Author Topic: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?  (Read 12522 times)

Insanity

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1026
Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« on: July 04, 2013, 08:19:04 PM »
All -

I live in a split level house and the programmable thermostat we have is "eh".  The top floor still gets excessively hot in the summer due to the location of the thermostat.  I've got two friends that have similar houses and air flow issues.  One has the Nest the other got a Honeywell Wireless thermostat (a separate unit located upstairs and it basically tries to balance them out).

Has anyone used either?  Would the nest actually solve the problem even though it has only one thermostat?  What is the ideal location for the thermostat? 

Thanks!

psu256

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 84
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 08:30:51 PM »
Well, hot air rises, so if that is your main problem, that is where I would put the thermostat.

I have a Nest 1.0, and I like it. I don't know much about the Honeywell offering, but I can tell you some things I like about my Nest.

For one, it promotes the concept in http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/14/the-worlds-most-efficient-air-conditioner/ by challenging you to "earn a leaf" when you set the thermostat. It gets you to progressively set the thermostat higher to earn one as you adapt. You even get emailed a report each month showing what percentile of "leaf-earners" you are in.

It has infrared sensors to set the temperature to "auto-away" if it hasn't detected anyone in a while, as well as a "sunblock" feature that it uses to sense it is being warmed up locally by light.

There are several other features such as Airwave, Heat Pump Balance, etc. that are probably worth reading about on their website as they are more complicated...

nataelj

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 51
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2013, 09:19:03 PM »
Another possibility worth checking on, some HVAC units have separate piping going to different levels. In these the best approach is to put the upstairs wide open and the downstairs mostly closed in the summer and then reverse in the winter. That will help fight your problem more and balance the house out a fair bit even with just your current thermostat, worth checking to see if you have this option. In the house I saw this in it was the piping coming straight out of the HVAC unit that had this and you could close and open with little metal bars on the sides that rotated.

Beyond that, are you more concerned with evening out the house temperature, keeping your costs low, or both? Your post doesn't say which is the priority and it would make a difference.

Finally, it's also well worth looking into some simple things you can do to reduce the impact of the sun. Old southern houses used to be built with things like that in mind and it helped keep houses cool long before air conditioning. Closing shutters, curtains and blinds to keep the sun out is a big one (you'd be amazed at how much difference this can make), if the outside air is cool enough in the morning and evening then opening up doors and having a big fan pull in the cool air at those two times can help, as could just a fan on the stairs pushing air up to mix more. Are you concerned the upstairs windows are letting in heat or is it just the light heating? If the former maybe better insulated windows would help? I'm sure a few google searches along those lines will tell you a lot.

Might be tempting to go out and buy a new thermostat first things to fix this but before you put money toward a new product I think it worth checking to see if a little ingenuity, elbow grease, and internet knowledge could fix your problem with no cost to you! A fun challenge to try to fix.

Followup Thoughts: Also, it struck me, even if you don't have the option to shift your airflow to the upstairs, you could just block off a few of the downstairs vents manually (cover them with tape or something) to increase the pressure in the system to upstairs. Another potentially easy fix that won't cost you any money.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2013, 09:04:58 AM by nataelj »

grantmeaname

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4750
  • Age: 27
  • Location: NYC
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2013, 07:33:38 AM »
Previous discussion of this topic here and here. The search function is your friend.

prodarwin

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 302
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2013, 09:03:09 AM »
FWIW:  I have an Ecobee Smart Si.  With the Ecobee Smart (slightly more expensive), you can buy additional temp sensors, humidity sensors, etc (all WIFI). and integrate them into your programming.  May be useful to have a top floor temp sensor control A/C in the summer and bottom floor sensor control heat in the winter - or use the average/weighted average of the two.  You can also get plug modules that the thermostat/programming can turn on/off - this can allow you to put a small A/C unit somewhere to supplement a floor/area, or do the opposite with a heater.

I did a lot of research on the Nest before purchasing the Ecobee but came across many issues as seen in some of the threads posted above.  I bought it for the ease of control, and ability to control via WIFI when I inevitably leave the A/C set to 72 and leave for vacation for a week... if I had the issue you described, I'd spring more for the additional sensors/control.

