10 Things You Need To Know About Nest Temperature Sensors

What you need to know about Nest's Temperature Sensor before you buy.

It's not the same temperature in every room of your house. A room without windows might be warmer or cooler than a room with them, rooms downstairs might be cooler in the summertime, and we all know how hot the kitchen can get when you're cooking a big meal. This makes it hard for your thermostat to make your whole house the temperature you want.

This is why Nest makes a remote Temperature Sensor (opens in new tab). Most homes don't have multiple systems to heat or cool them so using multiple thermostats isn't going to work out very well, but a remote sensor that can tell your thermostat to ramp up the air conditioner for a little bit because it's kind of warm in the den. The key is knowing what you need and how to use it.

Here are 10 important things you need to know about Nest's Temperature Sensors.

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When should I use one?

Even if you have a multi-story house that has warm or cold spots, you might not want to use a Temperature Sensor. It all depends on where you spend your time and where the main thermostat is.

If you spend most of your time in a spot that's too warm or too cold you can put a Temperature Sensor in the room so your Nest knows it needs to adjust. If you're comfortable where you spend most of the time but another spot in your house gets too warm or too cold, you won't want one. You can't easily move your thermostat, but if you wish you could, a Temperature Sensor is probably for you.

Do I have to have a Nest Thermostat to use one?

Yes. Nest Temperature Sensors are not stand-alone products nor do they work with other brands of thermostat. They're basic thermometers that are hard-coded to talk to your Nest, and only your Nest.

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Which Nest Thermostats support Temperature Sensors?

Temperature Sensors only work with these models:

  • Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd generation
  • Nest Thermostat E

Nest vs. Nest E: Which one is for you?

The Nest app will tell you which model you have under Technical info.

  • Open the Nest app
  • Choose your thermostat on the app's home screen
  • Tap the Settings icon in the top right corner
  • Tap Technical info

The first digit of the Display model number tells you which model you have. 1 is a first generation Nest, 2 is a second generation, 3 is a third generation, and 4 is a Nest Thermostat E. You can also look at the box it came in if you still have it. Look at the first two numbers of the Serial Number. 01 is a first generation Nest, 02 is a second generation, 09 is a third generation, and 15 is a Nest Thermostat E.

More: Nest Thermostat Gen 1 through Gen 3 and Nest E: Comparison and main differences

Do I need any wires?

Nope! The Nest Temperature Sensor connects to your Nest using Bluetooth and has a range up to 15 meters (about 50 feet). That measurement is in a straight line that can go through walls or floors so you'll probably be good unless you have a very large house. Sometimes house wiring can monkey with Bluetooth and shorten its range, but those issues are relatively rare.

How many Temperature Sensors can I use?

You can have up to six Temperature Sensors in the same house running from the same Nest Thermostat. If you do have multiple Nest Thermostats in one home, that means you can have 18 Temperature Sensors.

Can I use a different temperature sensor with my Nest?

Nest Thermostats will only work with Nest branded Temperature Sensors.

Can I check the temperature on all my sensors in the Nest app?

Yes. When you tap on a thermostat in the app you'll see all the sensors attached along with the current temperature of each and some information about how much warmer or cooler that usually are compared to your Nest Thermostat. This information can be helpful; it lets you know if you should move the Temperature Sensor to a different spot.

Do I need to plug it in?

No. A Nest Temperature Sensor is powered by a small Cr Lithium coin battery. They last a long time and are easy to change.

Do the Temperature Sensors know when I'm in the room?

No. There are no sensing abilities or motion detectors in the Temperature Sensors. They are designed to only read the temperature and let the main thermostat know what the reading is. They won't affect any smart sensing your Nest Thermostat might be set up to do in any way.

Will using one save me money?

Probably not. In fact it will probably cost a little more to heat and cool your home when you use one. Remote Temperature Sensors are designed to keep you comfortable in the room they are in, which means they might have to run the heating and cooling system a little more often.

A Nest Temperature Sensor isn't something everyone needs. But if you do need one, they are simple to set up and easy to use. And best of all, they're not going to break your wallet at only $40.

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Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • So basically what Ecobee has had since day 1.
  • Yep.
  • Doesn't the ecobee have a motion sensor built into the temp senors to take priority in rooms that are occupied?
  • Yes, it's called "Follow Me" but it is disabled by default. You would have to go into the settings and enable it. It takes into account all of the rooms that are occupied and averages the temperature in those rooms. The only issue with "Follow Me" is that it doesn't take into account when you are sleeping at night. After so long without detecting motion, the system sees the room as unoccupied. My guess, as i haven't used this feature yet, is that if it detects all of the rooms as unoccupied, it averages all of the sensors for the reading. With "Follow Me" disabled, it averages all of the rooms to get a "house" temperature. This week alone I've had a 6-7*C range in temps from my basement {18.5*C} (where we usually hang out) to my bedroom {25*C} on the second floor. My office {20.5*C} which is on the main floor was roughly in the middle.
  • Basically yes, with the exception of the Nest not being a laggy piece of plastic garbage.
  • For me, I got it yesterday ($10 rewards coupon at Best Buy was about to expire, so that dropped my personal price), and it will prove very useful. I found this out with the up and down weather in Central Ohio in April and so far in May. The new house I am living in, the thermostat is in the downstairs living room, where a lot of time is spent. When heat is needed, a blanket or sweatshirt is easy to grab (and my wife and I are snuggle into blanket people anyway), while upstairs all the heat rises and it's perfectly comfy cozy. So cold weather won't be the problem. But in the summer, we don't do well with warm rooms, especially sleeping, and the sensor has proven a five-degree temperature difference between the two levels. And wherever we have lived -- even well before we met -- we talked about how we are running the AC a bit more at night to compensate. The sensor, along with smart scheduling, can help mitigate how much we run the air to cool us off overnight. Imagine using an old thermostat and not controlling that easily with a smart app, like the old days years ago! We won't buy anymore sensors. It is not needed. No other rooms matter. But one sensor is going to make a difference and help us save money. Some won't find the sensors useful. Every house and every person's usage of a house varies way too much. But for me as well as my wife? This is a solid investment on top of the Nest thermostat we just installed a couple of weeks earlier. Not only will the thermostat be learning still, but now it will do so with the sensor.
  • One thing not mentioned here is that the Nest Sensor is an "either" device. You can select a schedule when you want your Nest thermostat to be in charge of heating or cooling OR your Sensor. You cannot tell your HVAC system to turn on, say, your air conditioning when one of your sensors or the thermostat reaches a set temperature. Your HVAC system can only 'watch' one device or the other.
  • Don't waste your money. While Nest tells you you can use 6, and a sells them in three-packs, info buried deep in installation instructions says you can only use one sensor at a time and even then in one of four pre-defined blocks of time. (So only one for "overnight" when you might want to sample several bedrooms, for instance). Nest sensors also take full control of your system from the main thermostat for the duration of the preset time block. Go with ecobee or look at third party "works with Nest" sensors that can also control special add-on air vents. The Nest sensors don't live up to their marketing hype.
  • Ecobee3 all the way!! I moved my Ecobee3 from the hallway to the living room, cuz it was useless in the hallway. The sensors have restored my sanity, because the living room/kitchen/dining room area heats and cools much faster then the bedrooms. The sensor in the bedroom keeps the system running long enough to make it comfortable in there. On humid days, it's a lifesaver.