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Nest Thermostat vs. Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest Thermostat in Fog installed on a wall
Nest Thermostat in Fog installed on a wall (Image credit: Google)

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 a convenient smart app and voice controls right out of the box through Google Assistant and Alexa. You can even use Nest thermostats with Siri/HomeKit through Homebridge with a plug-and-play solution like the HOOBS Starter Kit.

With a few simple steps, both Nest options can 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

Some would say in the most important ways, the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat are the same thermostats. All things being equal — besides the design — the most significant difference 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 ThermostatNest Thermostat
PriceFrom $208From $109
Finishes6 (metal)4 (plastic)
PowerWiredWired
Backup BatteryYes (internal rechargeable)Yes (replaceable AAA)
Trim KitYes (included)Yes (not included)
Screen Size2-inches2.4-inches
Wi-FiYesYes
Warranty (years)21
iOS AppYesYes
Android AppYesYes
Web AccessYesYes
Humidity sensorYesYes
Accessory controlYesYes
FarsightYesNo
Annual feesNoNo
Temperature Sensor supportYesNo
Learns habits over timeYes (automatic adjustments)Yes (suggestions only)
Works with Amazon AlexaYesYes
Google Assistant supportYesYes
HomeKit-enabledNoNo
Amazon Alexa built-inNoNo

Nest Thermostat vs. Nest Learning Thermostat: Which should you buy?

Given the similarities, unless you need Farsight or a thermostat with a metal casing, and 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 its capabilities and need the extra year of warranty, pick up the base Nest Thermostat. You can also check out all of the best alternatives to the Nest Learning Thermostat if you decide that Nest's offerings won't meet your needs.

Christopher spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit. If you wish to join him on his quest to automate everything, you can follow him on Twitter at @itschrisclose.