Nest Update #12: Software at 3.0 with New Features

As the blogosphere exploded yesterday with news of a second generation Nest thermostat and a new major version of the software (for the thermostats and the controllers such as the web site and various SmartPhones), I wondered what impact the new software and hardware would have on average users, like us.

Do check out the blog post though for full details as there are number of new features in the new device that aren’t available to first generation owners (especially as it relates to supporting a variety of HVAC systems).

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Before the Nest thermostat was announced and all of the news about lack of support for various HVAC systems, I hadn’t heard of a second-stage cooling, third staging heating, etc. I’d never had them and didn’t know they existed! Smile Now, Nest claims to support up to 95% of HVACs installed in the USA (& Canada?).

I updated my iPhone to 3.0.1 of the Nest App this morning and checked out the new features. Two of my three thermostats had updated to firmware 3.0.1.

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I looked through one of the thermostat’s menus and while there are a few changes (new features), nothing major has changed in the interface. The overall usability is still quite good although I wonder about discoverability of features as the number of features grows.

The home screen hasn’t changed much at all. Still, the giant house:

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The user interface still requires rotation to horizontal to perform anything but the basic changes (such as temperature).

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I don’t know why the Home icon needs to be so prominent as it takes up valuable screen space on a tiny device (and has only a few useful features).

One of the new features is that for a given thermostat, you can actually toggle the fan to ON now if you want. Occasionally we missed that feature (from our old thermostats) when I’ve cooked something that causes an odor to, politely, linger, for a while longer than we’d like. Smile

The feature is buried though under the SETTINGS for a thermostat, and then select AT A GLANCE.

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Toggle it to turn the fan on temporarily.

The remaining values are:

  • Outside temperature (50F)
  • Current inside temperature (68F)
  • Current Humidity (46%)
  • Current set point temperature (69F)

Under the menu, NEST SENSE, you’ll find a one big new thing and a few layout/naming changes:

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EARLY-ON!

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Early-on is a feature that many early adopters had wanted and expected from a modern thermostat. We slapped our heads, cried, complained, hugged…, dismayed that it wasn’t there. And, glory to Nest Labs, they finally added it.

Now, your house can actually be warm/cool when you want. For example, it can be warm when you get out of bed, not just start warming when you get out of bed. This is a HUGE add and I’m very glad Nest has finally added it!

The schedule remains unchanged:

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The overlapping circles still look a bit cluttered to my eye, but it gets the job done.

Under the Home Settings, you’ll find what amount to some survey questions:

 

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I’m very pleased with the upgrade to the firmware and smart phone/tablet software. It adds some absolutely needed features.

As an update to my experience with Nest, I’ve definitely had fewer problems lately than I had during the first 6 to 8 months. While I still don’t applaud Nest for their activity in social media and reaching out to their customers proactively (as they never responded to any of the comments here), they have been active behind the scenes.

The wireless connectivity to the thermostats has improved. I haven’t noticed the same problems as before and I THANKFULLY haven’t had to re-add my account or Wifi information in months to any of our thermostats.

I’ve had enough good success recently to change my recommendation on Nest Thermostats. If you’re in the market for a new thermostat, and you’ve got $249US to spend, I’d say it should definitely be a strong contender.

Read through the comments and the issues – but understand a lot of the issues have been resolved.

You can buy the older model while supplies last for $229.

The second generation is available for preorder from Amazon today.

I think it’s ready to be part of your house (after you check your system’s compatibility).

If you have found these posts useful, please consider using the Amazon links above to buy your shiny new Nest thermostat (especially if you have Prime!) as a way of saying thanks!

What do you think of the updates and new hardware?

20 Comments

  1. I just noticed that one of mine went offline 4 days ago. I’m guessing that’s when 3.01 was pushed out. This is the same one they replaced because it wouldn’t update. I’ll have to look at it when I get home but I’m guessing something happened during the patch.

  2. i have been following your awesome blog postings on the nest for a while. just got the 2.0 and im anxious to hear how you feel in a bit about the new software. have you noticed a lot of energy savings?

    1. My wife and I have always been very careful about our energy consumption and have been careful to turn up/down the thermostats in our house before we had these fancy modern types … :) So, it’s hard to compare for us as we’ve done that and had programmable thermostats for years. Further complicating it is that we use liquid propane, which is delivered annually — it’s hard to see consumption compared to outside temps compared to …. I expect the new version will help a little as it now can turn on and have the temp to approximately the right temp by the time we want it rather than a set point based on a guess.

      Away mode doesn’t work very well in our house.

