In this article, I’m excited to talk all about our new NEST Installation smart thermostats, which just went live recently! Before I get into the nitty gritty of NEST; there’s a couple of things – firstly, I want to provide some background details about smart thermostats..
SMART THERMOSTATS EXPLAINED
Smart thermostats are used to control heating and cooling systems.
Smart thermostats are typically wall-mounted and measure the ambient temperature in a room using an in-built temperature sensor.
Once you define a comfortable temperature in the room the thermostat will try to achieve this reading by opening and closing boiler valves, also called actuators.
Additionally, smart thermostats also provide heat scheduling functionality.
A heating schedule defines deviations from the comfort temperature.
Depending on the model of your smart thermostat, these devices can accept and execute multiple temperature changes over a particular time period – i.e. day, week, or month.
Smart thermostats are both controllable locally and remotely via a smartphone, PC, or tablet device.
NEST #1 INSTALL DOWNSTAIRS
So, the Installer (Brian) arrives at circa 12:30 on a Saturday evening…
Identified the wall where I wanted to locate the NEST Installation, which is situated in an open plan area that covers the kitchen, dining, and kids play areas…
So this was challenging because NEST does not include a battery and requires 12Volts.
It comes with a transformer and a really short cable so doing a clean install would be challenging.
Brian moved out a shelf unit, where the kids store their stuff and fortunately we had a socket.
The next challenge was to hide the cable…
As you can see, Brian had to do some cutting of the plasterboard…
Once a route was identified; the base of NEST was in place and the display was attached. So in my case, the NEST Installation was powered via the USB cable.
If you already have an old thermostat in place, then it will only be a matter of using the old cables to provide NEST with its required power…
Anyway, over to the boiler area, which is in the utility room…
Here in Europe, NEST has created a separate white box called a HeatLink.
Wiring is pretty straightforward… Brian decommissioned my previous Z-Wave units and cabled as shown below.
Basically Heatlink uses high-voltage power (blue and brown)… a common and one wire that connects to the motorized valve, which in turn switches the boiler on and off…
No need for this Heat Link box if you are based in the USA, because the heating and cooling systems are different.
Okay, once the serious wiring is done; Brian heads back to the NEST and applies power.
He then steps through various configurations screens using the rotating dial and gentle presses to the front to select various options ranging from language, WiFi details to scheduling and location.
Once NEST was connected to the O’Driscoll household network; the proceeded to update its software; this took a few minutes to complete.
The final step was to register an account on the Web, download the App and it worked straight away.
I must say that’s a relief compared to my days dealing with Z-Wave thermostats!
Now, the NEST we installed today will be used to regulate temperature downstairs.
My next step is to repeat the same process and install a second NEST upstairs.
INSTALLING NEST#2 UPSTAIRS
Okay, so Brian did not have the time on Saturday to install the second NEST.
So re-scheduled a second install visit to get the Upstairs NEST up and running….
On this occasion, we had a different installer (Donncha) went to work on installing the second NEST…
My first decision was to identify a suitable location upstairs for NEST #2…..
Here are some conclusions that I made:
Location, Location, Location
Our previous ‘stats’ are located in the upstairs landing area. One is Z-Wave based and the second was connected to the old boiler using a wire – this was decommissioned a few years back…
The temperature is always lower in this area because there is no radiator and temperatures identified by any thermostat in this area does not accurately represent what’s going on in the bedrooms.
So decided to locate ‘NESTY’ (As the kids now call it) in the main bedroom.
Watched Brian configure NEST Installation #1 and decided to configure the settings myself while the installer was working on connecting the second Heat link to the boiler in the utility.
It was straight forward, all I needed was the WiFi code for input.
However, I was more confident interacting with Nesty, because I watched Brian, dial and depress NEST to select the various options…
Similar to NESTY #1 the unit went out on the Internet and downloaded the latest version of the software, which took 2 or 3 minutes.
Once Donncha powered up heat link and the boiler, a wireless link was established and NESTY #2 was welcomed into the O’Driscoll household by the kids!
The limit between heat link and a NEST is 30 feet, the main bedroom is pushing this distance, but so far so good…..
It must have been 7:30 at night when we finished the initial install…
THE NEST APP…
So, as is the case with all this smart home automation stuff, I whipped out my smartphone the following day and added NEST #2 to the App.
Identified the Entry key, located in the Setup menu on NEST itself.
After a couple of seconds, NEST comes back and tells me all is well!
NEST DOWNSIDES & UPSIDES
So now that we have NEST Installation living with us…here are some observations, tips, and thoughts….
NEST smart thermostats come with their own motion sensors, so when it detects some type of movement, the display lights up…
I like it for ‘NESTY’ downstairs because it attracts attention to the unit but in our bedroom, it’s a slight bit of pain.
So let me explain some more; NEST #2 is really near the bedroom door, so if one of us has to leave the bedroom at night, NESTY lights up our darkroom!
Not a criticism and I’m a big fan of motion sensors and how they feed the NEST algorithm, but just be cognizant for your own install….
Update: You can disable this function if it becomes over annoying.
Away Mode temperatures
The Away mode temperature defaults at 9 degrees both myself and Brian felt it was a bit high so we used a value of 5.
That’s a personal opinion and of course, the levels vary throughout the world but still worth mentioning…
Water, Water, Water
We currently have the hot water tank on a timer and that still remains the case; NEST has no solution for heating water control.
Like I said earlier, NEST or NESTY as it’s now known is a great addition to the family home.