Emerson Sensi vs Nest Gen 3: What is the Difference?

Emerson Sensi vs Nest Thermostat: Which Is The Right For You?

Emerson has been making thermostats for nearly eight decades, but the Emerson Sensi UP500W is an updated product in tune with the 21st century. It’s somewhat pared down from their earlier Sensi models, which has helped it to gain a slice of the budget-conscious market sector.

Nest Labs is a relative newcomer to the industry comparing to Emerson. However, they’ve made several updates to their famous Nest learning thermostat already. The Nest 3rd Generation thermostat is very similar to the original Nest thermostat, but it comes with a temperature sensor and room sensors which makes it more accurate than previous models. To see which one comes out on top, we’ll pit Sensi vs Nest head-to-head.

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Similarities

  • Both thermostats can connect to a wireless network and allow you to control them remotely through a smartphone app.
  • If you don’t have a C-Wire already installed, then you don’t necessarily have to run one to use either thermostat. You can run the Emerson Sensi off of regular consumer-grade alkaline batteries as long as you don’t have a heat pump, and the Nest thermostat doesn’t draw enough power to be of any concern.
  • Even though the installation process is different for the two thermostats, you should have either of them up and running in less than 15 minutes in most cases.
  • Both thermostats allow you to set a schedule that can save power when you’re not around, though the method of doing so is rather different for each.
  • If you’re looking to monitor your HVAC system with a desktop or laptop computer, then you can use a browser-based solution.
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  • Works with Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately).
  • Connect Sensi thermostat to your home Wi-Fi network and control from anywhere via free mobile app (compatible with Android and iOS).
  • Integrates with Amazon Alexa for voice control and Wink smart home platforms, and works with Google Assistant and Google Home using the free Wink app.
  • Works with HVAC systems in most homes - a c-wire is required for heat-only, cool-only and heat pump systems without aux. Refer to Sensi's online compatibility resources to verify compatibility in your home.
  • Features geofencing for location-based temperature control and 7-day flexible scheduling to help reduce wasteful heating and cooling when no one is home.

Differences

  • Emerson Sensi UP500W units are designed to be tamper resistant, which may be important if you plan to use them in a public place.
  • By using a proprietary automatic learning feature, the Nest 3rd generation thermostat can automatically select the best possible settings for your situation. The Emerson Sensi is more like a traditional programmable thermostat with some Internet-related niceties tacked on.
  • Unlike the Sensi, Nest’s solution can automatically put together monthly energy usage reports that can tell you whether or not you’re saving power.
  • Due to the complex interface, the Nest opens up dozens of TCP ports and starts sending chunks of data over a network. Security cautious users prefer the Emerson Sensi UP500W thermostat because it doesn’t open ports or communicate with anything except for a single IP address.
  • Users who favor buttons might like the Emerson Sensi since it has a discrete control panel. The Nest 3rd generation’s minimalistic rotary dial interface will appeal to those who prefer more progressive technical designs.
  • Since the Emerson Sensi takes design cues from programmable thermostats, it uses a monochrome LCD screen. Nest’s thermostat has a color display, though it is not a touchscreen.

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Ease of Use

Like previous versions of the Nest learning thermostat, the 3rd generation design combines a dial with a colorful display that many consumers find easy to use. While it’s simple to navigate the menus and raise or lower the temperature manually, some may find that the larger numerals on the Emerson Sensi display are easier to read from a distance. Raising and lowering the current temperature on the UP500W thermostat is as easy as pushing physical up and down buttons.

Some users will find this contributes to how easy the Emerson Sensi thermostat is to use while others will find it dated. You can lock people out of using these buttons, which might be a good way to keep children from messing with the current temperature. Nest thermostat users can do the same thing by setting a four-digit PIN.

Each of the two thermostats is certified to work with Alexa. While the Nest 3rd generation has much more in the way of integrations with other smart home devices, there are mobile apps available for both models.

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  • Works with Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately).
  • SAVE ENERGY WITH NEST: Nest introduces the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat. With four beautiful colors to choose from and an easy to read display, this thermostat will help make your home not only smart but energy efficient. With just a few manual adjustments, the Nest Thermostat can learn your habits and start to save you money by automatically adjusting the temperature.
  • READ THE DISPLAY FROM ACROSS THE ROOM: The Nest Thermostat does something new. It's called Farsight, and it lights up to show you the temperature, weather or time. You can even choose a digital or analog clock face. Farsight is big and bright on the beautiful display - you can see it from across the room.
  • A STYLE FOR EVERY HOME: The Nest Learning Thermostat now comes in four fantastic colors; Copper, Stainless Steel, Black, and White. Choose copper to add a warm touch. Stainless steel is perfect for a classic, versatile look. Black blends in with dark walls and stylish decor. And white looks great in simple, modern homes.
  • WORKS WITH NEST: Nest has worked hard to design thoughtful devices to help keep you safe and secure. Nest devices not only communicate with each other but also with the other smart devices around your home. Your Nest Secure can use your smart light bulbs to help get your attention in the event of an emergency; your smart washer and dryer can take the data from Nest and run the next load of laundry when energy demand is low. Look for the Works with Nest badge and let Nest handle the rest.

Controlling Home Climate

In the Sensi vs Nest showdown, scheduling is one of the areas where Nest wins big. As the name of their learning thermostat suggests, it begins tracking user temperature preferences as soon as you first set it up. While you can manually specify a schedule, it can perform all scheduling tasks autonomously if you prefer. If you have it connected to any other smart home automation devices, then it can tell when you’re out of the house and automatically save you power. It can also track your mobile device if you allow access to your phone location.

