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Zen VS Nest Thermostat

September 26, 2014 | Blog

Zen VS Nest: Thermostat Overview & Observations From an HVAC Company

Is everyone in the thermostat game now?  Nest, Comfortlink, Honeywell Lyric and now Zen have brought smart thermostats onto the market. Options are emerging left and right. Perhaps since Google’s whopping $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?

Comparing the Two Thermostats

Each of these smart thermostats has its own set of unique features and advantages. Let’s take a look at how they compare.


  • Superior aesthetic, with a touchscreen and total black-out or white-out
  • Simple, no-frill operation
  • Costs much less than the Nest thermostat


  • Connected to the established Google support system
  • Multi-Billion dollar valuation
  • Intelligent algorithm for lowering your utility bill

Zen vs. Nest

Honestly, Zen looks cool. It’s very simple and straight forward, but I predict that the product will be forced in one of two directions. Depending on their leadership and how they hope to push their target consumer, they will either push the simple, “cool gadget aesthetic” or become an off-brand Nest alternative. Both directions could lead to success, but both have very different target customers, and only one lets you cut a big chunk out of Nest’s market share. Time will tell.

Zen’s marketing makes a bit of a jab at Nest, turning their lack of an intuitive algorithm into a positive. However, the algorithm continues to provide Nest with a competitive edge. While it may sometimes work differently than consumers expect, it still predicts their behaviors and saves them real money on energy bills.

In the end, Nest still has the upper hand and will continue to in the long term. As time passes, we will see Nest and Zen compete just as Nest pushed around Honeywell for superiority.

Should I buy the Zen Thermostat?

This question depends on your specific HVAC system, as 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, but 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.

If you’re interested in a Zen thermostat but aren’t sure your system is compatible, here are some compatibility details:

• 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)

Contact Mission AC & Plumbing for more information or to begin a service request.


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