If any device kicked off the rise in popularity of smart home products, the Nest Learning Thermostat was it. This attractive device is easy to use, looked great, and helped homeowners save money. It's a testament to its design that the company has only had to make small changes over the years, and it's why it's one of the best smart thermostats. However, the $249 Nest Learning Thermostat isn't cheap.
Enter the new $129, Nest Thermostat, whose price should make it much more palatable to a larger set of homeowners. Here's what the new 2020 Nest Thermostat has, and how it differs from the company's other smart thermostats.
Nest Thermostat price and availability
The Nest Thermostat goes on sale today (October 12) for $129. It's available in four colors: snow (white), Sand (a pinkish hue with a rose gold mirror face), Charcoal, and Fog (a pale green). Google is also selling trim kits in complementary colors for $14.99 each.
According to Google, homeowners who have Duke Energy, ComEd and Consumers Energy are eligible for rebates that will nearly equal the cost of the thermostat.
By comparison, the Nest Learning Thermostat is $249, and the Nest Thermostat E is $169.
Nest Thermostat design
Like the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E, the Nest Thermostat has a circular design and face. Unlike Nest's earlier models, the Nest Thermostat does not have a rotating bezel. Instead, there's a touch-sensitive strip on the right side that you use to navigate through menus and select items.
The face of the Nest Thermostat is mirrored, so it should stand out more, especially as you walk past it. It has a color display, which will light up as you approach, but does not have the far sight technology as in the top-end Learning Thermostat.
Similar to the Nest Thermostat E, the Nest Thermostat will have six wire terminals, which is fewer than the Nest Learning Thermostat, but should be enough to cover about 85 percent of most households.
Apart from the rotating bezel, the biggest differences between the new Nest Thermostat and the older models is that the new thermostat lacks the "learning" capability. That is, you have to manually create a heating and cooling schedule, rather than the thermostat adapting automatically to your preferences. However, it will walk you through setting up a schedule, and will suggest ways to adjust the temperature so you can save money.
Also, the Nest Thermostat lacks the ability to connect with Nest's remote sensors, so you won't be able to monitor the temperature in more than one room.
Nest Thermostat: Smart home controls
Like its predecessors, you'll be able to control the Nest Thermostat via voice with Google Assistant and Alexa—one of the rare instances of cooperation between Google and Amazon.
The new Nest Thermostat will be the first that uses the Google Home app, rather than the Nest app, to control it. In fact, you can't use the Nest Thermostat with the Nest app at all.
However, Google is adding a few new features to Google Home that will make the Nest Thermostat — as well as the other thermostats — more useful as a smart home device.
According to The Ambient, Google is finally introducing presence sensing, which uses both the sensors in the thermostat as well as geolocation from your smart phone to determine where you are, and adjust not just the temperature, but other smart home devices as well. This had been one of the top features in Nest, but wasn't available with Google Assistant for a while—and was one of the main reasons why we advocated users not switch their Nest accounts to a Google account.
While you still can't create routines based on non-Google devices—something Alexa and HomeKit both have—it's a step in the right direction.
Nest Thermostat outlook
While it still costs more than $100, the lower price of the Nest Thermostat will undoubtedly make it appealing to those who like the look of the Nest, but don't want to pay the premium. However, we'll wait to see it in person before we make a judgment call on whether it looks as sleek as the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday 2020 deals
If you're looking for new smart home devices, we suggest making your purchase during Prime Day. Amazon's 48-hour sale begins on October 13 and is bound to bring discounts on many of our favorite smart home products. Black Friday deals are kicking off earlier than ever this year, too. We expect sales to start as soon as November 1.