Nest Thermostat Review, Update #8


A few new things have occurred since I last posted.

imageJanuary 11, 2012: Nest Labs updated the firmware of the thermostat to version 1.0.6. There isn’t any publically available information about what was updated however other than “bug fixes.” Thanks to GregN for pointing it out. Here’s a link to their current software releases and updates for anyone interested:

This week, one of my thermostats in “learning” mode wiped out some of the set points I had specifically added for the weekend (this has happened before). I have no rational explanation for why it would do this as our weekend schedule on the floor where it happened is routine enough that it shouldn’t have made that choice. Nest Labs support suggests turning off “learning” mode when this has occurred to see if it’s related to learning mode. They apparently don’t have a way to track the causes or triggers unfortunately (a debug log would come in very handy now). I turned it off for the time being and have added the deleted set points to see if the problem occurs again.

UPDATE: 1/25/2012:  One of our thermostats that still has “learning” turned off decided that our morning set points for our first floor weren’t important and deleted them. Apparently, we didn’t want the house to start warming before we got out of bed.

I found an interesting issue with the Away Temperature settings that you’ll want to watch out for until they fix it (as it could affect triggers for “auto away”).

Essentially, there are values that when you put them into the away temperature field, they won’t “stick.” You won’t necessarily notice this right away unless you click around:


In the video (GIF) above, you’ll see how the “58” won’t stay 58F. It switches to 57 (it happens with 60F as well). I’ve sent a support request to Nest about the issue (they responded the following day and said they’d look into it). Since their web API deals with Celsius, I speculate it could be a rounding issue in their JavaScript code.

Update: 1/24/2012 The bug appears appears to have been corrected in the few places I happened to check earlier today (as I’m not their QA team, I didn’t check around much Smile).

Randal pointed out that there was someone who’d done some analysis of the temperature readings of a working Nest thermostat (compared to another thermostat). I’d concur that the readings do seem to be far more consistently accurate on the Nest thermostat on average and that our house is more comfortable. However, I’m certainly aware that this comfort will come at a cost. The house is more consistently warmer (now in the heating season). So, depending on your old thermostats and how you handled the temperature in the house, you may find your heating costs rise a bit. Simple way to compensate: you may be able to turn down the thermostat a few degrees! Smile The temperature may read lower, but the actual temperature may be closer to what you had grown accustomed to. We may do that.

I’m still trying to understand why “Auto Away” is sometimes triggered when I wouldn’t expect it. I believe that once it was because the “away” temperatures were one degree LESS than the typical set point. So, the house would not “see us” around, and compared the day time (at work for example) set point (60F) to the “away” temperature (59F) and activate the “away” mode. I found the issue with the away temperature above when I was trying to make everything match one evening this week.  The problem with Auto-away activating is that your scheduled set points won’t be used until it is overridden via the remote interface or locally.

Update: 1/25/2012: Apparently, auto-away unfortunately can trigger even when the temperature settings match exactly. (Even when there’s nothing to do). I don’t understand what it’s “auto-awaying” from.

Here’s a few relevant tweets from @Nest:


Although I admit to not understanding the topmost tweet. My tweet had been:


I honestly didn’t feel like trying to clarify again in 140 characters.


  1. With learning paused I doubt you’ll see any more errors, especially deletions of your set points. Then you’ll have to decide if a sweet looking, wifi enabled, programmable (by remote too) thermostat is worth $250.
    My decision is yes, but I suspect others won’t think so.

  2. I don’t really understand the purpose of “Auto Away” mode when it ignores programmed set points. We have our Nests programmed to drop the temperature when we are at work and to bring the temperature back up when we get home, but usually Nest goes into “Auto Away” mode during the day. This means that unless we think of turning the temperature back up remotely before we leave work, the house is cold when we arrive home.

    It seems like there should be an option to disable “Auto Away” for certain time periods, or else the Nest should honor a set point and bring the temperature up then start monitoring to see if anyone is around, and if no one is then go back into “Auto Away” mode. Another option would be for Nest to “learn” that even though no one is around during the day, that someone is always present at a certain time in the evening so the set point closest to that time should be honored.

    I’m now thinking about turning off learning mode to prevent schedules from being deleted and turning off “Auto Away” mode so that the house is not cold when we come home from work. That would disable many of the features that are being marketed as reasons to own a Nest thermostat.

  3. Hi Aaron, my Nest showed up today. Install was so easy!
    Based on your comments, I have paused the learning and auto away features. I set the temps via the nest website.
    Keep up the comments!

