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Nest Learning Thermostat
October 25, 2011 1:38 PM   Subscribe


 
Got an email about this from a friend earlier today and my first thought was "Huh, I should post this to Metafilter." But I didn't. Drat.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:47 PM on October 25, 2011


Huh. That's kind of cool. I was looking for a way to control my thermostat over the 'net, and the options out there right now are frankly not very good (and all expensive).

We'll have to wait and see how good these things work out in the wild, but the attention they've paid to detail is pretty great.
posted by schmod at 1:48 PM on October 25, 2011


Man, I can't wait to see this in someone's house. I'm going to crank it up to 95, back to 55, then up to 70 when they're not looking. Before long they'll wonder what the hell is up with their brave new thermostat.
posted by bondcliff at 1:50 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'll have to wait until they can build these cheap enough that I could have a separate one for each of the wall-unit heaters in my house.
posted by gurple at 1:51 PM on October 25, 2011


Shit, and just when I thought I didn't need a new thermostat.
posted by pwally at 1:52 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


i love when genius makes life easier and safer.
posted by grubi at 1:52 PM on October 25, 2011


That's a really great idea. I'm surprised at the lack of Arduino-type projects out there for thermostat control. This seems like a really accessible option.
posted by odinsdream at 1:54 PM on October 25, 2011


What's the storage capacity? I need at least 25 GB for my music collection.
posted by perhapses at 1:54 PM on October 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm looking forward to the year 2121 when cool stuff like this trickles down into the sort of apartments I rent. Right now I'm still excited at the prospect of one day having a dishwasher.
posted by theodolite at 1:55 PM on October 25, 2011 [23 favorites]


I like how it references the iconic old honeywell thermostats.
posted by JPD at 1:56 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think having the temperature on it is a mistake. People will just dial a temperature they think will suit them. Or worse still, crank it up/down to the max because they're currently cold/hot. Many people don't understand how thermostats work. But hey, anything that increases energy awareness is a start.

I remember seeing a learning whole-building climate control system in the early 1990s. The system had a whole bunch of networked controllers, each with two buttons: "Too Hot" and "Too Cold". If you felt hot/cold, you hit the button nearest you. The system would learn over time to manage local heating and cooling. Since it was a European system, it would even suggest moving workers around if you had a salamander sat amongst polar bears.

Still, dunno how this system would help if it had to deal with those freakish apartment dwellers who keep their places at 30C because they don't have to pay for power ...
posted by scruss at 2:01 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


i love when genius makes life easier and safer.

And more expensive.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:01 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do miss my old Honeywell thermostat. We replaced an old oil furnace with a high efficiency gas one last year. Of course, we got the state of the art thermostat, which looks kinda like a home security console. It was easy to program and I like having the control of scheduling. Only takes me a minute to change if I know we'll be out later or gone on the weekend. I would love to play with a Nest but I doubt I would buy one. Unless it played music.
posted by perhapses at 2:03 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm going to crank it up to 95, back to 55, then up to 70 when they're not looking. Before long they'll wonder what the hell is up with their brave new thermostat.

My youngest step-sibling would crank the heat in the middle of winter while he was walking around wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I think even without pranks, bizarro temperature settings are a valid concern for any house with kids that know how to use a thermostat.
posted by Hoopo at 2:03 PM on October 25, 2011


Fantastic idea, but consider this: it's device that knows when people are in the house, knows their schedule, and connects to the internet. I can only hope they took security into account...
posted by Wemmick at 2:04 PM on October 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yay! Now I can guess peoples' thermostat passwords, dial down the temperature in the middle of winter, and cause their pipes to freeze!
posted by miyabo at 2:08 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


With many "learning programs the computer often guesses wrong and then you have to battle with it to get things to how you actually want them to be. I wonder how well this deals with corrections.

How many times do I have to correct it, before it learns what I actually want?
posted by oddman at 2:09 PM on October 25, 2011


How many times do I have to correct it, before it learns what I actually want?

Same here. It does seem to presume a type of thermostat interaction that seems wholly unfamiliar to me. We have a programmable thermostat, but the most we've done is enable it to turn off the system at night and turn it on during the day.

We tried getting granular, but our schedules aren't regular enough for it to make any sense.

