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So, you now own one of the hottest smart home devices around, the Nest Learning Thermostat, priced at around $250. Wondering how to set it up? Don’t worry, because we’re here to help you every step of the way.
Here’s how you set up your Nest Learning Thermostat, what you can do with it, and how to troubleshoot common Nest Learning Thermostat issues. This guide has been designed to provide a thorough walkthrough of the process, so you can stay toasty warm in the winter and nice and cool in the summer.It will also help you save and lower your energy costs.
Here’s everything you can expect from this guide:
1. Setting Up Your Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest Labs designed the Nest Learning Thermostat for easy installation and setup. The 3.3-inch by 1.21- inch by 3.3-inch device comes with all that you need to get started, including the base, mounting screws and screwdriver, optional trim plate, and installation and welcome guides.
Before you continue to the rest of this guide, please take a moment to use Nest’s online compatibility guide to make sure your system works with Nest. Once you go through these guided questions, Nest will provide you with a wiring diagram that you will need during the installation process.
Finally, please note this setup guide is for the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat.
Our article assumes you are replacing an existing heating/cooling wall unit, not adding a new one for the first time. So, the first thing you’ll need to do is turn off the power to your system and thermostat before exposing any wiring. Depending on your setup, your HVAC system could have multiple breakers. Be sure to turn them all off before moving ahead.
To confirm the power is completely off, change the temperature on your current thermostat by at least a few degrees. You should then wait at least five minutes to make sure the system does not activate. If nothing happens, you can continue with your installation process.
Removal of the Old Thermostat
When you’re sure the power’s off, remove the cover on your existing thermostat. Look at the cables going into the unit and take a photograph of your current wiring.
Once again, make sure your system is compatible with Nest. If it’s not, you shouldn’t go beyond this step. Take a look at Nest’s compatibility guide one last time to make sure.
When you’re ready to move forward, you can carefully remove the cables from the existing thermostat. Note that the Nest Thermostat doesn’t use jumper wires, identified as short wires between two connectors. Put these jumper cables and the photo of your wiring in a safe place. You might need these items in the event you choose to remove your Nest later.
Your Nest Learning Thermostat ships with wire labels that are attached to the installation guide. Connect these labels to the parallel wires on your thermostat.
You’ll next want to disconnect the wires and remove the base from your old thermostat. After removing the thermostat, wrap the wires around a pen or pencil, so they don’t fall back behind the wall.
This is the part of your installation process when you should patch or paint over any holes you may have in your wall. The included Nest trim plate can also help hide scratches, screw holes, and other marks.
Installation of the Nest Learning Thermostat
The first thing to do when installing a Nest Learning Thermostat is to use a bubble level to ensure the device will sit correctly on the wall. Next, attach the Nest base to the wall. If you’re using the optional trim plate, make sure to place it on the wall before installing the Nest base.
Pull the wires from the wall through the center of the base and then secure the plate to the wall using the included screws. Nest says not to use a power drill to drive in the screws as the drill could ruin the plastic base. Also, note the Nest screws are self-tapping, so there’s no need to drill into soft materials.
After leveling the Nest base, it’s time to connect the wires according to the wiring diagram from the Nest Compatibility Checker. Carefully press down on the connector button and insert the wire as far as it will go in. Release the button making sure it stays down.
If the connector button pops back up, you’ll need to adjust the wire. Take it out, straighten it, and put it back as before. Try again. If it still doesn’t work, you might need to strip the end of your wire down to the cable.
Continue adding and connecting wires as required on your wiring diagram until completed.
The final two steps in the hardware process are to connect the display to the base and turn your power back on.
To connect the Nest display, hold onto it, so the Nest logo is right side up. Line up the pin connector on the back of the screen and push it onto the base until it clicks into place. If you don’t hear a click, use your thumbs to push the wires further into the wall.
Then, return to your breaker or power switch and power up your new Nest Learning Thermostat for the first time!
Setting up your Nest Learning Thermostat is as simple as answering a series of questions about your smart home via the device display. These questions will ask you about your home, the temperatures you like, and your heating and cooling system.
You can find the different options on the Nest Learning Thermostat by turning the ring around the device left and right. Press the ring to choose an option.
Nest will need to know:
- Your preferred language (languages currently available include Spanish, English (US), English (UK), French (CA), French (FR), Dutch, and Italian)
- Which internet connection it should use (select from the available list of networks, which will pop up automatically)
- Your current location, which Nest uses to update the date, time, and weather information
- Your home’s equipment, which is based on your original wiring diagram. If the automatic selection is incorrect, you’ll need to select from the other options
- A temperature! Tell Nest whether to start by cooling or heating your home
The Nest App
After completing these steps, the thermostat will perform a system test. Then, you’ll want to add your Nest thermostat to your online Nest Account (or create a new one) using the iOS or Android Nest app. By doing so, you’ll be able to control Nest from your phone, manage your energy history, or lock your thermostat so no one can change the temperature.
