Being able to control your home environment with your voice, and even have a house that reacts to your whims automatically (while saving on energy costs!) is now a possibility that’s accessible to most everyone. Most people just think of devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home when it comes to home automation, but there are a surprising amount of products that interface well with these voice controllers and add a lot of functionality, convenience, and even savings to running your home.
One important device to consider when outfitting your home with smart tech is a smart thermostat. These products offer a large amount of control over the temperature of your home, and can even save lots of money over time with the increased energy efficiency that most models provide.
Sensi vs. Nest — Differences
Difference #1: Display – Display, while not the end-all-be-all of a thermostat, is an important aspect to take into account. After all, having a device that’s easy to read and fits in well with your home adds a great deal of functionality and aesthetic detail.
The Sensi features a 4.3″ full color LCD touch screen with a 272 x 480 pixel display. The large backlit screen offers flexible lighting options that change color to let you know at a glance whether your system is heating or cooling. The device is incredibly easy to control, with just a tap to the touch screen or the mobile app to change the temperature to suit your needs.
The Nest has a 24-bit color LCD with a 480 x 480 resolution — putting it slightly ahead of the Sensi in screen quality. This thermostat also has a touch screen as well as additional control by scrolling the ring around the screen.
The Nest is rather unique in that it has a Farsight feature, which automatically lights up the display when it senses movement. Farsight lets you select what you’d like the display to show you, whether it be the current temperature, target temperature, local weather, or time. And if you don’t want to use this feature, you can set the thermostat to “wake on press” instead.
Difference #2: Back Glow – The Sensi features a backlight behind the thermostat which allows it to function as a nightlight. The backlight is perfect for nighttime or low lighting, and it puts the Sensi ahead of the Nest, since the Nest lacks this feature.
Difference #3: Connectivity – Connectivity with other devices is an important consideration to take into account.
The Sensi doesn’t support control of humidifiers or dehumidifiers. For information on compatibility, check out this article on whether Sensi will work for you home.
The Nest Learning Thermostat, on the other hand, will work the majority of whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers. In this case, however, professional installation is highly recommended. For compatibility concerns, check if Nest will work in your home.
Difference #4: Power – Like most thermostats, Sensi requires a C-Wire for power.
Nest, on the other hand, can function without a C-wire using its built-in battery. This battery is charged using the heating and cooling wires, which the thermostat “pulses” occasionally to get a boost in power.
Keep in mind, however, that there are certain situations where a C-wire will still be necessary, depending on the setup of your heating and cooling system. In these cases, a professional HVAC technician should be able to install a common wire if necessary.
Difference #5: Bluetooth Low Energy – Both smart thermostats are controlled over WiFi, but Nest also features support for Bluetooth Low Energy. This technology allows the device to send and receive information using bluetooth, which uses a lot less energy than a wifi connection.
This is a handy feature, and can result in more savings over time if bluetooth is consistently used over WiFi.
Difference #6: Remote Sensors – An important consideration when buying a smart thermostat is whether or not the device offers support for more than one room. If your house has rooms that usually vary in temperature, having a thermostat with the ability to recognize this variation and adjust accordingly is a big plus.
Unfortunately, both the Sensi and the Nest fall short when it comes to remote sensing. The Sensi doesn’t have any remote sensors at all, while the Nest only can sense other rooms through Nest Protect — which primarily acts as a smoke detector and fire alarm, however, can be used as a temperature sensor for even heating/cooling distribution.
Although Nest has the advantage here in that it actually has a way to sense temperature remotely, the Nest Protect systems are a bit pricey, especially if you’re buying more than one! Check out thermostats with remote room sensors Ecobee3 vs. Ecobee3 Lite
Both devices lack easy access to remote sensing, which is a disappointing drawback to both of these thermostats.
