If reports are to be believed, Nest may be going through tough times with its parent company, Alphabet (Google). Nevertheless, its flagship product – the Nest Thermostat – remains the go-to option for those trying to make their home a little smarter.
Replacing your existing thermostat with the Nest will allow you to control your central heating from your phone, as well as the device learning when and how to heat your home and so hopefully saving you money on your gas bill in the process.
Nest gained much praise on initial launch of its Learning Thermostat because of its design, and this 3rd-gen version remains by far the nicest-looking smart thermostat you can buy.
With its glass front and metal rim, it’s a device that oozes quality, plus its hockey-puck shape and dimensions mean that it sits unobtrusively on the wall. Now thinner than ever, it measures just 84 x 84 x 32mm.
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This design reflects a well-considered approach to practicality too. The whole device twists, allowing you to adjust temperature in an instant, and you can push it in, too, to activate its sole button. Through just those two movements you can navigate all of the device’s menus and settings, which are displayed on the impressively bright and colourful circular panel in the middle of the device.
The actual thermostat is only part of the hardware installation, however. Also required – and included – is the Heat Link, which plugs into your boiler and tells it when to turn on or off. This is a far less showy affair, but then it’s designed to be hidden away next to your boiler, not prominently positioned in a hallway or on a living-room wall.
So there are just those two devices. In contrast, some smart thermostat systems require a third unit to handle networking duties; the Nest does this itself. This means the thermostat does require a constant power supply, but most existing wired-in thermostats should be able to provide this.
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What’s more, the Honeywell Evohome thermostat trumps the Nest by providing per-room temperature control, but it requires you to buy a smart thermostat for each radiator, making it a far more costly option.
Crucial to the Nest’s smart credentials is the proximity sensor housed in the thermostat. This detects when you walk past, and upon doing so it will momentarily light up the screen to display the ambient temperature alongside the temperature that it’s currently set to. More importantly, though, it notifies the system that you’re in the house and thus to heat things up.
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The other key part to the Nest’s so-called learning abilities is having you manually set the temperature rather than use a schedule. The idea is that during the first week or so of use, you should set the temperature when you wake up, leave for work, return from work, go to bed, and so on. The Nest will then learn your patterns and build its own internal schedule, meaning that you should need to adjust the temperature only on occasion when you break from habit.
However, it is possible to set a manual schedule to start things off.
The final string to this 3rd-gen version of the Nest Thermostat's bow is that it can control hot water too, assuming you use a tank-based hot-water system.