We love home automation! Many of our listeners don't necessarily want to install an entire home automation system just to be able to control the temperature of their home while they are away. Whether it be because you forgot to turn off the HVAC System or it could be you want to heat up or cool down your house after being away, having control via the Internet is a very cool thing! When we saw the Nest Learning Thermostat announced last year we thought it would be an easy way to add one aspect of automation to your life pretty easily. The only issue was that we both had a home automation system and weren't about to rip out our Thermostats for a review.
Fortunately for us (and you) a listener to the show, John Langevin, took the time to write a through review of the Nest. We hope you find John's review as insightful as we did!
Nest Learning Thermostat Review
By: John Langevin
The Nest was designed by Tony Fadell, one of the geniuses behind the Apple iPod and iPhone. In pure Apple fashion, the entire packaging and unboxing experience was simple, but elegant. You open the box and the Nest is immediately starring back at you. It is very evident that time was put into your first impression with the device.
Photo Taken From www.nest.com
Installation of the Nest was extremely easy:
- Turn off power (at breaker) for the thermostat
- Remove old thermostat (taking note of what wire is hooked to what)
- Mark two screw locations for Nest base using built in bubble level
- Use included Nest screwdriver to screw in wall anchors
- Place base on wall and screw into wall anchors. If you desire to have a mounting plate behind the Nest base, it comes with a square and a rectangle mounting plate in case the old thermostat damaged the wall or there are holes you want to cover up
- Leave enough play in order to make last minute level adjustments and tighten
- Press in terminals, push wires into their corresponding locations, and let go
- Push Nest display onto base
- Turn power back on and the Nest will guide you through its setup
- Enter zip code
- Max/min temps when away
- Wi-Fi information
- Wiring confirmation
- Furnace/AC/Heat Pump configuration
Again, in Apple fashion, the only HMI (Human-Machine Interface) is the beautiful stainless steel ring that turns continuously around the display and that pushes inward to select. This proves to be annoying when you have a long Wi-Fi name and/or password, but not horrible since you only have to do it once.
Once the initial setup is complete, you can also start programming the schedule heat/cool schedule.
- Temperature and HumidityProximity
- Far-field and Near-field activity
- Ambient light to adjust display to environment (night verses day)
Wireless Internet Access:
- Automatic software/firmware updates
- Complete temperature/schedule control on iPhone and computer anywhere you have internet access
- The Nest has 3 activity sensors in its arsenal.
- The far-field and near-field activity sensors detect activity in the house and turn off/on the “auto-away” feature in case you forget to turn the heating/cooling off as you leave. When the sensors detect that there has been no activity in a given period of time, the “auto-away” feature will automatically turn your thermostat to whatever away setpoints you have programed.
- The Proximity sensor turns the display on when you come near enough to make adjustments to the temperature or device and turns it off when you leave.
- Can create a different set point every 15 minutes, 7 days a week. This means you have the ability to set up to 96 different setpoints a day, or 672 in a week (if so desired). You can add/modify these setpoints easily on the Nest and on the computer.
- This allows extreme flexibility in how you set your temperatures during the day itself and day-to-day. You are not limited to 4 setpoints a day for wakeup, leave, arrive, and sleep.
- The Nest schedule is also adaptive. It will look past an occasional adjustment to the temperature, but if you do it consistently, it will remember and add it to your “stock” weekly schedule.
- During the first week of use, the Nest learns your habits and the response time of your heating and cooling system. When you change the temp from 68 to 70, it will tell you “about” how long it will take to arrive at that new temperature.
- The Nest keeps track of your energy history and reports if you have used more or less energy than your “average” and will tell you why you received that score. For example, we’ve had a very mild winter thus far in MN and have been getting consistent highs in the 30s. One day last week, it was very sunny out and in the mid-40s. The report for that day said that I used below-average energy that day because of unseasonably nice/warm weather outside and showed a picture of a sun behind some clouds. It knows that it was nice outside because it keeps track of the weather forecast for the area and will determine how the outside temperature affects your energy usage.
- With your energy history in mind, every time you make an adjustment to the temperature and or schedule that brings you below your average energy usage, a small green leaf will show up on the display as a simple reminder you are using less energy than usual.
Everything listed above! The Nest is simple, elegant, and smart all at the same time. It automatically adapts to your fluid weekly schedule and is better than you at remembering to turn itself off! The more that I play with the Nest, the more little things I find that help make the experience more enjoyable.
Who know a thermostat would be so… cool (no pun attended)!
Price… $250 is a hard sale for a thermostat, but the company claims that the learning features of the device will help save up to 20% of your energy bill if programmed “correctly.” This is a pretty steep claim that I will suspend judgment on until I get more time with the device. Nest.com has a study on the website that describes how they came up with these figures:
Although simple and elegant, the interface is slow when entering long character strings. The ability to pair a Bluetooth keyboard would be nice.
I’m not sure if the Nest can be incorporated into any home automation equipment because this is my first entry into at least temperature automation. With the built-in WiFi, I’m sure it could be possible…