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Originally published Friday, October 19, 2012 at 8:01 PM

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Next-generation thermostat teaches itself

The new version of the Nest thermostat is thinner, smarter and compatible with more types of heating and cooling systems.

The New York Times News Service

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Nest, the company founded by former Apple designer Tony Fadell, has begun selling a new version of its self-learning thermostat, upgrading its hardware and software to make it thinner, smarter and compatible with more types of heating and cooling systems.

The new Nest’s body is about 20 percent slimmer than its predecessor’s. Inside, the components have been reconfigured so that the thermostat will work with 95 percent of low-voltage heating and cooling systems in the United States, the company said.

The latest Nest software has improved algorithms intended to make the thermostat more readily adapt to a person’s system or daily patterns. For example, a feature called auto-away uses motion detection to determine when nobody is home and turns off a heater or air-conditioner after a certain time. The older software waited two hours before shutting down the system; the new version can take just 30 minutes because it tracks patterns to learn when someone is unlikely to be home — like early afternoon on a Sunday, when that person is at the gym, perhaps.

The improved algorithms should help the Nest learn about the nuances of a particular heating and cooling system. For example, in a house with old pipes that takes longer to heat up, the Nest will learn when to turn on the heat to get the house to a set temperature by a certain hour, said Maxime Veron, head of product marketing at Nest.

The company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., has about 130 employees, many from Apple, Google and Microsoft. Since Nest released its first thermostat in October 2011, it claims sales of “in the mid-hundreds of thousands” of units.

The new Nest costs $250; it is being sold at The software upgrade will be a free download for previous Nest owners.