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Smart Thermostats

Nest Learning Thermostat Review: Third Time’s the Charm

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Nest released the 3rd generation of its self-learning, Wi-Fi enabled thermostat on September 1, 2015. Overall, the product has succeeded in making its users fall in love with a wide range of features it offers.

Apart from a few bearable snags, the Nest Learning Thermostat is a complete package of easily programmable attributes, which the company asserts can help its users save up to 10% in terms of energy consumption.

The Thermostat comes with a sundry collection of user-friendly features which may be used individually as well as in the form of strategic combinations for developing enhanced heating conditions with minimal energy consumption.

Before we get into the details of the Nest Learning Thermostat’s functionality, let us first take a look at some of its notable advantages and disadvantages.

Nest Learning Thermostat Advantages

One of the most remarkable features of this product is its ability to modify its program based on its user’s tentative schedule. What this means is that if you decide to leave your house vacant for the day, the Nest

Learning Thermostat is smart enough to make the necessary adjustments in its heating program, by using its built-in motion sensor along with the GPS functionality of its app.

It also tracks its user’s heating habits and preferences and learns to derive a pattern from the same. The pattern is then used to create a heating and cooling schedule which grants the user freedom from manually regulating and adjusting the temperature on a daily basis.

A simple, minimalist yet attractive design along with convenient operability makes Nest Learning Thermostat stand out from other similar products.

The mobile app provides strong control over the Thermostat’s functionality. From displaying installation tutorials to allowing remote regulation of temperature to enabling setting-up of pre-defined heating schedules, the Nest app provides it all.

Nest Learning Thermostat Disadvantages

The only significant drawback is that the Thermostat cannot provide area-specific heating operation. What this means is that some of the zones in your house, located farther away from the location of the Thermostat, may experience a drop in temperature without triggering the latter.

This limitation shall create unnecessary inconvenience for the user and cannot actually be mitigated completely, per se. Also, the initial installation might prove to be a challenging task and must be carried out by a trained professional only.

The company’s two-year warranty is somewhat less than the general average.
Now that we’ve established the pros and cons of this product, let us move on to the installation process.

Nest Learning Thermostat Installation Process

The Nest Learning Thermostat involves a complicated installation process and is intended to be performed by a trained professional only. This is because it involves several high voltage connections which may pose a threat to the user’s health and safety.

Even though the Nest app contains the entire installation guide for replacing your old thermostat with the Nest Thermostat and connecting the same to the app, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional for the initial set-up.

The installation process comprises two main steps.

Step 1: Connection of Heat Link to your boiler.

The Heat Link is connected to the main boiler, thereby allowing it to control the heating as well as the hot water supply based on your requirement. The Heat Link is a simple plastic box that does not require much attention post its installation.

Step 2: Connection of Thermostat to the Heat Link.

The Thermostat is connected wirelessly to the Heat Link and may be mounted on a wall or placed on a stand. The stand has to be bought separately and requires that the Thermostat is kept close to a power socket and within the reach of your Wi-Fi router.

The Thermostat is the main controller which connects to your wireless network. The Thermostat is the main controller which connects to your wireless network.

Once you are done with the installation process, you may then begin with the set-up. It involves feeding the Thermostat with a few basic inputs regarding your heating preferences. Furthermore, you may download and install important software updates for the Thermostat’s system.

Nest Learning Thermostat Design, Display & Functionality

The Nest Learning Thermostat comes in copper, black, white and steel models and greatly resembles a hockey puck. Flawless design and classy finish only add to its beauty.

The center consists of a screen that displays various user options while the outer body can be rotated for navigation and selection.There is no touch-screen feature. Rotating the Thermostat’s outer body in the clockwise direction increases the temperature while rotating it in the anticlockwise direction decreases the same.

Pressing the outer body toward the wall lets you view more options. Turning the outer body allows you to select a particular option and pressing it again confirms it. The Thermostat features two primary screens, i.e., the Temperature Screen and the Quick View Menu. Apart from this, it can also display important notifications and error messages.

The center consists of a screen that displays various user options while the outer body can be rotated for navigation and selection. There is no touch-screen feature. Rotating the Thermostat’s outer body in the clockwise direction increases the temperature while rotating it in the anticlockwise direction decreases the same.

Pressing the outer body toward the wall lets you view more options. Turning the outer body allows you to select a particular option and pressing it again confirms it. The Thermostat features two primary screens, i.e., the Temperature Screen and the Quick View Menu. Apart from this, it can also display important notifications and error messages.

Following is a list of items that you’ll be able to view on the Thermostat’s screen.

Temperature Screen:

This will probably be one of the most utilized attributes of the Nest Learning Thermostat. It consists of information such as the set maximum temperature, the current room temperature, etc.

When the Temperature Screen is displayed, the temperature shown in the larger bold font and in the center indicates the set maximum temperature or the Target Temperature for both Heating and Cooling modes, whereas the temperature shown near the boundary indicates the current room temperature.

You may change the set maximum temperature by rotating the outer body of the Thermostat in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. During the Eco Temperature Mode, the temperature readings are replaced by the term “ECO” along with the green colored Nest Leaf.

