New Nest learning thermostat feels the heat of the sun

New Nest learning thermostat feels the heat of the sun

Consumer Reports News: April 30, 2013 09:08 AM

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The Nest Learning Thermostat is already one of the smartest devices on the market, learning your habits and controlling your home's climate accordingly. Thanks to Nest's WI-Fi capability, the $250 gadget can also receive IQ-enhancing software upgrades, including a batch this week designed to conserve energy during the cooling season.

The first upgrade, called Sunblock, uses built-in sensors to track the sun's patterns. Direct sunlight can cause conventional thermostats to think it's warmer than it is, making your home uncomfortably cool as the AC kicks into overdrive. With Sunblock, Nest now knows the sun is beating down on it and makes the necessary temperature adjustments. That improves comfort while saving money.

The new and improved Nest also lets you sync up your home's fans, for example scheduling them to run all night and turn off in the morning. And the Cool to Dry feature uses a humidity sensor to turn on your home's AC when humidity reaches unhealthy levels. While that may provide relief, especially in the extremely humid climates for which it was designed, a dehumidifier is still best at sucking moisture out of the air. The Frigidaire FAD704DUD tops our current Ratings for about $240.

The latest Nest is supposedly even better at understanding when you're coming and mobile app updates provide easier operation. Find out how the Nest we tested compares with several dozen competitors in our programmable thermostat Ratings, including the top-rated Venstar ColorTouch Series T5800 and the CR Best Buy Lux TX9600TS.

Daniel DiClerico

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