To sign up for a new Nest account, look for the “Sign up” link on the app’s main screen. From there, you’ll be asked to enter your email address and choose a password. Once you’ve added this information, you’ll need to verify your account via a confirmation email.
To add your Nest Learning Thermostat to your Nest account, you’ll need to get the Entry Key from the device and then add that key to the Nest app.
To do this, push the device’s ring to open the Quick View menu and then choose Settings.
From there, turn the ring to Nest Account and press the ring to select it. Select “Get Entry Key” for your system’s unique key. Write this number down.
Enter the key in the Nest app by following these instructions:
- Open the Nest app and sign into your Nest account, if needed
- From the home screen, click on the Settings icon and then tap “Add Product”
- With your phone’s camera, scan the QR code found on the back of the thermostat or selection
- Press “Continue Without Scanning” and then “Nest Thermostat”
- Hit “Next” twice
- Enter the 7-digit entry key and follow the final instructions on the screen
You Nest Learning Thermostat is now ready to perform its tasks.
2. Using Your Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat has been designed to work behind the scenes with very little human interaction necessary once it’s online. Remember, this is a learning thermostat. As such, it will eventually program itself to give you the best possible heating and cooling experience automatically.
You’ll learn more about Nest’s programming below. First, it’s important to know one important fact. Despite being a smart device, the Nest Learning Thermostat can still work like standard thermostats. Meaning, you can always turn the ring up when you want your house a little warmer, and turn it down when you want it a cooler.
Confused whether the system is heating or cooling your home? You can tell what the thermostat is doing just by looking at the color of the background. When you see orange, the heat’s on, while the color blue represents cooling. When the background is black, neither heating nor cooling is in use.
When you first install the Nest Learning Thermostat, it will spend some time (at least one week) learning about your home and temperature preferences. During this period, you should actively change the temperature when appropriate. The thermostat will use this information to modify the temperature and learn a schedule for you based on your choices.
You can view this schedule, once activated, on the thermostat and through the Nest app. If you don’t like the schedule, you can reset it using the Reset menu, which you’ll learn more about below. You can also create a manual schedule by turning off Nest’s learning capabilities.
One of the many benefits of using the Nest Learning Thermostat is that it can help you conserve energy. If this is your goal, there are a few things you can do during your first week of use to make this process as simple as possible.
For best results, don’t just turn the temperature on the Nest up and down when it suits your immediate needs. Instead, you should also change the temperature at critical parts of the day. For example, turn the heat down when you go to bed or before you go to work. Do the opposite when you start your day or return home. Any time that your home is vacant is an excellent time for Nest to automatically save on energy.
After your Nest learns your habits, it will be easy for the device to help you to lower your energy costs and save energy.
The Green Leaf
When you’re not home at home, Nest will automatically switch to an Eco Temperature. These temperatures, which you set when you first begin using Nest, are active when you see the Eco icon (a green leaf) on your thermostat or in the app.
As Nest explains,
You can only set Eco Temperatures within a specific range, but the ranges you can choose from are large: 40-70 °F for heating and 76-90 °F for cooling. So it’s important to set Eco Temperatures to a level that helps save energy, while making sure that things in your home, like pets and plants, are still in a comfortable temperature range.
Home/Away Assist uses input from activity sensors in your Nest products and your phone’s location to automatically switch the behavior of Nest products in your home when you leave and when you come back.
A major nest component is Home/Away Assist, which uses the device’s built-in activity sensors and your phone’s location to adjust its behavior. Because of this, Nest recommends that everyone in your home install the Nest app on their smartphones.
In practice, here’s how Home/Away Assist works:
Imagine everyone in your house leaving Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., all returning starting at 5 p.m. Thanks to Nest’s sensors and the Nest app, the unit will learn this behavior within a few days. After doing so, it will adjust the temperature based on the time of the year.
For example, during the colder months Nest would increase the temperature in your home a few minutes before 5 p.m. each day. In the warmer months, it would begin cooling your home at the same time.
Disabling Nest Learning
If you’d rather not have Nest create a heating and cooling schedule, you can disable it either on the device, through the Nest app, or via the web.
To turn off the Auto-Schedule on the instrument, press the ring and select Settings. Next, adjust the ring to Nest Sense and press to select. Turn to highlight Auto-Schedule and press to select. Set to highlight Off and press select.
You can disable Auto-Schedule through the Nest app by selecting your thermostat from the menu and then tapping the Settings icon. Next, select Nest Sense and then Auto-Schedule. Tap the switch to turn it off. Disabling Auto-Schedule via the web follows similar steps. Visit home.nest.com to get started.
Resetting Your Nest
The reset feature for the Nest Learning Thermostat will erase some or all of your information. You can choose to only remove your schedule, your Home and Away information, Network settings, or to delete all of your data at once.
To reset or restart your Nest, follow these instructions:
- Press the ring on the thermostat and open the Quick View menu
- Select the Settings icon
- Turn the ring to Reset and then press to select
Next, select your choice.
