Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) Review

Last updated: June 8, 2021

In 2012, the original Nest Learning Thermostat was born. Elegantly designed, easy to use, and quick to learn your heating patterns, this thermostat took the smart home market by storm. Since then, Nest has joined forces with Google and their thermostat is now on its third generation. The latest model has all the smarts of its predecessors plus quite a few fresh features, including a larger LCD and better resolution, Bluetooth support, geofencing tech, and of course, a slimmer and sleeker design in general. It also works with Nest’s temperature sensor which can be bought separately or bundled with the thermostat.

But when all is said and done, is Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation really that different from its previous iterations? And more importantly, is it worth it? In this Nest Learning Thermostat review, we take a close look at the latest model, its features, design, performance and more, to help you decide if this is the thermostat for your home.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • A larger display with better resolution and ‘farsight’ feature
  • Packed with helpful features and sensors, including energy-saving options
  • Auto-adjusting temperature schedule based on your heating/cooling patterns
  • Works With Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
  • Interacts with a host of Nest and third-party devices
  • A sleek and elegant design looks great in any home
  • Temperature sensor available as a separate accessory

Cons:

  • Not compatible with Apple HomeKit
  • One of the more expensive smart thermostats
  • Remote room sensors are not included

Features

The Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation boasts multiple new and helpful features. Perhaps the most interesting and welcome one is its Auto-Schedule feature, which learns your heating and cooling temperature preferences during the first week of use so it can create your very own schedule based on these patterns. Pretty neat, we have to say. Of course, you can make your own adjustments along the way, or even create your own schedule if that’s what you prefer, but Auto-Schedule is a great option for folks who don’t want to bother with programming their thermostat.

Then there is Farsight, the thermostat’s far-field sensor which can pick up your presence from far away (much farther away than earlier Nest devices), and wake up the display the moment you enter the room. This means that you don’t have to walk all the way to the thermostat in order to read it – you can easily do it across a large room (20 feet away!). A larger and brighter LCD also helps with this, which can display either the current or target temperature in either analog or digital mode.

The Home/Away feature is still here, only it’s now improved thanks to the geofencing feature, allowing the thermostat’s motion sensors to detect when you’re not at home so it can switch to ECO or Away mode (energy conservation). The original thermostat, by the way, would often switch to Away mode when you go in another part of the house – this issue is now resolved.

The Furance Heads-Up, which monitors your forced-air furnace’s power cycles, is another useful feature: the moment it senses any kind of abnormality with the furnace, it alerts you via the Nest app, on the display, as well as in your monthly energy usage email.

The thermostat also offers the Family Accounts feature, which lets the users in the same household create their own Nest accounts so that the thermostat can track each person’s phone location. The maximum number of people who can share a Nest home is 20. There are other helpful features as well, including Sunblock which uses the light sensor to prevent the Nest from turning on/off due to sun exposure, and Time-to Temp which lets you know how long the system will take to reach your ideal room temperature.

While the Nest Learning Thermostat third generation lacks remote room sensors, it’s compatible with various other smart home devices, including of course other Nest products.

Nest Thermostat

Design

Measuring 1.2 inches in width and 3.3 inches in diameter, the Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation is thinner yet a bit larger than the original model, maintaining its round and sleek design. While one may think the 3rd generation Nest is not that different from the previous models, it’s certainly more modern, both in looks and function.

This time, you can choose between four different dial finishes – black, white, stainless steel, or copper – all for the same price. The screen is larger too and the resolution is greatly improved, allowing you to read the thermostat from afar.  Using it is super-simple as well. To launch the menu screen, just press the edge of the ring; to find an item, turn it left or right and then press it again to select it.

The Nest smart thermostat boasts 10 temperature sensors, which is 7 more than the original model, plus ambient light, humidity, and activity sensors. It’s also equipped with Wi-Fi circuitry and Bluetooth radio and has 512 MB of memory.

Installation and Performance

To say that the Nest Learning Thermostat is easy to install would be an understatement. The thermostat comes with absolutely everything you need for a simple and quick installation, including a screwdriver and screws, a mounting base plate, and of course, the installation guide. While the installation will vary depending on your cooling and heating system, if you follow the Nest thermostat instructions, you should be able to install it in about 10 minutes, give or take.

Here’s how to install Nest Learning Thermostat:

  • Turn off the power running to your system and remove the old thermostat
  • Screw the base onto the wall using the built-in level to ensure it’s straight
  • Connect the wires to their respective ports
  • Snap the thermostat onto the base plate and turn the power back on
  • Now configure the thermostat by selecting the type of dwelling, connecting to the Wi-Fi network, setting your location, and answering some basic questions about your HVAC system
  • Perform a quick system test to see if everything is running smoothly

Note: if you find the wires confusing because you have an older system, it’s best to consult a professional.

As for the performance, the 3rd generation Nest thermostat runs flawlessly. It’s a very smart thermostat indeed, mostly thanks to its Auto-Schedule feature which does a fantastic job of creating a schedule that actually follows your everyday routine. Importantly, the thermostat itself follows this plan to a tee.

Since the thermostat works with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, it instantly responds to commands to raise and lower the heat, as well as any questions about the status (you’ll note, however, that it doesn’t work with Siri). The Farsight feature and large LCD also make it easy to read the thermostat from across a large room, which is a very nice plus (previous Nests had an ok resolution but the latest model, with 229 pixels per inch, is the best one yet).

Another fantastic thing about the latest Nest thermostat is that it has the most comprehensive smart device support, not only compared to other Nest devices but to the competitors as well. This is possible thanks to Nest’s growing product offer: from smoke and carbon monoxide detector, to an alarm system, a doorbell and even four security cameras, Nest seems to have it all covered. You can use all of these devices via the same Nest app, as well as in conjunction with one another.

Now, in terms of compatibility, the Nest thermostat works with combi, biomass, system and heat-only boilers, domestic tanks for hot water, underfloor heating systems, zoned heating, and systems with Open-Therm technology.

Energy Savings

Because the Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen learns how and when to keep your home warm and cool, it knows how and when to save energy. This is all thanks to the Nest’s Home/Away and Auto-Schedule features (as well as a few others). Once the sensors detect that you’re away from home, the thermostat will go into auto Away mode to conserve energy. Once in energy saving mode (which you can manually select as well), a green leaf is displayed on the screen. And if you want to check if you’re really saving energy? You can press the History button for a 10-day Energy History log which shows heating and cooling times, plus reasons.

According to the Nest website, their smart thermostat can help you save on your heating bills between 8.4 to 16.5% for the UK, and 9.6 and 18.1% for Ireland. This means that in about two years, the Nest thermostat will have paid for itself!

Final Verdict – Is Nest Learning Thermostat Worth it?

Since the Nest 3rd Generation’s price is out there with the most expensive thermostats, the crucial question is, is it really worth it? If you’ve owned previous Nest thermostats and you’ve been pleased with their performance, there’s no doubt that you’ll love the 3rd Gen model. After all, it is sleeker, smarter, easier to use, and saves more energy. Yes, it is more expensive but the overall package makes it worthy of its rather steep price tag.

However, if you’ve never owned a smart thermostat before and you’re working with a limited budget, you may want to skip Google Nest Thermostat 3rd Generation and op for something just as easy to use but cheaper, such as Honeywell T6.