Blink and you might miss it. Yes, this is actually the third generation Nest thermostat and I actually had to see it side-by-side with the second generation unit before I could tell what had been changed — and I actually have two second generation Nest thermostats in my house.
The third generation Nest has a 40 percent larger display and is slightly thinner than its predecessor (which itself was thinner than the chunky first generation model). The new Nest also bring with it a new feature called Farsight, which allows the device to “wake” its screen to display the temperature if it senses your presence in the room. Before, you had to be standing within three feet of the Nest for its its screen to on. The higher resolution display also allows you to read the display from further across the room. Other features include support for 5GHz wireless networks and Bluetooth LE, which is not currently enabled, but will “future-proof” the device.
When it comes to new hardware features, that’s about it. There’s a new software feature, called Furnace Heads-Up, which will monitor shutoff patterns of your furnace to alert you if it detects an impending failure, or as Google puts it, a “persistent problem.” I don’t know about you, but I have visions of HAL 9000 detecting a fault in the AE-35 unit… But alas, that feature will also be extended to first and second generation Nest thermostats.
While Nest has billed the Nest thermostats as sexy pieces of hardware that save you money in long run (Nest says that the average Nest thermostat users saves 10 to 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills), once the initial “wow factor” wears off, it’s still just a thermostat at the end of the day. Thermostats aren’t smartphones and people don’t feel the need to upgrade their thermostats like one. So while the third generation Nest thermostat is an interesting piece of hardware for those that are new to the home automation scene, I see no immediate reason to go out and purchase one (and current Nest owners reading this have probably already let out a collective “meh”).
About the best thing to come out of today’s announcement is news that the perfectly adequate second generation Nest is dropping from $249 to $199 to clear out inventory. The third generation Nest, which is available today direct from Nest or through Amazon, will now occupy the $249 price point.