Restarting reboots your thermostat. When it’s turned back on, all of your information is safe. By contrast, selecting Schedule will delete your entire heating and cooling schedule. To refresh, you’ll other have to create a new calendar manually or wait for Nest to learn your new schedule.
Away, meanwhile, should only be selected when you’ve moved Nest to a new location in your home or packed it up and transferred to a new place. Selecting this option is necessary so that Nest will learn about its new location. Network deletes Nest’s connection with the outside world. Once selecting this choice, you’ll once again need to set up a network connection on Nest.
Finally, by selecting All Settings, you’ll return Nest to its factory settings and erase all of your data from the device.
3. Advanced Setup
As you can see, after the first week the Nest Learning Thermostat can work without human interaction. By doing so, it should give you years of uninterrupted use while helping you save on your energy costs. Once you feel comfortable, there’s a lot more you can do with Nest!
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a free web-based service that allows you to create chains of simple conditional statements called applets. Thanks to IFTTT, your thermostat can communicate with other smart devices, such as security cameras and third-party sensors. The relationship also expands your scheduling opportunities.
For example, with IFTTT, you could have the thermostat rise 5 degrees every time someone enters your basement, or it detects movement on your home security camera. Subsequently, you could tell Nest to turn the temperature up whenever your phones determine you’re within 20 miles from home, regardless of the time.
Manually Adjust Your Settings
Most people can’t detect when the temperature changes by as little as one degree. To save more energy, consider changing your heating and cooling schedule by this amount. For example, instead of setting the temperature in your home to 69 degrees, make it 70 degrees. After a month, compare the change on your Home Report and see what you’ve saved.
Like the savings? Feel free to adjust the temperature another degree during the next month. Even when you’ve changed the temperature by 2 degrees, many people still won’t notice.
Your money energy bill will show you how much cash you’re saving each month using the Nest thermostat. To drill down even further, consider the thermostat’s Energy History, which offers a detailed summary that covers the last 10 days. The history’s accessible through the Nest app or on the Nest website. Tap on any day to see more details about your energy use.
Start Adding Other Products
The Nest Learning Thermostat isn’t the company’s only product. In addition to security cameras, Nest offers a smoke detector, alarm system, and doorbell too. Each easily integrates with the others, with each controllable through the same Nest app.
For example, with the Wemo Switch, your Nest product can tell your lights and fans when you’re not at home. This allows you to save energy on more appliances when your house is empty. When you return, the combination allows your lights to turn on automatically.
4. Concerns and Troubleshooting
Occasionally, you may run into problems with your Nest Learning Thermostat. Luckily, these are usually easy to fix.
What do you do if your Nest Learning Thermostat won’t turn on? This may occur immediately after installing the device or years or months later. Regardless, there are a few things you can troubleshoot.
First, make sure the power to your breaker box wasn’t turned off. Try turning the breaker or power switch to your heating and cooling system back on again. After a few minutes, try your Nest.
You may also find two flashing lights on the device, red and green.
A red flashing light means the battery is low and it’s now charging. Once charging is complete, the thermostat will turn on again. A green flashing light means your system is installing a software update from the internet. Once the installation is complete, the light will turn off, and your system will begin.
Does the thermostat appear to be on but the display isn’t working? Make sure to connect the display properly to the base. If the wires aren’t connected the right way, the display might not be getting a reliable connection.
Occasionally, your thermostat might disconnect from your Wi-Fi network. There are many reasons this could occur. Thankfully, even when offline, your thermostat will mostly perform as expected. However, without an internet connection, the thermostat will be unable to know when you and your family aren’t at home. It will also be unable to update automatically.
To revolve disconnection issues, first, reboot the device. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, check the Wi-Fi settings and make sure they are correct. You may also want to see if you are having any other internet connection issues that you need to resolve.
Still not connecting? Did you recently change your Wi-Fi name or password? That could be the reason for your problem.
Nest has added error codes to the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat. These codes start with the letter “E” or “N.”
“E” error codes are critical, and you must resolve these immediately. Until then, your system won’t work. “N” codes aren’t critical and in most cases will allow your system to continue to work. Nonetheless, like “E” error codes, you should get the issue resolved as soon as you are able.
You can find an updated listing of error code on the Nest support website. Click on the error code displayed by your thermostat to view the specific instructions for your problem.
Occasional System Glitches
Like all smart home products, Nest is susceptible to occasional glitches. Whenever there’s a system-wide issue, Nest is very good at sending out an email explaining the issue and how to resolve it.
When In Doubt
Nest offers support documents on the company’s website. These reports are often updated and often include troubleshoot steps. You’ll also find instructional videos. Contact Nest through chat, phone, or Twitter if you have more concerns.
Go For It
Millions of users currently enjoy the Nest Learning Thermostat. After installation and setup, you too can look forward to lower energy costs and usage.
What is your favorite Nest Thermostat feature? Let us know if you’ve had any issues getting your Nest working, and we’ll try and help you out!