Update 05/05/18: You can now buy the Nest Temperature Sensors to even out the temperature between rooms in your home. The Nest Temperature Sensors work only with the Nest Learning Thermostat Gen 3 and the Nest E Thermostat.
|Heating||1 and 2 stages (W/E, W2)||1,2, and 3 stages (W1, W2, W3)|
|Cooling||1 and 2 stages (Y1, Y2)||1 and 2 stages (Y1, Y2)|
|Heat Pump||with auxiliary and emergency heat (O/B, W/E, W2)||with auxiliary and emergency heat (O/B, AUX, E)|
|Power||(C, RH, RC)||(C, RH, RC)|
Difference #7: Compatibility – Perhaps one of the most important aspects of any thermostat is how well it interfaces with your current method of smart home control. After all, if you can’t control the thermostat using your existing setup, it’s probably not the best choice.
Generally, you’re going to have to choose between Apple and Google with these devices. Sensi supports Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, and Wink. Nest, on the other hand, supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Wink.
Depending on your existing home automation system, this decision might have already been made for you.
Difference #8: Size – Though maybe not a deal breaker, there is a difference in size between the two models. The Sensi is slightly larger at 5.6″ x 3.4″ x 1.1″ when compared to the Nest at 3.3″ x 3.3″ x 1.21″. If space is tight, the Nest gets the same job done with a smaller device.
Difference #9: Color – For some people, having a device that matches their home is of the utmost importance. Nest offers more options than Sensi when it comes to color, with finishes in white, copper, black, and stainless steel.
Sensi, on the other hand, is only available in black. If the color of your thermostat is a concern, Nest offers a lot more options with a variety of finishes that should work well in any home.
Difference #10: Warranty – One topic worthy of discussion when comparing the two devices is the quality and extent of the two devices’ warranty. Buying a thermostat, while not exorbitantly expensive, is still a decent investment. It’s nice to know that your purchase is backed by coverage in the event of a malfunction.
The Sensi offers a 3 year warranty, which outclasses the Nest Learning Thermostat that only features 2 years of coverage.
Difference #11: Environment Learning – One of the most appealing aspects of the Nest Learning Thermostat is the device’s ability to learn your habits over time. The thermostat is truly “smart” and will take into account your preferences in temperature as well as your daily schedule.
You can save a lot of money over time by having a thermostat that adjusts to your needs and to your presence. There’s no need for your home to be super warm or cool if you’re not there, and having a thermostat knows when you’re leaving/arriving home and can adjust accordingly can save a ton of energy.
Additionally, the Nest provides monthly energy reports with details of your energy consumption and suggestions for improvement.
Unfortunately, the Sensi does not offer any environment learning or energy report functionality.
Difference #12: Price – We’ll round out this article by talking about one last thing: the price. If you’re looking for a budget buy, you’ll generally be better off with the Sensi as it’s less expensive.
At the end of the day, you’re going to be making a decision between saving money and having more features. Keep in mind, however, that with the Nest’s energy savings it may end up being less expensive over time due to its smart learning and automatic adjustments.
Sensi vs. Nest — Comparison Table
|Dimensions||5.6″ x 3.4″ x 1.1″||3.3″ x 3.3″ x 1.21″|
|Hardware color||Black||White, copper, black, |
|Remote sensors||No||Nest Protect|
Nest Temperature Sensor
|Power (if no C-wire present)||Requires C-Wire||Heating/Cooling Wires + Battery|
|Learns habits over time||No||Yes|
|Works with Amazon Alexa||No||Yes|
|Google Assistant support||No||Yes|
|Works with Wink||Yes||Yes|
|Works with SmartThings||Yes||Yes|
|Free monthly energy reports||No||Yes|
Sensi vs. Nest — Our Thoughts
At the end of the day, both the Sensi and Nest Learning Thermostat offer some great benefits. While the Nest is generally more fully featured, it also comes with a premium price tag that may scare away potential buyers.
No matter your decision, you can buy confidently knowing that either device will serve you well. Either smart thermostat is better than no smart thermostat, and both of these models can provide the ultimate in comfort and convenience while saving you money at the same time.