Nest Gen2 Programmable Thermostat Review

by Lorenz Prem
published on December 13 2012 9:51 pm
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One of the most anticipated products for the home this year has been the Nest thermostat. This device has easily been the most visible development in home technology in recent memory. Everyone is talking about it.

Recently Nest released the second generation of the thermostat. Let's take a look at what this version can do and if its performance matches its good looks.

Difference between the Nest Gen1 and Gen2

The Gen2 Nest primarily represent an update in the manufacturing process. The new version is slightly smaller than the original. Unlike the two piece design of the Gen1, the body of theGen2 is formed by a single, solid stainless steel ring.

Typically the quality of a product increases as manufacturing processes get more mature. If things turned out like they do for other consumer electronics, the Nest Gen2 should be a more durable device than the Gen1 version.

Functionally, however, both devices are equivalent. The interface is the same. No functions have been added to the the Gen2 that are missing from the Gen1. Both models have full access to future updates to the nest firmware. For the time being the two versions perform identically.

The decision which model to choose comes down to esthetics and availability. The Gen1 is larger and slightly harder to install. As long as the Gen1 is still available it is a good option for someone who wants to save money and does not care about the device being slightly larger device.

Installation

The people at Nest understand that the customer experience starts with having to install the device. That's why the installation process of the thermostat has been streamlined for novice users. You can install the Nest even if you have not used a screwdriver in years. The following video details the steps necessary to get the thermostat connected to your heating system. The kit even includes the screwdriver necessary for installation.

If you are not comfortable with installing the device yourself, the people at Nest will gladly connect you with an installer in your area. Just visit their website.

Fit and Finish

Straight out of the box it becomes clear that the Nest Gen2 is a quality product. The stainless steel ring lends a solid feel to the entire device. The circular screen along with the excellent interface styling make the device instantly attractive to anyone who sees it. Without fail everyone who walks by a Nest Gen2 will want to play with it.

The thermostat is so attractive that it becomes conversation piece at parties. If you are selling a home or want to impress people, I cannot think of a simpler or cheaper way to generate that wow-factor.

Programming

The interface of the Nest has been designed for simplicity. If you do not want to program the device, you do not have to. Simply set the desired temperature you want the home to be at. The thermostat will learn your preference and bring the house to your desired temperature automatically when you are at home.

To save energy the device senses activity in the home with a proximity sensor. After a few weeks of data the thermostat will know when the people in your home get up and go to work. It will automatically turn on the heating system to heat the house in time for your start into a new day.

The only input needed is the desired temperature. Turn the wheel clockwise to increase the temperature; counterclockwise to decrease it. The thermostat will automatically figure out if your input is a one-time change, or a change to the schedule. Some settings may have to be repeated, but the Nest Gen2 will figure out what the user means eventually.

If you absolutely must modify the schedule, you can do so on the thermostat. The time you go to sleep, get up, and leave for work each day can be set individually. As can the desired temperature for each period.

Modifying the schedule is not as easily done as running the thermostat in automatic mode. Like other programmable thermostats, the Nest demands some patience from its user. The excellent color screen, however, makes the operation simpler than it is on most of the Nest's competitors.

Online Management Tool

If you want to manage the heating system in your home online, the Nest thermostat can be connected to a wireless network. Once connected the settings of the thermostat can be managed from anywhere in the world. The management console allows the user to set the temperature in the home and modify the schedule the thermostat operates on.

Making changes to schedule is significantly easier to complete in the management tool than it is on the thermostat itself. Having a mouse and large screen makes a difference.

The console is also the place the Nest Gen2 thermostat reports what it has been doing for the last two weeks. If you want to micro manage the energy usage in your home, the device will report all the data you need. Knowing what is going on makes it easier to save energy.

Energy Savings

Most of the energy savings the Nest Gen2 creates come from operating on a schedule. Setting the temperature in the home lower at night saves significant energy. Other programmable thermostats do the same thing. As a result the Nest Gen2 does not dramatically outperform other programmable thermostats, some of which as considerably cheaper.

Most programmable thermostats, however, are not set perfectly. Sometimes the schedule no longer matches the homeowner's actual activity. Other times the schedule feature is simply disabled. In these situations the Nest Gen2 makes a difference. It's always optimizing energy usage and the temperature in your home. No user error can stop it.

The Nest Gen2 thermostat will produce energy savings for most people. If you already have a programmable thermostat and you are using it, the savings will be small. Paying back the cost of the Nest with energy savings will take years. If you do not have a programmable thermostat or you haven't configured yours in years, upgrading to the Nest will make a significant difference. So much so that the Nest becomes a really good deal.

Summary

The single most important improvement the Nest thermostat brings to any home is its super simple way of operation. The user only has to turn the heat up or down. The thermostat does everything else. You don't have to worry about energy usage or room temperature.

This user-friendly design makes the Nest perfect for users who are challenged by regular programmable thermostats. Even the elderly can operate the Nest Gen2. Regular programmable thermostats cannot offer this level of convenience.

At it's core the Nest Gen2 is a programmable thermostat. It has no special features that allow it to save more energy that other thermostats. If you are willing to fight the sometimes archaic user interface of other programmable thermostats, the competition can be just as energy efficient as the Nest. The Nest does it all without supervision.

The most compelling argument for the Nest, however, is the way it makes us feel. It's the only thermostat on the market that makes people want to touch it. Being truly happy about a purchase is not something that happens every day.

Overall the Nest Gen2 is a very well designed programmable thermostat. It might not save you more energy than the competition, but it will keep you warm and happy. If you fell in love with the Nest and are simply looking for reassurance, go ahead and buy it. The Nest is a quality product and will do right by you and your family.

Images: Amazon.com

The Good

  • truly hands off
  • a feel good device, probably your last thermostat purchase for a while
  • very high production quality
  • sleek design
  • easy to install
  • online management tool
  • saves energy without the need for supervision

The Bad

  • double to triple the price of the competition
  • not more efficient than other programmable thermostats
  • sometimes does the wrong thing, especially when it is in learning mode
  • Gen2 is functionally the same as Gen1, just looks different
About the Author
"Lorenz is the founder of Hingmy. When he is not reviewing power tools or improving the site, he is building things in his workshop or playing hockey."
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