As you guys have most likely noticed, things have been slow around here for a few months now. In addition to being sick a few times and hurting my back. We also bought a new house and had been working on the move and later doing work around the house. One of the best parts about moving and getting a new place is that I finally have an excuse to take a closer look at more of the home automation and smart home products that have been coming out. Even before the move I had a few things already planned and upgrading to a smart thermostat was one of them. Well, I reached out to Nest and they sent over a new Gen 3 Thermostat as well as one of their Nest Protect smoke and CO detectors. I finally have some time with both and wanted to run through what they do and how they have performed for me so far.

Product Name: Nest Thermostat and Protect

Review Sample Provided by: Nest

Written by: Wes Compton

Pictures by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate link: Nest Thermostat and Protect

 

Specifications

Nest Thermostat

Generation

3rd Generation

Color

Silver, Copper, Black, and White

Screen

24-bit color LCD

480 x 480 resolution at 229 pixels per inch (PPI)

2.08 in (5.3 cm) diameter

Languages

UK English

US English

Spanish

Canadian French (Québécois)

French

Dutch

Italian

Compatibility

The Nest Learning Thermostat works with 95% of 24V heating and cooling systems, including gas, electric, forced air, heat pump, radiant, oil, hot water, solar and geothermal.

Heating: 1,2, and 3 stages (W1, W2, W3)

Cooling: 1 and 2 stages (Y1, Y2)

Heat pump: with auxiliary and emergency heat (O/B, AUX, E)

Humidifier or dehumidifier (HUM, DEHUM)

Fan (G)

Power (C, RH, RC)

Sensors

Temperature

Humidity

Near-field activity

Far-field activity

Ambient light

Wireless

Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n @ 2.4GHz, 5GHz

802.15.4 @ 2.4GHz

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Size and weight

Display

  • Mass: 7.25 oz (205.4 g)
  • Diameter: 3.3 in (8.4 cm)
  • Height: 1.06 in (2.69 cm)

Base

  • Mass: 1.35 oz (38.3 g)
  • Diameter: 3 in (7.6 cm)
  • Height: 0.42 in (1.1 cm)

Assembled

  • Mass: 8.6 oz (243.7 g)
  • Diameter: 3.3 in (8.4 cm)
  • Height: 1.21 in (3.08 cm)

Battery

Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery

Power consumption

Less than 1 kWh/month

Remote control requirements

Wi-Fi connection with internet access

Nest app on phone or tablet with Android or iOS. See the Nest app requirements for supported versions.

Latest version of Safari, Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer on Mac OS X v10.9 or later and Windows 7 or later

Certification

ENERGY STAR

Multi-Nest Support

Support for up to 20 Thermostats per home and you can control two locations from one account

Green

RoHS compliant

REACH compliant

Recyclable packaging

Title 20 battery charger compliant

Warranty

2-year limited warranty

In the box

Display

Base

Optional trim kit

Mounting screws and labels

Nest screwdriver

Installation Guide

Welcome Guide

Nest Pro installation card

Nest Protect Specifications

Generation

2nd Generation

Power

Battery

Six long-life AA

Energizer® Ultimate

Lithium batteries

Wired

120V Connector

Three long-life AA

Energizer® Ultimate

Lithium backup batteries

Color

White

Features

Voice alarms with custom location

SplitSpectrum Sensor

Detects carbon monoxide

10-year product lifetime

Heads-Up alerts

Sound Check

Nightly Promise

Pathlight

Steam Check

Self Test

Wireless Interconnect

Emergency Shutoff with Nest Learning Thermostat

Emergency clip record with Nest Cam

Home Report

Nest app

Phone alerts include:

Smoke

Carbon monoxide

Low-battery

Sensor failure

App Silence

Safety Checkup

Safety History

What To Do

Languages

Pre-installed:

United States: English, Spanish

Canada: English, French (Québécois)

Australia and United Kingdom: English (UK)

France, Belgium and Netherlands: French, Dutch

Germany and Austria: German, French

Sensors

SplitSpectrum Sensor, 450nm and 880nm wavelength

10 year electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor

Heat sensor, ± 1.8°F (± 1°C)

Humidity sensor, ± 3%RH

Occupancy sensor, 120° field of view to 20 feet

Ambient light sensor, 1-100k Lux Dynamic Range

Omnidirectional microphone, 70dBA SNR

Speaker, horn, and light ring

2 Watt Speaker

Horn: 85dB SPL at 10 feet (3 m)

RGB color ring with 6 LEDs

Size and weight

Height: 5.3 inches (13.4 cm)

Width: 5.3 inches (13.4 cm)

Depth: 1.5 inch (3.85 cm)

Mass: 13.9 ounces (379 g) (Battery)

            13.2 ounces (375 g) (Wired)

Connectivity requirements

Wi-Fi connection with internet access

Nest app on phone or tablet with Android or iOS. See the Nest app requirements for supported versions.

