Author Topic: Installed new wifi thermostat  (Read 1249 times)

frugalnacho

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Installed new wifi thermostat
« on: January 17, 2018, 12:37:35 PM »
Our thermostat crapped out last night at 10PM...well, we noticed it was cold at 10PM, it probably happened an hour or two before that.  The temperature was down into the single digits (Fahrenheit) last night. 

Did some trouble shooting to determine the thermostat was still receiving power, no breakers were tripped, and the fuse in the air box was still good.   Thermostat display was dead, so that was the likely culprit (batteries were replaced too, but did not help). I put a space heater in my baby's room, turned the electric blanket on on our bed, and left the oven on all night so we didn't freeze (kept the oven door closed obviously).

Woke up at 6am, the baby's room was at 70*, my bedroom at 50*, the kitchen/living room at 55*, and the basement at 45*.  I picked  up a new wifi thermostat from home depot and installed it.   $129, and I should get a $50 rebate from my gas company.  Now I can control my furnace and AC from my smart phone.

HipGnosis

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2018, 09:24:31 AM »
Gotta ask; why pay extra for a wifi thermostat?
Programmable thermostats have proven their savings and Last I looked, only cost around $25.
I don't see any ROI on the extra money spent.

I want 'smart home' devices to control and monitor a few things (to start, with the option to get into home automation), but I can't find any ROI to justify it.
 

Bird In Hand

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2018, 09:48:39 AM »
I agree the WiFi thermostat likely isn't going to have a good ROI compared to a simple programmable model.  Factoring in the small current draw to keep the WiFi radio going, the ROI gets even worse.

Maybe the badassity was in solving the problem and installing it himself -- not necessarily the WiFi part?

On the decidedly non-badassity side, I will say that having a WiFi thermostat has been a nice luxury in my case.  Often we override the programmed schedule, and sometimes that means I've just about fallen asleep when I suddenly remember I forgot to turn down the temperature.  It's really nice to not have to get out of my warm bed on a cold night and run downstairs to manually adjust it.  I just set it with my phone or ask Alexa to do it.

We've also left the house and forgotten to turn down the heat.  Turning it down from our phones when we're out is great -- as is turning it up remotely if we're going to be home earlier than planned and don't want to be chilly upon arrival.  My thermostat also has geofencing to take care of that automatically, but I haven't used it yet.
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frugalnacho

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2018, 11:25:10 AM »
Gotta ask; why pay extra for a wifi thermostat?
Programmable thermostats have proven their savings and Last I looked, only cost around $25.
I don't see any ROI on the extra money spent.

I want 'smart home' devices to control and monitor a few things (to start, with the option to get into home automation), but I can't find any ROI to justify it.

The "smart" wifi thermostats were eligible for a $50 rebate/credit, the regular programmable are not.  The $25 programmable one from the local home depot is the one whose premature death (like 7 years?) spawned this thread.  The other programmable non-wifi models were more than $25, though some were below the net price I ended up paying, so I did end up paying for the luxury of the wifi.  I expect it will occasionally come in handy and help save costs by adjusting the temperature remotely, but I haven't done the full math to calculate what the life time savings would be to know if it pays for itself.  I was limited to the stock on hand locally and made my decision based on ratings/reviews and price (factoring in $50 rebate).

The badassity part was my family is not freezing, I didn't call an HVAC tech, and I ended up making it to work a few minutes early.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and a cathartic stress relief hearing my furnace fire up after installation. 

Bird In Hand

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2018, 01:18:56 PM »
...The $25 programmable one from the local home depot is the one whose premature death (like 7 years?) spawned this thread.

...I expect it will occasionally come in handy and help save costs by adjusting the temperature remotely, but I haven't done the full math to calculate what the life time savings would be to know if it pays for itself.

