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The new Nest smart thermostat is slimmer, compatible with 95% of systems

After launching the incredibly polished Nest Learning Thermostat last year, you’d think there wasn’t much room for improvement from the team at Nest Labs. But you’d be wrong: Today, the company is unveiling the second generation Nest, which features a slimmer and more refined design, as well as compatibility with 95 percent of low-voltage heating and cooling systems in the U.S (up from 75 percent).

At first glance, the new Nest thermostat doesn’t look that much different from its predecessor, despite being 20 percent thinner. But upon closer examination, the additional polish becomes clearer: Now there’s only a single stainless steel ring between the front of the unit and the wall mount, instead of the split ring design from the original unit.

Under the hood, the Nest now has 10 wires to support more systems — the new unit adds support for two-stage cooling, three-stage heating, heat pump emergency heating, and whole home humidifier and dehumidifiers. As you can see in the images below, Nest Labs has also tweaked the wire orientation to be circular, which the company says will make it easier to install.

The new Nest is also sporting version 3.0 of the company’s software, which will be available to original Nest owners as a free update. With the new software, Nest is even more efficient and will customize its behavior to suit your heating and cooling system. For example, a new Early-On feature will make sure forced air systems begin early enough to reach your ideal temperature, and True Radiant capabilities make it easier to deal with notoriously complex radiant systems.

The thermostat’s Auto-Away feature, which lets the Nest tweak your heating and cooling when you leave the house, has also been radically improved. Now Nest can hit Auto-Away mode in as few as 30 minutes, and Nest’s software will also do a better job of learning your habits.

In addition to the existing Android phone and iOS apps, Nest has also released an Android tablet app. All of the mobile apps can give you more detail about specific heating events.

Overall, the updated Nest isn’t something existing Nest owners will need to rush out and get — but for everyone else who’s been eyeing the thermostat, it provides a tempting reason to get one. Maxime Veron, Nest’s head of product marketing, said the company’s goal isn’t to force existing users to upgrade. First-gen Nest owners can expect continued software upgrades for some time.

The second generation Nest thermostat is now available for pre-order for $249 on the company’s website. It will start shipping in the middle of October, and will be available in retail stores by the end of the month. To clear out old stock, Lowe’s (and possibly other retailers) will be reducing the price of the original Nest unit to $229.

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