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Thoughts on Amazon's new thermostat?

Erin Holohan Haskell
Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,642
Amazon worked with Resideo (maker of Honeywell Home thermostats) to create a new Alexa-enabled smart thermostat, retailing at $60. I know how many of you feel about Nest and would love to hear your thoughts on this one, especially considering the collaboration with Resideo.


    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,084
    Personally, I'm against all so called "smart thermostats".
    Other than being used as a low temperature alarm to notify someone if the heat fails, they're a toy for people to play with on their phones. 
    I haven't looked at the Amazon thermostat yet but I will check it out. Having Resideo taking the Honeywell name irks me a little too. Bring back Minneapolis!
  • Sal Santamaura
    Sal Santamaura Member Posts: 345

    ...My problem...mostly in the personal privacy aspects, which apply not solely to the Nest or this new thermostat, but to pretty much any of the Internet of Things widgets and especially to widgets -- like Siri or Alexa or whatever -- which are always on and always listening.

    This. I bought an Amazon fire stick TV device just a little too late, and ended up with one of those that has voice input capability. After examining the remote with an eye toward cutting the microphone wire(s), I concluded there was no non-destructive way to open the thing. Therefore, I have batteries in it only when watching content via that system. If big brother wants to listen to the sound it's providing me, I can live with that. :)

    For the same reason, I don't have a "smart" phone and my PC was intentionally configured without camera or microphone.

  • jad3675
    jad3675 Member Posts: 48
    Not a big fan of 'smart' thermostats with people chasing the elusive setback that will save them enough to retire on, but for 60 bucks a thermostat that will (at least according to the pictures) display something that shows energy usage is pretty neat.

    Me, personally? I'm still waiting for an inexpensive thermostat system that does away with wires in the walls for multi-zone systems.

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,187
    Alexa is always listening. My buddy was at my office (I have an Echo Dot to play music) and he was talking about his suspension system on his truck, needing new ball joints.
    I type into my browser "bal" and "ball joints" comes up. Rather frightening.
    Then he says out loud "Looks like Alexa is spying on us". As he finished the word 'spying' Alexa immediately jumped in with "I'm not spying on you. I am not collecting any personal information". Try it on yours...

    For the life of me I'll never figure out why people want to constantly monitor their heating systems. Some exceptions like @HVACNUT mentioned but it's simply a set it and forget device. Maybe some setback for certain systems, when your schedule dictates it.
    For heat, I have 6 zones, 4 of them radiant, and 2 central AC units. That's 8 thermostats that I've never touched in probably 10 years except to replace batteries. I do switch the t-stat for the master bath to off in the summer as sometimes the floor sensor butts up against the AC and the circ will run (why ODR doesn't kill the zone control is another thread). And I turn the temps up on the AC's when we go on vacation.

    I hope Residio fully supports it with a human manned, qualified phone line for techs, and full documentation. But who knows. All they have to do is cram them into Home Depot and put them 'on sale' and people will buy them.
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,072
    edited October 6
    I have asked Alexa if she works for the CIA and if she is friends with Siri. I think I'll ask her if she is binary or non binary tonite
    rick in Alaska
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,213
    Having dinner at my daughters house one night. Alexa set the alarm for 5AM. Needless to say my daughter was not happy
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,758
    SlamDunk said:

    I have asked Alexa if she works for the CIA and if she is friends with Siri. I think I'll ask her if she is binary or non binary tonite

    Speaking of Siri-

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 248
    edited October 7
    Everyone calling these things "smart" is a bit of a misnomer. Rather they're "connected". But what really bugs me about all this IoT and smart everything is everyone buys some wifi light bulbs, a T-stat and then believe they have a smart house...

    No, just no. Being able to make your light bulb blink from across the world does not make it "smart". I just means you have a remote control in your pocket. Congratulations.

    A smart home is one which works with out your intervention. And by that definition the old mercury based honeywell round was pretty darn smart. Also Wifi, and bluetooth are the absolute worst for home automation. It drives me crazy that they have seemed to become the dominate protocol. Zwave or Zigbee are a much better choice. They were designed for low power consumption. And Zwave uses the much less congested 900Mhz band which also goes much further. The only down side is bandwidth. 
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 248
    edited October 7
    Also Privacy and cloud dependant is a non starter for me. I'm running a Honeywell T6 Pro with Zwave. It is tied to a open source home automation OS running in a VM on my home server. Everything is local and behind my firewall. Access is obtained via a VPN. There is a hole punched through for Alexa but what amazon can see is very limited. Being able to turn on the ceiling fan or a light by voice while feeding a baby is quite convenient I must admit.

    Also I have the wake word set to "Computer" so I can imagine I'm in Starfleet on a starship somewhere not on this planet. :p
    ratiodelta T
  • bill_brooks
    bill_brooks Member Posts: 46
    i like jamie hall's assessment of "smart" controls for radiant systems.
    with regard to the "fire stick" remote, i simply taped over the mic port with high-quality electrical tape.
    in addition, i refuse to own the alexa system.
    i do not want to be "21st century scyzoid man" by having a creepy, listened-to household!
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,461
    A “smart thermostat” with setback should never be used with any type of modulating equipment - whether it’s a boiler or forced air. It’s logic actually works contrary to that of the equipment. Bosch strongly emphasized this in their training.

    If someone wants to use it to just basically monitor their equipment, that’s fine, but other than keeping an eye on a remote location, IDK why you’d wanna do that.

