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Nest vs. ecobee Smart Si vs ecobee 3 for steam

agurkas
agurkas Member Posts: 238
I moved Nest to another floor with a new FA system, since I needed the 2-stage capability. It works just fine for HE systems.

Now I need to get WiFi enabled thermostat with usage logging capability. Unfortunately, after long research, Honeywells perform extremely poorly in analytics, so I am not considering them.

That said, for steam we may want to have changeable temperature differential setting. Nest does not have that. So I think I will take a pass on getting a 2nd one.

So the questions is, anyone use Smart SI or ecobee 3 on their steam system? I like that ecobee 3 comes with three sensors (there is a Black Friday + Cyber Monday deal too), so I can average out the temps in three bedrooms the steam is covering, versus just letting one coldest unused bedroom set the temps.

Thoughts? Opinions? Experience with either?

Comments

  • Spunky424
    Spunky424 Member Posts: 82
    did you happen to decide which one to go with? im contemplating the same question.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    I bought Ecobee3. Main reasons were: Nest does not have a real open API and integration with home automation is not that good. Ecobee SI lacks aux connections for devices like HRV etc. I can connect. Ecobee3 package I got comes with 3 sensors, so I will be able to better manage heat in my bedrooms.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Please report back your results. This is a recurring question on here. Most of us have a Honeywell.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    You bet! I also happen to be co-founder of a company that is in building automation software, so my much smarter colleagues will be testing the heck out of this one too. They did not care for Nest capabilities (design they liked). Honeywell is too entrenched to bother really pushing the envelope. They will likely just end up buying Ecobee or the like
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    After using both Nest and Ecobee 3, my verdict - Ecobee 3 any day.
    Why?
    #1 for me is that I can tweak heck of a lot more variable in the thermostat and ability to add additional temperature and occupancy sensors coupled with ability to instruct system to ignore certain ones when calculating the temperature - winning feature.
    #2. Data. I am a data geek, I don't trust my gut. I need proof. You can export the data in Excel and tweak the heck out of it.

    Ecobee is running my single-pipe steam and having actually seen the data and comfort of the house, I can say that whomever tells you to keep house at constant temperature, because it is "better", needs to update their knowledge and save $$$ in the meantime. Going from single temp to one more aligned with the activity in the house at least in my case mean 33%+ less boiler on time.
    I have found that in my case having temp at 67 when people are present in the room, 65 for sleep time, and 63 for away makes even my picky "I am always cold" wife happy. This is someone who used to be unhappy if I lowered forced air below 70.

    What would I wish Ecobee did Nest does - learn how long it takes to get to temperature. I really would like system to shut off 5-10 minutes earlier, since with radiators I have, whole room reached the temperature more nicely and evenly, if you let the system coast.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,456
    I also have been experimenting with the Ecobee3. I have only had it powered up to see if the wireless transmission range is adequate within our masonry 1885 apartment house. Unfortunately not yet, although I remember our old 918 MHZ cordlee phone had good signal in the areas I need to cover.
    I have been using a Honeywell Visionpro with a wired remote sensor in the cooler north end apartment only one sensor can be used with the Visionpro, unlike the Ecobee3. I think I may have slightly changed the programming with some static from my hand touching the screen. As a result, the Vision pro seems randomly to produce some short-cycles of a couple of minutes each, even though set to 1CPH.
    i would like to see wifi senors and base unit which are nodes on a network, as it is easier to extend your wifi signal throughout any building, than it is to increase the power of the Ecobee 918MHZ sensors.--NBC
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    Nicholas,
    Pop some fresh batteries into the sensors. There was a batch of them, that shipped with crappy ones. I put in new ones and range went way up.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    Looks really interesting... but from what I understand, it is $$$
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,456
    Thanks for the battery tip!--NBC
  • jch1
    jch1 Member Posts: 200

    agurkas said:



    What would I wish Ecobee did Nest does - learn how long it takes to get to temperature. I really would like system to shut off 5-10 minutes earlier, since with radiators I have, whole room reached the temperature more nicely and evenly, if you let the system coast.