  4. I am wondering if there is a way to calibrate the room temperature on the nest. Mine (the 2nd one, replaced by Nest due to inaccuracy and other issues) still shows a 1.5 to 2 degree inaccuracy to the three other name brand free standing thermostats I have in the house. Even when they are placed next to the NEST, they reflect the same temperature between themselves within .5 degrees but are all lower than the temp being displayed by Nest.

    1. Have you tried contacting support maybe? There doesn’t seem to be any documented way of adjusting the temperature reading. Do you have any way to read the surface temperature of the Nest by any chance? I wonder if the device is warmer?

  5. I have a surface laser thermometer at work. I will take it home tonight to check. I have not contacted customer service again…but plan to do so….Do what are the variances you are seeing on your NEST? Just curious….

    1. On all of my units when I checked this evening, they all report within a half degree (F) of what the surface temperature is reading.

  6. FedEx dropped off my Nest today and I got it installed in about 10 mins. A few things I have noticed in the 3 hours it has been installed. The reported temperature after setup was 74. The thermostat that I removed said 70. After reading this blog, I let it sit for 20 mins and came back, it now said 70. I played around with the settings for a min or two and then left. I came back a few mins later to find the reported temperature was 76. I then started monitoring the reported temp using the iPhone app. It dropped 1 degree every 2-4 mins until it finally settled at 70 ~15 mins later. It has stayed there but I have not played with the thermostat.

    The next thing that I noticed (bothered me) was the Aux lockout temp. I have a heavily insulated home with a R44 value in the attic. My balance point is 18 deg F for my house. I want to set the Aux lockout to 20 deg F but Next has a bottom limit of 35 deg F. I have no need for Aux heat to kick in after 1 hr (per the Nest support documentation) at 35 deg F. I monitor my kWh usage and the heat strips are WAY to expensive to run unless necessary. Not sure if anyone has thoughts on this.

    Thanks for the blog and I’ll report how my Learning and Auto Away works when it reports it has gotten smart :-)

  7. I used my laser thermometer to check the surface temp of the Nest and my two Oregon Scientific thermometers. The Nest surface read 70.0, One of the Oregon Scientific read 69.0 the other read 69.5. The Nest surface temp rose when the display was on.

    During the same evaluation, the Nest read a room temp of 71, one Oregon Scientific read 69.4 and the other read 68.9. so the variance is 2.1 to 1.6 between the oregon scientific and the Nest. I tend to believe the Oregon Scientific over the Nest. I have pictures of everything I mention above if you are interested.

    I guess I will call customer support again….I can handle a .5 variance, but I feel a 1+ variance is not acceptable.

    Let me know if you would like the pictures..

    1. David, did you try any tests where you made certain the display both wasn’t on and hadn’t been on recently (use the phone or web interface to compare temps)?

      It will be interesting to hear how they respond, but I would expect that all thermostats and thermometers have some margin of inaccuracy in all but the most expensive devices. So, their response will likely be tempered (ha!) by a statement like that.

      The unit I returned was reading 6 degrees off inconsistently, which made it totally unpredictable and useless.

  8. @ Aaron, I did check the surface temp of all three units and the NEST was still at least 1 degree off (warmer) than the Oregon Scientific units…and the Room temprature was off 1.5. I paid around $60 for one of the Oregon Scientific weather stations and $40 for the other. The Lacross was part of a weather station and ran over $100+ so these are not the cheapies….

    Guess I will be calling support sometime today. I have pictures to verify my statements if interested.

    1. If you’d like to post the pictures on some free photo site of your choosing, you could add a link to them in a comment if you’d like.

  9. I left a voice message for Tom C. at Nest. He is a Customer Service Manager or Supervisor. He is the person that helped me get the replacement NEST. I left him the message on Friday and it is now Tuesday…no return phone call. I will be calling again today.

  10. Hello,
    I installed my NEST about two weeks ago. I’m experiencing the scheduled data wipe out that some pointed out here. I have not touched my NEST, do all schedule adjustments on the web tool, so not sure why it keeps “learning” without me doing nothing on the Thermostat itself. I think I’ll pause learning too

    As per Auto-Away, is there a way to know it’s working or it has been triggered other than NEST telling you auto-away is ready? For example, will NEST tells you somewhere that it was on Auto-Away from this time to this other time?


    1. The thermostat has a display to show when various “power saving” events occurred. I’m not aware of any way to see the information from their web application though.

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