Nest 3rd generation models can begin heating or cooling your home when it senses that you’re ready to arrive. They can do so based on a set schedule or by following your current position. The Emerson Sensi, however, only offers the geofencing feature. Its temperature control is based solely on location and not on other factors.

Since the Sensi’s geofencing system only ever sets the thermostat forward back by three degrees, you’ll need to make a weekly schedule to save any power. You can create up to seven different custom schedules and switch between them by manipulating a calendar on the thermostat’s mobile app. The ability to create several different schedules might be good if you’re at home more certain times of the month than others.

Energy Saving Features

An independent study found that consumers who installed Nest thermostats saved about 10-12 percent on their heating bills on average. The same study found that users saved about 15 percent on their cooling bill. Most of these savings came from how the learning system slowly adjusted temperatures without the user even knowing.

Nothing is hidden, though, and Nest’s app provides monthly reports on energy usage. The thermostat shows a leaf icon whenever you’ve selected settings that save power. This instantly tells you that you’re making the right decision.

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Emerson Sensi owners have ready access to their HVAC system’s fan, which saves a ton of power over running the AC. However, it doesn’t allow you to schedule when the fan will turn on, though, which means you either leave it running on all the time or not at all. While the Sensi won’t track what you do, you’ll be able to experience the same kind of savings you’d see if you installed a standard programmable thermostat.

While this might be a clear disadvantage for most people, those who don’t like the settings that automatic thermostats pick might find this appealing. It still offers you the freedom to change the temperature from your phone, so you’ll be able to save energy by dialing it back when you feel the need.

Integration with Smart Home Ecosystems

Both the Emerson Sensi and the Nest 3rd Generation are Amazon Certified, so you can control either product through compatible Alexa devices. If you have other Nest products, then you might be interested in how well the 3rd Generation learning thermostat is integrated with other Nest products. For example, it can interface with the Nest Protect smoke detector and automatically turn off your HVAC system if it senses a fire or the presence of carbon monoxide. Google Home devices are also supported.

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  • Echo connects to Alexa to play music, make calls, set music alarms and timers, ask questions, control smart home devices, and more-instantly.
  • Just ask for a song, artist, or genre from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, and more. With multi-room music, you can play music on compatible Echo devices in different rooms. Echo can also play Audible audiobooks, radio stations, news briefs, and more.
  • Call or message almost anyone hands-free with your Echo device. Also, instantly connect to other Echo devices in your home using just your voice.
  • New speaker, now with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and dynamic bass response. Echo can fill the room with 360° omnidirectional audio or pair two together for stereo sound. Adjust the treble, mid, and bass levels with your voice.
  • With seven microphones, beamforming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo hears you from any direction-even while music is playing

Nest thermostats will also connect to Chamberlain garage door openers if given permission. It’ll take note of when you’ve left the house, and your thermostat will then automatically put your HVAC system into power saving mode as soon as the garage door closes again. Any product that carries a Nest label should be able to interface with the thermostat.

In order to allow users to run the Emerson Sensi UP500W without a C-Wire, the designers had to cut down on some features. While the Alexa features are pretty much identical to those in the Emerson Sensi ST55, it doesn’t feature support for Apple HomeKit. Most Sensi thermostats are certified by Apple, so this might be a big drawback to those looking to ask Siri about the temperature. Apple users are left out of the rain if they opt for Nest’s solution too, however.

How to know if Emerson Sensi is compatible with Apple HomeKit? If on the top part of the front on the thermostat you see Sensi logo, then the thermostat is HomeKit compatible. If you see the Emerson logo, the thermostat is not HomeKit compatible.

Emerson Sensi thermostat users will find that their units should work with both versions of the Wink Hub. Since it’s fully compatible with the Wink app, thermostat data will appear alongside information from all the other products you have linked to your account. While Wink itself supports smart smoke alarms from Kidde, it doesn’t appear that the Emerson Sensi UP500W will acknowledge their existence.

Final Verdict

Nest’s 3rd generation thermostat is far more sophisticated than the Emerson Sensi UP500W in many ways. It might be the first choice for buyers who are invested in smart home automation equipment because it can interface with so many things you might already have. Learning functionality combined with ease of use makes it a great choice for those who are serious about saving energy. You may find that it performs most temperature customizations for you, which limits the amount of effort you have to put into setting it up.

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While Nest thermostat outshines this version of the Sensi in almost every way, privacy advocates and those interested in simple solutions might like the Emerson Sensi UP500W. While it’s going to need more hands-on tinkering from the user to get the schedule set, the Sensi thermostat is rugged and relatively inexpensive. Those who prefer physical buttons over touchscreens might also like it. In many ways, however, the Emerson Sensi UP500W lacks almost all of the sophistication that Nest Learning thermostats are known for.

Apple users might find Nest thermostat disappointing because it does not support HomeKit. Emerson Sensi ST55 version does support Apple Homekit (C-Wire is required in that case) and Emerson Sensi UP500W version does not. Those who want a smart thermostat which better integrates with their iPhone might want to look at the ecobee3, which is fully certified by Apple. It also integrates with lighting systems and smart locks. Users of almost every ecosystem might want to take a look at the ecobee4 smart thermostat as well.

The ecobee4 offers support for room sensors, which is a major improvement over the Emerson Sensi. Nest 3rd Generation (and other latest Nest thermostats) also supports room sensors. Room sensors can measure the temperature in different areas of your home and will respond accordingly. This feature is particularly useful if you’re in a larger home that has hot or cold spots.

Those with tight budgets who aren’t sold on the Emerson Sensi UP500W might want to take a look at one of Honeywell’s offerings. Honeywell RTH6580WF thermostats are fairly close in feature set and still offer Alexa connectivity, but they won’t break the bank. Those willing to spend a bit more may want to look into the Honeywell RTH9580WF, which offers a color display.