Nest and home automation

Okay nerds… We just got our new windows installed (love them!) and signed up to have the same company come out and do some attic work. Reflective barrier and R39 level blown in insulation will be put up there in the coming weeks. One of the ‘perks’ is we get a Nest thermostat. We currently have an Iris Home Automation kit and a few sensors. I mostly use it for the temperature functions but I also use some of the other sensors and security. I’m not 100% sold on the Nest and I’m not sure I want to replace my current thermostat so I’m asking here. Thoughts? Experiences? Should I switch over and run both systems? Also, if I decide I don’t want a Nest, I get a $250 credit so I wouldn’t really be losing anything.

I just have a dumb thermostat. Not even WiFi on it.

I’m curious about the stuff, but haven’t been able to justify the expense yet.

My furnace talks to its thermostat via a WiFi-ish signal, but it isn’t on my WiFi network… just point to point radio.

It programs 5 and 2 or 7 day schedules, 4 events a day, both heat cycle and cold cycle for each event (so you just switch the master from heating to cooling).

I don’t know what Nest would add, 'cept being able to drill down into usage.

I’m looking at Nest, and similar products, primarily because other than at night, there’s no routine to whether the house is occupied or not. Something smart enough to turn the heating off when we’re way, and keep the house comfortable when we’re home would be a nice change.

I’m still fence sitting though, because I’m planning on adding some “smart” capability with Z-Wave - mostly to the lighting. I haven’t decided whether I want the ability to interconnect the 2, or whether there’s no point.

Here’s my issue. My Iris system does all that. The hub is on my wifi network but all the sensors are radio. I think it’s Z-wave but it’s not open source so I’m limited to what I can add. But what I can add works great. Door and window sensors, water detectors, sprinkler control, pet doors and occupancy sensors (put a small dongle on your keys). I get filter change alerts for the furance and motion sensor alerts too if I’d like them. I have a door sensor for the inside door of the garage that when you open the door, it turns a plug on for 2 minutes and it’s attached to a light. The rules for the software could be better but still decent. My thermostat can flip between the heater and the AC to keep the temp exactly where I want it or I can set it to the AC at a certain temp and have it hold there. I’d like some IFTT integration but it works well enough. And I can use my phone or the web to easily control or look up the status of the sensors. To top it all off, there’s no contract to buy into and it will still call/text/email me or up to 5 people when an alert is triggered.

From what I’ve been reading for the Nest, unless you’re around the thing it can sometimes forget you’re home and it takes a good 3 weeks to really learn your schedule. There’s not too much in the way of other sensors (each of my door/window sensor also pick up temp) unless you buy other Google products like the smoke detector. You also have to have a common wire for power which I don’t have. The installers will probably take care of that, but it’s an extra step.

So with all that in mind… Is it worth replacing the thermostat part for a very shiny dial? I’m thinking more and more that the answer is no.

Pretty much where I am. Dakwife sometimes works from the house, sometimes doesn’t, extremely variable day to day. And the thermostat is in the dining room, which we don’t pass through regularly. So it’d be very easy for it to think we’re not around when we are. Or to never learn a schedule because there isn’t a regular one.

Having a thermostat I can monitor & control when I’m not around is an attractive idea, like if I forget to put it on HOLD when we leave for vacation, or it’s insanely hot/cold and I want to have the house temperature comfortable the minute we walk in the door from a trip. I can do that with a WiFi-enabled thermostat that isn’t a Nest.

Well today is the day of the install. I have a couple of guys in the attic as I type (and not chained up or anything). When they came in they asked me about the Nest. I told them there was no hot wire to the thermostat and just like that, ‘They’ll send you a $250 rebate.’. They’re not even gonna try. No worries though. My Iris thermostat is still working fine and after this, the duct work in the attic will be insulated as well. We’re doing R39 blown in insulation so it will cover everything rather nicely.

Bumping for the automation part.

So smart people (let’s face it. If we’re here, we’re the smart ones). I’m looking for some home automation stuff again. Declining the Nest was a god send from what I hear. From problems knowing if someone is home to just security issues, I’m glad I declined it. My new problem is my Iris system. They sent me a free upgrade. That’s nice. New hub, supposed to do new things. Works with existing devices for the most part (mine at least). But they changed it so now it’s only controlled via their app that frankly isn’t very good. Overall, I’m just dissatisfied with it. All the good stuff you could do for free are now inching towards paying to get it. So I’m off looking for something else. I’d like a system that could do door and window alarms and the thermostat is nice. If I could control the lights and or a power plug that would be a bonus. The problem I’m seeing is I see this in a bunch of products but not just one. I have a temporary shop setup now so I could develop and roll my own with a Pi or an old laptop. It’s an option for sure. But does anyone know of anything out there?