  3. I purchased a Nest v2 today, installed it, and found your blog trying to diagnose the wi-fi connection issue. I have a Cisco Linksys E4200 with 802.11BGNA on 5GHz and 2.4GHz. The thermostat was only about 15 feet from the router so I assumed it was interference from another signal. Using a tool called inSSIDer from metageek, I could determine which channel my network should be on to avoid interference.
    [For people unfamiliar with what to do at this point]
    Channels 1,6 and 11 are the common channels used to avoid cross talk. Log into your router’s administration interface and change to the least used channel.
    In my specific case I also switched the 5GHz signal to 802.11a only instead of a/g and gave it a unique SSID just in case having both the 2.4 and 5 with the same name was confusing to the Nest.
    The Nest connected the first time after that AND my wireless network is also faster and more stable.

  4. David, I have a Cisco Linksys E4200 as well, and my problem hasn’t been connectivity but battery drain. I know there’s a problem with some routers and battery drain (and a resulting loss of wifi connection), but this router isn’t on the list. Nest support has thus far not been helpful (will try again after the holidays). Have you had any trouble with the e4200 and Nest 2.0?

    Thanks!
    Steve

  5. @ Steve – Battery drain has become an issue for me as well. After an evening of skimming research papers, hacking forums, and wikipedia I think I’ve (possibly) figured it out.

    The issue seems to be that the router is asking the Nest if it has any data to send too often. There is no setting in the admin panel to fix that.

    HOWEVER, there IS a ‘secret’ admin panel (actually several) at http://192.168.1.1/Wireless_Advanced.asp.

    Magically, we now have access to the setting we need. A few terms to understand at this point;

    The following is what I did on my ‘slow’ network band, i.e. 802.11g 2.4GHz.

    I disabled ‘CTS protection.’
    I increased ‘Beacon Interval’ to 211
    I left ‘DTS Interval’ at 3, for now. I may increase it as I have few devices on the network and only the Nest is on it 24/7.

    I will update in a few days to announce findings.

  6. I have had my nest for over a month. I also have the E4200. Countless calls with Nest support and they have not been helpful. I have the v1 of the router. I’m wondering if there is a difference with the v2 of the E4200. Mine disconnects all the time and TS says it’s an issue with the power saving features of the Nest not being allowed to do so by the router. I have an issue with that as I cannot change the router. I bought this was specifically for the MiMO 3×3 array. Other than my network issues, the Nest is the bomb. I love it.

  7. David, thank you. I tried your suggestion with my E4200v1 router after upgrading firmware to 1.0.05 and so far no low battery. You saved me from buying a new router.. :)

  8. Aaron,

    I’m just stopping in to thank you for your blog. I received my nest 2.0 a couple months ago and truly love it. Lord knows I would have ended up with the 1.0 version with all its headaches if it were not for you!

    Heard something that was alarming the other day, have you ever heard that it is bad for your furnace if you keep it off all day and then turn it on where it needs to catch up by more than 5 degrees?

    Thanks again!

    1. The rumor you heard is absolutely not true if you’re using a traditional HVAC system. There are some differences if you use a geo-thermal system in terms of recovery time, etc. I don’t know about other types of systems other than forced air. It’s common to recommend people set back their thermostats at night more than 5 degrees.

      Every winter night, we set our thermostat back 10 degrees for 8 hours.

  9. Hi there, I followed your blog posts quite some time and consider a must read. Maybe you can help with this one: Do you know how to install software manually for the Nest through the USB cable. There are packages on http://www.nest.com/ca/legal/compliance/ that look like linux system files. Can I download those packages to my PC and install then through USB in my Nest? FYI: I received the Nest for free (can’t disclose why and for what because of leagal reasons, sorry about that) and the tech guys taking care of my buggy Nest are slow to respond or maybe overworked =). I don’t care about messing up the Nest as it is already messed up LOL. Or is it too complicated too accomplish that? I am not a programmer BTW. Looking forward to your feedack!

  10. Hi Aaron, may be you could help me.
    I need to install firmware on my Nest thermostat using usb, is it possible
    to download somewhere firmware file? Thanx

  11. for some reason they do not answer me. So it is impossible to download file somewhere online? Thanx

    1. No, it’s not available in any general location that I’m aware of. You called Support and they don’t answer?

  12. Has the API changed as a result of the most recent software update (Late April/Early May 2013) ????

    1. I haven’t checked. No one has opened any issues on GitHub for the NodeJS wrapper. Unless they force users to upgrade mobile clients or use some other trick, in theory, it should still work.

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