Free Nest Account

Wireless

Working Wi-Fi connection: 802.11b/g/n @ 2.4GHz

Wireless Interconnect: 802.15.4 @ 2.4GHz

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Certification

Nest Protect has been tested to comply with safety standards in the United States set out by:

  • UL
  • California State Fire Marshal


Nest Protect complies with all of the following smoke and carbon monoxide alarm standards:

  • UL 2034 - “Single and Multi Station Carbon Monoxide Alarms”
  • UL 217 - “Single and Multi Station Smoke Alarms”
  • NFPA-72 - “National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code”

Operating temperature

The alarm should not be installed in locations where the normal ambient temperature is below 40°F (4°C) or exceeds 100°F (38°C).

Humidity range: 20%RH to 80%RH (non condensing).

Green

RoHS compliant

REACH compliant

Recyclable packaging

Warranty

2-year limited warranty

In the box

Nest Protect (Battery)

Six long-life batteries

(Energizer® Ultimate Lithium “L91” AA)

Backplate

Four screws

User’s Guide and Welcome Guide

Nest Protect (Wired)

Nest Protect (Wired 120V)

Three long-life backup batteries

(Energizer® Ultimate Lithium “L91” AA)

AC 120V connector

Three wire nuts

Backplate

Four screws

User’s Guide and Welcome Guide

 


Packaging

The boxes for both the thermostat and the protect were both similar in size and styling. I dig a branded theme, it makes spotting other accessories in the store easier. Both have the product on the front with the Nest branding in the top left corner. From there the thermostat has a note in the bottom left corner showing that this is the copper model, the picture also matches that as well. Then for the protect there are two checkboxes down on the bottom, one for the wired model and the other for the battery powered model that I’m testing today.

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On the back of the Nest Thermostats box, they have a few notes on its key features. Namely the auto schedule and auto-away functions along with a few app features and its quick installation. The side of the box also points out that studies show it saving 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling.

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When you slide the cover off and pull the box top off you have the thermostat featured right up top with a plastic cover on it to keep it in place. From there you can pull that tray up and you will find two more layers. One with a mounting plate for people who need to cover a large hole and then in the other you have the mounting base and a nest branded screwdriver. The screwdriver is really nice and it is designed for dealing with the screws that hold cables down on your other thermostat.

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The Nest Protect’s box has the same look as the Thermostat only on the front it has a photo of the Protect. On the back, they point out a couple of its main features. They point out that it covers fast and slow burning fires as well as CO. It has a built-in voice that lets you know where the fire is and the app will notify you if you are away and even let you turn off the alarm if you set it off.

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Inside the box, the Protec is featured under a plastic cover just like the Thermostat was. You get a small packet with information on the installation and the overall Nest lineup. Up under the Protect there is also another tray with the mounting bracket and the four mounting screws needed to install it.

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Photos and Features

Starting with the Nest Protect, I wanted to run through what it does and its features. If it wasn't obvious prior to now, the Protect is an on network Smoke detector as well as Carbon Monoxide detector. We all have them around the house and most are really basic. Depending on your state you may have more or less, I know in Ohio new construction requires a large number of detectors. Anyhow the Protect is designed with both slow and fast burning fires. The Gen 2 specifically has a new sensor that they call a Split-Spectrum Sensor. Traditionally there are two sensors a Photoelectric and an Ionization with the Ionization being the old school type that has more false alarms. Nest went with Photoelectric but then added a blue LED that according to them is better at picking up a wider range of particles in the air. This helps with fast burning fires that the Ionization style is used for. On top of that, the Protect also has a CO detector built in, something you should also have around your house especially when running gas heat.

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The “top” of the Protect actually will face down when installed, assuming you install it on the ceiling and it has three things going on. Most of it is a perforated design that is a little different than the Gen 1 design. In the middle, you have a round button to test manually or to turn the sound off then around it is an LED right. They use an RGB light right to give status indications when setting things up and the rest of the time there is an option to use white lighting to light your pathway at night when the motion sensor picks you up. This is nice, especially with a lot of smoke detectors being installed in hallways and other pathways that you might end up walking past to get a snack or go to the bathroom at night.