Your $25 thermostat lasted 7 years.  What makes you think your WiFi model will last longer than that?  Of course it's impossible to say for sure, but it is a more complex bit of equipment and it's probably more likely to suffer some sort of failure more frequently than a simpler unit.  At any rate you can't calculate the lifetime cost until it dies.  And over the next N years you're not going to be able to accurately keep track of how many times you used it to adjust the temperature remotely, nor the cost savings realized by those incidents.

Your thermostat probably costs a couple dollars more per year in electricity than a regular programmable model.  The longer it lives, the more expensive it gets!

Just admit that it was a (minor) luxury purchase borne of necessity, and call it a day.   :D

Quote
The badassity part was my family is not freezing, I didn't call an HVAC tech, and I ended up making it to work a few minutes early.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and a cathartic stress relief hearing my furnace fire up after installation.

True badassity would have been simply connecting together the thermostat wires to get heat as needed until you had time to do a cost/benefit analysis of programmable vs wifi thermostats, and then shopped for the best deal.

</tongue in cheek>

Did I mention I love my WiFi thermostat?
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frugalnacho

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2018, 03:11:04 PM »
...The $25 programmable one from the local home depot is the one whose premature death (like 7 years?) spawned this thread.

...I expect it will occasionally come in handy and help save costs by adjusting the temperature remotely, but I haven't done the full math to calculate what the life time savings would be to know if it pays for itself.

Your $25 thermostat lasted 7 years.  What makes you think your WiFi model will last longer than that?  Of course it's impossible to say for sure, but it is a more complex bit of equipment and it's probably more likely to suffer some sort of failure more frequently than a simpler unit.  At any rate you can't calculate the lifetime cost until it dies.  And over the next N years you're not going to be able to accurately keep track of how many times you used it to adjust the temperature remotely, nor the cost savings realized by those incidents.

Your thermostat probably costs a couple dollars more per year in electricity than a regular programmable model.  The longer it lives, the more expensive it gets!

Just admit that it was a (minor) luxury purchase borne of necessity, and call it a day.   :D

Quote
The badassity part was my family is not freezing, I didn't call an HVAC tech, and I ended up making it to work a few minutes early.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and a cathartic stress relief hearing my furnace fire up after installation.

True badassity would have been simply connecting together the thermostat wires to get heat as needed until you had time to do a cost/benefit analysis of programmable vs wifi thermostats, and then shopped for the best deal.

</tongue in cheek>

Did I mention I love my WiFi thermostat?

Significantly higher reviews from a lot of users.

It's powered by 2 AA batteries, not my mains.  I am expecting total electrical operating costs to be under 50 cents a year, which pales in comparison to the cost of actually running the furnace or AC.  I can easily offset that cost by remotely turning the AC up or the heat down one day per year when I happen to not be home during the normal programmed schedule.  Every other time I remotely adjust the temperature to save money it will all be gravy.  I think you guys are wrong about the increased usage due to wifi; I think it will ultimately use less overall energy to run than a simple programmable one, which is probably why it earns the energy star label and my utility company is willing to subsidize it with a $50 rebate.

I did jump the wires to verify the fan still ran.  I didn't want to leave my furnace running jerry rigged all night though.  I felt more comfortable running the oven all night.  Didn't keep the house nearly as warm as the furnace would have, but we didn't freeze.  I have no reservations about popping a turkey in the oven for 5 hours, so I saw no reason I couldn't run it for 5 hours with no turkey. 



Bird In Hand

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2018, 07:21:01 PM »
Hey man, I was just razzin' you a little bit.

Significantly higher reviews from a lot of users.

Stockholm syndrome.

Quote
It's powered by 2 AA batteries, not my mains.  I am expecting total electrical operating costs to be under 50 cents a year

If 2AA batteries are the only things powering the thermostat, including the WiFi radio, then either 1) the batteries may need replacing every few weeks (multiply your 50c/yr by 10 at least), or 2) The WiFi will probably enter standby mode and it's going to drive you insane when you can't connect to the WiFi when you most need it.

