Nest Thermostat, Third Generation

Editor rating

4.5/5 on July 31, 2017

User's rating

15,383 reviews
  • Learns from your settings to program itself for improved efficiency and comfort
  • Large display area is easy to read
  • Monitors your furnace for irregularities

Most notable product advances

The Nest Thermostat, Third Generation is a step up from the previous generations because of the more visible and larger display, as well as the smaller and less bulky size. Even with the smaller and slimmer size, it produces a better display due to the increase in the resolution, now 480 x 480p. It even has a far-sight mode which enables you to see the temperature or the time, even if you are across the room.

What’s especially nice about the display is that you have options. You can choose to display the “set” temperature, the actual temperature in the room or even your choice of clock face (analog or digital), the weather or nothing at all.

Another great feature is the auto-schedule feature. With this, Nest will learn from your temperature preferences and program itself; it learns your schedule in as few as 7 days and can automatically adjust the temperature to your liking. In connection with this, it also has an auto-away mode that will automatically turn off the heat when it senses that you are not around. This is a great way to save energy by not heating your tank or the house.

Speaking of tanks, this Nest may also be able to control your hot water heater depending on your furnace/boiler set up and the type of tank you have. There’s a complete list of compatible systems on the Nest website.

Furnace maintenance monitor

Through the “Furnace Heads-Up” feature, you can also monitor your heating system with your Nest. In addition to setting time and temperatures thresholds, you can force your furnace into “Away” mode to conserve energy when you’ll be gone for extended times. You can also set reminders for yourself to change the filters, for example (one of those often forgotten chores).

Through the onboard menus you can display a 10-day history of heating and cooling activity. It can tell you whether there are irregularities in your heating system so that you can immediately determine if there is a problem before it gets worse. If it has detected any problems, it will show an alert on the Nest screen, the app, or on the monthly reports. Figuring out that there is a problem early on can save you from dealing with more expensive damage to your heating and cooling system.

Installation and use of the Nest 3

The Nest is very easy to use and setting it up is also simple. It can be wirelessly attached to your heating system through the Heat Link and your furnace, or you can also have it attached with wires when you have a previous thermostat that you want to replace.

If the thermostat is used wirelessly, it needs to be attached to a power source through the micro USB power adapter, which comes with the purchase. Aside from your furnace, it can also be connected to other smart devices such as smoke detectors, smart locks, smart lighting, and many others.

Installing it is easy, especially if you choose to follow the video tutorials available on YouTube. Even if you don’t watch the videos, it can be easily installed in just minutes; it comes with step-by-step instructions that even suggest where you should position the Nest for highest efficiency and the optimum learning environment. It even comes with its own screwdriver so you’ll have everything you need.

Once you turn it on, it will walk you through finishing the set-up as well as connecting to your home’s Wi-Fi. After it is connected to your system, you can control it with any smartphone, computer or smart hub that connects to the internet. You can manually schedule temperatures by making use of the app or the thermostat. You can manually adjust the temperature in increments of 0.5°C.

Although it comes with a pre-programmed schedule, it will learn your schedule within a week so that it can automatically follow your schedule and set your preferences. This means you don’t need to spend any time programming the unit initially, or as you go along. The heating schedule can automatically turn off when it detects there is no one home. However, you can step in and change the program schedule at any time or overwrite it for those staycation days.

In earlier models, this could cause a problem if you were located too far away for the sensors to detect your presence or if you spent a long time not moving (did someone say Game of Thrones binge day?). The third generation comes with a geofencing feature that resolves that issue. Geofencing works through the sensor or by tracking the location of the smartphones that are connected to it.

What’s not so great about it

The sensor that detects whether you are inside the house is not the greatest. It’s currently only found on the thermostat. You need to walk almost right up to it for it to detect you and follow up with your scheduled temperatures.

Another thing that could have made the Nest even better is if it were capable of controlling different temperatures for different rooms. Currently, it can only set one temperature for the whole house. We’d love to see sensors that could be used to divide the house into two or three zones at least until room-by-room controls can be mastered. We suspect this will be added once the sales curve slows down. You can achieve zone heating with the Nest today, but you will need to do it by installing a Nest thermostat in every zone you want to control separately. That could quickly become pricey if you have a larger home.

What others say about the Nest thermostat

Most customers are very pleased with the new display of the Nest Thermostat 3rd Generation. It is easier to see, and you can even view it from afar. Many who have it also say that it is very easy and simple to use, and even someone who isn’t really knowledgeable about smart devices can easily use it. A lot of customer reviewers also love the auto-away feature that makes it more energy efficient.


A Nest 3 is one of the simplest ways you can control the temperature of your home, and even schedule when it needs to heat up. It helps you save more energy because it only instructs your heating system to heat up your home when you are around. That makes it one of the smartest devices in the smart category.  It’s also getting simpler with every generation.

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