Google is looking to a new generation of smart homes with the launch of its latest generation of Google Nest Thermostat. It marks ten years since the first (pre-Google) Nest Thermostat brought home automation to an audience beyond James Bond movie villains and offers more features at a lower price. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is it?
It’s just called the Google Nest Thermostat — not to be confused with the original Nest Thermostat or last year’s Nest Thermostat E.
What does it do?
If you’re a complete smart home novice, then welcome! This new model is aimed at you. (Though it also contains some new features for the stalwarts, too). Essentially, a Google Nest Thermostat replaces your existing ‘dumb’ thermostat, allowing you to control and programme your heating and HVAC cooling systems from your phone.
It can be controlled manually via the on-screen display, through the Google Home app, or by voice with Google Assistant. But its real power comes from its ability to make intelligent decisions that go way beyond making your house a certain temperature at a certain time. Using an array of sensors, it can look at whether you’re actually in the house to enjoy the climate, and even detect boiler/HVAC problems before they occur.
Why do you need one?
More than any other smart home device, the answer is ‘because they pay for themselves’. Features such as presence detection mean that if you go out, your heating can be automatically switched off, saving you money. It also allows you to set up routines at a granular level. If you work outside the home, it doesn’t just switch on the heating at a set time but can actually use the Google Home app to detect when you’re on your way.
More than this, the Google Nest Thermostat can actually make suggestions to adjust your settings to help you save even more. It can even tell you if the boiler is playing up, before it fails completely.
What’s different about the new Google Nest Thermostat vs Nest Thermostat E?
There are a number of tweaks. First of all, the design has been simplified. Though superficially similar to previous models, its smaller, thinner, and does away with a physical dial in favour of touchscreen gestures.
Left: Nest Thermostat E. Right: New Nest Thermostat.
The biggest change is the use of Soli radar that we first saw in Google’s Pixel 4 smartphone. Here, Soli is used to spot you approaching and light up the Nest Thermostat display without you lifting a finger. The tech also allows the geofencing feature to be pinpoint accurate, making Home/Away Assist work flawlessly (in theory anyway).
In keeping with Google’s sustainability programme, the new model is made from 49 percent recycled materials. A ‘Trim Kit’ is also available to help cover up any unsightly marks left by your old thermostat during installation.
What about older models?
The previous generation Nest Thermostat E has been taken off sale by Google already, but it hasn’t gone away completely. Google will still be offering it to the trade for new build housing and remodelling purposes, but consumers will be limited to the newer model.
In fact, if you do some digging, you may find places still selling the 2015 model, which plays nicer with high-end HVAC systems. Expect to pay a pretty penny for that one though.
Is there anything it doesn’t do?
Yes. Because the new Google Nest Thermostat doesn’t currently offer controllers for the devices in each room (radiator valves for example), it can’t turn your bedroom off during the day but keep the rest of the house warm, or only heat the bathroom when you draw a bath. In addition, there are no sensors for air quality or mitigating factors like if you’ve left a window open. German firm Tado offers all these features — but it’ll cost more than $130.
When is it available?
Google is offering pre-orders now for U.S. and Canadian customers with delivery due in “the coming weeks”. Once it’s available, it’ll also be available from all the usual outlets. No word on international availability yet, but we’d expect to see it reach Europe and Asia sometime in early 2021.
Pricing is significantly lower than previous models, clocking in at $129.99 (U.S.) and CA$179.99 (CA). The thermostat comes in 4 colors: Snow, Sand, Fog, and Charcoal.
Featured image credits: Google