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WiFi Thermostats are not a cure-all

Wellness
Wellness Member Posts: 126
edited November 2019 in THE MAIN WALL
It seems every few months or so, The Wall gets a bunch of posts about WiFi thermostats and since I did not want to directly criticize anyone who has such a device, I decided to post independently. However, home onwers should understand that no thermostat, WiFi or not, is a cure all for solving any heating or cooling issues in your home.

More importantly, wifi thermostats introduce significant useability, privacy and cost issues. For instance, Google bought the company that made the popular Nest theremostat for $3.2 billion a few years ago. News stories have since surfaced that suggest Google has not been happy with the financial returns it is getting from Nest. Google recently changed its terms of service to give it the ability so collect and share more information generated by the thermostats (i.e., when the home is occupied, or when movement ceases in the house, etc.) with third parties. Whether or not you care about your privacy, moves like these illustrate just how vulnerable an item you paid lots of money for can further increase in cost or change in functionality without your consent. From my point of view, an even bigger worry is when makers of WiFi thermostats move to extract more revenue from thermostats like Google seems eager to do or when a thermostat manufacturer is acquired by another company or goes out of business altogether, leaving homeowners unable to manage heating and cooling in their own homes because the manufacturer's thermostat webserver has been taken offline. If you need remote access to your HVAC system, I have previously listed at least four thermostats with their own internal webserver that will allow you to do so securely. There may be more now. These devices are by no means "plug and play" or easy to install, especially if you want a secure remote connection, but they do exist and they protect your privacy and your ability to control your heat well into the future. @Erin should make thermostats a "sticky" topic on the Wall. Just my 2 cents. . .
vibert_c

Comments

  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 688
    Z-wave tstats are a good option. But again it is not user friendly and depending on what home automation hub/software you're running may not be any more secure.
  • Steam_Jon
    Steam_Jon Member Posts: 19
    @JakeCK Curious to know what your concerns are with Z-Wave security? I have a 2GIG alarm panel, connected to Alarm.com, and am considering my options for remote control of my Tstat. Rather than go WiFi, I was thinking I might be able to connect the Tstat through my alarm panel's connection.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,923
    I don't think that it is the Z-Wave thermostat which has much better -- or much worse -- security than any other consumer level wireless device.

    The security problem isn't on that level. The security problem comes when that device -- or any other -- is connected to the internet. What many folks haven't managed to wrap their heads around is that almost anything which is handled over the internet is, essentially, public information Their are a few exceptions, but not at the consumer level. The question is only one of how much is the information worth, and to whom? Or if it is a control device, how much interest is there in controlling that device, and who is interested?

    Most people don't have to worry much, frankly, as their doings are of little interest to anyone other than advertisers (who pay well to find out what TV or streaming shows you watch, what you buy from whom, etc. etc.) -- at the moment, in the western world. In other parts of the world, things like when you go out, where you go, whom you see, and what you say are of considerable interest to some people (and, with Covid-19, this interest is appearing in western countries as well, I might add).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England