Are other people with standard thermostats constantly adjusting them now?
posted by odinsdream at 2:11 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, the thing senses activity so it can tell when you're asleep or not at home? That auto-away feature alone would save a ton of energy over a programmable thermostat, which will happily assume that you want your house to be 72 degrees between 5 and 10 M-F even when you're on vacation (or that you want it to be 60 while you're up late working on a project, for that matter).

They're right about the controls on programmable models, also -- mine is clunky enough that I very rarely change it.

As for all the doom-and-gloom (people will prank you! people will rob you! be afraid of connectivity!), it's already obvious when most of us are and aren't at home, and it's already dead-easy to prank people. I very seriously doubt an internet-enabled thermostat will make much difference.
posted by vorfeed at 2:13 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I walk past my thermostat several times a day. I don't find it inconvenient to nudge it in whatever direction it takes to make me comfortable. You can please keep your $250 piece of geek overkill.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:15 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's shiny.

I hope it's not just based on the movement sensors alone---we're often not in the room (or in direct view) of the sensor. Also, I hope they tested it in houses with pets. My brother had to turn off the in-house sensors of his expensive new security system because the dog kept setting off the alarm.

Anyway, as long as I don't have to by my gas from Apple to use the thing, it looks quite interesting.
posted by bonehead at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2011


My 11 year old son just watched that with me and said, "And then when we all have one, they'll band together and kill us all in our sleep by baking us and take over the world!! Bwaahahahahaha!"

I, for one, welcome our thermostat overlords.
posted by artychoke at 2:21 PM on October 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


How many times do I have to correct it, before it learns what I actually want?

The website suggests that you turn it up/down manually each day for one week. It establishes a weekly schedule based on that, and then uses its sensors and your future corrections to refine it. Sounds like it's a win even if you never touch it again after the first week -- the auto-away feature takes irregular schedules and not-bothering-to-adjust-the-thing into account.
posted by vorfeed at 2:22 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It probably also learns from the Google App on your smartphone (where you are, how soon you'll arrive at home), and from all sorts of other data sources.

There are other monetization schemes beyond just making a nifty thermostat, if six VC companies are involved.
posted by anthill at 2:24 PM on October 25, 2011


Its a good idea, and a really nice looking website. Gotta say the price tag is a bit of an eye-popper though.
posted by spilon at 2:27 PM on October 25, 2011


There are other monetization schemes beyond just making a nifty thermostat, if six VC companies are involved.

No doubt. One article I read on this mentioned website-based analysis, projections, and other smart-meter type activities.

Perhaps future Thermostat Operating System upgrades will enable downloadable micro-climate profiles.
posted by cairnish at 2:30 PM on October 25, 2011


Just like the early iPod, it's a status symbol. The price tag is a feature.

Also, for the occupancy sensor and the question 'what if we're not in the room' - I bet the designers all have open-concept condos.
posted by anthill at 2:31 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


iChill.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:32 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


So it's just a nicer looking nomad? This was supposed to be a big deal?
posted by ftrain at 2:32 PM on October 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Paranoid anti-Apple comment snarking about price.
Even though the product has nothing to do with Apple other than a couple of ex-employees
posted by howling fantods at 2:32 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


AWESOME. It will not keep me from going nuts due to the fact that my partner turns the A/C on whenever it's above 60, but it is still awesome.

Unless it learns which one of us is home and adjusts accordingly...hmm...
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:33 PM on October 25, 2011


I think this could be a significant improvement over our current thermostat systems, which, frankly, suck.

The biggest thing is it could actually determine your real heating/cooling profile -- that is, how long it takes to get from temp X to temp Y when the outside temp is Z. It is an estimated outside temp, given that it appears to be gotten from the net, but that should be within a few degrees.

Thus, for example, if it learns you want the room warmer at 0600, and it learns that it takes 25 minutes to raise the room from 62F to 68F, it can start the heat at 0535, and the house will be warm when you wanted it warm -- at 0600.

Gotta say the price tag is a bit of an eye-popper though.

Part of it is that there's much more to this than a standard thermostat. Part of it is simply economies of scale. I would expect these sorts of devices to drop to under $100 quickly if enough demand shows up to take care of them.

