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Nest Learning Thermostat gets update, learns to compensate for sunlight

post #1 of 28
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Nest, makers of the popular Learning Thermostat, have pushed out an update for their device, adding the ability for the thermostat to adjust its behavior to sunlight, as well as other new features.

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Owners of first or second-generation Nest devices, if they have their thermostats hooked up to Wi-Fi, will automatically receive the version 3.5 update in the next few days, according to a post on the Nest blog. That update will allow the thermostat to use its built-in light sensor to detect when it is in direct sunlight and to adjust its temperature settings accordingly. The feature, dubbed Sunblock, will turn on after at least one day of Nest being in direct sunlight.

The update also brings the ability to set Nest to run a fan all night and turn off in the morning or to run to any other user specifications, thanks to Advanced Fan Control. Other new features include Cool to Dry, in which Nest uses its humidity sensor to detect humidity levels and turn on the air conditioner when needed; Enhanced Auto-Away, which allows the thermostat to better understand your schedule; and Auto-Tune, which finds opportunities to save energy and helps users take advantage of them. Specific information on each of the new features is available on Nest's site.

Nest also announced that it would be updating the Nest Mobile app for iOS and Android. Those updates are aimed at making changing the temperature more natural, more like turning the ring on the Nest itself. The updates will also bring the ability for Nest to message users when they need to change their filters or perform some other action.

Monday's announcements are in keeping with what Nest founder Matt Rogers recently said with regard to keeping the device fresh and increasingly capable. Since thermostats are meant to be put in a home and to last for years, the company will be looking to expand capabilities not through continual hardware updates, but instead through regular software updates.

"We don't expect people to buy a new Nest every year," Rogers said in February. "It's not like a smartphone. We don't expect our users to do that. These things should stay for five or ten years, so we're relying a lot on software updates, going forward. We're going to have hardware updates, but a lot of our changes are going to come through software."
post #2 of 28

Bought two first gen units (upstairs/downstairs) from Amazon for $179 each a month or so ago for our heatpump. They're pretty nifty little devices and I've been training the hell out of them to maximize power savings. I had regular Honeywell 7-day programmable remotes before, but they were so cumbersome to use that I rarely bothered tweaking the settings.

 

Now my lazy ass can adjust the temperature from my iPhone, my laptop or wherever.


Edited by Mazda 3s - 4/29/13 at 12:26pm
post #3 of 28

I'm thoroughly surprised that there isn't a strong competitor to NEST by now.

 

Thermostats are a commodity item, and adding wi-fi is fairly cheap.

You could keep the rectangular edge of most thermostats and hide the dials and buttons behind the sides. It would still make for an attractive faceplate.

 

Or you could even add weather station functionality for a pittance.

 

Why does NEST still have the high-end thermo market to itself in 2013?

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post #4 of 28
Nice update, especially here in Florida! Love our Nest to bits.
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post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

I'm thoroughly surprised that there isn't a strong competitor to NEST by now.

 

Thermostats are a commodity item, and adding wi-fi is fairly cheap.

You could keep the rectangular edge of most thermostats and hide the dials and buttons behind the sides. It would still make for an attractive faceplate.

 

Or you could even add weather station functionality for a pittance.

 

Why does NEST still have the high-end thermo market to itself in 2013?

 

 

Perhaps some people like quality. The company's Apple linage is clear from the packaging to the quality of materials.Further, the integration of software and hardware makes it a first rate product. 

post #6 of 28
Their strongest competitor is themselves. Their product is having a huge failure rates. They also admit that they have problems. Their only solution, at this time, is to refund the customer's money. A company can't stay in business too long doing that.