The ideal location for a thermostat:  wherever you want to control the temperature :)

Greg

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1449
  • Location: Olympia, WA, USA
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2013, 09:37:57 AM »
It sounds like you have a/c.  If not, you need to open some windows upstairs and let the hot air out, or look into more/better attic insulation.

One thermostat may not be able to handle your needs, but two will only work if you have two zones, one for upstairs and one for downstairs.  This means separately controlled vents for forced air, or valves for hydronic heat.  For a/c it's similar.

Your thermostat should be located near the center of the house, near an interior doorway between the largest room and the smaller rooms, but not too near the stairs where drafts will affect it.

The best programmable thermostat is the one you set and forget.  If you find yourself fiddling with it, it's not set correctly.  Keep fine-tuning until you can ignore it.  If you're trying to fine tune your a/c, it sounds like you need to increase vent flow to the upstairs and lessen it to the downstairs. 

When there are many closed doors, be sure the doors have about 3/4" space between the bottom and the floor so air can still flow.

I have friends with the nest thermostat, and the biggest reason they like it is that they can see what its doing on their cell phone.  Their kids are always messing with the setting in the winter and the app let's them know if this has happened.

prodarwin

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 302
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2013, 09:59:16 AM »
Their kids are always messing with the setting in the winter and the app let's them know if this has happened.

Also related:  You can password-protect the Ecobee so nobody can mess with it :)

ivyhedge

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
  • Location: United States of Farse
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2013, 10:19:35 AM »
FWIW:  I have an Ecobee Smart Si.  With the Ecobee Smart (slightly more expensive), you can buy additional temp sensors, humidity sensors, etc (all WIFI). and integrate them into your programming.  May be useful to have a top floor temp sensor control A/C in the summer and bottom floor sensor control heat in the winter - or use the average/weighted average of the two.  You can also get plug modules that the thermostat/programming can turn on/off - this can allow you to put a small A/C unit somewhere to supplement a floor/area, or do the opposite with a heater.

I did a lot of research on the Nest before purchasing the Ecobee but came across many issues as seen in some of the threads posted above.  I bought it for the ease of control, and ability to control via WIFI when I inevitably leave the A/C set to 72 and leave for vacation for a week... if I had the issue you described, I'd spring more for the additional sensors/control.

The ideal location for a thermostat:  wherever you want to control the temperature :)


Prodarwin (love the name) - how would array of sensors work with two zones? We will have a lower, and upper, heat pump unit in our new condo and since the master Ecobee box needs to be installed at the HVAC with the slave elsewhere, how are two systems handled? Also, do you use the utility monitoring feature (and control remote outlets, too?) with your Ecobee?

prodarwin

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 302
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2013, 10:45:58 AM »
Prodarwin (love the name) - how would array of sensors work with two zones? We will have a lower, and upper, heat pump unit in our new condo and since the master Ecobee box needs to be installed at the HVAC with the slave elsewhere, how are two systems handled? Also, do you use the utility monitoring feature (and control remote outlets, too?) with your Ecobee?

Ivy - I'm not sure how it would work with two zones.  I have a simple single zone, single stage heat/cool.  I know you can have two separate thermostats, but they can be linked/communicate with one another.  Ecobee does support multi-zone systems though:  http://www.ecobee.com/news/ecobee-and-zone-control/  If you flip through their FAQ, there a few similar questions related to the remote sensors.

I don't use the remote control outlets.  Its one thing I found out about after purchasing the Smart Si and not the Smart.  In retrospect, they should call the Smart Si the "Not quite as smart" instead :).  I've thought of all sorts of neat things I could do with the additional functionality... maybe I'll sell mine and upgrade one of these days.  Some ideas:

-In winter, use a remote sensor in the bedroom during "sleep" mode.  Using a remote plug, actuate an electric heater to maintain the temp... let the rest of the house drop.
-In winter, use a remote plug to turn on a heater in the bathroom about 30 minutes before we get up.  Waking up to a 60 deg house isn't bad when the bathroom is still a cozy 70.  I may try this one with an old mechanical timer I have laying around.
-Use one for a heated towel rack.  Anti-M for sure, but its a low cost (~100W) "luxury" my girlfriend would like.  Problem is they don't have auto on/off so I can guarantee I would end up wasting a bunch of energy by leaving one on all the time. 
-Use one for an engine block warmer/car heater.