The creators are right about one thing: roughly 50% of a household's power budget is heating/cooling the inside. That's the correct thing to attack if you're trying to save power, and a 5% decrease in cost would represent about a 2.5% decrease in total household power usage.

Try getting that out of a more efficient TV.

Also, for the occupancy sensor and the question 'what if we're not in the room' - I bet the designers all have open-concept condos.

Acoustic + PIR would give it 30+ foot range and around-corner capacity. And in almost all apartments and many houses, you will pass near the thermostat frequently.

On a mailing list, someone mentioned a thermostat in the back hall where nobody goes. The correct answer here is to *move* the thing to measure the area where people really are, because that's what you want to warm/cool right? If your thermostat is buried somewhere nobody ever goes, you have a hell of a time trying to set it correctly. No sense having that back hall at 68F if it means your kitchen is at 78F and your front room is at 50F.
posted by eriko at 2:35 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


it's a strange new world we live in where you can a) PRE-ORDER a thermostat and b) people actually do it.
posted by modernnomad at 2:36 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Movement sensors (they're called "occupancy sensors" in the industry) are not new. Hotels have these all over the place, and often they're wirelessly networked so you can retrofit older buildings without running wires -- it's easy to have the installation cost exceed the cost of the device. Even in residences there are several standards for wiring.

However I don't know any consumer thermostats with occupancy sensors. This is because you need a lot of them all over the house (otherwise you have to make sure to walk by or wave at the thermostat every now and again) and because most users don't have as much time or motivation as say, a hotel to set them up properly.

You really do need lots of technologies integrated to make the "smart" part of the thermostat more useful than annoying. I wish them luck.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:40 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm sorry Dave, I can't allow you to turn the heat up ...
posted by el riesgo sempre vive at 2:42 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


A lot of the marketing materials around this suggest that it is a revolutionary idea, but I doubt I'm alone in having wanted a better-looking, better-working thermostat for, well, pretty much since I learned what a thermostat was. At the very least, I wanted one that I could set a temperature on, and not have to say whether the AC or heater should be involved. That seemed like something a thermostat should be able to figure out, and avoid overshooting.

Of course, it is not ideas that make magic, it is the execution of them, and this seems reasonably sound. One of the most fundamental issues with programmable thermostats is that they are difficult to program, but beyond that, most of us do not have a schedule that allows us to feel comfortable after setting-and-forgetting, without manually overriding.

Presumably, then, this solves both problems: by reducing the controls to a single dial, people will simply treat it as a non-programmable thermostat. Over time, if you have a regular enough schedule that the device can recognize it, then it will be programmed on your behalf, and if you do not have a regular enough schedule, you will be absolutely no worse off than you would have been with your programmable-but-not-programmed thermostat.

In short, the thermostat picks up the signal of your schedule from the noise of your day-to-day adjustments. A simple idea, and I can only hope it works well in practice.

Having said that: this is not a good device for a house with children. One of the benefits to a boring, complex-looking thermostat is that it makes people reluctant to toy with it. This thing, by comparison, is eye and hand candy.

Now if only they'd make one without the internet connectivity for a lower price, because I need that just about not at all.
posted by davejay at 2:50 PM on October 25, 2011


Pretty neat. I'd think about buying one if it didn't look like that. I don't want a thermostat to call attention to itself, it should blend into the wall as much as possible. Maybe they'd come out with a stealth model.
posted by octothorpe at 3:01 PM on October 25, 2011


There's a simpler way to contol the temperature inside your house.

Windows.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:02 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I wonder if the "paying for itself in a year or two" assumes that you are heating and cooling? We run the boiler from November to March or so but don't have AC except for a little window unit that we run for about two weeks in July.
posted by octothorpe at 3:14 PM on October 25, 2011


Siri let Dave know I'm feeling hot hot hot.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 3:14 PM on October 25, 2011


I sseeriously want one of these. It is a component of the Smart House that people have been predicting since before I was born. Multiple ones link up, you can control it from the web, this will be as "holy shit I'm in the future now" a device to have in my life as the iPad was for the first few weeks.

