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Nest’s cheaper thermostat is better than the original

Nest’s cheaper thermostat is better than the original

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Nest E smart thermostat on wall with paisley wallpaper
Photo by Jake Kastrenakes / The Verge

Usually when a company releases a cheaper version of its flagship product, it’s notably worse in some way in order to justify the cheaper price and to keep from cannibalizing the original, more expensive option.

Nest didn’t do that. Instead, the company that made the smart thermostat popular with a $250 device made a new thermostat that is just as good as the original, and knocked $80 off the price (mainly because it won’t be compatible with some higher-end heating and cooling systems).

If you’re in the market for a smart thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E works with your system, you should buy it. (If you have a two story house or a basement you might want to look at an Ecobee thermostat, which comes with remote temperature sensors.) It works just as good as the flagship Nest Thermostat, it’s cheaper, and the features it is missing are inconsequential at best.

Here are the differences between the $249 Nest Thermostat and the $169 Nest Thermostat E:

  1. The Nest Thermostat has a full-color display and a feature called Farsight that will show you the time, weather, or temperature from across the room. The Nest Thermostat E has a frosted display that only shows the indoor temperature.
  2. The Nest Thermostat works with 95 percent of homes. The Nest Thermostat E works with 85 percent of homes.
  3. The Nest Thermostat has a metal ring and comes in multiple colors. The Nest Thermostat E has a plastic ring and only comes in white.

They both work with services like Alexa and Google Assistant (still no HomeKit support for some reason), you can control them both away from your home with the Nest app, and all of the energy-saving features that make the original Nest great are fully available on the cheaper edition.

Photo by Micah Singleton / The Verge

I’ve been using the Nest Thermostat E for the past few weeks, trying to decipher why anyone would buy the more expensive version if both are compatible with your heating and cooling system. There are no build quality issues, installation was easier than I expected, and the auto-scheduling feature works well enough that it hasn’t been too hot or too cold in my house in days.

I waffled for years on buying a Nest because, well, it’s $250 and I spend literally no time looking at my thermostat. But if you knock nearly $100 off that? With no missing features? Now we’re talking. And I think that’s how most people will feel about it.

If spending $170 will lower my energy bill and let me control the temperature from my phone, that’s hard to pass up. And that’s what Nest is ultimately hoping for. The company says it wants to sell two to three times as many units over the next four years, and the E will likely help it do that. But I don’t know if Nest expected its budget option to potentially cannibalize its flagship device. That’s always a possibility when you make similar products at different price points, and safeguards are usually put in to stop that from happening.

That apparently didn’t happen this time around. The best Nest is no longer the original. It’s the Thermostat E.