I hear X10 is the hot option right now.

I have started down the Z-Wave route. It was the easiest way of getting our outside LED lights connected to a switch by the back door. Using Z-Wave means I’ve got a large choice of controllers (from roll-your-own with a Pi and a Z-Wave USB stick, to big slick commercial controllers). Right now my controller is a 4 button Z-Wave remote :wink:

I’m leaning towards Homeseer currently, having spent (far too much) time looking at the various options over here. I “need” something I can script the heck out of and that is completely unobtrusive for the WAF. It also has as massive range of options for integration and a pretty active user community.

Yeah I was looking at Z-Wave. I keep seeing X10 but then I remember those god awful full page pop-ups they used to run and it turns me off. I’m from Northeast Ohio. We know how to hold a grudge.

I like the Philips Hue lights. WeMo switches look interesting. Something I could integrate with IFTT would be nice. I’ll probably end up rolling something with the Pi. I have a 7" touchscreen for one that would be an awesome controller with the right UI.

Nest can die in a fire. I owned a gen2 Nest t-stat for most of 2015 and there wasn’t a week where I didn’t have it for one reason or another.

The “learning” functionality is garbage. My tstat mounting place is in a short hallway leading to the master bedroom, totally out of the way from the main areas of the house. The nest failed to learn our schedule and failed to understand when anyone was home (which was “always,” since I work from home). The “solution” nest suggested was that I spend hundreds more dollars and buy a second nest t-stat and stick it to the wall in my office. Yeah, no.

So, I manually set a seven day schedule on it. That worked fine, except that sometimes an automatic firmware install would blow the schedule away completely. I’d usually find out about this by awakening late at night, soaked in sweat because the thermostat had reset itself to “AWAY” mode a few hours ago because of a firmware update.

The final straw was when I switched wifi over to my new unifi APs and the Nest started running out of battery power and dying. Apparently it kept hopping back and forth between the two closest APs, causing the wifi to run longer, which drained the Tstat’s inboard battery faster than it could vampire-charge off of whichever tstat wire it pulled power from.

From what I hear, this wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d had a common power wire run to my tstat mounting point, but I don’t. So, because of that, the nest wouldn’t stay charged. I found out this was going to be a problem when i yet again woke up drenched in sweat at 3am—but this time because the thermostat had been dead for the past eight hours and the AC wasn’t running.

So, fuck that thing. Threw it in the trash, went to Home Depot, grabbed an Ecobee 3, installed it, and things have been great since. I’d previously owned a first-gen Ecobee tstat and I’d enjoyed it, and the Ecobee 3 is similarly great. Far, far more extensible than the nest, with 100x the metrics and data for you to look at and export.

tl;dr: Nest can die in a fire. Ecobee is great.

1 Like had a youtube video a while back on putting together a controller for a home system like this.

Thanks @Woodman. I remembered seeing that but hadn’t found it yet. I probably will end up with openHAB. My electronics is still hella rusty but it integrates with enough pre-built components to keep me busy.

And yeah @Lee_Ars, it’ll be a cold day in hell for a Nest. A lot like you, the house isn’t really setup for one since it’s ‘view’ would be blocked by the TV. Plus I have no hot wire to it. I have part of the wall behind it opened up anyways due to a plumbing project. Technically I could at least run the power but it’s still not enough for me to get one.

I have one buddy with a nest. He has planted a flag, so he’ll be using it until it screws him, and I fully expect it to at some point.

I’d love to run one myself. But my furnace is 90 years old, and I use window air conditioners. It will never cover the HVAC. And the ability to control lights it just a bennie on top of the rest.

Now, if I could be assed to take the extra time and put together something that would respond to voice control in every room, maybe. But I’d inevitably want something I hadn’t set up yet, so it would be more annoying than not I’m sure.

I think I’m going to end up openHab. I have enough spare parts to make a decent control station. It’s easy enough to do voice control with a Pi (I have plans for a magic mirror that has voice control). I’m thinking of using Tiny Circuits for any external or weird connections. I’m friends with the owner/founder so I can get some expert help if I need it although what I’ve played with has been really easy.

It’s taken most of a year, but I’ve gone from dabbling with a bit of Z-Wave, to actually using some HA.

I’ve now got a Pi 3 with the Razberry Z-Wave board and Home Assistant running. I’ve got a handful of lights now controlled and a few sensors in place. While initially somewhat skeptical, the better half is beginning to rather appreciate it. Unfortunately the bulk of what’s left will require an electrician, since I’ll need neutral wires to all the light switches.

Actually, not really unfortunately - at the same time I’ll get CAT6 cable run to key points. If I’m going to have to redecorate I may as well make it worthwhile. I will, however, be leaving the heating entirely separate :wink: