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thermastats for steam heat

johnpenjohnpen Member Posts: 14
i really like the nest thermastat will it work well with our steam two pipe system? it is on the very high end in price. or is there another thermastat that will work with our system? we are looking for a new one this is older 1880s building with apartments and commerical space not rented. apartments are though no one is home during the day except one person who is a day sleeper. right now we have one of program ones. please help. whats the best temp for steam heat 72 is to hot 64 is to cold for the only female in the building


penny am the female in the building


  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 6,656

    You may get some differences of opinion on the Nest for steam heat.  In general, steam heat (and some types of hot water or radiant) do not work well with setbacks of any size, while forced air does.  The Nest's major advantage, as I understand it, is in attempting to economize by setting back the temperature when the space is unoccupied.

    Therefore... no, I would not recommend the Nest.  There are, however, a number of very fine thermostats (which are a lot cheaper!), such as the Honeywell VisionPro 4000 or 8000, which work very well indeed with steam heat.

    If there are differing temperature preferences among the occupants, there are also thermostatically controlled vents (for one pipe steam) or valves (for two pipe steam) to control the temperature in individual rooms.  First, though I would attempt to get the heat even in the building, then start fiddling from there if need be.

    The best location for a single thermostat can be hard to determine; sometimes there may be a common space which is suitable.  Can't help much with that, as I don't know the building.

    As to what is the best temperature... Ah.  People do fight over that, don't they?!  But it is generally easier to start warmer and turn down the vents or valves (as the case may be) in the rooms which are too warm for the occupants.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    Thermostats for steam

    I second Jaimie's endorsement of the Honeywell Visionpro. It has a very useful feature which enables an optional remote sensor to be installed, enabling the the control portion to be in a secure place. I also agree with the in advisability of temperature setbacks, as the fuel saved during the low temperature period is soon Burt up when the templet urge rises.

    Make sure that your present thermostat is setup for steam which in the Visionpro would be 1CH. Also make sure that your system is as balanced and well maintained as possible.

    Some Tekmar thermostats are able to have 2 remote sensors with the average temperature being read by the control.--NBC
  • saikosissaikosis Member Posts: 57
    edited October 2013
    What's a Setback?

    Hi. Can someone explain what a setback is? I was considering replacing my ancient Texaco-branded Honeywell mercury thermostat with a Nest thermostat, but it sounds like they aren't right for my one-pipe system. Is a setback when you have different temperature settings throughout the day?
  • ToymotorheadToymotorhead Member Posts: 54


    Setbacks at simplest form, turning down the thermostat when you are not

    there. Weather it be you turning the dial down when you leave, or a

    programmable thermostat, or a new age magical WiFi enabled internet iphone controlled thermostat,

    that is all a setback is.

    Hot water, and especially forced air

    heating systems tend to respond very well to setbacks when you are not

    in the building, as they can begin to bring heat into the room fairly

    quickly (2-10 minutes typically) when it is needed. So setting back the thermostat

    (turning it down) when no one is around can result in significant fuel


    Steam systems typically do not respond well to large

    setbacks on the thermostat. The simplest explanation has to do with the

    mass of the system. On a steam system you typically have several

    thousand pounds of cast iron radiators. It takes a lot of time to bring

    that up to temperature, more so, if it has been off long enough to go

    completely cold. This is only one of the many reasons why steam heat

    reacts more slowly to changes in the setting of the thermostat. Therefor

    most steam systems are happiest with only minor setbacks in

    temperature, as it may take 10-30 minutes of on boiler on time for the

    steam system to really begin to effect the room temperature.


    is why you will find the different cycle per hour settings on

    programmable thermostats. It is an attempt to make the thermostat work

    better with different types of systems, as they all react with the

    livable environment at different rates.

    Some people have had poor results with the NEST thermostat on steam. Search the wall and you will find plenty of experiences and advice.

    Just my $.02


    If you can't be good, at least be good at it.
  • johnpenjohnpen Member Posts: 14

    thantks for the information we have the controls in our apartment for safe keeping if they dont pay for it they just turn up the heat this building has 25 large rads the bills for heat over they last ten years range from 1800.00 to 500.00 psi is low low low hearing that system should run every 1 to 2 hours instead of 5 to 6 hours last year we kept the temp at  the highest was 800.00 any way does this sound high we want to lower the bill but not freeze either

  • Joe VJoe V Member Posts: 233
    An old thread on the nest

    The nest is an expensive t'stat.  But it works.  If you have a smartphone and wifi in the house, you can see what's going on.  You can even tell if the boiler has a fault preventing it from coming on.  Want control remotely?  Can be done.  Does it save money?  As much as any programmable t-stat will except you can control remotely and see what is going on.  My brother recieved one as a gift.  He loves it.  I wouldnt spend that much myself.
  • Joe VJoe V Member Posts: 233
    remote thermometer

    You can place remote thermometers in typically cold apartments if you have control of t-stat.  If it is 68 in your apartment and 58 in another, I think the tennant in the cold apartment deserves a break on rent. 
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    If it is 68 in your apartment and 58 in another

    you need to have your system looked at by someone who really understands steam.  Your building was almost certainly comfortable and balanced when the system was originally installed.  Unless the building has been reconfigured or radiators have been removed, it can be returned to that state.  In many cases, the process is not very expensive.
  • johnpenjohnpen Member Posts: 14

    how often should the boiler run every two hours of three i keep reading setbacks are not good for steam heat must be confused the thermoststs is acurate 68 though the building the boys like it cool
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 6,656
    Depends a lot

    on how cold it is outside!  There is no really general rule.  My own experience is that in warmer weather -- such as we are having just now in New England -- the boiler hardly runs at all; just in the morning coming out of a setback (we use a three degree setback -- as much to get a burst of warmth in the bathrooms and the breakfast area when we get up as anything else!).  In really cold weather -- close to design, say 0 to 10 above with a wind -- the boiler will run as much as 20 minutes every hour.  Being steam, the building stays warm (drops less than a degree) between runs.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • saikosissaikosis Member Posts: 57

    Lots of good information. Thank you.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,598
    edited October 2013

    Personally I avoid the Nest mainly because of complaints regarding it locking up and doing weird things.

    I'm running a Honeywell Visionpro 8110 with touchscreen.  However I like to recommend the 5110 series with large screen to most people.  It is affordable, has a decent size screen and controls steam heat well when set to 1CPH.  It is available with a smaller screen which I do not recommend.  Proceed with caution if you plan on buying from Lowes or Homedepot as I would bet they carry the smaller screen model.

    Here is a link to a 5110 with large screen at a store I buy from a lot.

    Knowing what I do now, I probably would have just bought a 5110 for my self as well.  If you insist on having a programmable one (not recommended) then go for the 6110 with large screen :

    Not sure if this will help but in my single family home with single pipe steam heat I have two TRVs in use.  One in each of our larger bedrooms and they keep those rooms cooler then the rest of the house.  They can be adjusted as necessary depending on what you want.  I could adjust them so those rooms stay warmer as well.  Its essentially a mechanical thermostat that controls the air vent.  Even though I am using them in a single family home they are really intended for larger apartment buildings.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures
    Central air project pictures
  • Shaun McDonnellShaun McDonnell Member Posts: 20
    Had it

    I actuallt purchased the nest a few months ago and just got around to installing it about 3-4 weeks ago. I seemed to have  a lot of issues with it at every turn. I have a basic 2 wire system that runs at 24 vac. According to the Nest site it should have worked but after 2 weeks of messing with it I had to return it. I ended up going with a Honeywell RTH7600D that I was able to install in a matter of minutes.

    The short of my issues with the nest:

    Overall it just works better with a common wire if you don't have one it causes problems 

    It would cycle for no reason and just keep running I waited to to see if it would cycle off but it reached 20 minutes and was heating up the radiators. The heat was set to 58 deg and it was at least 75 in the house

    The battery would not remain charged, that may be the reason it was cycling on but I didn't feel it was needed to burn oil to keep it charged.

    Here is some othe rinfo I posted on and some other spots: 

    Hope this helps
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Nest needs constant 24VAC

    from everything I have read.  Generally, this requires three or more wires to the stat.
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