While the Nest Learning Thermostat has a few advantages over the cheaper Nest Thermostat, the base model is likely the right choice for most people. Both options are some of the best smart thermostats on the market, and are incredibly easy to install. Each offers convenient app and voice controls through the Google Assistant and Alexa, and if you are willing to put in a little work, even Siri/HomeKit through Homebridge or with a plug and play solution like the Hoobs Starter Kit.
With a few simple steps, both Nest options can also reduce energy consumption and help you save with a Wi-Fi smart thermostat. As with anything you're going to wire directly into your home, you'll want to check the compatibility of both thermostats to make sure they'll work with your heating and cooling system.
Nest Thermostat vs. Nest Learning Thermostat: The breakdown
In many ways, some would say the most important ways, the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat are the same thermostats. All things being equal (they both work with your HVAC system, you like the style of either), the most significant difference between the two is the price. The Nest Thermostat is around $100 less than the Learning Thermostat's base price while delivering most of the same features, and with various sales throughout the year, that gap could be much broader.
Honestly, the single most significant advantage that the Nest Learning Thermostat has over the Nest Thermostat is HVAC system compatibility. Spending less money on the Nest Thermostat won't do you any good if it doesn't work with your system, so you should check compatibility beforehand. But there's a good chance that both thermostats will be compatible. Unless you need Farsight, which lights up the Nest Learning Thermostat's display to show you information when the thermostat detects that you're nearby, or Nest Temperature Sensor support, I'd be hard-pressed to recommend the Learning Thermostat over the Nest Thermostat.
|Nest Learning Thermostat||Nest Thermostat|
|Finishes||6 (metal)||4 (plastic)|
|Backup Battery||Yes (internal rechargeable)||Yes (replaceable AAA)|
|Trim Kit||Yes (included)||Yes (not included)|
|Temperature Sensor support||Yes||No|
|Learns habits over time||Yes (automatic adjustments)||Yes (suggestions only)|
|Works with Amazon Alexa||Yes||Yes|
|Google Assistant support||Yes||Yes|
|Amazon Alexa built-in||No||No|
Given the similarities, unless you need Farsight or a thermostat with a metal casing, assuming that it's compatible with your HVAC system, get the Nest Thermostat. It's less expensive while providing most of the same features as the Learning Thermostat. And honestly, it'll likely blend into the rest of your home better, assuming that's something you want.
If you like the styling and color options available for the Learning Thermostat, want full-blown learning functionality, or the Nest Thermostat doesn't work with your system, then, by all means, get the Learning Thermostat. But unless you need to take advantage of one of the capabilities that it possesses and need the extra year of warranty, pick up the base Nest Thermostat.
Google Nest Learning Thermostat
A great smart thermostat held back by its price.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is a great thermostat that will learn about your heating and cooling needs as you use it. But it's also pricing compared to the similarly-capable Nest Thermostat.
Smarts for less
Google Nest Thermostat
Almost as good for a lot less.
The Nest Thermostat doesn't have every bell or whistle of the Learning Thermostat, but it has most of them and at a much lower price. It would be nice if it had the same compatibility as the Learning Thermostat and the premium finishes, but it is still the best for most.
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