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Nest Learning Thermostat third-gen: the simple, effective heating gadget

The new Nest learning thermostat is the third-generation heating control system from Google owner Alphabet’s subsidiary. It is the second version to be released in the UK and now comes with a bigger, clearer screen and more advanced components that work better and protect your boiler.

What is its selling point?

The UK version of the Nest is a thermostat that works like any other. Users configure the settings, and the boiler fires up until it reaches the desired temperature.

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The difference is that the Nest is smart – it learns your heating patterns, turns off the central heating when not needed, and can work out how long it will take to heat your home to the desired temperature given the weather and the specifics of your house or flat.

The benefit of a smart thermostat nest learning thermostat review

The Nest is an attractive, minimalist addition to your wall. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian The Nest Learning Thermostat isn’t the only smart heating controller on the market. They all perform a similar duty, adding learning, remote control, and intelligence into the standard scheduling thermostat.

The new Nest looks very similar to the previous version. It is a round disk with a diameter of 8.4cm and a depth of 3.2cm that is either mounted to the wall or stuck in a tabletop stand. The outside metal ring rotates for selecting options and adjusting the temperature. The whole thing can be depressed as a giant selection button. Together they work very well, feeling intuitive with a good weight, like something mechanical and pleasing to use.

The screen is a big upgrade over the previous Nest: larger, brighter and crisper, which makes quite a difference when using it, as you typically stand quite close. A bottom black strip contains sensors that detect your movements in front of the thermostat and the available light and direct heat from the Sun.

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Setup nest learning thermostat review

The Heat Link is wired into the boiler to relay controls from the thermostat. The Nest button in the center manually turns the heating on or off in case of problems with the thermostat. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
Setting up the Nest is pretty simple. Most will have a heating engineer attach the required Heat Link boxes to their boiler and the Nest to the wall in the desired spot.

It can be wirelessly connected to the Heat Link and your boiler or wired if you have an existing fixed thermostat. If connected wirelessly, the thermostat needs a micro USB power adapter, which it comes with, but means it has to be relatively close to a plug socket. I bought a 3m micro USB cable and punched a small hole through the wall directly behind the thermostat to run power to it.

Once hooked up, the thermostat is easy to control. It automatically learns your heating schedule over the next week – you can also manually schedule temperatures using the app or on the thermostat directly.

The screen remains off unless you approach the Nest. There are two settings, one called farsight, which turns on when you’re a meter or so away, and another to turn the display on when you stand directly in front of it, ready to change something.

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