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post #7 of 28
Folks, when you say they have no competitor, they are throne who is late to the game. Ecobee has been around for years before Nest came along, it does Nest features and more. It just does not have the Apple look like Nest. I made the Ecobee plunge because at the time it had the iPhone touch like interface, a app to control remotely, as well as browser programming override. You guys might want to take a look and see what you think.. Mine is four years old and no issues what so ever
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by bottleworks View Post

Their strongest competitor is themselves. Their product is having a huge failure rates. They also admit that they have problems. Their only solution, at this time, is to refund the customer's money. A company can't stay in business too long doing that.

1st gen and early 1st gen had lots of issues.  The 2nd gen and later 1st gen have been substantially (as in lots) more reliable from what I have read.

post #9 of 28
Taking their time getting out the international release. Hopefully I'll be able to buy one before winter hits.
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post #10 of 28

I used a Nest (1.0) last year and dumped it after 3 months to go with a Honeywell Prestige 2.0, which IMHO is far easier to use. I use it with the optional Redlink Internet gateway. I can monitor the temperature+humidity outside my house (not at some unknown location elsewhere in my zip code) and can incorporate multiple temperature/humidity sensors throughout my home. Honeywell has had humidity control using the AC for a long time; and the Prestige can control a humidifier if you have one. For controlling the thermostat, Honeywell has a far better iOS app than Nest's.

 

The Nest intelligent learning failed miserably in my home environment--it was a real PITA. The Prestige color touch screen is very easy to navigate all functions. Don't be dissuaded by Honeywell's attempt to attract business for professional installers; if you've already got 5 wires for heat and A/C control, the Prestige is really no more difficult to install than a Nest and plenty of resources are available on the Internet to help you if you need. (The same applies to nearly all thermostats. After all, the wiring for heating and cooling hasn't changed all that much over the years.) On the other hand, if you've got the bucks, hire a professional installer and get the most sophisticated yet easiest to use system available. You can really go wild (and wonderful) with Honeywell's models and accessories.

 

Honeywell also has other thermostats that are Z-wave controllable (integrable into a MiCasaVerde whole-home automation system) but aren't quite as pretty or easy to use.

 

Even if I strongly prefer the Honeywell Prestige, I do think it's good to have the competition from Nest. (Even if you've not been aware of it, Nest does have strong competition, including companies like Honeywell that have been in the business far longer and that have patent portfolios Nest has to work around.)


Edited by Cpsro - 4/29/13 at 2:06pm
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post

1st gen and early 1st gen had lots of issues.  The 2nd gen and later 1st gen have been substantially (as in lots) more reliable from what I have read.

 

My first gen model came with a 5-year warranty (the 2nd gen only has a 2-year warranty), so I'm happy. No problems yet [knock on wood].

post #12 of 28

2nd gen Nest user. These other devices that some think are competitors are like comparing an iPhone5 to an old blackberry. My nest is amazing. The iPhone app duplicating the nest screen couldn't be simpler. My house has a more uniform temperature thanks to the Nest intelligence. The Nest is perfect in every way.

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill42 View Post

2nd gen Nest user. These other devices that some think are competitors are like comparing an iPhone5 to an old blackberry. My nest is amazing. The iPhone app duplicating the nest screen couldn't be simpler. My house has a more uniform temperature thanks to the Nest intelligence. The Nest is perfect in every way.

 

I agree; Nest is in a class by itself IMHO. 

 

Nest = iPhone

"Intelligent" Programmable Remotes = Android phones

Traditional Programmable Thermostats = featurephones

post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by bottleworks View Post

Their strongest competitor is themselves. Their product is having a huge failure rates. They also admit that they have problems. Their only solution, at this time, is to refund the customer's money. A company can't stay in business too long doing that.

I never heard that before. MIne is a first generation and it has never had a single issue.
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post #15 of 28
I have a Nest, really happy with it. One thing that is cool, is the menu system is fun to use and you navigate the whole thing with the built in wheel, you can schedule right from the color lcd monitor on the thermostat, and it has fun animations. You can tell the company enjoys making a quality product, and it's not just about creating a huge feature list for it's advertisements. Also, very happy with the way they release software updates - significant software updates with new features. Happy customer right here. It also makes the installation as easy as humanly possible. You can tell they're proud of their product.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

I'm thoroughly surprised that there isn't a strong competitor to NEST by now.

