For a long while, if you wanted a Nest Learning Thermostat there was only one option available. That meant you had to pay a fairly high price to get yourself one of the best smart thermostats in the game.
But what if you couldn't afford it? There are alternatives that are more affordable, yes, but you were really looking to join Nest, one of the biggest names in the smart home world. Enter the Thermostat E, which is a more affordable thermostat for the rest of us.
Complete guide: Getting started with Nest
But which one should you choose? Don't worry, we've got a little versus for you to enjoy.
Nest Learning Thermostat v Nest Thermostat E: Design
The first thing you'll notice between the Learning and the E is that they look very, very different. The Learning has a more premium look, largely because it has a high resolution display at the centre of it.
Around that display, you can choose from four colours: Stainless steel, black, white and copper. That's three more than the E, which you can only get in white. The Learning is a device that adorns your home. While it's just a thermostat, it's hard not to notice it while you're walking past it while you're at home. It's all about that metal ring on the Learning.
It looks good. It feels like a high-end appliance, rather than just something hanging off your wall. The E is the complete opposite. Its white plastic ring look helps it blend into the wall more, especially since it has a polarised glass display, which gives it a frosted look. By the way, if you're in the UK you don't have to hang the E on your wall thanks to a new accessory called the Heat Link E, which we'll get into later. It comes with a cute little stand that you can use to place it on table.
While it's not as beautiful as the Learning's display, it still looks nice. Plus, it's a savvy way of hiding the fact that the E comes with a lower resolution display than the Learning. That lower-resolution display is actually one of the big ways that Nest was able to cut down on the cost.
If you want a great appliance to put in your home, and you want people to see it and know it's there, the Learning is a better option. If you prefer your thermostat to stay in the background and do its work like an unsung hero, the E is more your jam.
Nest Learning Thermostat v Nest Thermostat E: Features
Surprisingly, the Learning and E both have largely the same features despite a big gap in price. You're still going to be able to remotely control it while you're away, You can still use Google Assistant and Alexa to command the temperature with your voice as well.
The E, like the Learning, will even detect when you're home or away and set the temperature accordingly. The E also has the ability to set schedules so that it knows what it needs to do at all times. Plus, every integration the Learning has the E can use as well ‚Äď this includes the Nest Temperature Sensor, which can be placed in rooms and give your thermostat the ability to better heat or cool specific rooms.
Where they differ is in two features ‚Äď one is Farsight. This basically turns the Learning into a magical wall clock. When you walk by the Learning, it can sense your motion and the display will jolt alive. You'll then be greeted by the temperature, weather and time.
It's not a massive feature by any stretch, but it is a handy one if you're in the area and you're wondering about the weather and time. Plus, it actually works nicely as a sort-of flashlight in the middle of the night. It's not exactly bright enough to light the way, but it's a good amount of light.
The bigger deal is that the Learning is compatible with 95% of homes while the E is compatible with 85% of homes. That's largely down to the Learning being more compatible with more systems, like PTAC, two stage heat pumps, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, dual transformer systems, and two or three speed fans.
If you're in the UK, the E can also team up with the Heat Link E. This is a fabric disk that replaces your current thermostat and wirelessly transmits information to the Learning E, which you can then put on a stand somewhere else in your home. Added bonus: You will than have two temperature sensors, one on the E itself and one on the Heat Link E.
Overall, the Learning and E are both going to meet your basic needs when it comes to a smart thermostat. The big difference here is whether you'd also like Farsight, which turns it into a sort-of wall clock. If you don't think that feature is nice enough, then the E will do just fine.
Nest Learning Thermostat v Nest Thermostat E: Price
Here's the biggy, the largest differentiator between the Learning Thermostat and the Thermostat E. The E will cost you $169 while the Learning Thermostat will cost you $249.
Keep an eye out for deals, both the Learning Thermostat and E can nab you discounts on a Google Home Mini or Nest Thermostat sensor every once in a while.
A lot of that $80 difference in price is down to the components Nest is using to make the E, rather than splitting off a bunch of smart features that could make your life a little better.
Nest Learning Thermostat v Nest Thermostat E: Final verdict
For a lot of people, this answer is actually a no-brainer. If you don't care about having a high-end metal appliance on your wall, and you don't care about your thermostat's ability to show you the weather, then the Thermostat E is the slam dunk choice. It's cheaper and offers the same features as the original.
However, you may be forced into choosing the Learning for one reason: if it's not compatible with your home system. The more features or the more complex your home cooling or heating system is, the more likely it is that the E won't work for you while the Learning will.