The Nest Thermostat E is the latest smart thermostat from Nest. This model is essentially a simplified version of the Nest Learning Thermostat, our current top pick. The simple design means the Nest Thermostat E only costs $169, which is $80 cheaper than the flagship model and slightly more affordable than industry average of $180, though it has nearly the same functionality.
Rather than cover every facet of this programmable thermostat in detail, I'll highlight what stood out during my tests. You can check out our review of the Nest Learning Thermostat for more detail on the features highlighted here. I'll also talk about the Nest Temperature Sensor, which I tested alongside the Nest Thermostat E.
Overall, the new design and display are aesthetically pleasing and shouldn't discourage you from choosing this thermostat. On the outside, the biggest change is the Nest Thermostat E's frosted white display. This display doesn't have the crisp graphics of the Learning Thermostat in favor of something more akin to a watercolor painting. The subtle graphics are easy to read but take some getting used to; My eyes struggled to focus on the display when I first turned it on.
Another change to the visual design is that you can only buy this unit in white, while the Learning Thermostat has four colors to choose from. Lastly, the Thermostat E only lights up when someone moves near it, unlike the Learning Thermostat's Farsight feature, which can display the temperature, weather or a clock when idle. You can turn the wheel around the outside of the unit to adjust the temperature and other settings.
The software in the Nest Thermostat E has all of the same functionality of the Nest Learning Thermostat. Aside from not having the Farsight function, everything else is the same: scheduling, geofencing, Auto-Away, Airwave, Monthly Nest Home Reports and Nest Leaf. It learns your habits over time and encourages you to save energy. We found no significant difference in the mobile app. The Nest Thermostat E has all of the same sensors as well: humidity, motion, light and temperature.
If you want to add this thermostat to your smart home, it works with all of Nest's devices as well as third-party smart home platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Google home, IFTTT and others. Nest works with more smart home platforms than any other thermostat maker. You can visit Nest's website to see what else is compatible.
As with the Nest Learning Thermostat, this unit only took me 17 minutes to install and setup. You only need to scan a QR code on the back of the unit with the Nest app and follow the helpful tutorials. The Nest Thermostat E doesn't come with any tools, so you need to provide your own screwdrivers, and the unit doesn't require a C wire in your HVAC system.
Nest only offers a one-year warranty on the Nest Thermostat E, which is the shortest among the smart thermostats we tested. Its closest rival, the ecobee3 lite, has a three-year warranty.
A few things changed on the inside of the Nest Thermostat E as well because it supports fewer types of HVAC equipment than the original, or any other thermostat we tested. It's the only thermostat we've tested that supports a single stage for both heating and cooling, and you can also add a second stage of either, but not both. This is a big difference from other smart thermostats we tested, which support a minimum of two stages for both heating and cooling.
The simplified wiring hookups are easy to use and make the Nest Thermostat E an excellent choice for simple HVAC systems that are common in most homes. This thermostat won't work with whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers like the Learning Thermostat.
Nest Temperature Sensor
The Nest Temperature Sensor uses a Bluetooth Low-Energy connection to communicate with the Nest Thermostat E and the Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation. It isn't compatible with the original or 2nd Generation versions of the Nest Learning Thermostat.
You can set up the Nest Temperature Sensor after you install your thermostat by scanning a QR code on the battery protector tab. It only takes a few seconds to recognize the new sensor and then the app has you check if the sensor will be able to connect to the thermostat in your designated room. You can place the sensor on a flat surface or mount it on your wall using the included screw.
Once set up, you can use the app to say which times of day the system should use the Temperature Sensor. I placed the sensor in an upstairs bedroom, so I told the app to use this setting for the morning and night while the thermostat handled the midday and evening.
Interestingly enough, the first night I used the temperature sensor, it was too cold in my room because I had used the same setting as the main thermostat. The app reminded me that the room is warmer than downstairs by the thermostat, so I adjusted the temperature in my schedule and didn't have any other problems the other nights.
This remote sensor isn't as advanced as the ecobee Room Sensor, which detects motion in addition to temperature in order to help cool rooms where people are. Nest doesn't sell any thermostat bundles with the temperature sensor, unlike the ecobee4, but it's fairly easy to add one to your order.
You can buy the Nest Temperature Sensor in a one-pack for $39 or a three-pack for $99 if you already have a compatible Nest Thermostat. While this may seem expensive for a simple sensor, it's competitive with the ecobee Room Sensor, which costs $79 for a two-pack.
If you have certain areas of your home far from the main thermostat that could benefit from a more stable temperature, the Nest Temperature and a compatible Nest thermostat can help you be more comfortable and save money.