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The side profile shows large hidden ventilation holes. You cant see them when the Protect is installed but these are as close to the ceiling as they can be to pick up smoke as early as possible.

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Then on the underside of the Protect, there is a lot more going on. For starters, the round dip is where the mount that you screw to the ceiling latches. Under that, they have hidden all of the warnings and certifications. There is also a section that just explains what each emergency will give you for sounds and lights as well as other indicators for a bad sensor, low battery, or end of life. You will also find a QR code and serial number that you use for installation, I blurred these out simply because I don’t need any of you guys setting off the alarm remotely and freaking out my wife. Under that is the battery door for the battery model. It comes with six AA batteries and Nest didn’t skimp. Those will need to be replaced eventually but as someone who is always surprised at just how expensive 9-vote batteries are, I’m happy they went with AA’s even if you need six of them.

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For the Nest Thermostat, I went with the Copper model and I think most people wouldn’t be able to go this direction but the burnt orange walls that are currently in my office it actually goes really well with them. It will also match the gray that we are switching to in the future. There are a few other color options available as well with white, black, and stainless steel all available in the Gen 3. They all have the black glass front but the outside ring changes. I love that Nest with the old school round thermostat design where for years now other digital designs have been going away from the round design for basic boxy designs. Not to mention the much nicer materials and construction. This is in a completely different class than the all white plastic design most people are used too. This isn’t a big surprise given the original founder for Nest came from Apple and is known as one of the fathers of the iPod.

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The screen takes up most of the front but it does also have a proximity sensor as well to track when you are home and away. Then the outside ring spins and also pushes in giving you simple but intuitive controls that anyone should be able to pick up.

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Like the Protect, the Thermostat does come in two pieces for easier installation. The Thermostat, however, has to communicate with the base to get all of the wired connections. They do this with a small plug on the back and small tabs help hold it on. There is also a micro-USB port, just like he Protect for firmware updates should something go really wrong with an over the air update. This also has a code written on the back as well as a QR code to help with setup as well.

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Installation

I’ve known a lot of people not willing to install their own thermostat and given how important it is, especially in the middle of a cold winter like we are right now I wouldn’t blame anyone for being concerned. For reference, in the past, I have installed 3 or 4 thermostats in my time. So I am comfortable with it but I would never consider myself to be any sort of expert. So when jumping into the Nest Thermostat installation I wasn’t worried but I did want to take my time. I read up on the install and was surprised how easy Nest has made it. I was starting with a digital thermostat already. First, you turn off the power to your furnace at the breaker box. Then I took the front off carefully and that exposed the wiring connections. From there I took an original photo just in case I would need to hook it back up later or to reference anything. Then I used the included tags that Nest gives you to label what connection each wire is hooked up too. Sometimes wire colors don’t match what you expect them to be hooked up too and depending on your configuration you can use only a few wires or a lot. In my case, I have 5 wires in use.

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With the wires labeled I took the time to patch the holes from our old thermostat and I noticed that there had been multiple holes done in the past. With the Nests small size, it wasn’t going to cover them up. I also tried to sand down the ridge of paint that had built up around the original thermostat as well. Then when I was done I painted it all with some matching paint I found in the house. We do plan on painting this room a different color in the future, so when we do that I will do little better job. I was actually doing this with very little light in the room as we had just moved in and our new lamps hadn’t come in yet at the time so it doesn’t look as good in these photos as it did when I did the patching lol.

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Nest I got the Nest baseplate out and hooked up our five wires to the connections matching out labels. You press the button and they slip right in. It is extremely easy. This was nicer than the screwed down connections in our old thermostat. Thankfully Next included a really nice screwdriver to remove those. Once everything was plugged in I then pushed the extra wire back into the wall and screwed the baseplate to the wall. It has a built-in level at the top to help get the install perfect. You can put in the top screw first then use the level to get the bottom just right.

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Once that was done the Nest Thermostat snaps right on to the baseplate. Run turn your breaker back on and now you can get into the initial setup. You have to use the outer ring to pick your language, setup your wireless internet connection, your location, and what type of heat and air conditioning your setup is running. With that, the Nest is up and running. In my case, because the heat had been off while filling holes, sanding, and painting so the heat came right on. While doing this you also need to use the code the thermostat gives you to link it to your nest account as well.

