Nest Learning Thermostat vs. Nest Thermostat E Review

If you know two things about me, it might be that I’m a huge fan of Nest and a huge fan of smart thermostats, so comparing Nest’s smart thermostats is truly a dream come true. Now, the reason I love smart thermostats is not only because they’re convenient to use, controlling them remotely and commanding them with your voice. No, it’s because using smart thermostats can actually save you money.

In fact, Nest’s thermostats save people an average of 10-12% on heating bills and an average of 15% on cooling bills, according to an independent study posted on the Nest website. That means that these things will pay for themselves within a couple years, which is not something you can say about most smart home devices.

In this review, I’ll be comparing the Nest Learning Thermostat, the most recent iteration, with its predecessor the Nest Thermostat E. Not surprisingly, the former is about $110 more than the latter, so I’m wondering if it has the features to necessitate this extra cost. I’ll be going over design, features, installation process and of course, the Nest app. Let’s get started!

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Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Senses humidity, proximity, occupancy, and ambient light 
  • Integrates with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, etc. 
  • $249 

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Nest Thermostat E
  • Senses humidity, proximity, occupancy, and ambient light 
  • Integrates with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc. 
  • $139 

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Key Similarities of the Nest Learning Thermostat vs. Nest Thermostat E

I tend to get into a ton of detail, so right off the bat, I want to tell you about some key similarities between both thermostats, just to make sure you’re in the right ball park:

  • Smart platform integrations: Both thermostats work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, plus a ton of other IoT products.
  • Geofencing and schedules: The features of the Nest Learning Thermostat vs. the Nest Thermostat E are largely the same.
  • Battery-operated: Both thermostats are powered by rechargeable batteries, which makes easier much easier than if they were hardwired into your home.

Key Differences of the Nest Learning Thermostat vs. Nest Thermostat E

Of course, the differences between the two are probably what’s going to influence your buying decisions. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Price: These prices tend to change but as of now, the Nest Learning Thermostat costs $110 more than the Nest Thermostat E at $249.
  • Farsight: Only the Nest Learning Thermostat displays the weather and time in addition to the temperature, in digital or analog.
  • Artificial intelligence capabilities: Hence the name of the product, only the Nest Learning Thermostat will learn your schedule all by itself after just a few days of observation.

Nest Learning Thermostat vs. Nest Thermostat E Design

Like the rest of Nest’s products, the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E are very sleek and minimal. I was a bit surprised that neither of them are touchscreen. Instead, you’ll turn the rim on the outside to adjust the temperature, which feels a lot easier to be completely honest with you. Of course, there are a bunch of ways to control your home’s temperature with either thermostat, but we’ll get to that in a second.

Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest Learning Thermostat

While the Nest Learning Thermostat comes in different shades of black, white, gray, copper, and brown, the Nest Thermostat E is only available in white. There’s also differences about the thermostats’ finishes; while the Learning has a high-res color display, the E has a frosted display intended to blend into walls. It’s no doubt that if you’re looking for a less conspicuous thermostat, the E would be a better option for you. It’s also slightly smaller than the Learning Thermostat, although neither are more than four inches across.

Nest Thermostat E
Nest Thermostat E. Photo provided by Nest.

Now let’s talk compatibility, one of the biggest things you should be taking into account when we’re talking about buying a smart thermostat. Both thermostats work with low voltage, 24 volt systems, but while the Learning Thermostat works with 95% of 24 volt heating and cool systems, the E only works with 85%. You won’t need a c-wire to use either smart thermostat. Regardless, you should check if your home is compatible on the Nest website.

Of course, both thermostats are ENERGY STAR certified, meaning that the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed them energy-efficient. In fact, they only consume less than one kWh of power per month! You can use up to 20 Nest thermostats in one home, with up to three homes per account. Both homes operate by a rechargeable battery and will connect with the Nest app via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. And that’s it for design!

Nest Learning Thermostat vs. Nest Thermostat E Features

Really, the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E work extremely similarly, with one main difference: yes, you guessed it, learning! The Nest Learning Thermostat will actually learn your schedule all by itself within a few days. It also has a feature called Farsight, which detects the temperature, weather, and time, displaying it in digital or analog. Now, these two features seem pretty cool to me, but I’m not sure if the large price hike is completely justified.

smart-thermostat-review
Smart Thermostat Geofencing

But let me explain more about the thermostats in general. Obviously, you’ll be able to control them remotely through the Nest app (that’s what makes them smart!). But there’s also a ton of other ways that you can easily make it warmer or cooler in your home. Fro one, you can manually create schedules if your life tends to be a routine. You can also set up geofencing, linking your phone’s GPS to your smart thermostat so that it changes based on your location. We’ve all made that mistake of leaving our heat or cooling system on when we’re out of the house, and geofencing makes it easy to avoid that completely.

