Zen VS Nest: Thermostat Overview & Observations from an HVAC company
Is everyone in the thermostat game now? Nest, Comfortlink, Honeywell Lyric, and now Zen. Options are emerging left and right. Perhaps since google’s wopping $3.2 Billion buy out for Nest Labs has something to do with it. So the question then becomes
“how does Zen compare with Nest?”
“Is it a true competitor?”
To answer we’ll start with some hard facts……..but one problem we have is that very little information has been released about Zen’s guts so this leaves us a little short….
Zen’s Advantage over Nest:
Design Aethetic… touchscreen, total black out or white out, 2 color options
Simple use. No frills. No algo (double edge sword here)
Cheaper – ~$150 – we’ll see if they keep that price point outside of the indie go go campaign
Nest’s Advantage over Zen:
Google support system
Multi-Billion Dollar valuation
Intelligent algorithm for lowering your utility bill
Zen vs Nest Commentary
Honestly, Zen looks cool. Very simple and straight forward. My prediction is that the product will be forced in one of two directions. All depending on their leadership and how they hope to push forward looking to their target consumer. Either they will end up targeting the hipsters and design junkies who care more about having a cool gadget on the wall whose focus is on design NOT energy savings. (ie. “look! My thermostat matches my skinny jeans and thick rim glasses bro.”) OR Zen tries to become the poor man’s Nest thermostat. They raise more money than the peanuts offered on indiegogo and truly market broadly on their tenants of simplicity and design while pricing lower than Nest. Both directions could lead to success but both are very different target customers. Only one gets you to cut a big chunk out of Nest’s market share. My prediction is that Zen leadership is more focused on the first group in the long run. Time will tell.
Speaking of Nest did you catch their little jab at nest labs. It was subtle. I may butcher the quote but it is essentially “intelligent algorithms can often perform different than consumers expect.” Translation “We are better than you Nest Labs because we don’t use a fancy algorithm” Now this is a double edge. Nest would probably turn back on them and say, “We are over here predicting consumer behavior and saving people real money while you’ve just created a nice looking box with up and down arrows.” Fair. Though I respect Zen pointing out their weakness as a strength. Still Nest has the stronger value add to consumers. Zen does however point out a valid point that many Nest users who have been disappointed by how the algorithm performance. Though I think this is more an issue of expectation than execution.
In the end, Nest still has the upper hand and will continue to in the long term. Competition is healthy though. For the same reason honeywell needed to get pushed around by Nest Labs so will Nest be pushed around by Zen or some other competitors in the near future.
Should I buy the Zen Thermostat?
Speak with a professional to answer this question. It should be emphasized that thermostats need to match with the system they are installed onto. Especially if you have a higher efficiency system. Usually these newer thermostats are made for the masses yet the early adopters often have better systems than the average consumer. Though Zen’s initial data sheets do stipulate compatibility with most systems it is always better to confer with an HVAC professional to be completely sure if it will work with yours.
Just because it is a “smart thermostat” doesn’t make it a Smart Choice for your home.
• Simple and intuitive touch interface • One-touch magnetic mounting • Screwless wiring terminals • Web-based system setup and wiring guide
• 2 year battery life (on 4 AA batteries, with typical operation) • Continuous operation on C-wire (where present) • Cool, heat, auto and emergency heat modes • Fan mode – Auto or On
• Adjust temperature by 1 ° F or 0.5 °Celsius • Display languages – English, French, Spanish • Zigbee Home Automation 1.2 compatible • WiFi compatible (with included Zen WiFi Bridge) • Supports Over-the-air firmware updates
• For 24V systems, 2A maximum per output • Supported heating system types: Forced Air, Heat Pump, Gas, Electric, Millivolt, Hydronic • Supported cooling system types: Heat Pump, Evaporative, Hydronic • One or Two Stage Conventional Heat • One or Two Stage Conventional Cooling • Two Stage Heat Pump (with Auxiliary Heat)