Nest Learning Thermostat review

The thermostat first, your entire home next

Our Verdict

Nest is a new way of saving money on your future heating bills. It has an attractive design and is easy to operate, but the immediate cost might put some off, even if it could save them money in the future.


  • Relatively affordable
  • Attractive design and finish
  • Great mobile app
  • Very simple to operate


  • Early adopters might be stung
  • Flaw in movement detection
  • Needs a specialist to install

Nest has been making the headlines as the new hot tech for houses and was probably one of the reasons why Apple launched the HomeKit project at WWDC 2014. Its eponymous product is a connected thermostat that promises to cut your heating bills by learning how your household works and adjusting the heating habits (hence the name "Learning Thermostat").

Nest Gen 2 has been around for more than a year now and finally came to the UK a couple of months ago, much to the excitement of future home enthusiasts and those who want to save money on their heating bill.

Nest recommends that you get the Learning Thermostat installed by a professional due to complications that might arise. The thermostat on its own costs £179 while the cost inclusive of installation was £249.

That's what Tado, Nest's biggest competitor in the UK market, charges although you have to pay the setup cost (£50) on top of that. Note that Nest doesn't offer a rent option whereas Tado offers a rent price of £6.99 per month.

Setting everything up took about an hour and, unlike Tado, I didn't have to state when I woke up or went to bed every day of the week. The learning algorithm, Nest says, should take care of all this during the first week.


There are two parts to the Nest Learning Thermostat. There's the thermostat itself, which can be fixed on the wall (in lieu of the existing thermostat for example) or displayed on an optional stand, which is sold separately. In the latter mode, you will need to put the Nest near to a power socket and within reach of your router (you will need Wi-Fi).

The other part is the heat link. This is the component that will control the boiler and communicate wirelessly with the thermostat.

One household can have multiple housing zones, each with its own Nest thermostat and heat link. You will be able to bypass the heat link at any time but doing so will mean that you have to manually turn the heating on and off.

The thermostat's design is loosely similar to Apple iPod's click wheel. Not a surprise given that Nest was created by the same guy who designed the iPod more than a decade ago. It is made up of premium material (glass, brushed metal) and has a stylish design that certainly beats your standard thermostat in terms of looks.

The two main components of the thermostat are its display and the ring (think wheel of a combination safe). The former is a 24-bit colour LCD screen with a 320 x 320 pixel resolution; the latter turns orange when heating and a leaf appears when you're saving energy.

The current temperature is displayed on the outer ring while the target temperature is shown in bold characters in the centre of the display. The sensor window contains temperature, humidity, light and activity sensors.

The ring itself uses a rotate and press/click paradigm, similar to the iPod, to navigate the circular menu and enter data.

Under the display is a a user-replaceable lithium-ion battery plus a motherboard that houses a rather powerful processor, a Cortex-A8 SoC, similar to the one in the iPhone 3GS. Other components include 64MB of RAM, 256MB storage as well as wireless connectivity.