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Getting the Nest Protect was even easier. You have to scan the QR code on the back of the device with the app to get it linked. From there it will ask you your wireless info to get it connected and online and for you to name the location. Before you do any of that though you do have to pull the tab to connect the battery on the battery operated device. Once linked you just need to use the four screws to install the mount and then the Protect turns to latch onto the mounting plate.

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Performance

Most of my testing was focused on the Thermostat and the Nest app simply because my wife was against me setting fires in the house. But I did get some experience with the Nest protect as well during that time. Given the three sensors I know the Protect I have confidence that it is going to pick up smoke, fast-burning fires, and CO. I do wonder if the CO detection is a little hindered by being mounted to the ceiling as I know the best place for a CO detector is 5 feet up the wall. But the benefits of having them all together are also nice.

For me though the lack of alarms going off was the best part of my testing. For the protect, it addressed one issue I have with traveling and being away from home. Whenever I’m away I always have this lingering worry that there is a fire or something going on. Maybe it’s the number of devices I have hooked up lol. The protect helps with this because I know if there was a fire or CO issue I would get a notification right away to my phone. This would give me a chance to call the fire department right away where being gone a fire would be well out of control before anyone might notice and call for help. On the CO side of things, you also know when getting home things are safe before you go inside not to mention pets being safe as well. If not getting a notification isn’t enough for you, you can also open up the app and get your green notification.

app 9

Unlike other detectors, the Protect also does its own self-check. This means you don’t have to remember to go around checking them all and if you do want to do that you can do it right from the app. You also get a warning ahead of time that it is about to test both on the app and audibly. The best part about when the alarm goes off though is that it actually tells you which Protect is going off. So with our house, for example, I want to add one in the basement, bedroom, and near the living room. If a fire would start in the basement or in the living room I might not hear them in the bedroom, the bedroom Protect will go off and tell you what location is on fire. This gives you a better idea how to get out of the house or if you have a fire extinguisher you might be able to put it out.

app 10 app 11 app 12

Another feature is the Pathway lighting, it uses the built-in motion sensor that links with other Nest protects to help set away and home. When you walk near the Protect it can turn on a small light. Ours is a battery powered Protect so I did eventually turn this off to keep it from sucking down batteries, but I didn’t think it was very helpful in our tiny hallway. But I can see it being helpful for some people, especially with hard-wired Protects.

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For the Nest Thermostat, I found it really interesting that although it is mounted right next to my desk but I ended up using the app more than I ever touch the amazing looking Thermostat itself. Sometimes if I’m curious what temperature it is I might wave my arm in front of it to turn on far sight, but most of the time I just open up the app or ask google. That right, Nest is integrated with google assistant. That means you can ask Google what temperature it is inside or just tell it to set the temperature to something specific. When you use the app the main page lets you pick from any Nest devices you are running, in our case the Thermostat and Protect. You can also see your current status of home or away and click to change that.

app 1

The Thermostat home page has a similar layout to the Thermostat screen with a circle in the middle and the dashes showing the temperature in the middle. There are two dashes along the ring, one showing the current temperature and the longer shows the target temp. The entire app is orange showing that the AC or in this case the heater is turned on. You can bump it up and down using the up and down arrows at the bottom of the circle. Below that you can check out the humidity level in your place as well as the outside temp.

app 2

Down on the bottom, there are a few other options you can open up. The one that I check the most is the energy history page. Here you can look at the last 10 day of your usage. The idea here is awesome, being able to track your usage really pushes you to lower the temperature down. You can click on each day and open up a more detailed look that shows at what time everything was running as well. There are indicators for days that you saved money by your system turning on away mode, green leafs that indicate when lowering your temps have saved you money. Then you also get icons that show when you have turned things up and caused more usage or when the weather hurt your usage. This stuff could use some improvements though. The biggest one being that I would like to be able to track over a longer period of time. In fact being able to see usage for years for comparison would be nice. In addition keeping track of the weather on this page would be important, even a week ago I may not remember what the weather was like but looking at my usage I can clearly see when it was colder or warmer, the other day when it was 50 out our heat only came on for 15 minutes the whole day! Other power user features like downloadable excel graphs or at least google docs integration considering this is a Google company.

app 3 app 4

One of Nests big features is the ability to create your schedule for you so when you first set everything up you just set temps to whatever is comfortable. After a week it will have a schedule for you, changes in the future will continue to evolve the schedule as well. For us we just moved in and have been working on air sealing our place, not to mention my PC is pushing hot air up around the thermostat messing with temps as well. But over time we did get things tuned to be comfortable in this crazy low temperatures. But with things warming up again things will be changing once again.

