Since the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E are both made by Nest Labs, they share many features in common.
Both are designed to save you money by learning your routine so they can set the temperature accordingly.
They’re also both voice control ready using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. The Nest E is a scaled-down version that doesn’t offer all of the features that the Nest 3rd generation model does, but it makes up for this with a much reduced price tag.
While the Nest 3rd generation certainly does have more in the way of functionality, the Nest E has plenty to offer those who are looking for a smart thermostat that blends in with home decor and doesn’t break the bank.
Nest 3rd Generation Learning Thermostat
- Each of the two thermostats uses the same learning technology while also offering a programmable schedule. If your schedule stays regular, then the thermostats will automatically adjust your HVAC system to match.
- Nest’s room sensor equipment works with both the 3rd generation Nest thermostat as well as the Nest E. You can tell either thermostat which sensors you want them to pay closer attention to if you have more than one in different rooms of your house.
- Nest Leaf icons appear on both thermostats whenever you select a temperature that saves you energy. These are a great tool to remind yourself not to use wasteful settings.
- Airwave works with both of these thermostats, which turns your AC unit’s compressor off a few minutes before reaching the target temperature. This feature then automatically runs your HVAC system’s fan without the compressor to save power.
- Auto-Away works with both versions of the Nest thermostat. Occupancy sensors designed to work with this feature detect whether anyone is moving around in your home and then adjusts the temperature accordingly.
- Either thermostat can compile energy reports, which tell you a bit about how much power you’ve saved during the last month by using your learning thermostat. These are sent to you as an email message.
- The Works with Nest initiative ensures that the two thermostats can interface with anything that carries the program’s label. They can integrated with Philips Hue overhead lights and many other home automation gadgets.
- 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi connections are supported by both of these thermostats. They also both support Bluetooth low energy (BLE) networking to interface them with other gadgets.
Nest E Learning Thermostat
- Instead of featuring a metal shell like the Nest 3rd generation thermostat, the Nest E exterior is made out of a plastic-like material called polycarbonate. This gives it a rather different look and feel than the 3rd generation has.
- With a resolution of 320×320 at 182 pixels per inch, the Nest E has a much lower definition display. The display is also physically smaller at only 1.76 inches in diameter.
- The Nest 3rd generation wakes up when it detects you nearby using Farsight technology while the Nest E doesn’t.
- Since the Nest 3rd generation thermostat has ten wire terminals on the back, it supports a wider array of HVAC systems. The Nest E only comes with six terminals.
- You can control a multi-speed fan or a multi-stage heating system with the Nest 3rd generation thermostat but not with the Nest E. This fact may settle the 3rd generation Nest vs Nest E debate for homeowners with complex HVAC installations.
- Instead of the clear display on the Nest 3rd generation thermostat, the Nest E comes with a frosted display that’s designed to blend into the walls.
- The somewhat abbreviated readout on the Nest E doesn’t show all of the information that the 3rd generation model does.
- Unlike the third generation model, the Nest E only comes in white.
How Both Thermostat Stack Up?
Ease of Use
To a large degree, the two thermostats are controlled the same way. Both of them come with a spinning dial around the outside edge that you can rotate to set the temperature or select other options. This matches the same paradigm used when setting the temperature on a traditional thermostat, so the motion is easy to get the hang of.
As soon as you start to select a setting the first time, both models of thermostat use the same learning algorithm to track your preferences. Over a period of a couple of weeks they learn enough about you to begin operating autonomously.
Many users find that it only takes a few days before their thermostat starts to select temperatures that are in the right ballpark for them. Since they both use the same Nest app, the schedule is set on the two models using the same method. This app allows you to set the temperature remotely whenever you’d like as well.
Controlling Home Climate
You’re given a seven day chart with each hour of the day written across the bottom of the chart whenever you access the scheduler in the Nest app. Tapping an area of the chart gives you the option to schedule the temperature for that specific time.
There’s a copy week button that allows you to copy all the temperature settings from one week to the next. You can then edit it without changing the temperatures of the week you copied it from.
