The Nest Learning Thermostat has been on the market for almost a year, and it’s already earned a reputation as the smartest and prettiest thermostat available. Now, Nest 2.0, just out, is even slimmer, smarter and more compatible. The Nest Thermostat is designed by Tony Fadell, the former Apple exec known as the Father of the iPod. Now, what’s known as the iPod of thermostats is getting its first makeover.
We got a chance to see the new product up close, and chat with Nest Labs Product Marketing Head Maxime Veron during a recent visit to Mashable headquarters. The first thing I noticed was how Nest had slimmed down a bit. The original version, when mounted, stuck out about about one inch, slightly more than your average thermostat. It’s now 20% thinner and has a new, solid stainless steel ring which is used to control the settings. Previously, the ring was broken up so that just the outer ring turned to enable controls. The ring also works to mirror your wall color or pick up a texture to create what Nest calls a chameleon effect. The single ring on the device now blends into whatever décor you mount it on even more effectively. Nest has also re-designed the grill on the bottom of the unit, making the sensor window almost invisible when you’re looking at it. Veron tells us they worked and worked to find the right color and just the right plastic so the sensors can see through, but when you’re more than a foot away, you can no longer see them. When I say it’s very Apple-esque of them to do that, he says yes, there’s “Apple DNA in us.”
Nest learns your temperature preferences and household habits and then creates a schedule for you. Or, you can program it on your own, and Nest will learn from your changes and patterns. New features like Enhanced Auto-Away and Auto-Schedule help make it more energy efficient by figuring out your habits even faster. It now uses what Veron calls a confidence factor to determine if everyone really is out of the house in the morning by 9am. If that’s the case, but you don’t have it programmed to raise the temperature until 10:00, it will make that determination and enter Auto-Away mode as soon as 30 minutes after you’ve left the house. Those energy savings all add up.
Nest tells us their unit now works with 95% of home residential systems, from the previous 75%, and they’ve accomplished this by making changes to the connecters inside. They’ve made them circular, a slight design change, but it allows for more space for fingers as well as the ability to add two more connecters. Now, there are ten instead of eight. One, the Y2, is for second-stage cooling and high end AC’s. The other, known as the wild card connecter, is software controlled. You can run the wires and tell it through software what it will be controlling. While we’re looking at the backplate, Veron points out they’ve moved the screw holes used to mount the unit from a horizontal plane to vertical, making it easier to install. One screw at the top holds it in place while you use the built-in level to make sure it’s even. They’ve engineered and included their own screws in the box. More evidence of the Apple influence at work.
One of the benefits of Nest is the ability to control it remotely. If you’re coming home early from work on a particularly cold winter day, you can ask it to fire up the furnace a few hours early to ensure the house is toasty warm when you arrive. Now, in addition to the apps for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones, Nest will work on Android tablets, including the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7.
Those with an existing Nest thermostat will automatically get the 3.0 software update, designed to help save even more money and energy with increased efficiency. Nest has implemented something called ‘System Match’ which activates custom features depending on what type of system you have. For instance, if you have a forced air system as opposed to radiant, Nest knows how long it takes to heat or cool your house and adjusts itself automatically. If you already own a Nest thermostat, and decide you want another perhaps on a different floor, the two will work in tangent with each other. When one thinks you’re not in the house, it will ping the other to see if that unit’s sensor has seen you. That way it can kick into energy-saving mode even sooner. The Nest thermostat is available now for pre-order at Nest for $249 and will ship mid-October in the U.S. and Canada. It will also be available later this month at Amazon, Apple’s online store, and Lowe’s stores. The original Nest is available at Lowe’s stores for $229 until supplies run out. If you don’t already own one, it’s a good time to grab one at a reduced price. Check out our gallery of pictures of Nest 2.0, as well as some comparison shots and let us know if you’re ready to upgrade your system.
October 2, 2012