    You need to speak to Mark about the Eco-Steam controller. That's exactly what it does. You'd love it.
    The Ecobee actually does do this through the auto recovery feature. Also, data can be extracted so you can in fact see that it happens. For example, my boiler turned on well before our "awake" time this morning and had it at the correct temperature when "awake" began.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    jch1 said:

    agurkas said:



    What would I wish Ecobee did Nest does - learn how long it takes to get to temperature. I really would like system to shut off 5-10 minutes earlier, since with radiators I have, whole room reached the temperature more nicely and evenly, if you let the system coast.

    You need to speak to Mark about the Eco-Steam controller. That's exactly what it does. You'd love it.
    The Ecobee actually does do this through the auto recovery feature. Also, data can be extracted so you can in fact see that it happens. For example, my boiler turned on well before our "awake" time this morning and had it at the correct temperature when "awake" began.
    For some reason Heat Auto Recovery feature isn't really working for me that well. Going to send in support ticket for them to look at it.
  • jch1
    jch1 Member Posts: 200
    @agurkas, have you downloaded your data? I just did for the first time, and once you figure out what it's illustrating, it is pretty informative, and making me question whether I should in fact return my current thermostat (ecobee smart si) for a honeywell with explicit CPH settings.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    I did download the data, but I don't see the CPH setting action there (or maybe I am looking wrong). What could also be the case is that I am making Ecobee ignore temperature of the room it is in, when averaging achieved temperature.
  • jch1
    jch1 Member Posts: 200
    I don't think you can directly change the CPH. The most you can do is change the minimum system off time, setting it to 20 minutes. Doing so is *kind of* like changing the CPH setting, especially if you also change the maximum system on time to 20-30 minutes or so. It's definitely a roundabout way of doing things, but it may or may not work for you. Again, I'm currently debating whether this solution works for myself.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    I don't think there is a minimum off time setting. At least looking in the manual (page 27) there is minimum ON time.
  • jch1
    jch1 Member Posts: 200
    edited January 2015
    On page 22 of the Smart Si manual, it states the following: Min Cycle Off Time Configures the minimum
    compressor off time between cycles (240 to
    900 seconds)."

    So actually, it looks like you can make it run for at least a certain amount of time, and stay off for at most 15 minutes?

    An alternative would be to manually change the "Heat Differential Temp" setting. Increasing the temp (to a maximum of 3 degrees) means the thermostat won't call for heat until the actual reading is 3 degrees below then your set point. Again, this is a workaround, and it really doesn't seem to be a good one, but if you are planning on keeping your ecobee 3, it may work.

    See also page 25- Min Cycle Off Time Configures the compressor off time between cycles. This ensures the compressor does not short cycle (which could affect the operating life of the system). This time is adjustable from 240–900 seconds.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,758
    agurkas said:

    ...

    Ecobee is running my single-pipe steam and having actually seen the data and comfort of the house, I can say that whomever tells you to keep house at constant temperature, because it is "better", needs to update their knowledge and save $$$ in the meantime. Going from single temp to one more aligned with the activity in the house at least in my case mean 33%+ less boiler on time.
    I have found that in my case having temp at 67 when people are present in the room, 65 for sleep time, and 63 for away makes even my picky "I am always cold" wife happy. This is someone who used to be unhappy if I lowered forced air below 70.

    ...

    Some of us have found otherwise, based on very sound data. It is never ever safe to extend one's own findings for a particular situation to a blanket pronouncement. I do not question your findings in your situation -- but for your to suggest that your findings apply to every situation everywhere is, perhaps, unwise.

    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Gordy
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238

    agurkas said:

    ...

    Ecobee is running my single-pipe steam and having actually seen the data and comfort of the house, I can say that whomever tells you to keep house at constant temperature, because it is "better", needs to update their knowledge and save $$$ in the meantime. Going from single temp to one more aligned with the activity in the house at least in my case mean 33%+ less boiler on time.
    I have found that in my case having temp at 67 when people are present in the room, 65 for sleep time, and 63 for away makes even my picky "I am always cold" wife happy. This is someone who used to be unhappy if I lowered forced air below 70.

