Nest Labs released its third-generation learning thermostat on Tuesday. The updates include modifications to its design, as well as predictive analytics.
Along with the release of its newest model, Google-owned Nest touted its robust sales channels that include thousands of retail locations and installers and a bevy of utility partners.
“Today, we can count the largest regulated utilities, deregulated energy providers, and solar energy companies among our partners,” said Ben Bixby, head of energy and enterprise partnerships at Nest. “We’ve also added enterprise partners like ADT.”
Although Nest is often touted as the most sophisticated smart-thermostat company, it is facing increased competition from other thermostat makers such as ecobee and Alarm.com that are bolstering their capabilities. Apple also recently stopped selling the Nest thermostat as it looks to attract customers to its own HomeKit platform.
But the market is still growing rapidly. By the end of this year, smart thermostats will make up the majority of all thermostat sales in the U.S., according to Parks Associates.
The latest Nest thermostat has the same integration with Nest’s smoke alarm and camera as did previous iterations. Features include shutting off heating systems if the Protect senses carbon monoxide in the house and turning the Nest Cam on when the thermostat is put into away mode.
The device's screen is 40 percent larger in diameter and features a higher-resolution screen -- allowing customers to see information on the device from across a room and not just from a few feet away, according to Nest.
The thermostat will also look for shutoff patterns from the furnace to see if there’s a persistent equipment problem. The thermostat will run those diagnostics twice annually.
There were no announcements about new apps available for this latest thermostat. But at an event earlier this summer, Greg Hu, Nest’s head of product marketing for the Nest Developer Program, told GTM that the company planned some third-quarter announcements on how partners are using its APIs to enable energy-related smart gear and services.
Nest remains popular with utilities running bring-your-own-thermostat programs. Many utilities and energy companies are offering free Nest thermostats to new customers, or offering them to customers who sign up for residential demand-response programs. ADT is also offering the Nest thermostat to select customers in certain cities that sign up for the Pulse platform. Pulse is powered by Icontrol, which added Nest to its ecosystem of more than 100 products last year.
The continued improvement of smart thermostats is giving energy providers, solar installers and regulated utilities increasing options to engage customers.
Southern Company, for instance, earlier this year became the first energy company to sell Nest’s full product line. Security service providers like Alarm.com are also increasing their targeting of energy providers and HVAC installers in order to expand their smart-home platforms. Other utilities are also looking at leveraging retail channels, where many thermostats are sold today, by offering discounts and rebates.
For traditional energy utilities, the increased options present a welcome opportunity to diversify demand-management programs. But that diversity also comes with increasing competition as other energy providers look to take over aspects of the utility-customer relationship. GTM Research has identified more than 120 players active in the smart-home industry.