Editors' note (Sept. 13, 2019): Nest ended the Works with Nest program on Aug. 31.
I've literally waited years for a more affordable Nest -- and it's finally here in the form of the $169 Thermostat E. At 80 bucks less than Nest's premium, the E excels in its simplicity.
It sports plastic components, fewer wire terminals and a lower-res screen. Because of the display's limitations, you also won't find Farsight on the E, a feature that displays custom info such as an analog clock or the current weather forecast from a distance. Otherwise, the E does all of the same things as the Learning Thermostat. It will auto-adjust your heat and AC based on whether or not you're home and give you the same remote access from the Nest app. You can even enlist or the to adjust the temperature for you.
But aside from its more minimal off-white design, the Thermostat E doesn't do anything new or innovative. You still won't find a remote temperature sensor or compatibility with Apple's Siri voice control platform,.
Even so, the Thermostat E is a welcome, long-awaited addition to Nest's product roster. It's particularly worth your consideration if you like Nest, but don't want to spend $249 on a single thermostat.
A fallen Nest, but maybe not for long
Back when thermostats were largely considered utilitarian home necessities (2011), Nest introduced its original Learning Thermostat. Suddenly, folks were lining up to spend $249 on Nest's smart heating and cooling device. It wasn't the first app-enabled thermostat ever sold, but its unique rounded design and integrated tech struck a chord with consumers.
Before long,, and other manufacturers introduced smart thermostats in the same price range. But while Nest was busy working on second- and third-gen versions of the same $249 thermostat, its competitors were rounding out their lineups with new and less expensive smart thermostats.
The $169 Thermostat E matters because Nest is finally offering a more affordable product. (UK and Australian prices have yet to be announced, but that converts to about £130 or AU$210.) At 80 bucks less than its flagship model, the E also has almost all of the same smart functions:
- Compatibility with Amazon's Alexa speakers and the Google Home
- Sensors and your phone's location help let the E know if you're home
- Pairs with the same Nest mobile app for Android and iPhone
Nest's E also has a similar rounded design, but this iteration is more minimal. It has plastic, rather than metal hardware components and a lower-res screen that doesn't support Nest's Farsight feature. Nest was going for a watercolor effect with the Thermostat E, so its screen has a "frosted," almost blurred look. It's not great for viewing from a distance if you have less-than-perfect vision.
The E has only six wire terminals as well, so it won't work with quite as many HVAC systems as Nest's 10-terminal Learning Thermostat. The idea is that the E is the simpler model, the one you'd chose for a basic home setup, whereas the Learning Thermostat is the grown-up option that one you'd buy for more complicated HVAC systems.