    My house still has the old mercury T87f with a modulating HTP boiler and I’ve never once felt the need to know what the temp is in the house while I’m out working during the day. I’ve got far more important things to deal with than having to know what the temp in my house is when I’m not there.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,642
    Interesting points, well made. Thanks for sharing them.
  • Sal Santamaura
    Sal Santamaura Member Posts: 345

    ...with regard to the "fire stick" remote, i simply taped over the mic port with high-quality electrical tape...

    Black electrical tape was a good idea from Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers for covering up a check engine light, but I'm not sure it would be sufficient in this case. Although a daub of Rectorseal 5 into the hole before applying tape might work. :)
  • bill_brooks
    bill_brooks Member Posts: 46
    edited October 7
    3M makes some pretty impervious tape. but...... the sure-fire solution is to refuse the alexa system
    anywhere in your home!
    if you're too damn lazy to get off the couch to lock the front door, why not just hang a sign outside
    "burglers, come on in. front door unlocked".
  • sunlight33
    sunlight33 Member Posts: 353
    I agree with what most have said here. Once my modcon boiler gave a burner fault while I was 1000 miles away on business trip, that's the only time I truly needed remote monitoring. Otherwise it's pretty much set it and forget it.
  • fastd
    fastd Member Posts: 10
    I am not a big fan of WiFi, preferring wired systems. I have a Bayweb thermostat system in my house. While it can run wireless, I use it as a wired system. Gives me remote monitoring and control of heat and hot water. Oil boiler, baseboard fin tube, separate electric hot water heater controlled off a dry contact in the Bayweb unit. By the way, the Bayweb system has no additional monthly charges. Your purchase of the equipment provides an account on their servers as part of the deal.
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 338
    I don't walk around with a tinfoil hat, but I am pretty confident it is not just Alexa that is "listening". Ever notice you can talk to someone about a very specific topic and all of a sudden you start seeing ads about it on social media? If you already own a smart phone, big tech. knows plenty about you - with or without a Smart thermostat. If you are really concerned about privacy, there is a lot more to it than just keeping Alexa out of the house.

    With that said - I have an Ecobee themostat in the living room. It doesn't use voice recognition, but I can monitor & change the temperature remotely via my phone. We live in an old house that get slammed by wind up on the Canadian border - it would not take much of a failure to cause a problem if no one noticed for a day or two.
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,084
    edited October 9
    I hate thermostats. They are just a switch no matter how fancy they are with one job. To shut off a poorly designed heating system.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • The Wire Nut
    The Wire Nut Member Posts: 407
    To those of you concerned about privacy and Alexa listening in, how many use Faceblech, Twizzer, Instacrap, and the rest of the "social media" circle? It's all about mining you, your beliefs, and feeding you back teasers to keep you posting. I'm in the IT world, and don't do any social media, I've seen too many clients hacked because of stuff posted on SM that gives enough info to open the doors to Ft. Knox.

    Call me an old boomer, but I grew up learning how important guarding your personal info is and now we toss it to the wind as if it doesn't matter. Remember there's no such thing as a free lunch or free web service!

    As for home automation, protocols come and go (remember X10?) and the market is still new enough that there hasn't been a single standard adopted. Besides Zwave, Zigbee, BLE, etc. there are also European standards. At some point it will merge into a coherent standard that will work, work well, and be simple enough that anyone can set it up.

    For now, I find my Ecobee extremely useful, it's not the Alexa version, and my account is protected with a very long and complex password (pi to a trillion places!). I do have an Alexa in my garage, where it is useful when I have my hands full and need a light turned on, etc. Google is welcome to listen to the rodents in the garage chatter when I'm not there!

    Anyway, enjoy your weekend and if you have seasons, enjoy the colors of the trees. Lime day is over!

    Alex ("The Wirenut") Marx
    "Just a homeowner with opinions and a mouth"!
    "Let me control you"

    Lost in SOHO NYC and Balmy Whites Valley PA
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,589
    Some of us are pretty cautious... I have no social media accounts, for instance. No smartphone. And a separate computer (not connected) for any personal work...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,345
    yeah, but, the adds to the right are all internet security now , , ,
    it's everywhere
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,589
    neilc said:

    yeah, but, the adds to the right are all internet security now , , ,
    it's everywhere

    Which is why the computer on which I am typing this has none of my personal information or writings on it and why I try to keep my faith and politics off of it...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,072
    edited October 10
    I have Alexa, iphones, apple tv. What can the internet learn about me? That I am as average as they come? Boring even? That I place the tstat wherever I want it? This forum is about a social as I get on media.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,871
    They also know when you're home—& when you're not. If you pay with credit card, what you buy, where you buy it, & when you buy it. They can make some amazingly accurate guesses about many things, there's a story floating around about a young girl who started receiving disposable diaper coupons before her doctors appt! Data retention means that if you're EVER done something that may become socially unacceptable it'll be available for The Central Scrutinizer. (Note: not really a Zappa fan, but…)

    And you're picking up the cost of all this. It blows my mind. Twenty years ago, if the government said they were going to do a quarter of what's happened, the entire country would have gone off like a bomb. Since it's 'just' corporations, who's only loyalty is to the bottom line, no one seems to care. If you're carrying a phone they're literally walking down the street with you.

    Whew, </rant>, sorry!

  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,072
    edited October 10
    Half my neighborhood and half my coworkers know when I am home. A SSN accomplished the same thing 60 years B.C. Dont worry about it.
  • Sal Santamaura
    Sal Santamaura Member Posts: 345
    SlamDunk said:

    ...Dont worry about it.

    I don't worry. I simply don't participate in anti-social media, avoid "smart" anything, including a phone, and thereby thwart the data collection. :)