Nest Thermostat Review, Update #3

Sorry, if you’re tiring of reading these as I write about the experience of buying a Nest thermostat. Just move along if you’re not interested. :-)

Here’s the support e-mail I just sent Nest (via their online contact form) (Dec. 31, 2011, 9:15am):

We have three Nest thermostats in our house on a zoned system.

 

One of the thermostats has begun to often register a temperature (i.e, the current room temperature) that is more than several degrees (3-4) WARMER than the actual room temperature.

 

I have a digital non-contact thermometer that reads the surface temperature of whatever it is pointed at (not this model, but very similar in function: http://amzn.to/tbp0RH). Right now, for example, the wall temperature around the thermostat is about 66F. The temperature of the device reads 71F. Last night, it said 73F when the wall next to the thermostat was 64F. I have a second portable thermometer that confirms the air temperature very near the nest thermostat is around 66F.

We have a standard forced air heating system (no radiant).

 

The surface temperature of the nest reads 72F right now.

This wasn’t happening that we noticed when we first installed the unit and only started happening in the last week. I have not seen this problem with the other Nest thermostats in our home.

 

I’ll post updates here about their response to the issue. (The web site suggests it will be an hour or two before someone responds).

Has anyone else confirmed the Nest reported versus actual room temperature is accurate on their installed thermostats?

Update December 31, 2011

About six hours from my original request for support, I received a phone call from a Nest support engineer. (Note to Nest: you said the wait would be 1 to 2 hours …, manage expectations!)

We talked through the problem and he had me swap the thermostat from one floor to another. It’s relatively easy to do – but I did need to adjust the programming for both thermostats then. He promised to call me back Monday afternoon to see if things have improved (or changed at least). Of course, the issue should show up now in the basement (which is the thermostat I swapped the problem thermostat with).

Update #6Update #5Update #4Update #3Update #2Update #1Install

19 Comments

  1. I for one am enjoying reading about your experiences! Please keep them coming.

    My initial response upon reading about the Nest was of glee with a touch of skepticism. Regardless I was giddy from the geek side in me, and my adoring wife immediately caught it and ordered one, albeit too late, for Christmas. Mine is supposed to ship Jan. 29…

    My environment presents a totally unique set of challenges as well, that I hope the Nest can come to grips with – including odd schedules, sometimes un-reliable internet, all the while in a 60 year old, 1200 sq. ft. house in the middle of a cornfield, with no less than 20 wireless devices active at any given time, and two teenagers that are convinced that cranking the furnace to 80 degrees heats the house faster. Not to mention a 120 gallon fish tank will be six feet directly in front of it, and a cat lives in the house.

    I think that the best feature would be the ability for it to learn to anticipate your arrival, then take into account the outside temperature, and begin a preheat. Living in lake effect snow territory in West Michigan it sure would be nice to know that when we get up at 6am, Nest would have us up to a nice toasty morning 72, then drop her back to 55 exactly 30 minutes later.

    I’ll be watching as this develops for the next month at least!

  2. It will be interesting to see how it does in your environment. The internet connection shouldn’t be a big issue unless you’re constantly remotely wanting to update the temperature.

  3. MikeW:
    Be careful with too wide a spread between your home and away temps (72-55). I’ve read that anything bigger than an 8-10 degree difference will negate the $$ savings from having dialed down in the first place. Something about extra energy being burned to reheat the rugs, drapes, couches, etc.
    Even if not precise, I assume there’s an element of truth in that.
    Good luck!

    Update:
    Since pausing learning a week ago (?), there’s been no repeat of Nest deleting some of my set schedule. Yeah, I’ve lost one of the neat features (learning), but who knows my needs better than me?
    ;-)

    1. It’s actually a myth that setting your away temperature beyond some “range” is bad for traditional heating and cooling systems. It will just take longer to recover to your “I’m at home and awake” temperature. While it’s true that geothermal systems work best with smaller adjustments, a traditional (for example) gas fired furnace may be turned back during the day or night to any temperature you desire (as long as you don’t have a danger of freezing pipes, which would/should need to be corrected anyway). For example, it’s often recommended that the night time temperature be set to 55F and “at home/wake” temperature be set to 68F during cooler winter months. Obviously, everyone’s situation is different (illness, age, etc), so consider this just repeating advice I’ve read from a number of traditional (and definitely more knowledgeable) sources.

      Here’s a publication from a local (to me) provider about thermostat setbacks:

      http://www.mge.com/images/pdf/brochures/residential/setbackthermostat.pdf

  4. You’re probably right, but I found the article I’d read:
    Snip:Let’s start with the programmable thermostat. Savings from setting back the temperature while you are away can be a somewhat tricky business. Because there are energy penalties associated with letting the house cool down and then heating it up again, there are limits to what can be saved. Clearly if you are away for a whole day, then you will save energy by turning down the temperature, then turning it back up again when you return. But if you are away for just an hour, then it probably won’t. It‘s not exactly clear where the breakeven point is, because that will vary for each home as well as the weather conditions at the time.

    According to energy efficiency specialist Ted Kidd, “Big savings are not achieved by temporary temperature reductions of the home. In fact, reducing air temperature in the home means high mass items like couches and beds get cold and stay cold. People bump thermostats to counteract the additional comfort challenge this introduces, so some setback strategies may really cost energy. And all of this approach to ‘conservation’ implies sacrifice, living with less comfort.”
    More here:http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/10/nest-thermostat-shiny-toy-serious-tool/

    1. I’m not going to disagree about the short interval setbacks as there’s less evidence that doing it for few hours makes an appreciable difference in energy savings. I’m referring to setting the temperature back while asleep at night or away for the day while at work for example (essentially where you are setting the temperature back for eight hours or more). There’s a lot of evidence supporting that.

  5. 55 is cold, where do you guys live? i just got my preorder notification and i am placing my order. we leave home alot on the weekends so this will be mainly for accessing the away feature. our house is less than 5 yrs old and relativity small ~1300 sf.

    right now with our programmable in the winter the house stays around 70deg. dropping to 65 at night. my wife likes it hot, and in Michigan that costs. hopefully this will drop it lower during the day to save some coin. 8-5.

    with three thermostats your house must be quite a bit larger than mine and i hope i will not have issues with temperature variances.

    do they have a low temp alarm/email?

    1. I’ve not seen any indication of a low temp alarm/email. It does “know” my email address and has a minimum temperature setting as the “away setting.” So, I suppose it’s possible that it could use my e-mail if the temperature falls much below the low “away” setting, but I don’t recall hearing about that.

  6. I’m thinking about purchasing 2 Nests for my house that is under construction. We’ll have a whole house humidifier, which the Nest can’t control and wondering if you guys know of any systems that will control humidity and let Nest control temperature?

    1. Jeff — are you looking for one device that does both? Our whole house humidifier from Aprilaire is connected to the furnace. We just set a humidity on it and let it go. It runs when it needs to (of course, only when the furnace is running).

  7. I know there are some thermostats that do both. I was just looking to see if others had successfully set-up the configuration you described with the humidifier running independent of the Nest. Thanks!

Comments are closed.