Heating system compatibility with Nest thermostats

Nest thermostats are compatible with many different types of heating systems, including boiler systems. If you’re not sure what type of system you have, or if your system is compatible, you can always ask a Nest Pro.

  • Use our online Compatibility Checker to quickly check if your heating system can work with a Nest Learning Thermostat or Nest Thermostat E.
  • local Nest Pro installer will also be able to tell if your system is Nest compatible (and rewire it to be Nest compatible, if needed). They’ll also install and set up your thermostat and answer any questions you have.
  • ​See the sections below for more details about specific systems and compatibility with Nest thermostats.

Systems that are Nest compatible

Nest thermostat have been designed to work with many different types of heating systems, including boiler systems. But there are a few of key differences between models. The table below summarizes them. To learn more about specific system type compatibility, see the sections below in this article.

System

Nest Thermostat E

3rd gen
Nest Learning Thermostat

2nd gen
Nest Learning Thermostat

Domestic hot water tanks

 

 

OpenTherm-enabled heating systems

 

Combi boilers

System and heat-only boilers

Air-source and ground-source heat pumps

Biomass boilers

District and collective heating systems with accessible individual electric valve

Hydronic underfloor systems

Zoned systems

High-voltage (switched live) systems, low current (up to 3A)

Volt-free (dry contacts) systems, low current (up to 3A)

Electric heating controlled by fil pilote (Nest Pro installation required)

OpenTherm boiler compatibility

Both the 3rd gen Nest Thermostat and Nest Thermostat E support modulating boilers that are OpenTherm compatible. Modulating your heating system using a technology like OpenTherm delivers increased comfort and efficiency.

Learn how OpenTherm works with Nest thermostats >

Condensing boiler compatibility

Nest thermostats work condensing boilers that have standard On/Off control. The 3rd generation Nest Thermostat also works with condensing boilers that support OpenTherm.

Proprietary condensing boiler typically only work with a thermostat from the same manufacturer. However, converters are available from some manufacturers that may let a proprietary boiler work with a Nest thermostat.

Most boilers sold today are high efficiency condensing boilers. Condensing boilers are so efficient because they use the waste heat from the boiler’s flue gas to heat the water. Since the water has already been heated a little, the boiler needs less gas to get the water up to the right temperature. Condensing boilers are also efficient because they adapt the amount of fuel burned according to how much heating is needed.

District and collective heating compatibility

District or collective heating systems that are controlled by an accessible individual electric valve are compatible with Nest thermostats. However, you should contact a local Nest Pro installer and tell them that your apartment is heated with collective or district heating so they can ask you additional questions to determine Nest compatibility before they schedule an installation appointment.

If you already have a thermostat in your apartment, then it’s likely that you can have a Nest thermostat installed. In the Netherlands, district heating systems typically have thermostat control, so Nest thermostats are generally compatible there.

If you don’t have a thermostat to control your district heating, you may still be able to have a Nest thermostat installed if your heating valve is accessible to your installer. The installer must have access to the heating valve so they can connect it to the Nest Heat Link, which is included with your thermostat.

If you have a gas or electric meter in your apartment, the heating valve is probably located nearby. If your heating valve is located in the basement or outside of your apartment, a Nest thermostat installation may not be possible. 

Domestic hot water compatibility

The options you have for controlling your hot water with the Nest app depend on what type of boiler/hot water heater you have.

Learn about domestic hot water control for Nest thermostats and how to change settings >

Zoned system compatibility

If you have a zoned system (more than one thermostat in your home), each zone can be controlled by a Nest thermostat and Heat Link. You do not have to install Nest thermostats in all zones at once. You can start with one zone controlled by a Nest thermostat, and then equip other zones with Nest thermostats later.

How Nest thermostats work with zoned systems >

Fil pilote compatibility

Fil pilote systems usually control multiple electric radiators with a single thermostat or controller. They’re common in France and many electric radiators sold there since the 1980s are fil pilote enabled. Fil pilote thermostats can also have different modes such as: Onfrostnight, and day.

Both Nest Thermostat E and 3rd gen Nest Learning Thermostat are compatible with fil pilote electric radiators, but installation will be a little different depending on if you have a fil pilote thermostat or not, and what thermostat you’re installing.

In all cases, we recommend installation by a Nest Pro because advanced wiring is usually necessary. For instance, your Nest Pro may need to install an additional fil pilote diode(sold separately) depending on your current system.

Compatibility with other system types

Forced-air heat pumps, condensing boilers, and other less common heating systems are compatible with Nest thermostats if they use standard cables: neutral, live, call-for-heat, common, or satisfied. Contact a local Nest Pro installer for help determining Nest compatibility.

Systems that aren't Nest compatible

There are two main reasons that a heating system may not be compatible with Nest thermostat: it’s high current or a proprietary system.

High current systems

While most heating systems are high voltage (usually 230V), usually they only use a little bit of current at a time (up to 3A). However, some systems that are high voltage use a higher current (sometimes as high as 16A or higher) - for example, electric radiators or electric underfloor systems. Thermostats are designed to handle either low current or high current. The Nest Thermostat only supports low current systems since they are by far the most common. The fil pilote electric radiator systems in France are compatible with the Nest Thermostat when installed by a Nest Pro.

Proprietary systems

Proprietary systems use a serial communication protocol between the system and the thermostat. These protocols are specific to the manufacturer of the system – they aren’t standardized across the industry, and only thermostats made by the same manufacturer are compatible with these systems.

Some of these proprietary systems may also have the option to use standard heating system wires. In this case, a professional may be able to connect your system to a Nest thermostat. If you think your system uses a proprietary communications protocol, contact a local Nest Pro installer in your area for help.

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