    ...

    Some of us have found otherwise, based on very sound data. It is never ever safe to extend one's own findings for a particular situation to a blanket pronouncement. I do not question your findings in your situation -- but for your to suggest that your findings apply to every situation everywhere is, perhaps, unwise.

    Sure, there are always exceptions. But unless you have very tightly insulated house (which I highly doubt, considering residential steam isn't something you see in anything newly built), I have a hard time (and I am open to be shown otherwise) seeing how continuously heating space and then losing heat while you are not there makes sense. Unlike FA, yes radiant has more complicated heat loss path than just BTUs out the window. But in the end, if you are not in the house say 10 hours in the day, keeping it within 2 or so degree usual swing is hardly good on your wallet.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    edited January 2015
    Very informative. I do recall reading about that in Dan's book. Actually going to run an experiment after midnight of keeping diff 67 for occupied, 65 sleep, and 65 unoccupied and see total boiler on time. Temps tomorrow will be exactly the same as tomorrow.
    Will publish export of data system provides.

    I know my house is very much representative of how very large number of Capes are built, insulated, and heated.

    I know that 3-4 degree diff is often achieved with just one cycle.
    I am still working on figuring out if venting is just right and calibration of thermostat (I guess it is still learning), but I am going to just lock down variables to temperature.


  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    Here is a graph from last month, when I started experimenting with set backs.
    You will notice 16th-27th burner on time is matching the outside temperature graph. It just happens that on those days my in-laws were staying with us and we were home all day long, so temperature inside was kept somewhat consistent.
    28th-31st is when I established bigger away setbacks while keeping sleep time and at awake temps the same. Boiler on time is down and is not following the temp line as close.

    Considering one day costs me about 10 therms on average, even 1 therm savings is $1.5 per day saved.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    This is some of my further experimentation in January.

    6th - 8th are days with 60F away, 67F home, and 65F night settings. Yes, you will notice again that boiler on time is not matching with outside temperature line (if I kept it at lower diff).

    Keep in mind, I have typical New England Cape insulation of mostly empty walls and well insulated attic (that is what I was told by my insulation contractor). I haven't had a chance to have walls dense packed.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,758
    I will happily grant that I have to deal with a rather unusual situation, and have found that -- for me -- a setback of more than 2 degrees (which is what I use at night) just isn't cost effective -- and I have over ten years data. But at the same time I must add that part of the cost benefit equation isn't fuel -- it's expenses related to damage to contents and the fabric of the building due to the relatively rapid temperature swings from larger setbacks. Most folks wouldn't have to worry about that! But I can buy a lot of fuel for the cost of one piano tuning, for example...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    edited January 2015
    Jamie Hall,
    You have a piano. That is WHOLE different situations. I grew up playing piano. We had grand concert piano in one room and upright one in another. Large apartment I grew up in had only one temperature year round and god forbid you did not refill those humidifiers in the winter.
    Fortunately, I don't have to keep consistent temps, since I don't own one.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    @Hatterasguy,
    I really think I can do better than what I am doing right now. Granted I do have a huge 3000sqf house where the portion of the house that is steam is about 2000sqf (the other side is FA).

    On a 35F day my temperature inside where steam heat is in drops at a rate of 1F per hour. On a 0F day, like to day, I was dropping 2F per hour.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    Hmmm... I may just rejuggle priority of projects IF I can get on insulation folks schedule
  • jch1
    jch1 Member Posts: 200
    I hope this doesn't violate terms of the site, what's a ballpark cost for insulation of a 2000 Sq ft house?
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    jch1,
    It really depends on your region. In Boston, using Hatterasguy data, I would be looking at two year ROI
  • higgins17
    higgins17 Member Posts: 15
    agurkas said:

    This is some of my further experimentation in January.