Except actually I kinda want THREE of these because there's a separate dial to control the heating elements in each of the rooms of my apartment. And I don't want to sink $750 into them. So I am seriously hoping it does well enough that economies of scale can kick in and make this cheaper...
posted by egypturnash at 3:17 PM on October 25, 2011


(Oh, and as to the price? I did some googling; a vaguely comparable device from Honeywell (no motion detectors, programming is explicit rather than learning, no Internet connectivity) is $2-300 depending on where you get it. So cursory research suggests this is a pretty good deal in the world of Smart Thermometers.)
posted by egypturnash at 3:22 PM on October 25, 2011


There are other monetization schemes beyond just making a nifty thermostat, if six VC companies are involved.

Eh - the buildings controls business is massive with large entrenched players happy to pay over the odds for small competitors with some nifty technology.
posted by JPD at 3:28 PM on October 25, 2011


Ecobee has this, but not quite as learny. Still, web-connected, complex schedules, easy to set up, that sort of thing. More expensive, though.
posted by disillusioned at 3:34 PM on October 25, 2011


I've been looking for a couple of internet controllable thermostats for the two houses I jump between for almost a year now, but never found anything great. (In addition to the Honeywells egypturnash linked, there are these from Proliphix.)

These Nest ones are overkill for me, but damn they are pretty and seem slick, so the extra $50 or so seems worth it to me.

I'm preordering.
posted by rokusan at 3:35 PM on October 25, 2011


There's a simpler way to contol the temperature inside your house... Windows.

Crashes too much.
posted by rokusan at 3:36 PM on October 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


How cute! It's like real building automation, but more limited and goofier-looking.

/returns to designing optimal start programming for a hockey arena at 58°N
posted by Sternmeyer at 3:39 PM on October 25, 2011


it's device that knows when people are in the house, knows their schedule, and connects to the internet.

Unless you disable the features, I believe that your Android phone already ascertains where your "home" and "work" are, and communicates this to Google.
posted by rokusan at 3:45 PM on October 25, 2011


So apparently it takes rechargeable batteries. What are your bets you can't remove them?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:48 PM on October 25, 2011


I bet it can't play games either.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:52 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"brave new thermostat"

You can always tell the people that didn't read the book.
posted by DU at 3:54 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can always tell the people that didn't read the book.

It's not a reference to the book. When this thermostat goes on the fritz, it causes a Tempest.
posted by miyabo at 3:59 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brave new thermostat indeed!
posted by perhapses at 4:26 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


What I'm really looking for is a simple '70s era mechanically programmed thermostat that just uses little red and blue pins on a rotating clock to set the temperature. Dead simple and reliable has hell. My mom had one and it lasted for thirty years.
posted by octothorpe at 4:27 PM on October 25, 2011


Brave new thermostat

Now I'm imagining a colourful book in which a plucky young themostat has adventures with her best friend the remote in the magic lands behind the couch.
posted by bonehead at 4:42 PM on October 25, 2011


I would love if one of these would reduce HVAC bills in our rentals. We have programmables, but the tenants are constantly toying with them or even just putting the temp at some ridiculous HOLD temp like 76 and leaving it like that 24/7.

As it is, I'm probably going to go tamper-proof. *sigh*
posted by dhartung at 5:02 PM on October 25, 2011


So apparently it takes rechargeable batteries. What are your bets you can't remove them?

Are you sure? The news article talked about the work they did to have all of the nifty features operate on the low-voltage supply leads.

Maybe it charges the internal batteries all the time and pulls from them when certain features are active. If that's the case, I'd expect them to last for decades.
posted by odinsdream at 5:59 PM on October 25, 2011


This is going on my Christmas list.
posted by slogger at 6:01 PM on October 25, 2011


There's a simpler way to contol the temperature inside your house.
Windows.


So wait, if I open my windows in winter, my place will heat up?

Holy fuck! No wonder I froze my ass off in Edmonton, I was Doing It Wrong®! Do physicists know about this?
posted by aramaic at 7:01 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's a simpler way to contol the temperature inside your house.
Windows.


Can we get a flag option for "Not even wrong." please?
posted by odinsdream at 7:17 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Honeywell has registered "the configuration of a thermostat cover that is circular and rounded in shape" - but not the termostat dial itself - as a trademark for thermostats. The Nest doesn't seem to have a "cover" per se - the whole thing is the dial - but I wonder if Honeywell will make any noise about it.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:02 PM on October 25, 2011


aaand...pre-ordered.
posted by odinsdream at 8:28 PM on October 25, 2011


"it's device that knows when people are in the house, knows their schedule, and connects to the internet. I can only hope they took security into account..."

