Nest Thermostat Reviews: Nest 2nd generation vs Nest 3rd Generation vs Nest E

Thermostats are something of an absolute essential when it comes to household appliances. In today’s constantly surprising and steep, changing temperatures, you certainly can’t do without a heating/cooling system in your home. And so, you certainly cannot do without a thermostat either. 

Perhaps this is why even Google has stepped up to the modern world’s needs. 

In 2011, Google dropped the Nest thermostat model into the markets and made quite a mark with its new-edge, competitive models that sought to deliver comfort in a way that included apt perception and detection skills from its devices. 

Today, Nest models are popular for their smooth functioning, effortless design, and energy-efficient features. However, Google seems to have followed the manual for ‘less is more, as you’ll find only a few but highly valuable Nest models floating around to be purchased.

There have been five generations of Nest, yet you’ll find Nest 2nd and Nest 3rd Generation to be actively sold in the markets. If you’re looking further, you’ll come across a Nest E.

All three Nest thermostats are quite diligent and smart in their working. They are easy to handle and have pleasing displays. And so, it isn’t surprising that these thermostats are highly rated and enthusiastically accepted by their consumers.

If you’ve been giving the Google Nest line of products a good eyeful lately, considering it your next big purchase- you are headed the right way. However, it is possible that you’re confused and wondering which Nest model you should buy, and why. Well, your confusion ends soon. 

This article reviews the Nest 2nd and 3rd Gen models, as well as the Nest E thermostat, and compares them to help you decide which thermostat you like best.

Similarities: Nest 2nd generation vs Nest 3rd Generation vs Nest E

Before we break off into what separates the three models, listing out the similarities should help you get a better idea of Google Nest thermostats and what you should expect from them.

To begin with, the 3 thermostats employ learning technology in their functioning. In fact, this is what usually makes consumers fall for the Google Nest products hook, line, and sinker. 

Google Nest products are fully equipped to learn from their users in terms of scheduling. That is to say, they record data on time and temperature changes, and try to adjust themselves around your habits and schedules.

They use this data to learn your preferences and self-operate. They record your responses to these changes, and further self-moderate in order of what seems favorable to their user. 

You can control all 3 devices through a mobile app, as all of them are WiFi enabled. This means that you can set up your phone with your thermostat, and use your mobile screen as a remote control. 

However, controls aren’t limited to the phone or the app. All 3 thermostat models are fully compatible with Virtual Assistant devices like Alexa and Google Home as well, so you can integrate voice commands and adjust your thermostat’s settings through them.

You can also expect a similar look and feel from all three Nest models, as they all have an adjustment ring on the side to swipe set temperatures and timings.

Once set, the panels will display the time required to reach the set temperature. If you happen to choose any setting that contributes to energy-efficient functioning, the screens will light up with a green leaf to indicate that you are in energy saver mode.

In terms of installation, all 3 Nest models are similar in the way they are all battery-powered, and hence, don’t require a c-wire. So, you can avoid all the hassle that comes along with figuring out the wiring system.

All the models can express through a variety of languages ranging from English to French, Spanish, Dutch, and Italian.

DIFFERENCES: Nest 2nd generation vs Nest 3rd Generation vs Nest E 

Let’s get to what makes up the core of these 3 devices. What makes one model better than the other? These factors should help you understand the differences between the models, and decide for yourself what vibes with you the most.


When it comes to size, the Nest 2rd Generation is undoubtedly bigger with a diameter of 3.27’, closely followed by the Nest E with 3.19”, and then: at 3.03” diameter, the Nest 3rd Generation. However, the Nest 3rd Generation beats the 2nd Gen model in the display. 

Despite having a smaller diameter, it is equipped with a larger screen and a thinner outlining edge, thus leaving more space for a much clearer display.

The Nest E follows in the footsteps of the 3rd Gen model, with a much slimmer edge and a bigger display, while also being generally bigger in size.


When it comes to design, however, the Nest E thermostat stands out for its soft, white design that is designed not to draw too much attention to itself, but to exist subtly on your walls. If you like muted and mild tones in your household appliances, you’ll find the Nest E much to your liking. 

In contrast, the Nest 2nd and 3rd Gen have louder, demanding designs. The 2nd Gen, for instance, is bracketed by a thick, black, circular encasement that is sure to appear quite boldly on your walls. 

The 3rd Gen draws a mix between the two models. It does not have the sturdy encasement on the 2nd Gen model but has a none-too-gentle black display.

If the thermostat is to go into a home where its owners have problems identifying or reading a device as small as a thermostat well, the Nest 2nd Generation and 3rd Generation models would be more helpful.

However, if the owner is concerned about maintaining a subdued, pastel aesthetic, the Next E thermostat would fit in perfectly.


The three models seemingly vary in terms of sensory abilities. A feature to note is that the 2nd Generation Google Nest model comes with a Farsight detector, which can sense movements about 10 feet away. In turn, this lights up the thermostat, enabling the user to read the temperature even from a distance.

Meanwhile, the Nest 2nd Gen and the Nest E thermostat both are equipped with Ambient light. This causes the device to light up if it senses movement within 3 feet of its distance.

If you’re considering placing your thermostat at a distance from the couch or the living room, then you might consider the 3rd Gen model.

The Nest E model lacks the Near-field and Far-field sensing technology that both the 2nd and 3rd Gen models possess. This means that the Nest E model cannot detect and differentiate movement within close and distant fields.

However, it has a proximity sensor that allows it to sense when a person is close.


System compatibility is one of the most important things to look out for when buying a thermostat if you want one that perfectly complements your heating and cooling systems.

In general, all Nest models are compatible with almost all HVAC systems from gas and electric to even solar-powered, and oil systems. Differences arise in terms of heating and cooling stages in different systems.

For instance, both the 3rd and 2nd Gen thermostats can work with 2 heating stages and 2 cooling stages. Meanwhile, the Nest E thermostat supports 1 heating stage, 1 cooling stage, and a second heating or cooling stage.

So, nothing that exceeds 3 combined heating and cooling stages will be supported by the Nest E thermostat. In such cases, you’re better off with one of the learning thermostats.

However, keep in mind that where the 3rd Generation thermostat is also compatible with Boiler systems, the 2nd Gen thermostat cannot work with such a system.

In total, the Learning thermostats can accommodate a combined 5 heating and cooling stages, while the Nest E is only compatible with 3.


One of the last determining factors notwithstanding the costs of the respective models is the presence of accessories. While the Learning thermostats can support a dehumidifier and a system humidifier, the Nest E cannot.

COST: Nest 2nd generation vs Nest 3rd Generation vs Nest E

When it comes to which is the most affordable, it is the Nest E, ranging only between $140-$170. On the other hand, the 2nd Generation thermostat costs between $200 to $250. The 3rd Generation model is estimated to be about $250.

While the price range is pretty variable, your personal preferences will probably end up dictating which thermostat to buy. If you prefer soft displays, have a small-staged system, and are also on a budget, the Nest E thermostat is a viable option. 

The Learning thermostats are much bolder options while being more accommodating with heating and cooling stages- so what’re a few extra bucks if it’s worth it?

The Google Nest thermostats have left an impression on the market with their adaptive learning technology. In my opinion, you’re getting quite the bang for bucks on these models. All three come with their own bonuses and setbacks but aim to work smoothly with your heating/cooling system to provide you with the comfort you need. 

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