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Nest thermostats and home heating controllers are vanguard devices for the smart home movement. Even though the company is now owned by Google, the brand is still helping to nudge the smart home concept into the consumer collective mind.
With two generations of Nest on the market, we’ll take this opportunity to compare them for new buyers wondering what the differences are, and if the new version is really the one to go for.
The first Nest arrived in 2011, with the current model landing a year later in 2012. Since then, the Nest company has produced a smoke alarm and home camera, but likely has a thermostat successor in the works.
We examine the existing models across their key features, pros and cons, and how they work as far as the user is concerned.
Both Nests has a similar front screen and dial on the thermostat and connect to your smartphone or tablet with an iOS or Android app for remote control and management functions. They both connect to a Heat Link device that connects to the boiler over wireless or existing wiring.
Contents (Jump to)
Nest was designed to make thermostats different, efficient and simple to use. This starts with the online compatibility test, so you can figure out if your home is compatible with Nest before you pay for one.
Both Nests come with everything you need to connect them at home, and while the first model was more suited to professional installation, the second can easily be installed by anyone with some electrical experience.
Once installed Nest will tell you how long it will reach a set temperature, avoiding the traditional desire to ramp it up to max and wait for the temperature to go up.
Control via a smartphone or web app makes setting it up easy, and after that you let it work its magic as it automatically controls your temperature as it learns your comings and goings.
Nest arrived in 2011 to a fair amount of hype thanks to the skills of its former Apple developers who founded the new company and went about smartening up and redesigning the common home thermostat.
The original Nest is still compatible with the latest Nest software, so benefits from all the learning skills of the device to help better manage your home heating routine.
Both the Nest 1 and the Nest 2 feature Auto-Schedule to manage your settings, Airwave to reduce the cost of your air conditioning usage through smart software.
The actual device shows when you home is running efficiently by showing the Nest Leaf and you can monitor your energy history usage, to help run a greener home.
Finally, Auto Away will sense when the home is empty and reduce the settings while Time to Temperature will reduce the setting if you leave it higher than usual and don’t remember to change it.
The Nest second generation device is some 20% slimmer than its predecessor. While you might want a super slim smartphone, this is hardly a pressing buying decision when it comes to a thermostat, and it’s not as if the first generation was particularly chunky.
Of more relevance is the greater compatibility with home heating and HVAC systems, thanks to an extra pair of connectors. Nest 2 adds support for hybrid heating systems and humidistats. It also all stages of 1-2 stage cooling and 1-3 stage heating systems, which make it more practical for advanced HVAC homes.
Above and beyond the Nest 1’s features, the Nest 2 supports System Match, that helps identify and work closer with your HVAC system.
It also adds Early On for those cold morning starts, will provide reminders when your filters need changing or cleaning and can also “true radiant” that improves the use of the thermostat to the actual amount of heat created.
Pros and Cons
The Nest 1 came with a five-year warranty compared to the two years of the second generation model. If that still stands, then it may make more sense to run simpler home heating systems with the first generation model, if you’re worried about wear and tear.
You should also note that neither Nest will connect to some old WiFi router models (find the list here), something that may be an issue for some buyers.
As Nest expanded international, the second generation model supports French and Spanish out of the box, which can be useful in some areas. And it is also slightly easier to install with redesigned holes on the backplate.
But the main thrust of the Nest 2 is wider support of advanced HVAC and similar systems. Nest 1 claimed compatibility with around 75% of systems, Nest 2 brings that up to 95% with the other 5% probably being the homes of engineers used to working on aircraft carriers or submarines who build their own.
For designer home lovers the ring design will also help blend into the decor of your room and, overall, the styling is impressive and hard not to love.
|Specs||Nest 1||Nest 2|
|Color options||Stainless Steel|
Near-Field Activity, Far-Field Activity, Ambient Light
Near-Field Activity, Far-Field Activity, Ambient Light
|Price||$199 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)||$249 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)|
|WiFi|| Wi-Fi – 802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz plus Zigbee @2.4GHz|
| Wi-Fi – 802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz and 802.15.4 @2.4GHz|
My Final Recommendation
Anyone with a simple home heating system will find that the original Nest model works perfectly well with their home.
The second-generation model is essential for those with more complex heating and air conditioning systems. That really is the only main difference, the displays look similar and the software, currently, remains is step across both versions.
Whichever Nest you go for, you can self install it, but if you have any doubts, then get a professional in. One bonus of buying a Nest now is that they are a few years into their life cycle and any early app gremlins have been ironed out, leaving it a straight choice between what type of heating you have.