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Can a Nest Thermostat Control an HRV

Last Updated Nov 13, 2021
eating watermelon with a fan

In many more frigid climates, homeowners turn to HRVs or heat recovery ventilator systems to keep fresh air coming inside the house while removing moisture. Sometimes, these same people install Nest thermostats to make controlling the temperature in their homes easier and more streamlined. Combining the two devices can make for a very energy-efficient and comfortable home year-round.

The Nest thermostat does not have the capability to control an HRV. The possibility of the Nest controlling both an HRV and your standard HVAC system would be helpful. Nest does not contain any hardware that is capable of that much integration between systems.

If you’re left wondering whether or not you need an HRV or what kind of Smart Thermostat does control an HRV, keep reading. We have answers here to help you learn more about Nest Thermostats and HRVs.

Why Use an HRV?

An HRV is a heat recovery ventilator. These devices are typically installed in places that have harsher winters. Essentially, they remove the air in the home that typically has more moisture. At the same time, they pump fresh air back into the home and mix it with some of the heat leftover from the exhaust. The combination is done by the utilization of a heat recovery core.

The systems are measured in CFM, which is called the exchange rate. The higher the number, the larger the home is able to help keep warm.

This system combines with a traditional HVAC system and can be quite efficient. Also, the occupants can enjoy more fresh air throughout the year without losing any heat within the home. Companies like Venmar and Vanee make a wide variety of HRV systems of different sizes that are sure to suit almost any situation.

HRV systems are truly only meant for more consistent cold climates, not ones that only have cold weather from time to time.

Adjusting Humidity with Nest Thermostats

Nest Thermostats have become the go-to choice for homeowners looking to make their appliances “smart” and easy to control from anywhere. While they have a robust set of features that please the majority of installers, they are limited to humidifiers and dehumidifiers only. They are hardware limited in this aspect, with no workaround that a homeowner could use to make it work.

The multitude of terminals and wiring on the Nest can make the installer think an HRV connection is possible, but it should not be attempted. HRV systems require more involvement from the controller, which is not possible with the Nest.

The lack of HRV integration may be a deal-breaker to some, but the humidifier and dehumidifier control that the Nest does have should be plenty for the majority of the population. Furthermore, Nest thermostats allow the HVAC system fan to keep running, which is often enough to maintain the temperature in a home.

Just because you can’t control an HRV with a Nest Thermostat doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t adjust the humidity. You can still control the A/C with your Nest, which is one effective way of controlling the humidity in your home. If you’re A/C has a dehumidification setting, you can use your Nest even further to keep your house from getting too humid.

Do Any Smart Thermostats Control an HRV?

As stated before, Nest thermostats cannot control an HRV. But that does not mean there are none available that do. The Ecobee SmartThermostat has the hardware necessary to control HVAC systems and an HRV simultaneously. While not made by Nest, the Ecobee SmartThermostat does support the Google Assistant, which keeps voice commands on par with that of the Nest.

Other Options to Control an HRV

Other options that are available to control an HRV are simple programable thermostats. While they lack Wi-Fi connectivity and some other “smart” functions as a Nest or Ecobee, they still contain many of the same functions. For example, the Vanee thermostat has a full feature set and “smart” functionality. Although it is not in the same context as the Nest, homeowners that do not care about voice functions and Wi-Fi may not notice. 

Final Thoughts

Despite the Nest not being able to control an HRV, it is still a very strong smart thermostat and will fit the needs of the majority of homeowners. To those that live in colder climates and wish to have full integration, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat is an exceptional alternative and still provides many of the same smart features that people are looking for.