Scheduling the Nest Learning Thermostat
Scheduling the Nest Learning Thermostat

Now, you know I’m not going to review the Nest thermostats and not talk about their plethora of smart home integrations! Not shockingly, Nests’ thermostats work with Google Assistant, but they also work with Amazon Alexa, expanding the voice command possibilities. Of course, you’ll also be able to hook up your thermostats with other connected devices from companies like LIFX, Wemo, Logitech, and more. That means you can have your light bulbs turn off as your thermostat dips, or whatever combo you’d like to automate.

Aside from temperature, both of these smart thermostats have detect the following:

  • Humidity: As I’m writing this, it’s a terribly humid day, so I’m glad that both Nest thermostats can detect humidity as well as temperature, as it has a huge affect on the perceived temperature.
  • Proximity: If someone walks in front of either of these thermostats, they can detect their motion, making it a comfortable temperature only when someone is in the room.
  • Occupancy: I’m going to be 100% honest with you: usually when I’m home, I’m not moving. So does that mean that the Nest thermostats won’t be able to pick up on my existence? Thankfully, both of these IoT devices detect humans’ unique body heat signature, so they can tell if you’re home or not home, and even if you’re sleeping!
  • Ambient light: Both screens can sense how much light is in a room, and will brighten or dim accordingly. It’s yet another way the Nest thermostats cut down your energy bills as much as possible!

Now, you’ll be able to see exactly how much energy either thermostat is using— just check the energy usage reports in the Nest app. You’ll also be able to add multiple users so that they can control both thermostats, because the more the merrier!

Installing the Nest Learning Thermostat vs. Nest Thermostat E

Installing the Nest Learning Thermostat
Installing the Nest Learning Thermostat

No matter which thermostat you choose, make sure your home has a 24 volt system and Wi-Fi.

Before installing either thermostat, make sure your power is turned off. Then, set up the wiring plate so it covers the holes of your old control pad. Next, replace the wires with your new Nest thermostat, then follow the step-by-step instructions from the Nest app.

The Nest App

The Nest Learning Thermostat on the Nest App
The Nest Learning Thermostat on the Nest App

The Nest app is your mobile control center for both the Learning and E Nest thermostats. It’s where you’ll monitor and control your thermostats, add multiple users, view energy usage reports, and set up schedules, geofencing, and smart platform integrations.

While the app has a nice 3.8 rating on the Google Play store, iPhone users only gave it a 2.1. Now, I will say that I’m a bit surprised about the low Apple store ratings, as I had a fine time using the app on my iPhone. Whenever you’re looking at app reviews, you have to keep in mind that apps are constantly being updated, so make sure to check them out before you make a purchasing decision.

Recap of the Nest Learning Thermostat vs. Nest Thermostat E

Overall, I really like both of these thermostats, but if I had to choose one, it would be the Nest Thermostat E. It has basically all the same features as the Nest Learning Thermostat, and as for the couple of extras that you get, they don’t seem worth the $110. However, that’s just my personal opinion, so I want to break it down as objectively as possible for you.

Go with the Nest Learning Thermostat if you’d like…

  • Learns schedule: The Nest Learning Thermostat automatically learns your schedule after a few days so you never have to program it.
  • Weather and time displayed: With Farsight, you can get more information at a glance in digital or analog.
  • More color options: While the Nest Thermostat E only comes in white, the Nest Learning Thermostat is available in black, white, brown, and more.

But stick with the Nest Thermostat E if you’re looking for…

  • Affordability: At only $139, the Nest Thermostat E is actually the most affordable smart thermostat that I’ve ever reviewed.
  • Frosted display: The E will blend into your home more than the Learning Thermostat, which has a high-res display.
  • Smaller thermostat: Again, if you’re looking for a more inconspicuous thermostat, the Nest Thermostat E is the way to go.

If neither of them sound like the right choice for you, be sure to check out my list of 2019’s best smart thermostats.

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.

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