The Cost of a Nest Home Ecosystem


I'm a huge fan of the Nest Thermostat. 

I'd been looking for a thermostat that could be controlled via iOS for a long time, but the Nest was just so far ahead of the competition in terms of design. 

The use of brushed metal instead of plastic... the integrated LED... the "solid" feel to the spinning wheel, with just the right amount of resistance... it's just a beautiful piece of technology. 

So when I learned that Nest was releasing an API, and had its eye on the entire home automation ecoystem, I was excited. 

But how much is all of this going to cost?

At this moment, there are only 2 Nest products - the iconic thermostat, and the Nest Protect smoke/CO alarm. 

Neither of them are cheap. 

The thermostat (above) is $250. Yes, that's a lot of cash to drop on replacing a thermostat that you already have, and that does its job just fine

But the heart wants what it wants, and my heart wants a Nest. My current programmable thermostat is difficult to program, and can't be controlled remotely... but mostly, it isn't Nest-level beautiful. 

So I'll be cashing in a handful of Best Buy gift cards, and installing this in our newly-remodeled dining room. 

PROJECT COST: (running total) $250. 

"Auto-Away" Motion Sensors - Killer Feature, Tricky Implementation

The placement of the thermostat in our house is going to limit the Nest's functionality. 

Part of what makes the Nest so cool is that it has motion sensors - when you're away for a while, the furnace turns off. When you return, it starts back up again. 

And get this - the Nest starts to learn your schedule. You leave for work at around 7? The Nest notices that no one is in the house, and stops heating the place. 

You usually get home from work around 6:30? After a few days, the Nest picks up on that, and starts warming the house up before you arrive. 

You don't work on Wednesdays? The Nest figures that out, too... and it abandons the "auto-away" program on those days. This is a computer inside a thermostat, which requires almost no active programming or monitoring. 

But in our house, the Nest isn't going to know if we're home or away. 

The thermostat isn't in a hallway - it's tucked into a corner of our dining room, which is not a frequently trafficked area. 

You'd have to go out of your way to be visible to the Nest in our house. And that's a problem. 


Enter the Nest Protect - Motion Sensing Smoke Alarms!

The Nest Protect is a combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarm. It's pricey at $130 - that's at least twice
the retail of comparable alarms from First Alert or Kidde.

But the Nest Protect does more than typical smoke alarms. It also has motion sensors - these provide a lot of that extra functionality. 

If the alarm goes off because you're cooking, you can disable it by standing under the alarm and waving your arms - or by opening the Nest iOS app and clicking "disable alarm". 

And when there's no alarm at all, the Nest can act as a motion-activated night light - its central ring will glow white if someone passes near it in the dark. 

This is absolutely necessary for us - the stairs to our basement are DIRECTLY adjacent to the first-floor half bath. If a guest uses the facilities before heading up to bed, they're one wrong step in the darkness away from tumbling downstairs.

Nest has confirmed that the Protect will communicate with the Nest Thermostat - if a CO leak is detected, the Protect will tell the thermostat to shut off the furnace. 

The question that HASN'T been answered is "Will the Protect's Motion Sensing Capability Augment the Thermostat's Auto-Away Sensing?"  - and I believe that the answer is "Yes - and if it doesn't already, it will VERY soon." It just makes too much sense.

The Nest Protects also communicate with each other - and relay their alarms in plain English (or Spanish). (i.e.: all of the Protects may say "Smoke detected in the Master Bedroom".)   

So, I need one thermostat, and at LEAST one Protect. 

PROJECT COST: (running total) $380. 

But how many Protects do I need?

As it stands right now, I have 7 (count-em, SEVEN) First Alert smoke alarms. One in each of 4 bedrooms, one in the upstairs hallway, one on the main level, and one in the basement. 

I just replaced the CO-sensing one upstairs, which ran me about $50. 

They do communicate with each other, somehow - there may be a wired connection, but my guess is that an internal microphone hears one alarm chirping, and starts its own chirping, and before you know it, it's ear-splitting. 

Ideally, I'd replace all 7 smoke alarms with Protects - that would provide the most functionality and would allow me to never-again hear that high-pitched chirp at 2 AM... but we'd be talking about some really serious cash. 

PROJECT COST: (total, with 7 Protects): $1160 (!!!) 

There's no way I'm getting that past Ms. AAAD. She'd be right, too - replacing thermostats and smoke alarms isn't worth a mortgage payment. 

But what if we only replace the upstairs and downstairs hallway alarms? 

That would provide us with the Auto-Away motion sensing we need, would allow for some cross-talk between the two alarms... would put the night-light feature in the 2 places it would actually be utilized... and would give me some leeway for future upgrades. 

PROJECT COST: (total, with 2 Protects): $510 

That's still a lot of cash. But it's in the realm of possibility. And if Nest moves into lighting/shades control in 2014, we'll be ready to jump on that train, too. 

Anyway, first things first - time to get the thermostat installed, hopefully this weekend. That will definitely be a full AAAD post! Stay tuned. 


  1. So what do you think? Are you pleased with the nest? I would like to purchase one and I am counting on your evaluation to help me decide whether it is worth the premium cost.

    1. I'll let you know as soon as I get it installed! :)

      It's been a bit trickier to get Ms. AAAD on board with changing thermostats during this subzero cold snap.

    2. We're very happy with the Nest. It's easy to install, and then... you basically stop thinking about it. You have complete control over your home temp, but don't even need to do the programming.

      New AAAD review on the front page.

  2. I've had my Nest's for about a year now and I love them! My electric company gave me $100 rebate on each one for efficiency. Turning up the heat or AC on the way back from vacation via iOS is cool, but not half as cool as the look and work.

    1. I really wish our electric company was doing a Nest partnership - oh well.

      To be completely honest, I'm looking forward to the auto-light on the smoke detectors as much as anything else... it's just a matter of time before some guest falls down our stairs in the dark.