still leave your existing central heating controller in place to control the hot water, and that is what Nest recommend - just switch the CH part to off, and leave HW on.
But that defeats a large part of the smart behavior. If the purpose of Nest is to not switch the CH until you are coming home for example, then what point is there in it still switching the HW on? Why do you want the HW coming on and off every day if unoccupied?
Oh, you can still switch it off manually is Nest's advice. Well, I may as well do that with my CH then! Doh!

The point about ignoring comments is that YOU replied to exactly the same comment I made last time you looked at Nest, and said then you would update your review, but didn't and now have ignored this issue again. Leading to my suspicion that you seemed keen not to paint Nest in a negative light...

Alex L

June 17, 2014, 6:52 pm

Iw I can agree with your comments about the hot water. My last house had a combi, but my current one doesn't and I know I waste a lot of money heating up the cylinder every morning and evening. Having said that I think this looks like a great product and was considering buying one when it was first released (I think they used to be £180 then?) I probably will hold off for now though, Until they introduce HW controls at least.

andyvan

June 18, 2014, 9:34 am

Well apologies for forgetting, then. Glad we could sort it out this time. :)

dourscot

June 18, 2014, 2:27 pm

At £250 plus installation costs of at least another £60 this is just an expensive thermostat unless you're starting with a new property. It might save you money if you're an inefficient user but it will never recoup its costs for most

Granted it automates programmes but is that really worth the expense? No wonder the Nest stand in my local store is a pretty lonely place.

M Dunne (Sayers Butterworth)

June 18, 2014, 2:44 pm

"At £249 (installed) it is little more expensive than its main rivals: Tado and Evohome" How do you get that? Tado (installed) is £299 - so how does that work??

SBD119

July 25, 2014, 9:44 am

TADO is much better and in my situation, two professional out of the house, varying schedules - it has almost paid for itself already. The one thing these thermostats don't do - which TADO does exceptionally well is to turn off the heat when you leave the house.

Sajeel A Khokhar

December 21, 2015, 6:16 pm

very disappointed when i have paid well before time and could not get it install by the nest pro before Christmas. very poor customer service by the nest agent.

the way i was treated by the agent it was very unprofessional and did not represent Nest owned by Google. We use to learn about Google business during the MSc but when i have purchased their product i am very disappointed. they have the product but if you cannot install it with the boiler, you would not be able to get on time when you wanted.

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