Using the Nest with baseboard heaters or fan heaters

4 min read

It is possible to use a smart thermostat such as the Nest with electric baseboard or wall heaters, it just requires a little extra work.

We get the calls every week. People asking if they can use the Nest with our baseboard heaters or fan heaters. The answer to that question is yes, you can make electric baseboard heaters and wall heaters work with the Nest and other smart thermostats if you use a relay but we don't necessarily think you should run out and buy one right now.

Yes, the Nest is a fantastic product that is getting a lot of buzz, and rightfully so. But there's one big reason why you should hold off on buying one until you consider other options for your electric baseboard or wall heaters: It's way more than what most people we talk to are looking for.

Thomas from our Tech Support Department says most people who ask about the Nest are really just looking for a thermostat that can be controlled by a smartphone app. If that's the case, the Nest is like buying a Ferrari when you're just looking for a basic car to get you to work. Will it get the job done? Absolutely, it's just overkill.

Why? The Nest (and other "learning" thermostats) are designed to learn your schedule and heating preferences and program themselves to fit your needs automatically. Here's now Nest puts it on its website:

"You never have to program a schedule. Because the Nest Thermostat learns what you like and programs itself. You can always adjust it manually."

In most cases, the Nest is used with a central heating system for your entire home. Electric baseboard heaters and wall heaters are controlled on a room-by-room basis, which means that learning thermostat will be learning schedules for when you use individual rooms in your home.

Thomas says most people end up being happy with a more basic WiFi thermostat like the Honeywell Focus Pro WiFi, which cost somewhere between $100 and $150. And like the Nest, Honeywell makes a phone app for Android and iOS that you can use to remotely change the temperature.

Thomas says the Nest is a great thermostat for a lot of people, but usually it's not a great fit for the customers he talks to on the phone.

"Less is more when you're dealing with electric heat and WiFi thermostats," he said.

Don't get us wrong. The Nest is a fantastic thermostat. A lot of people love it. If you want to use one with your electric baseboards or wall heaters, by all means -- go ahead and do it. We don't want to get in your way.

We just suggest you make sure you know what other options are out there before you make your decision.