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Nest Thermostat: Should You Buy One?

December 31, 2012

After reading my one-month round-up, I think I was bit negative.  I didn’t call out the nice, unique features of the nest which I do actually appreciate.  By way of full disclosure: I set up a schedule on my Nest on day 1, so I think that means I will have little/no benefit from its auto-learning capability. 

But here is my more balanced summary:

Pros:

  • Easy to install and setup.
  • Physically beautiful device
  • Very easy to make manual adjustments on the thermostat: just walk up an turn it.
  • Manual adjustments result in message estimating when the temperature will be reached
  • Schedule when you want a temp reached, not when to start heating/cooling
  • Slick iOS and Android apps
  • Easy to program a manual schedule

Cons:

  • Customer support not what it was cracked up to be (at least in my experience)
  • Initial setup interupted by firmware update
  • Proximity and auto-away sensing seems flakey at best
  • Auto-away, even if it works okay, is perhaps ill-conceived and is probably a hard-sell to most families like mine (coming home to a freezing house is out of the question)
  • Mobile apps missing some features that I would think are “basic” for this kind of device (all related to Away)
  • Energy report is probably more “gimicky” than anything else
  • From what I could tell, the Android app was REALLY sluggish on a brand new Galaxy S3 compared to the iOS apps
  • Energy usage report data is bogus: this will may be caused by bad firmware (that seems really far-fetched to me but who knows), but either way it’s doesn’t reflect well in my opinion.
  • Unclear whether I’m missing anything by having set up a schedule, other than the ease of not having to set up a schedule

So, should you run out and buy one?  I guess that depends on what you want.  It was a fair amount of money and I’m not convinced that I will realize the energy savings they claim the average user might expect, meaning it probably won’t pay for itself any time soon.   I am a tree hugger at heart, though, and I do like being able to save even a little bit of energy by activating “Away” when we are out of the house for a day or two, something I never felt able to do because I couldn’t do it remotely.  And the nerd in me likes the idea of seeing the energy reports (I admit to checking it daily even though in my case the data is bogus) despite knowing that there is very little (if anything) that is actionable.  The user experience is pretty good, but the usability freak in me thinks they probably would have benefited from more studying.  And my customer support experience has been exceptionally bad so far.

So at the end of the day: for me, if you’re an environmentally conscious tech nerd like me, I think it’s a fun purchase as long as the usability nags won’t keep you up at night.  I don’t think it has lived up to the surrounding hype, though, and for me that is probably the the biggest problem.  I’m usually NOT an early adopter for this exact reason, but I think the Nest needs a bit more time to ripen.  So while I don’t regret buying one, I wouldn’t recommend it at its current price point.

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From → HVAC

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