Nest learning thermostat review UK
Smart thermostats are hot property right now, with gas suppliers quick to get in on the act and bundle them with certain tariffs to woo prospective customers. We've already reviewed British Gas' Hive system as well as the standalone Tado package. Here we take a look at the Google-owned Nest Learning thermostat.
Surprisingly, the UK version of the Nest isn't the same hardware that's sold in the US. This explains the delay in the UK launch. Houses in the US use different heating systems, as they're also required to cool as well as heat. In the UK, of course, we've barely any need for air conditioning, being much more concerned with keeping warm.
Nest Learning Thermostat review: display
The Nest stands out because of its circular colour LCD display, which makes it a gadget you'll want to show off rather than hide away as with the Hive. Because there's a display, you don't need to launch a smartphone app to change the temperature, yet the kit is no more expensive than others which omit a screen.
The stand was developed especially for the UK, but it's not included in the box - it'll cost you an extra £29. However, while the stand might be useful in some cases, most people should be able to use their existing in-wall thermostat wiring to power the Nest's screen. The kit even includes a big plastic plate to cover up the old wallpaper, paint or holes you find when your installer removes your old thermostat. That's because the display is much smaller than you expect, measuring just 83mm wide.
The display itself is has a 44mm diameter and a resolution of 320x320 pixels (the same as the latest Android Wear smartwatches). Viewing angles are good left to right, but not when viewed from below. That means if your old thermostat was mounted quite high up on the wall, contrast is not all it could be.
There's a rotating dial surrounding the display which oozes quality. It doesn't click: the sound you hear is actually coming from the speaker inside the device. The whole unit can be pushed to select options (and enter the menu), but all the settings can also be made from the free app, which is available for iOS and Android. There's no official Windows Phone app yet, but you can check and adjust settings from the Nest website, where you can also view energy reports.
A hidden sensor below the display detects movement and automatically turns the screen on when you walk past or raise your hand to use the dial. Another sensor detects if the sun is shining on the display and ensures it doesn't play havoc with the internal thermometer, which would otherwise signal that it's time to turn the boiler off.
Nest Learning Thermostat review: Heat Link
The other gadget in the box is the Heat Link. This attaches to your boiler, and has built-in Wi-Fi to connect the system to the internet via your wireless router. Virtually every other smart thermostat has a third component which connects to an Ethernet port on your router, so this is a much neater solution if your Wi-Fi coverage is good enough.
The Heat Link has a button which can be used to put the Nest into manual mode, just in case you need it. Holding it for ten seconds resets everything.
Nest highly recommends you have the system professionally installed because of the high voltages involved. However, if you're comfortable changing a light switch, you'll have no problems installing Nest.
The Heat Link is compatible with the vast majority of heating systems, including combi-boilers, those with hot water tanks, underfloor systems, air source and ground source heat pumps and others. You can check Nest's website to see if your system is compatible.
Next section: Nest Learning Thermostat review: How it works