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Nest and Ecobee ??

TAG Member Posts: 751
edited August 2022 in Thermostats and Controls
I'm asking .. Why? Why are these so popular ...

We have been traveling to see family this summer and it seems these are both popular and not really loved by all who install them. Knowing I'm a house nerd I get asked to "please fix the program on the (pick Nest or Ecobee)"

It seems they are trying to do too much and more than is needed. We rented a house in Hilton Head last week with two Nests and they were always turning the systems on and off.

I'm blessed (or cursed) with more than one residence -- The houses with new Carrier systems use the Infinity Thermostats. The houses with basic systems I have been using the Sensi touch. Do like the ability to check on the houses remotely and use the away programs ... I will even say the geofencing has a place. I don't think the learning adds any comfort -- the reverse in my mind and I question is it's really saving any energy?


  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 999
    Not 100% sure, maybe it started with the invention of the Television Remote control. So remote control and monitoring and maybe some promise of saving fuel by automation and the next widget is born.

    I like my old Honeywell T87, its been 100% reliable for 50 years.

    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,081
    I have been known to be pretty hard on the Nest from time to time. Less so on the Ecobee. A couple of comments, though.

    First, what is the attraction? Several different things, I think. First, there is the impression of being in control, even when far away -- knowing what's going on. Being able to change the temperature. All that sort of thing. At the risk of too deep a dive, I think there are many people who don't feel they have control of their lives, and anything which gives them that sense will be welcome. Second, there are an awful lot of people who simply want to have the latest whizzy thing, and the Nest, particularly, has been heavily marketed in that direction (along with Alexa and Siri and friends -- those are also a control thing as well). There may be other factors here.

    Do the learning features actually save energy? That depends on the system which they are controlling. You have to remember that both of those things were dreamed up in the California Bay Area. I'd venture to say that 95% or more of the houses in the Bay Area are forced air with air conditioning -- and for such an application they do save energy. Forced air can ramp up or down very quickly, and responding to occupancy makes a good deal of sense. In addition, most of those houses are -- at least from the heat storage standpoint --flimsy. No thermal mass. Again, they ramp up and down quickly. So -- if you are working with a stick built house from the last 30 years or so, and no one is home most of the day, and so on -- they make sense (the cat or dog or plants may not be so happy, but...). At the other extreme, if you are looking at a structure with a nice heavy concrete radiant floor, for example, which takes days to change temperature, they make no sense at all. Or a house with a boiler with outdoor reset they can actually waste energy, as they are fighting against the boiler. A house which is slow responding, such as steam or older hot water heat, is in between -- and there depending on exactly how they are programmed and how the house is used they might save -- or they might not.

    As with almost any tool or technology, if they are used in an appropriate setting they can be wonderful. If not, they're pretty bad. Trouble is, of course, like so many other things, they are advertised to cure all your problems -- which they won't.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,309
    I just installed an Ecobee, two Honeywells, and a Nest for cooling. The owner is not happy with the Nest and wants me to replace it with a Honeywell. hmmm. This is a boiler sys with separate air conditioning. I had to replace the trans in the Taco relay board with a 30VA trans.
  • jasonmm
    jasonmm Member Posts: 10
    @Jamie Hall you state "a house with a boiler with outdoor reset they can actually waste energy, as they are fighting against the boiler."

    I have that setup in my house and I'm trying to figure out how it would fight against it. Can you explain? Thank you.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,081
    The whole concept of outdoor reset with modulation is to run the boiler at exactly the right power to supply the heat loss of the house. The reset curve is adjusted so that happens. Now the whole concept of a "smart: thermostat is to drop the house temperature when no one is there -- sometimes a lot -- or in the evenings, perhaps. Problem. Now the outdoor reset is commanding too much power, and the boiler cycles. Second problem. Now the thermostat wants to warm the house up -- but the reset curve sets the boiler to maintain, not increase, the heat. Some boilers have a boost function -- after struggling for a while with the new demand, they will radically increase their power output to try and reach the thermostat demand. Neither cycling nor boosting is helpful to economy.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,618
    We have installed several score of ecobee, maybe 100 and this point. Not one complaint. Nest is for the birds. I like the general platform but I had to call to tech-support once because I was stumped on the dual fuel, worst experience of my hvac life. When I finally figured it out, I took a quick video, in case I ever got stumped again 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • John Mills_5
    John Mills_5 Member Posts: 950
    Nests are good for business. Replacing them that is. We have had no trouble with Ecobees. Emerson Sensi and Sensi Touch are great stats as well. For our Rheem products we use their communicating Econet controls. They are low priced for a communicating control and rather flimsy but seem to work OK.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,081
    In a sort of defence of the Nest (who would have every thought I'd be doing that?) it actually does work well -- for what it was designed for. Which is relatively tight houses with forced air heat/air conditioning. It lacks the flexibility to handle other types of systems or buildings gracefully, but much of the difficulty has to do with using the wrong device for the job, rather than the device itself.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England