Quick View Menu:

Pressing the ring on the Thermostat takes you to the Quick View Menu, which allows the user to switch between the various modes available, for example, Eco Temperature Mode, Off Mode, Heating Mode, etc. It also allows the user to alter the temperature schedule or change the Wi-Fi network among many other settings.

Important Notifications and Error Messages: In case of a sudden malfunction or a situation which requires immediate attention or any important information regarding the Thermostat’s functionality that needs to be conveyed to the user, a notification is displayed on the screen stating the same. Most notifications may be manually dismissed except for certain critical error messages.

Various icons are displayed at the bottom of the screen indicating the ongoing activity being performed by the Nest Learning Thermostat. A color change accompanies any modification in the system’s condition.

Nest Learning Thermostat Key Features

The Nest Learning Thermostat, as the name suggests, is an instrument that learns to self-modify its settings with time according to its user’s requirement. It creates a pattern out of the temperature input it is fed by the user along with the corresponding time.

You may choose to let the Thermostat pick up a pattern based on your daily routine, or you may manually enter a schedule and allow the program to make necessary adjustments.

The Thermostat can be easily controlled by its app, which can also provide you with a highly insightful energy report to track your energy consumption habits.

“Sunblock” is another interesting feature that utilizes a light sensor to detect sunlight and regulate the room temperature even on a sunlit winter morning.

The “Farsight” feature uses the provided motion sensor to display general information like current temperature, weather and time when a person approaches the Thermostat. The information displayed is in a large enough font that may be visible from the far end of the room.

However, if you’ve installed the Thermostat in a rarely visited corner of your house, its system may eventually consider the house to be vacant and turn off the heating.

It’s best to have the Thermostat installed in the hallway itself so as to regularly trigger its motion sensors and ensure smooth functionality. In case the afore-mentioned scenario becomes unavoidable, you may utilize the GPS feature provided in the Nest app to tackle the same.

The “Eco” mode, when enabled, reduces the temperature to a set minimum when no one’s home in order to save upon excess energy consumption.

“Home Detection” works by utilizing the family members’ phones along with the motion sensor to ensure a regulated room temperature in the presence of a guest even when you aren’t home.

The Thermostat can also be controlled using Amazon Alexa as well as Google Assistant. However, it does not support the Apple Homekit. An IFTTT channel enables the user to connect and activate other devices in certain conditions, such as when the temperature reaches a set maximum.

Nest Learning Thermostat Performance

The Nest system is highly responsive and all changes made at any instant are almost immediately applied. Initially, the system requires you to manually feed the temperature input according to your need.

But soon after, it recognizes your heating habits and starts making the necessary changes on its own. Also, the room temperature reading displayed by the Thermostat is fairly accurate.

The absence of zone-specific heating can sometimes prove to be a major setback. Especially in cases where the Thermostat is located in an area which tends to remain warmer as compared to other parts of the house.

For instance, if it has been installed in the kitchen, the rooms on the top floor may remain cold due to the inability of the Thermostat to measure the temperature variations in different zones of the house.

This may gradually put you in a difficult situation wherein your one room may be heated up to 22 degrees while the other may have a temperature several degrees below. You may then have to change the set maximum temperature in order to heat rooms located on the farther end.

How to reduce energy consumption using the Nest Thermostat?

The Nest Learning Thermostat is designed to educate itself. Based on your everyday routine, it determines a schedule for itself so as to create a balance between keeping you warm and increasing energy savings.

However, feeding a preplanned schedule to the Thermostat can help you get where you wish to be much faster. You may do this by regularly changing the Thermostat’s settings according to your need.

It shall pick up your heating and cooling habits so that after a week of continuous manual temperature adjustments, it starts modifying its settings all by itself in order to henceforth keep you comfortable at all times.

It is important to take note of your Energy History on a weekly basis. Energy History displays the frequency and the duration of the Thermostat’s system’s working. Once you start analyzing your energy history, you may then develop better temperature schedules to improve upon your energy savings.

You may choose to incorporate two or more Nest Learning Thermostats in different parts of your house and feed them different schedules to up your energy savings game.

Start paying attention to the Time-to-Temperature indication. It gives you the time that the Thermostat will take to reach the Target Temperature. This will allow you to take control over the runtime of the heating cycle and make adjustments in the set value accordingly.

It is better to avoid feeding extreme temperatures hoping to increase the speed of heating as the Nest Thermostat’s system does not work that way. It maintains a steady pace of temperature increment and feeding extreme values only misleads the program into creating energy inefficient schedules.

When you plan to leave your house vacant for a long period of time, remember to manually set the Thermostat to Eco Temperature mode. Applying these basic yet highly effective measures will surely increase your energy savings significantly.

Conclusion

All in all, the Nest Learning Thermostat seems to be a pretty good investment. However, it shall take approximately 3 to 4 years for the Thermostat to pay for itself.

If you’re willing to overlook the few bearable drawbacks of the product along with the long pay-back period it holds, the Thermostat shall eventually prove to be a good decision on your end. When used in the right manner, the Nest Thermostat should be able to deliver all that it promises.

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