HomeTechReview: Google's Nest Thermostat Smartly Manages Your Home Environment So You Don’t...

Review: Google's Nest Thermostat Smartly Manages Your Home Environment So You Don’t Have To

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One could argue that Google’s new Nest Thermostat is not only the best looking thermostat Nest has ever made, but at $129.99, it’s also the most compelling.
This sleek, modern-looking disc promises to enhance your life with all the intelligent conveniences of an internet-connected smart device, and save you money while doing it.
It can manage your home’s temperatures to a specific routine and automatically lower your AC while you’re out. Plus, it can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world with a cell phone signal, and even help detect issues with your HVAC system.
That makes it one very capable device for such a relatively small cost. And one that you probably won’t want to live without once you have it.

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Nest Thermostat Technical Specifications

  • 2.4-inch IPS display (240×320 resolution)
  • Mirrored glass lens
  • Capacitive touch sensors
  • Presence sensing
  • Ambient light sensing
  • Battery backup
  • Google Home app control
  • Google Assistant compatible
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz, 802.11a/n 5 GHz

Straight-Forward Setup and Installation

Credit: Nest
Google says it designed the Nest Thermostat to be easy for anyone to install, and I can vouch for that. I really hate DIY, and shy away from anything involving drilling, cutting and especially wiring. Yet I was able to get my boring old thermostat off of the wall, and the Nest installed and running within about 20 minutes.
The Google Home app does an excellent job of walking you through the entire process via short step-by-step instructions, with mini illustrations and animations to help you.
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The Nest itself is a simple device. Besides the main unit, all you have is a base plate that attaches directly into your wall via two screws (no drilling necessary) with a built in level indicator to help make sure you mount it straight. It has six clearly labeled holes where the wires are inserted, and they’re held in place by clips instead of the cumbersome little screws in traditional systems.
The wiring in your existing thermostat can be one of many configurations, but the app figures out your setup with a series of straight-forward questions about what you can see. From there, it advises you on where your wires go. Mine was a simple five-wire setup, and all the wires are color-coded so it’s easy to know what goes where. Then you attach the thermostat front plate, connect it to your phone, and within minutes it’s up and running.

Teaching Nest Your Routine

Credit: Nest
It takes a little effort in the beginning, but the ultimate goal is to never have to touch your Nest Thermostat. The first thing I did was create a schedule.
The Nest has handy presets for sleeping, comfort and eco (basically when you’re not home), which determine minimum and maximum ambient temperatures for those scenarios. You can tweak these presets or create your own.
Then, using the Google Home app, you input what times you want each preset to kick in, and the thermostat will take care of it. Scheduling is possible on non-smart thermostats, but the Google Home app is so much more intuitive and convenient, and lets you get much more detailed with your settings.
Credit: Nest
You can run the same schedule all week, or make custom schedules for each and every day. It lets you add as many presets to a single day as you want, and making changes to them is as simple as pulling out your phone at any time, anywhere.
The thermostat has capacitive touch input and a nice on-board user interface, but being able to control it via the app or with Google Assistant voice commands is key to the whole experience. Pulling out my phone to crank up my heating before I arrive home during a particularly cold and windy commute from work, or waking up at 3 a.m. and asking Google Assistant to turn down the heating without stumbling out of bed — these are the defining moments that will have you wondering how you ever lived without a smart thermostat.

A Helping Hand

The Nest Thermostat is capable of much more than simply sticking to a schedule or responding to remote app requests, though. And it’s these more intelligent features that make smart thermostat ownership so compelling.
It tracks your energy usage and can ping you with suggestions for more eco-friendly settings. A green leaf icon is displayed in the app and on the thermostat when you’re at a recommended economical temperature. It’s funny how comforting seeing that little leaf becomes, and how easy it can be to obsess over maintaining its presence — especially if you have even the slightest concern for how poorly we humans treat the planet.
One of the Nest’s handiest features is “presence sensing.” This is its ability to detect when no one is home and automatically switch to an eco setting, then kick back into a comfort mode when you return.
It uses sensors inside the thermostat and, if you allow it, your smart phone’s location to detect when you come and go. Then it adapts to save energy accordingly. This works especially well in homes that don’t necessarily have rigid schedules, and eliminates the hassle of remembering to turn down the A/C every time you leave the house. Since I’m a forgetful person with a home in sweltering Las Vegas, this has been a big win for me.

Money-Saving Maintenance Reminders and Usage Alerts

Even more impressive (although hopefully not as often used) is the Nest’s ability to help with maintenance to your HVAC system.
It can send you reminders for changing your dust filters, notify you that your AC system has been running significantly longer than it should over a two week period, or alert you if it takes too long for your ambient room temperatures to change. The Nest Thermostat will send you a notification that something may be wrong, and offer a link to a professional should you need help.
This could prevent a more serious malfunction from occurring down the line, and save you money on major repairs or inflated energy bills. It’s also a little extra peace of mind.

Should You Buy the New Nest Thermostat?

Credit: Nest
Nest Thermostats have always been compelling, but at the new low price of $129.99 (and just $59 for each additional device in the same order), it’s now as close as ever to being a no-brainer. It’s like having a budget-conscious friend at home whose sole purpose in life is to monitor your temperature control.
The idea that it can pay for itself within a year via energy savings and malfunction prevention is a strong argument. But even besides that, the sheer convenience of controlling it with your phone or Google Assistant voice commands is worth the price of entry.
Add to that the ability to expand its capabilities with additional Nest Temperature Sensors for all your rooms (not supplied for this review), and it’s a smart device that can grow with your home.

Shop the Nest Thermostat

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Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson has been writing for high-profile publications for 16 years, primarily in the video game industry, but also covering tech. Mike is an obsessed video game hoarder with hundreds of games spanning a 30-year collection. An entire room in his house is dedicated to Super Mario, and he thinks the Nintendo Switch is “the best invention in human history.” Counseling may be necessary.

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