No monitoring is available for me yet.  I just installed it recently (just moved into my house in June), and you need 1 month of usage to get useful data.

ivyhedge

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
  • Location: United States of Farse
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2013, 11:21:28 AM »
Prodarwin (love the name) - how would array of sensors work with two zones? We will have a lower, and upper, heat pump unit in our new condo and since the master Ecobee box needs to be installed at the HVAC with the slave elsewhere, how are two systems handled? Also, do you use the utility monitoring feature (and control remote outlets, too?) with your Ecobee?

Ivy - I'm not sure how it would work with two zones.  I have a simple single zone, single stage heat/cool.  I know you can have two separate thermostats, but they can be linked/communicate with one another.  Ecobee does support multi-zone systems though:  http://www.ecobee.com/news/ecobee-and-zone-control/  If you flip through their FAQ, there a few similar questions related to the remote sensors.

I don't use the remote control outlets.  Its one thing I found out about after purchasing the Smart Si and not the Smart.  In retrospect, they should call the Smart Si the "Not quite as smart" instead :).  I've thought of all sorts of neat things I could do with the additional functionality... maybe I'll sell mine and upgrade one of these days.  Some ideas:

-In winter, use a remote sensor in the bedroom during "sleep" mode.  Using a remote plug, actuate an electric heater to maintain the temp... let the rest of the house drop.
-In winter, use a remote plug to turn on a heater in the bathroom about 30 minutes before we get up.  Waking up to a 60 deg house isn't bad when the bathroom is still a cozy 70.  I may try this one with an old mechanical timer I have laying around.
-Use one for a heated towel rack.  Anti-M for sure, but its a low cost (~100W) "luxury" my girlfriend would like.  Problem is they don't have auto on/off so I can guarantee I would end up wasting a bunch of energy by leaving one on all the time. 
-Use one for an engine block warmer/car heater.

No monitoring is available for me yet.  I just installed it recently (just moved into my house in June), and you need 1 month of usage to get useful data.


Thanks for the comprehensive reply. I'm looking forward to the reading...

Insanity

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1026
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2013, 08:00:37 PM »
Previous discussion of this topic here and here. The search function is your friend.

The search can also be the enemy when you don't get results that you like or threads don't have the information being requested.  But thanks.

For some reason our split level has the thermostat in the dining room area which is the middle level of the house.  The problem is the top level gets way hotter due to how air flows in.  That's with switching the vents appropriately in the fall and spring (i.e.: right now we have the upstairs vents open, downstairs vents mostly - since they can't be totally - closed).

The Escobee is one I'll have to look into.  Thanks for posting that.



psu256

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 84
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2013, 08:35:25 PM »
Their kids are always messing with the setting in the winter and the app let's them know if this has happened.

Also related:  You can password-protect the Ecobee so nobody can mess with it :)

You can do that with Nest too.

grantmeaname

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4750
  • Age: 27
  • Location: NYC
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2013, 06:19:35 AM »
The search can also be the enemy when you don't get results that you like or threads don't have the information being requested.  But thanks.
I figured the first thread in particular was a question much like yours and I'd drop it there in case you hadn't seen it.

DarinC

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 308
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2013, 08:07:07 PM »
A thermostat alone can't really modulate temperature based on zones (eg upstairs versus downstairs, or room to room). It might be able to make one floor more bearable, but that will be at the cost of another floor. What you really need, and this is pretty awe someIMO, is a zoned system with dampeners. The only way to do that cost effectively is to go with something like this project...

http://diy-zoning.sourceforge.net/index.html

ritchie70

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Nest vs Wireless Thermostats?
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2013, 08:05:51 PM »
I have a Honeywell wireless system with one thermostat and a portable gadget that can act basically as the temperature sensor. We run off the thermostat during the day (downstairs) and the gadget at night upstairs. Is working out pretty well.