The system can’t be expanded, and it’s not cheap, but the simple controls and great-looking thermostat make it a top product
- Great design
- Easy to set up
- Supports Google Home and Alexa
- Not cheap
- No support for Siri
If there’s one name synonymous with smart heating, it’s Nest. Now on the third generation, the Nest Learning Thermostat remains one of the best and simplest smart heating systems.
The Nest thermostat system ships as two components: the smart thermostat and the Heat Link, which connects to your boiler. With this version, the Heat Link is capable of controlling both heating and hot water. In addition, you can install multiple Nest Thermostats into zoned heating systems if you have one installed.
Although it’s fairly straightforward to connect up the Nest yourself, professional installation might make more sense, particularly as the Heat Link needs 230V mains power.
Installation is fairly flexible. If you have existing thermostat wires, you can hook these up to the Heat Link’s 12V DC output. The Nest Thermostat is then powered directly via these cables.
If you don’t already have a thermostat, Nest can operate in wireless mode, with the Learning Thermostat powered via USB. In the box, you get a wall-mount for the thermostat, but you can buy a desk-stand for £27 instead if you prefer.
Nest Thermostat review: Design
Your main choice when buying the system is to choose which colour thermostat you want: copper, white, stainless steel or black. All versions look great, and the hockey-puck-sized thermostat remains the best-looking smart heating system.
It’s not just a pretty design, though: the Nest Thermostat is also practical. The outside spins and the unit acts as one big button, letting you control temperature, schedules and other features directly from the thermostat.
It helps that the entire front of the thermostat is a display with a sharp pixel density of 229ppi. As a result, the Nest Thermostat really does look like the heating control of the future.
Setup is fairly straightforward, using the thermostat’s controls to hook it up to Wi-Fi, so that it can be remote-controlled. Once online, you can control everything from the Nest app, which is the same app that also controls the cameras and Nest Protect. If you already have other Nest devices, then, it’s great to be able to control everything from one place.
However, the idea is that you shouldn’t need to touch the app very often. As the name suggests, this thermostat is designed to learn how you work and set a schedule automatically.
For the first couple of weeks, you’re encouraged to turn the heat up when you get up, turn it down when you go out, and up again when you get back in. We found that the automatic schedule could throw up some strange results, so it’s good to see that you can set your own schedule both in-app and on the thermostat. If you leave the Learning mode on, the schedule will be tweaked over time, but you can just disable the Learning mode instead.
Nest Thermostat review: Motion sensor
Nest has designed the thermostat to save money, by switching to Away mode and reducing the set temperature when you go out. It uses two methods for this: your phone’s location (multiple users are supported for busy households), and the motion detector mounted on the front of the Nest. The combination works brilliantly and should help you save money on heating bills.
Nest can use the motion sensor for its Farsight mode, too. When you’re up to 5m away, the thermostat can flash up some information on its screen, as set by the app. You can have a clock, the current room temperature, weather forecast or target temperature. It’s a neat feature that makes the most of the screen and makes the Nest Thermostat more useful than for just heating your house.
True Radiant is Nest’s smart learning algorithm that learns how your home heats up. It’s designed to turn your heating off early, so that hot radiators don’t push the internal temperature past the set point. As Nest learns how your home works, you should find that the temperature doesn’t vary much from the temperature you set.
If you place your thermostat where the sun can shine on it, the sun detector helps prevent issues such as your heating shutting down early.
Nest Thermostat review: Compatibility
Nest has built its thermostat to work with the Nest Protect. For example, if a siren goes off, the thermostat can display an alert. Even better, if carbon monoxide is detected, the thermostat can shut off the heating to prevent making the issue worse.
There’s an IFTTT channel, too, which lets you set the temperature on your thermostat automatically. And, you can make other things happen when the thermostat rises above or below a temperature threshold, or switches from Home to Away mode.
As Nest is a Google company, it should come as no surprise that the thermostat supports Google Home, as well as Amazon Alexa. There’s no Siri support via Apple HomeKit, however.
Nest Thermostat review: Verdict
The Nest Thermostat certainly isn’t one of the cheapest heating systems, and there’s no option to add smart radiator valves, but it depends on what you want. For smaller homes or where you want a simple, centralised controller, it’s hard to beat Nest’s combination of simple controls and powerful heating options.