It’s easy to drag temperature settings between around on the chart as the following video helps to illustrate: As with all members of the Nest family of thermostats, both of these models learn about your schedule as time goes on. They also record data about when your home is unoccupied and use it over time to set an energy-saving schedule.
After two or three days, most users of the Nest 3rd generation get asked whether they’d like the Nest thermostat to automatically switch Away Mode on whenever they’re not home. You can also enable this feature on the Nest E and it should perform the same way.
Energy Saving Features
Nest E thermostats support pretty much all of the same energy saving features that their larger cousins do. Both of these two models both support Nest Airwave, which turns the air conditioning off before it reaches the target temperature and then allows the house fan to run for a while to circulate already cooled air.
You won’t notice a difference, but the technique can save a decent amount of power since your AC unit’s compressor uses far more electricity than a fan. Nest sells their own version of room sensors, which should sync up with either thermostat. These thermostats can work with a form of geofencing too.
- Auto-Schedule: No more confusing programming. It learns the temperatures you like and programs itself.
- Wi-Fi Thermostat: Connect the Nest Thermostat to Wi-Fi to change the temperature from your phone, tablet or laptop.
- Energy Saving: You’ll see the Nest Leaf when you choose a temperature that saves energy. It guides you in the right direction.
- Smart Thermostat: Early-On Nest learns how your home warms up and keeps an eye on the weather to get you the temperature you want when you want it.
- Home/Away Assist: The Nest Thermostat automatically turns itself down when you’re away to avoid heating or cooling an empty home.
On top of this, you can enable Eco Temperature technology on either model. This feature provides many of the same energy saving effects that Away Mode does, but it won’t confuse other smart devices you have networked to your thermostat if you’re home while it’s on. You can always switch to whatever temperature your thermostat calculated to be energy efficient with manual controls as well.
If you enable Early-On technology, then either of these two thermostats will automatically calculate when to turn on your furnace or AC unit based on what it learned about how quickly your house heats or cools. Nest Labs compares it to preheating the oven for baking.
A few energy saving features are designed specifically to work with certain heating equipment. For instance, both thermostats support True Radiant technology. This feature saves power when using in-floor radiant heating or freestanding radiators. Regardless of which model you choose, you can receive insights about how much power you’ve been using sent to your email account.
Integration with Smart Home Ecosystems
On top of integrating with Google Assistant and Alexa, all Nest devices can work together to some degree. For instance, if you use one of these two thermostats and couple them with a Nest Protect home safety system then they can shut off your furnace if it senses a fire or carbon monoxide leak. Since these two thermostats can interface with nearly anything that carries the Works with Nest label, you can link other devices together to let your thermostat collect data from them and set the temperature accordingly.
If your house is equipped with smart locks, then you can let your Nest E or 3rd generation thermostat begin heating up or cooling your home when you unlock the door. You can also let them use information from your door locks so they know when you’ve left the house for the day. Your thermostat may even be able to turn off your lights if you forget to in order to save a little more energy on top of what you’re saving from their efficient management of the HVAC system.
When it comes to the winner of the Nest vs Nest E showdown, the choice of which to buy will come down in part to the type of HVAC system you have. You can’t control multi-stage heating or multi-speed fans with a Nest E unit, so you’ll need to opt for a Nest 3rd generation learning thermostat in these situations.
Due to it’s metal construction, it’s Farsight-enabled screen and the higher resolution display, the Nest 3rd generation thermostat has an overall better fit and finish. It might be a better fit for those who want an extremely durable thermostat or who want to make sure they can get it in a color that matches their interior paint scheme.
The Nest E costs on average around $70 less than the 3rd generation Nest, which makes it a very attractive option for those looking to save some money they can invest into room sensors or another smart technology they’d like to connect to their thermostat.
If you’re still a bit skeptical and want other options, then you might want to look into the ecobee4 smart thermostat. It comes with an onboard speaker and microphone system to connect you with Amazon’s Alexa platform.
You may also want to try the ecobee3 lite if you appreciated the idea of a thermostat like the Nest E that had a pared down design but may have had some reservations about some of the features. Both of these might be a better option if you use Apple’s smart home automation technology, since they support integration with HomeKit and Siri.