Learn about zoned system compatibility with Nest thermostats

Google Nest thermostats are usually compatible with zoned systems, including zoned systems with dampers. However, some zoned systems that require thermostat damper control aren’t compatible with Nest thermostats, while other zoned systems may need a C or common wire to be Nest thermostat compatible.

If you have more than one thermostat in your home, you have a zoned system. In zoned systems, each thermostat controls heating and cooling independently in order to heat or cool different areas of the house. Thermostats in zoned systems can control the same heating and cooling system or each thermostat can control its own system.


When multiple thermostats control one system, the house is divided into zones using dampers in the ductwork throughout the house. When one zone needs heating or cooling, the damper for the ductwork in that zone opens, guiding the warm or cool air to that zone. Zoning with dampers is usually coordinated using zone relay panels.

Compatibility with zoned system panels 

Generally speaking, Nest thermostats are compatible with zoned system panels.

But some zone relay panels don't provide the Nest thermostat with enough power to charge its internal battery. In this case, the Nest thermostat needs a common or “C” wire connected to provide power. You can contact a local pro to see if a common wire is needed and to estimate the cost of installing one in your home in order for your system to become compatible with a Nest thermostat.

Compatibility with damper controls 

Some zoned systems rely on the thermostat to control the opening and closing of the dampers to control the flow of air throughout the home. If you have multiple dampers controlling the flow of warm and cool air to zones in your home, your system may be compatible with the Nest thermostat as long as your system only uses standard thermostat wires.

However, some damper systems use proprietary wires that aren’t compatible with Nest thermostats. For example, if your current thermostat has wires labeled MISC or Damp, it is not compatible.

If you need help determining if your damper system is compatible, contact a local pro in your area.

Compatibility with damper controls 

Some zoned HVAC system thermostats are configured as a “master” and “slave” where the “master” thermostat controls some or all functions of the “slave” thermostat. For example, your slave thermostat may not be able to call for heat if the master thermostat isn’t already heating.

Nest thermostats may not be compatible with this kind of type of system. Contact a local pro in your area to see if your system can be made compatible with a Nest thermostat.

How zoned systems are different than multistage systems 

While a zoned system will have different thermostats that control the heating and cooling for different parts of the same location, a multistage system is one zone where there is more than one level of heating or cooling. The allows households to save energy by only using the lowest level needed.

A multistage system will have multiple heating wires (such as W2 or W3) or cooling wires (Y2or Y3). Nest thermostats are compatible with up to three stage conventional heating (systems with W1, W2, & W3) and two stage conventional cooling (systems with Y1 or Y2).

Learn about multistage systems

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