Nest (and Google) have taken a further step forward into the smart home space with the launch of a third generation version of the learning thermostat at the beginning of September.
This new model is characterized by being both slimmer and more streamlined than the previous model but also 40% larger to improve its visibility. A new feature named Farsight automatically displays the temperature or time when it senses movement in the room. An updated user interface with a brighter and higher resolution screen makes the display easier to read, according to the company’s press statement.
With the previous generation device, screen wake-up occurs at about 1 metre distant.
Savings with Nest
The Nest is a wi-fi and sensor-based thermostat that learns from its users’ behaviours to optimize the heating and cooling use in their homes.
According to Nest’s head of hardware product marketing, Maxime Veron, in a blog, Nest users number in the millions worldwide and as of 2011 had saved over 4 billion kWh of energy. Independent studies show savings of an average of 10-12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.
Indicative of the potential market the 3rd generation Nest thermostat will be available at 7,000 retail locations – both online and high street – and from 25,000 Nest Pro home installers. In addition, more than 40 energy and enterprise partners are making the device available to their customers as part of energy saving incentives, including the utilities Southern Company, Direct Energy, SunEdison, Infinite Energy and Reliant, and security company ADT.
In addition to the US, sales are made in UK, Canada, France, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands. Installations are in more than 190 countries.
Nest in the home
Like the first two generation Nests, Nest 3 integrates with the other Nest products, which include currently a smoke and CO alarm and security camera.
Nest 3 also includes among its new features an app named Furnace Heads-Up, which monitors heating and forced air furnace shutoff patterns to give advance notice about possible problems with a user’s heating system. (Earlier generation users will receive this later in the year).
All of this, together with Google’s recent launch of its Project Sunroof rooftop PV initiative, points to a growing company presence in a growing number of homes. [Engerati-Google’s ‘Project Sunroof’ To Map Solar Potential]
Fight for the smart home
Nest is of course not the only contender in either the smart thermostat or home energy management markets, but so far is the leading company straddling both, according to Navigant Research’s recent Leaderboard reports.
The extent to which consumers use in-home type energy devices in the long term, and particularly after the initial ‘novelty value’ has worn off, is an open one. But with the power of its subliminal type of operation coupled with its smart device access, Nest looks to be working round this to ensure the longevity which ultimately a central smart home system will need. With ongoing upgrading through software updates and further additional functionalities – “we’ll keep coming up with ways to make things even more thoughtful,” promises Mr Veron – Google, through Nest and along with initiatives such as Project Sunroof, looks to be positioning to dominate the smart home market.
If so, and the extent it will do so, will depend on how quickly both it and the contender companies make their next moves. In the home energy management sector Nest seems well ahead of its competitors, along with Opower which is also identified as a leader. However, Opower is not involved in the smart thermostat market. There the other leading company is Honeywell but that is lagging in the home energy management sector. But that could quickly change following its recent acquisition of Elster with the potential it opens up for new energy saving and efficiency products and services incorporating smart metering data. [Engerati-Honeywell Elster Deal Shows Utility Metering Evolving Into Something Bigger]
Navigant Research: Leaderboard Report: Smart Thermostats
Navigant Research: Leaderboard Report: Home Energy Management