    6th - 8th are days with 60F away, 67F home, and 65F night settings. Yes, you will notice again that boiler on time is not matching with outside temperature line (if I kept it at lower diff).

    Keep in mind, I have typical New England Cape insulation of mostly empty walls and well insulated attic (that is what I was told by my insulation contractor). I haven't had a chance to have walls dense packed.

    @agurkas - so, are you happy with your Ecobee3 for 1 pipe steam? For me, it's down to the Ecobee3, Honeywell Smart Wifi, and the Honeywell VisionPro 8000 Wifi. Thanks!
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    Yes, Ecobee3 is far superior to Nest. Last heating season it paid for itseld. And I replaced Nests in the office with Ecobee3 too. Unfortunately for my home steam system, I am not using it this year and will be removing it. Heatpumps are costing far less to run. With new insulation my heating load is something like 1/3rd of old one and investing more money into something that will be even more expensive to run, once my solar panels are on, is just not prudent in my case.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,531
    edited December 2015
    If your paying 1.50 a therm your getting raped. .27 therm month of December my area before tax title, and license. Nov. was .30, .48 after all fees.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,531
    edited December 2015
    Also as to the 33% less boiler on time. Clarification on that. Is it 33% less call for heat time, or 33% less actual burner on time? Does the ecobee track call for heat time, or actual burner on time?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,185
    They just announced a big drop is gas prices early this month, it's all the way down to $1.37 a therm after all is said and done. I'll have to say a prayer of thanks to the state board of utilities which is useless as a bag of hammers.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    Gordyvr608
  • njtommy
    njtommy Member Posts: 1,105
    edited December 2015
    What about the Honey prestige t-stat?
    I was paying $1.30 last year per therm delivered.
  • Kjmass1
    Kjmass1 Member Posts: 212
    edited February 2016
    I just switched from nest to Ecobee3 for my 1 pipe steam system and couldn't be happier. Here are my issues with nest-

    Forced updates are scary. Last thing you need is to brick your thermostat in the middle of winter when you are away. They constantly tinker which annoys me after getting it to work right.

    The last update screwed up my system balance. The swing temp band got bigger so if I had it at 71, it wouldn't come on until 69 and then over shoot up to 75. Run times went from 20 min cycles to 25 min which was causing me to almost cycle on pressure. Lots of vent hissing.

    No customizing the details. "Set it and forget it." Design was great. Weak charts and data. No cph.

    Ecobee3 rocks. House has never been so evenly heated. With the nest I had to vent down the radiator in the living room because it would turn off the nest before the rest of the radiators could fill. Now I can average temps from the sensors and that radiator can heat normally.

    I'm now running about 1cph. More cycles but 15 min run times so radiators are keeping even heat vs filling all the way up. Pipes are staying warm as well so main vents close within a minute or two.

    Being able to use only one sensor at night in a bedroom essentially makes this a zoned system. Put the sensor close to the radiator so the system shuts off sooner and the radiator doesn't over shoot.

    Tight temperature band- .5 temp differential so it turns on at 71.5 when set to 72. Only overshoots to 73.

    Customization is pretty minimal for steam heat. Tons of preferences if you have forced air or multi stage systems.
    vr608
  • Koan
    Koan Member Posts: 436
    How do you set the CPH with the Ecobee3??
  • jch1
    jch1 Member Posts: 200
    You don't, per se. Rather, you set the minimum "on" time to 15-20 minutes. I can't remember what the max setting is.

    I'm a big fan of my Ecobee3, but I will say one thing. We put the sensor in our baby's room b/c it's usually 2-4 degrees colder in there at night relative to our living room, and it's great that we can set the thermostat to only use that sensed temperature overnight. Great feature, but it doesn't mean the house is being "evenly heated". What it actually means is that our living room is probably 5 degrees warmer than the set temperature and his room is at the correct temp. It's a minor distinction, but one worth noting.
    Koan
  • Koan
    Koan Member Posts: 436
    @jch1 thanks for the info!!
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