What is the make/model of the thermostat?
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frugalnacho

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2018, 09:59:52 AM »
Emerson sensi st55. 

Had I known in advance that I needed to replace it I probably would have gone with a different model, but I had to pick what was in stock at my local store.

Some people commented about using batteries fast, but most did not.  I'm thinking those people have a heat only or cool only system that keeps the wifi on? The radio is supposed to turn off to preserve battery and most people don't seem to have an issue with it.  Time will tell.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2018, 10:21:46 AM »
Emerson sensi st55. 

Had I known in advance that I needed to replace it I probably would have gone with a different model, but I had to pick what was in stock at my local store.

Some people commented about using batteries fast, but most did not.  I'm thinking those people have a heat only or cool only system that keeps the wifi on? The radio is supposed to turn off to preserve battery and most people don't seem to have an issue with it.  Time will tell.

I think it's a good choice.  I got the same thing (+/-, the UP500W) for $89 on Black Friday.  I really like it.

I read the reviews extensively before buying, and my conclusion was that 24V power (either through the C-wire or borrowing from the AC 24V during heating season and heater 24V during the cool season) was required.  Without it, the batteries will drain and/or the WiFi will go into standby mode.  With WiFi in standby, it seems that many customers had trouble with the thermostat being offline and unavailable.

For this reason, I pulled a common wire to my thermostat and hooked it up to my heating system.

Hopefully yours will work out for you!
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teen persuasion

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2018, 10:39:48 AM »
We discovered that programmable thermostats don't function when they hit 32 F.  Ours is on a cold wall (remodeling the room on the other side, so it's unheated and uninsulated).  One morning when it was abnormally cold out (negative F) we woke to a cold house.  The thermostat was blank, tried replacing batteries, but if we took it to a warmer room it recovered and began functioning above 32F.  Plugged it back in, and the cold wall shut it down again.  Our fix was to start a fire in the woodstove to warm the room enough to keep the thermostat running. 

It's only an issue in abnormally cold temps, but it's a stupid glitch.

frugalnacho

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2018, 12:28:16 PM »
Emerson sensi st55. 

Had I known in advance that I needed to replace it I probably would have gone with a different model, but I had to pick what was in stock at my local store.

Some people commented about using batteries fast, but most did not.  I'm thinking those people have a heat only or cool only system that keeps the wifi on? The radio is supposed to turn off to preserve battery and most people don't seem to have an issue with it.  Time will tell.

I think it's a good choice.  I got the same thing (+/-, the UP500W) for $89 on Black Friday.  I really like it.

I read the reviews extensively before buying, and my conclusion was that 24V power (either through the C-wire or borrowing from the AC 24V during heating season and heater 24V during the cool season) was required.  Without it, the batteries will drain and/or the WiFi will go into standby mode.  With WiFi in standby, it seems that many customers had trouble with the thermostat being offline and unavailable.

For this reason, I pulled a common wire to my thermostat and hooked it up to my heating system.

Hopefully yours will work out for you!

I guess I will see how battery life is.  I may end up adding a wire if they die too frequently.

Arbitrage

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2018, 02:01:51 PM »
Gotta ask; why pay extra for a wifi thermostat?
Programmable thermostats have proven their savings and Last I looked, only cost around $25.
I don't see any ROI on the extra money spent.

I want 'smart home' devices to control and monitor a few things (to start, with the option to get into home automation), but I can't find any ROI to justify it.

Not the OP, but I did the same in late December (thermostat crapped out in the midst of a cold spell in SoCal right when we finally needed it).  I had every intention of buying a cheapo thermostat, but then saw the handy-dandy flyer nearby:

$125 rebate when buying a fancy thermostat, plus up to $60/year in recurring rebates when signing up for the utility company program that allows them to raise your thermostat setting a few degrees during a summer power alert.  Can always be overridden, and only applies between 2-6 pm non-holiday weekdays (i.e. we're rarely even home).