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Also down on the bottom, you can switch between heat, heat and cool, cool, and off like a normal thermostat. But it’s the fan cycle button that I have found to be really helpful. You can bump your blower on for a set time, in our case doing this helps even out the heat around the house if we are going to be in a colder area or if we are going to have people over. This can also just help filter the air.

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For settings, you can get in and turn off some of the smart features if they don’t work for you. For example, you can turn off the auto scheduling. This is also where you set the eco temperatures, for someone with pets you might want to adjust these. You can have the fan turn on every hour, personally I would like to set it to turn on for 15 minutes every 2 or 3 hours but that isn’t an option. You also have features like early on that will make sure your house is back up to temp before you get home or before you get up. That reminds me, when you bump the temp up, once it has learned your system, the Nest will actually tell you how long it will take to reach that temp. 

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Overall and Final Verdict

With a few months of usage under their belt, both the Nest Protect and Nest Thermostat have gotten a lot of use in our new place. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t check the temperature in the house via the app or with google assistant. By combining IFTTT with the Nest products I have been able to greatly expand our smart home. We went from having one RGB light that did silly things to being able to get remote notifications of fires or if our furnace goes out while we aren’t home. That alone was well worth it, when I’m not home there is always a little worry about a fire or pipes freezing during cold winter nights. With the nest ecosystem being so popular it means nearly everyone is working to be in the works with nest list. This can help with interesting interactions like locking your doors for you if you are marked as away or having your house automatically warm up for you when you get close to home.

The Nest Thermostat is what set the bar for smart thermostats and in a lot of ways the competition hasn’t caught up even years later. No one is on this level for aesthetics or overall quality. The smart learning capabilities are also really interesting and are a great turn it on and forget it way to save money in the summer and winter. As someone who works from home, I benefit a lot less from that though, only really taking advantage when we go out of town or when it thinks I’m away while sleeping through the day after my wife left for work lol. I also think Nest has perfected the installation, considering how complicated things can get with not every system being the same, this as easy as it can get for most people.

There are a few downsides and areas that they can improve in Gen 3 though. For starters, a simple software update that allows you to force a temperature hold would be nice. When you have people over or if you manually make a change it can be overridden shortly after if there was a change on your schedule. I think the usage history could use a little work as well, only being able to track 10 days out makes it hard to see how your current usage compares. Long-term storage of that data along with outside temps would go a long way. Last but not least, remote sensors would be huge. Ecobee has proven that people want that functionality. Being able to have temps set to make it comfortable in other rooms beyond the one with your thermostat would be great and it could also help track home and away better.

The Nest Protect was also impressive yet I hope I never really have to take advantage of it. The comfort while away is my favorite feature, but in the event of a fire having it tell you which Nest Protect (and where) is picking up the fire would be huge. It helps you and your family get out safely. I think the Protect as well as all of Nests new products could be brought into the Nest Thermostat ecosystem better by integrating temperature sensors into them. Imagine if you could track temps in each bedroom and on each level of your house. Beyond that my only issue with the Nest Protect was a cumulative cost when outfitting a house with them. Using Ohio as an example with a newly built house you have to have one on each level, one in each sleeping room, and one outside of each sleeping room (think hallways). For my house, we would need three for the bedrooms, one for the hallway, one in the basement, and one in the living room. With an MSRP of $119 that can really start to add up! That said I think that is money well spent. If nothing else one paired up with cheaper units will at least get you the remote notification.

So its tax time, should you run out and pick up a Nest Protect or a Nest Thermostat. I would highly recommend the Nest Protects, being able to call the fire department right away if there is a fire while you aren’t home is worth the high investment cost. The Nest Thermostat is also a good buy but I do think that it does lack some functionality that power users might need. If you have a large place or multiple levels with one HVAC system I think a system with remote sensors may also help you more. But you would be giving up the huge Nest ecosystem and not getting a Thermostat that looks/feels as good as the Nest. If the $249 price tag is scaring you off I don’t blame you. Nest does have the Nest Thermostat E that is $169 and in most states you can also get rebates back from your utility company as well that can knock the price down or in the case of the Thermostat E model almost make it free.

fv5thermorecommended

*long term update* Our Nest Protect failed 3 years in before even the original batteries died. This is a year past the warranty ends and ti seems to be a relatively common issue. I would no longer recommend the Protect at all. 

fv5protecteditorschoice

Live Pricing: Nest Thermostat and Protect

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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