 

Thermostats are a commodity item, and adding wi-fi is fairly cheap.

You could keep the rectangular edge of most thermostats and hide the dials and buttons behind the sides. It would still make for an attractive faceplate.

 

Or you could even add weather station functionality for a pittance.

 

Why does NEST still have the high-end thermo market to itself in 2013?

Nest is the TiVo of thermostats.  There are lots of other out there. It's just that they do what they do the best.

post #17 of 28
it's good thing this isn't an Apple branded product otherwise we'd get 6 pages of "All you iSheep think Apple was the first to create a learning thermostat," "My xyz brand learning thermostat has more features and costs less. You idiots paid for form over function," and "Oh great! Now Apple thinks they were the first to track the sun's movement. Tell that to the Babylonians."

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post #18 of 28
Nest needs a way to add other iOS or web app users w/out having to give away your master login/password account...

Love the unit so far -- had it ~ 6 mo. so far -- they still need ComEd Electric & Nicor Gas integration in the midwest!

It also seems dumb there is no way to manually check for firmware updates -- it has to wait for a push...
post #19 of 28
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Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Nest needs a way to add other iOS or web app users w/out having to give away your master login/password account...

I actually agree with you.

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post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

I'm thoroughly surprised that there isn't a strong competitor to NEST by now.

Thermostats are a commodity item, and adding wi-fi is fairly cheap.
You could keep the rectangular edge of most thermostats and hide the dials and buttons behind the sides. It would still make for an attractive faceplate.

Or you could even add weather station functionality for a pittance.

Why does NEST still have the high-end thermo market to itself in 2013?

Introducing the Samsung Galaxy T Thermostat. With 2", 3", 4", or 5" diameter displays. It's also coincidentally circular with an orange backlit display and a black ring along the edge.
post #21 of 28
I am the happy owner of two gen 1 Nests first acquired in January 2012, so yes I was an early adopter. Have they been problem free? No. One had a hardware failure and went back early on. The other one got confused and went off line for a couple of days and then somehow cleared itself. Nest insisted on taking it back anyway so they could study it. Consumer electronics break...that's the name of the game. But average companies separate themselves from the good or great companies by how they treat their customers. And Nest's founders learned a lot from Apple.

My Nests easily justified their cost when I started doing the numbers on the energy bills. So far I'm seeing about 12-15% savings on average, more in the winter than the summer. Spending $500 for that kind of ROI was easily better than replacing my windows ($7K investment) or my aging HVAC system ($5K-$7K investment). I estimated they would pay for themselves within 18 months and that had pretty much borne out.

Before the Nests I had Honeywell programmable thermostats. I was excited to get them, but I literally called my HVAC guy to install them since I had no idea how to do it right and Honeywell did nothing to de-mystify what those silly little wires did. Nest explains everything, making the whole process painless. And when one Nest didn't work upon installation, tech support correctly surmised that the available common wire wasn't actually connected to anything at the HVAC unit. Sure enough, disconnecting it from the Nest fixed it.

But my biggest problem with the Honeywells was the UI and inflexibility of the scheduling program. I had the owners' manual next to my bedside take for a couple of weeks before i finally gave up and locked the units on a single temperature? Why? First, I'd have to teach my wife how to use it, and she's not as tech savvy as me and has limited patience for such things. Second, my kids could easily screw with it, especially my special needs son. If I wanted some special programming, like leaving for vacation or temp set points during the day, I couldn't do it.

With the Nest, I had nearly all the flexibility I wanted out of the box and with the new advanced fan control in v3.5, they pretty much have solved any nitpick I could ever have. With the Nest's classic UI, my mother or any babysitter can easily change the temp without having to figure the things out first. And I love that they are thinking of stuff I'd never considered. V3.5 compensates for direct sunlight throwing off the temp gauge? Really? That's ultra cool...not a problem for me personally but I imagine it's a big deal in some homes.