The $200 thermostat will end up being cheaper than the regular models after a year or so.  Sold.  Turns out, I like it a lot more than I thought I would.

robartsd

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2018, 02:41:35 PM »
True badassity would have been simply connecting together the thermostat wires to get heat as needed until you had time to do a cost/benefit analysis of programmable vs wifi thermostats, and then shopped for the best deal figure out how to fix the old programmable thermostat.

Syonyk

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2018, 10:25:39 PM »
Gotta ask; why pay extra for a wifi thermostat?
Programmable thermostats have proven their savings and Last I looked, only cost around $25.
I don't see any ROI on the extra money spent.

I want 'smart home' devices to control and monitor a few things (to start, with the option to get into home automation), but I can't find any ROI to justify it.

It depends on the system.  If you've got cheap natural gas heating, the ROI on a fancier thermostat is limited.  If you have something like a heat pump with backup coils (big resistors that consume hellish amounts of power), running the system intelligently is worth something.  I'm fairly certain our Nest unit has saved us money in the past year and a half, simply because it tries to run the heat pump intelligently compared to the cheap programmable thermostats.  The basic heat pump thermostats are really, really stupid - they'll panic and turn on the backup coils if you ask for more than a few degree difference, even if it's 80F outside (when we got our house installed, I cooked it to drive out the various volatile organics as best I could).  The Nest will start the heat pump quite early in the morning to bring the temperature up.

Plus, a lot of the smarter units (vs a simple programmable) are better at detecting (via motion sensors, phone location, etc) if someone is home, and if not, they'll open up to a much wider temperature range.  Our thermostat is set to one range if people are home, but if nobody is home, it lets the temperature range from something like 50F to 90F (I'd set it higher but we have ferrets and they don't do well at high temperatures, though they love the cold).  This is automatic - we don't have to think about it.  Or we can set it away from a phone.  Or, on our way home from a weekend out camping, tell it to start actually doing something as we head home, and have the house reasonable when we get home.

The Nest will also run a dual fuel system reasonably - if you have a heat pump with a natural gas backup furnace (in place of the coils).

Now, I think most of the "Smart Home" gizmos are worthless gimmickry.  Alexa included.  But with typical home climate control energy use, they can be a lot more efficient than just a basic programmable.

True badassity would have been simply connecting together the thermostat wires to get heat as needed until you had time to do a cost/benefit analysis of programmable vs wifi thermostats, and then shopped for the best deal.

That was my first thought as well... look up a wiring diagram for whatever my furnace configuration was and hotwire the furnace with a toggle switch or something until I got around to fixing it. :)
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Syonyk

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2018, 10:26:29 PM »
True badassity would have been simply connecting together the thermostat wires to get heat as needed until you had time to do a cost/benefit analysis of programmable vs wifi thermostats, and then shopped for the best deal figure out how to fix the old programmable thermostat.

I'm curious if you've actually tried to repair cheap consumer electronics like that before.  Without a good schematic, they're damned near impossible to reverse engineer enough to diagnose and replace the failed part.  It annoys me greatly. :(
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Dennis_5

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2018, 12:03:31 PM »
great work...

Malkynn

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2018, 06:05:52 AM »
Iím getting a free wifi thermostat installed today ;)

robartsd

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Re: Installed new wifi thermostat
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2018, 01:16:56 PM »
True badassity would have been simply connecting together the thermostat wires to get heat as needed until you had time to do a cost/benefit analysis of programmable vs wifi thermostats, and then shopped for the best deal figure out how to fix the old programmable thermostat.

I'm curious if you've actually tried to repair cheap consumer electronics like that before.  Without a good schematic, they're damned near impossible to reverse engineer enough to diagnose and replace the failed part.  It annoys me greatly. :(
No, I haven't. I thought it was pretty clear that I was just getting carried away in sarcasm. I like the idea of a toggle switch as a temporary "get the heat on right now" solution.