This worries me a little too, but my local utility already provides wifi thermostats (free, even, if your air conditioner meets a certain profile) that you can control over the web and that THEY can control remotely. They do some kind of cycling thing from 9-5 -- peak demand hours for businesses in summer -- where they raise your home temperature by a degree (at a time when most people are at work) for a while to reduce demand. You're rewarded with a slightly lower bill and a free fancy programmable wifi thermostat.

That means both the utility and anyone hacking it gets info about how you set your thermostat, and I can pretty well guess if it's suddenly set at 56*F for several days in a row in mid-January that you're on a cruise somewhere. Especially if you're suddenly only adjusting it by web.

Anyway, I haven't heard of a problem yet, and I don't really trust my utility to encrypt things properly (they were surprised that blizzards can cross state lines, so they're real high-wattage bulbs over there). I imagine it will EVENTUALLY happen but if it were going to be a crime wave, it would have occurred by now.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:30 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Love this, should we stop living in rented accommodation anytime soon, then I'm getting one.

I hate the controls in our current rental and the one in our place in Houston was just a pain to program (Mrs A couldn't work it, so it stayed stuck on one temp the whole year around).
posted by arcticseal at 1:11 AM on October 26, 2011


My high-standard, expensive Swiss apartment has no thermostat. I do have heated floors. Weird.

I always wanted a heating/cooling system that understood when to ventilate from outdoors, based on humidity and temperature. I wish office buildings would do that more. They run a/c when outdoors is a wonderful temperature!

For my taste, I want the place very warm when I get up. And then I want it about 65F (18 C) when I get out of the shower (I'm weird that way. I need to chill to dry). After that, I don't care too much, so long as it isn't hot in the bedroom for sleeping.
posted by Goofyy at 3:45 AM on October 26, 2011


But my house has three zones so I can reduce heating/cooling when not needed. And now i'll need three of these? They look sweet, but $750 is a lot of dough.

I admit I couldn't find a explanation on their site yesterday, and haven't watched the whole video.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:51 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, is this ever a gold-plated, ethernet-ready, solar-powered, caffeine-free, free-range... hyped nothing to me.

My apartment has a thermostat. It remembers what temperature I want the house at. I can set it for sleep, morning, work, and back-home periods, separately for each day, or for M-F and Sat/Sun. It's easy to program. I've barely touched it since first setting it up, but it's easy to refine the settings when I needed to. And it has a one-touch override, with a default time of 2 hours, if I want it warmer while I stay up late one night.

And it cost $100s less. And it's old technology - 1990's, at least.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:16 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really see how this is such an improvement over my 7-day programmable Honeywell with advance recovery, which cost me about a third what Nest costs.
posted by aught at 8:03 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So apparently it takes rechargeable batteries. What are your bets you can't remove them?

Why wouldn't it be hard wired to DC current like any other electronic thermostat? Dumb.
posted by aught at 8:05 AM on October 26, 2011


Why wouldn't it be hard wired to DC current like any other electronic thermostat? Dumb.

Probably because the electronics take more power than is available to operate. But, since these features are only used occasionally. I'm betting the device uses DC to trickle-charge the batteries, then pulls from the batteries when various power-hungry functions need to wake up (i.e., display brightens, wifi needs to transmit data, etc.) then those functions go back to sleep and the batteries recharge.
posted by odinsdream at 8:08 AM on October 26, 2011


From the Wired article:
The problem was that the thermostat would draw power only from the tiny trickle of electricity from its wires. “We spent cumulatively more than 10 man-years working on the technology to enable remote control over the Internet while the device is on the wall, asleep, without using external power,” says Matt Rogers. “It basically took all our years at Apple to do that. What makes an iPod play music for 24 hours is what enabled us to do this for the product.”
As for your cheap Honeywell programmable being "good enough". Sure, but who has that regular of a schedule? With kids, we sure don't. And also from the Wired article:
A recent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study found that “as many as 50 percent of residential programmable thermostats are in permanent ‘hold’ status.”
While it might not be for everyone (yet), for a lot of people it's a compelling product. And as pointed out above, it's actually competitively priced compared to other "smart" thermostats.
posted by howling fantods at 9:42 AM on October 26, 2011


So apparently it takes rechargeable batteries. What are your bets you can't remove them?

