Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nest Thermostat Review

Nest v2.0
I have been working with Nest since I had first found out about their product more than 2 years ago. Being a somewhat environmentally friendly installer, always tweaking and testing new products to see if they are up to muster, the Nest thermostat has shown potential to corner the market on Smart home thermostats.

The main things going for their product are:

Simplicity -- Easy to connect to existing systems (for up to 95% of all systems, just simply install using the existing wiring).

Clean, neat appearance -- Stainless steel, round dial, and high def. display all make Nest a very attractive addition to your wall.  Instead of trying to hide the thermostat, now it can purposefully stand out.  Attractive.

Connectivity -- Being a wifi enabled device, the need for extra components (to talk to your router) is gone.  Simply install, setup the Nest.com account, enter a few settings and whammo, you are online.  The app for your phone or tablet, is as simple as the device interface itself.  Giving you no goof, real-time changes that enable you to adjust temp without getting off the couch, or from another country.

These are all really attractive features. In fact, most companies with smart thermostats get the same results, some with additional components and expense.  All this being said, this is not the core of the Nest thermostat, not what makes it great.  This is fluff.  It should look nice, but it should also do something, and what this thing can do, is what separates it from the competition.

Now I must say, that I can mostly just speak to the heating/control side of the thermostat.  In my region of the high rocky mountains, our cooling days are few, as temps usually top out in the 80s, and heat can be dissipated by cool night time temps.  But what the Nest thermostat does best is control.  It actually learns, and automates itself to your schedule.  Take the pain out of programming.  If you are cold, you turn the heat up, if you are hot you turn it down.  After the first week, it has an idea of what you want and anticipates this, and you can walk away...never touch it again.  If you can resist.

It has occupancy sensors, detects when you are home or away, saving you heat or cooling here and there.  It learns how long it takes to get your house to the desired temp, turning on cooling or heating with enough advance so that you are comfortable when you want to be.  By these little savings adding up incrementally, they become quite valuable over time.  Nest owners are often stating that heating and cooling bills pay for the device within the first 6 months.  Nest claims that this adds up to huge savings nationally.

So look out programmable thermostats, there is a new wiser competitor in town, the adaptable learning thermostat from Nest.

So what is this all good for?  What is the best feature Nest has over the other competitors?  I would say all of the above points.  It's simplicity, connectivity, and attractiveness.  My personal favorite however is the ability to get all of this and be useful.  Lots of my customers travel, or have 2nd homes in my service area, and the Nest provides an easy way to turn on the heat, or cooling before they arrive, and monitor conditions.  It has brought awareness back to your household heating/cooling system.  Clients can avert problems before they occur, avoid freeze-ups and costly associated damages.

I see the world becoming more and more adept and integrated with technology every year.  Why should the components of your home not be able to take advantage of these modern times as well?

Now I have spoken of Nest as somewhat of a pinnacle of modern heating technology, at the top of the podium against old well-entrenched rivals such as Honeywell and White-Rodgers.  However, no product can simply be 100% perfect, right?  Well, as I see it, Nest fails on one crucial point.  And it is the very competition they stand up against that prevails on this point.

Nest thermostats need auto-notification through email and SMS.  This is the part they are lacking.  Frankly it costs me some sales, and I end up having the customer install something more expensive (for them) and time consuming (for me), and in the end have an inferior product.  I have commented on the forums at Nest Community (see push notifications in the Product Suggestions end of the forum https://community.nest.com/ideas/1268).  I have made suggestions through installer forums, any way I can I highly recommend adding this feature.  It is a deal-breaker for some of my clients, they need the automation, and feedback through this avenue.

But back to another great about Nest.  They care, they listen, and they, like their product, adapt.  It is my sincere hope that with their updates, this will be included down the line, sooner than later.  It is what will make this great product, the best out there.  My recommendation?  Install it anyway.  It will get better, smarter and save you money.

~Joe Tatar

Steamboat Heat LLC
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487

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