And Cspro, I hope that the Prestige unit from Honeywell is working for you. But Honeywell lost me when the previous gen units lacked of great industrial design (ironic since the Honeywell round was one of the great designs of the 20th century), limited and inflexible programming, and just plain lack of imagination.
Edited by Sevenfeet - 4/29/13 at 5:43pm
post #22 of 28
Are these two serious?? 😶😶
post #23 of 28
Also is anyone having a problem with the app after the update?
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigh View Post

Also is anyone having a problem with the app after the update?

Did you update the nest thermostats and the iOS app?
post #25 of 28

All the more reason to want one.  I haven't convinced my wife to get one yet.  All in good time though.

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevenfeet View Post


But my biggest problem with the Honeywells was the UI and inflexibility of the scheduling program.

The Prestige is an entirely different animal from past Honeywell thermostats. I rarely use the manual or even consider it. In contrast to the Nest, which has a screwy (literally and figuratively) UI (punchy, too) everything on the Prestige is touch screen with color highlights, is far better organized, and is easier to use than previous Honeywells. (And better/easier than Nest!)

 



With the Nest, I had nearly all the flexibility I wanted out of the box and with the new advanced fan control in v3.5, they pretty much have solved any nitpick I could ever have. With the Nest's classic UI, my mother or any babysitter can easily change the temp without having to figure the things out first.

Changing the temperature is ridiculously easy on probably any thermostat, no? but in that regard, the Nest offers no clues as to how the temperature should be adjusted, whereas the Prestige has up- and down-arrows to push. With the Prestige, even my technologically challenged wife can adjust the fan.

 

And I love that they are thinking of stuff I'd never considered. V3.5 compensates for direct sunlight throwing off the temp gauge? Really? That's ultra cool...not a problem for me personally but I imagine it's a big deal in some homes.

And Cspro, I hope that the Prestige unit from Honeywell is working for you. But Honeywell lost me when the previous gen units lacked of great industrial design (ironic since the Honeywell round was one of the great designs of the 20th century), limited and inflexible programming, and just plain lack of imagination.
Clearly you haven't seen the Prestige and all of the accessories available that make it far more powerful than Nest 1.0 and 2.0 will ever be. Much of Nest's imaginative powers are dedicated to getting around Honeywell patents, Honeywell has been that imaginative all along.
Sure, I could have gotten by with a Nest, but its "intelligence" simply wasn't and the Prestige offered extra capabilities that were too numerous and good to pass up.


By the way, there's a reason contractors try not to install thermostats in sunlit areas, just as outdoor thermometers are usually placed in shady areas. It will be interesting to hear from the rare Nest owners who do have sunlit thermostats, though, just how well the Sunblock temperature control works.

post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


I never heard that before. MIne is a first generation and it has never had a single issue.


You're lucky.  You haven't heard it because they have kept it under wraps pretty well.  I went through 4 gen 1 units.  Each lasted between 1-3 months.  Nothing wrong with my *virtually new* A/C system.  It's a short coming with their thermostat.  They said that they are testing a new design that will hopefully fix the defects.  I'm on a waiting list for when that updated design becomes available. 

 

It's a great thermostat (when it works).  Be warned, when it fails (and it will), it can cause damage to your A/C system.  Or cause your power bill to shoot up hundreds by activating AUX heat during A/C use.  Or the temp reading will drastically change. 

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post #28 of 28

It will be cool when Nest supports remote WiFi temperature sensors outside your own house so it will have more exact readings of your local weather.  Granted the internet lookup weather is not terrible either...  

 

I do wish Nest would release a Mac Menu-bar app...

 

Got my 3.5 firmware yesterday -- love the new features.  Odd that it seemed to update itself -- I seem to remember having to manually approve an update in the past.  Perhaps this was considered more of a minor update.

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