My existing dumb-ass thermostat takes a single AAA battery, non-rechargeable, and when it dies I wonder why my furnace isn't working. So this sounds better, thanks!
posted by rokusan at 11:26 AM on October 26, 2011


I don't really see how this is such an improvement over my 7-day programmable Honeywell with advance recovery, which cost me about a third what Nest costs.

Might not be of value to everyone, but to me the value of being able to check whether I left the heat on in the house (7000 miles away) is worth something, as is the ability to check what the temperature of the house actually *is* right now, and whether the furnace is running, because if the news is bad, I really need to call a friend or a plumber immediately.

Less dramatically, just being able to remotely turn it down when I left it too high before flying away would save me the cost of this thing in a couple of weeks.

Yes, the individual tech has been available for years in other packages, but this seems to be a single-point and elegant solution for not much money. Reliable remote environment monitoring and HVAC control over the internet is usually much more expensive and hacky than this.
posted by rokusan at 11:29 AM on October 26, 2011


To me, the real innovation is that it knows how long temperature changes will take. People over- or undercompensate on temperature because of the lag time.

I'd like a seasonal setting. If I had AC (I don't, but if I did) I would probably be happy with 24 degrees C, and in the winter when the heat is on I'd be OK with 18 degrees C.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:50 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


aramaic: "Holy fuck! No wonder I froze my ass off in Edmonton, I was Doing It Wrong®! Do physicists know about this?"

I mean. Have you ever seen a physicist pay an electric bill? Think about it, people.
posted by schmod at 9:21 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Update: Nest is offering free installation to the people who purchased within the first 48 hours. From the e-mail:
We're getting ready to ship the first Nest Learning Thermostats and can't wait to get one in your hands. Because you purchased Nest within the first 48 hours of our launch, we wanted to thank you and extend the option of a free professional installation of your Nest through our Nest Concierge service.
Even though it looks pretty simple to install, I'm glad to get this offer. So far so good!
posted by odinsdream at 12:40 PM on November 8, 2011


Update: I received and installed ours about a week ago. I ended up not needing the free installation help. It was really very simple.

Some cool parts so far: When I was trying to match up the wires on our old thermostat to the Nest instructions I wasn't sure about some of them. I went to Nest's support site and noticed they had a Chat option. I opened that up, and right away I'm connected to a live agent to help. She asked me a few questions about the old wires, and then offered to just take a look directly if I would send a photo. A few minutes later after snapping a photo with the laptop, she quickly gave me the rundown of exactly how to map the wires on my old system to the new one.

The build quality of this thing is really amazing, actually. Every single component is exactly perfect. The thing is beautiful, actually. It came with two wall plate options in case you needed (as we did) to cover old holes left by a physically large thermostat. The plates are paintable, as well, so you can match it if desired.

Usage of the system itself is really well thought-out. We're not through the learning phase yet, but already it's been choosing intelligent options based on our daily routine.

You can access a historical energy guide right on the thermostat, to see how many hours your system was on for a particular day, and compare that to average usage. I love the schedule viewer, which is presented as a long horizontal chart that you slide along.

The user interface is really perfect - tailored exactly to the device and the use-case. You want to get quickly through menus with a minimum of actions, and the design clearly takes this into account. The circular screen is taken full advantage of - there's no shoe-horning rectangular UI elements into the circle, and every pixel of real-estate is consumed intelligently.

The web interface exposes all of the same functions that are directly on the thermostat. This was a bit of a surprise, actually, as I was expecting them to push "advanced" configuration items to the web keeping the thermostat interface simpler. It turns out that this was completely unnecessary because of the expert UI work that went into the thermostat itself, where you can already do everything.

The other thing that's nice to see is that you can actually use this as a regular old programmable thermostat if you want, but still get the benefits of a smart system that knows your local weather, and how long it takes your specific home to reach a target temperature.

I'm hopeful that the price gets reduced to where more people adopt this. I've already noticed a reduction in our energy usage. More smart devices like this could really help with energy usage nationally.
posted by odinsdream at 9:04 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


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