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Nest Thermostat E review: There's a lot to like about Nest's budget option

Computer Shopper
28 Feb 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
199
inc VAT

The Thermostat E is a straightforward system with user-friendliness at its core

Pros 
No need for professional installation
Attractive design
Fine-tunes your experience over time
Cons 
Lacks advanced features
No Alexa support is a shame
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The problem with many smart thermostats is that they require professional installation, which can be a real hassle. The Nest Thermostat E is different, as it’s designed to be easy for anyone with an existing wired thermostat to install.

Nest Thermostat E review: Design and configuration

At the heart of the system is the Heat Link E boiler relay, which is designed to go on the wall where your old thermostat is. Given that this will be on display, Nest has done a good job making it nice to look at, with its soft-touch grey material cover reminiscent of a Google Home Mini smart speaker.

The Heat Link E is entirely battery-powered, so there’s no messing around with mains power. Using the Nest app, you’re taken through the simple installation instructions, which tell you what to do with the cables from your existing wired thermostat, and how they should be wired into the Heat Link E.

After that, you’re prompted to set your old heating controls to be permanently on: don’t worry, the Nest Thermostat E will then take over and define when your heating goes on or off.

There’s no support for hot water systems, unlike with more expensive products. The Thermostat E is OpenTherm-compatible, although you’ll need to pay an electrician to wire in the Heat Link E to your boiler. At that point, you’re probably better off buying the more expensive Learning Thermostat.

The main Thermostat E unit sits on a stand, and isn’t wall-mountable, like the Heat Link E. It’s powered via a mains socket, but you have the flexibility to place it where it makes the most sense.

Stylistically, the Thermostat E looks similar to its big brother, the Learning Thermostat, although the puck-shaped device is enclosed in a glossy plastic body, rather than the more premium-looking metal case.

Nest has used a diffused plastic front to this thermostat, gently blurring the display of the device so it doesn’t jump out as much. It’s a neat effect, blending the thermostat into the background without affecting readability.

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Nest Thermostat E review: Features and performance

What’s particularly smart about this thermostat is that it comes pre-programmed with a schedule, based on real data from Nest Learning Thermostat users. The schedule should suit most people and means you’ll be up and running immediately.

This is a learning thermostat, so as you adjust the temperature manually, the schedule learns to adjust to your needs. You therefore get something that’s pretty good out of the box, but over a couple of weeks is fine-tuned to the way you use the thermostat. Temperature changes can be made by twiddling the dial on the thermostat or by using the app.

If you want, you can make bigger changes to the schedule, too, making the exact settings that you want; if you leave learning mode on, this schedule will start to adapt to any minor changes that you make, too.

Other than showing the temperature, the Thermostat E’s screen isn’t as powerful as the one on the Learning Thermostat; it can’t show you the current weather, for example.

The Nest Thermostat E has all the same location options as its big brother. It can use its motion sensor and geolocation to work out when the house is empty, cutting your fuel bills by turning down the heating when you’re out.

True Radiant is available, too, which is the technology that learns how your home heats up. Using this, the Nest thermostat can pre-heat your home, so it’s warm when you want it to be, and it can also cut off the boiler early, so that your temperature doesn’t overshoot the point you want. There’s also a sun detector, which helps compensate for a cold, bright day fooling the thermostat into thinking it’s hotter.

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Nest Thermostat E review: Other features

As with the main thermostat, Works with Nest rules are available. For example, if your Nest Protect detects a carbon monoxide leak, it can shut down your heating automatically to help keep a lid on the problem.

Google Assistant support is available, and you can set the temperature that you want or get a reading of the current level. However, at the moment there’s no Amazon Alexa support. Given that the Learning Thermostat supports Alexa, we can only imagine that the reason is that Google (which owns Nest) is pushing back against Amazon. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame and could be reason enough not to buy this model.

There’s an IFTTT channel, too, which lets you set the temperature on your thermostat automatically. You can also make other things happen when the thermostat rises above or falls below a certain temperature threshold, or switches from Home to Away mode.

Nest Thermostat E review: Verdict

Despite the lack of Alexa support, there’s a lot to love about the Nest Thermostat E. If you want to replace a dumb wired thermostat, this is a very easy way to do the job and save a bit on your heating bills.

If you want something wired into your boiler with a few more controls, then the Nest Learning Thermostat or Honeywell Evohome systems are better, if more expensive, options.

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Key specifications
Remote thermostatYes
Hot water supportNo
Individual radiatorNo
OpenTherm supportYes
Voice assistant supportAlexa, Google Assistant
IFTTTYes
WarrantyTwo years RTB
Price£199

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