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Thermostat recommendations

Zipper13
Zipper13 Member Posts: 201
My utility is offering rebates of up $125 for wifi enabled thermostats.

Honeywell and Ecobee stats will max out the rebate.

I have an older programmable now. It functions fine, but I don't even know what bells and whistles are out there to known what I'm missing.

We have 2 pipe steam heating from an 11 year old burnham boiler

-Anyone have one of these?
-Should I take advantage of this rebate?
-If my wifi cuts out will that kill my heat?! I like apps, but I also like being able to just walk up to the thing and tap a button to make it do something.

What model thermostat do you all like for a steam system?
New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch

Comments

  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    Unless you're unhappy with your existing t-stat (poor comfort) or need a feature found in the newer t-stats you might want to reconsider replacing the existing t-stat.

    If you have to get the new t-stat from your utility to qualify for the rebate be careful. Most utility sponsored giveaway's come with strings... like the ability of the utility changing your heat/cool setpoints during peak hours to lower their system loads.

    FWIW- the t-stat will work like a legacy t-stat if your WiFi is down, it will not kill the heat or A/C. You only lose the remote connectivity and monitoring features.
  • adasilva
    adasilva Member Posts: 144
    NY_Rob said:

    Unless you're unhappy with your existing t-stat (poor comfort) or need a feature found in the newer t-stats you might want to reconsider replacing the existing t-stat.

    If you have to get the new t-stat from your utility to qualify for the rebate be careful. Most utility sponsored giveaway's come with strings... like the ability of the utility changing your heat/cool setpoints during peak hours to lower their system loads.

    FWIW- the t-stat will work like a legacy t-stat if your WiFi is down, it will not kill the heat or A/C. You only lose the remote connectivity and monitoring features.

    I'd hope most wouldn't agree to allowing someone other than a family member change the settings on the t stat!
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    ^ agreed, but it's not like they (the gas/power utility) go out of their way to advertise that particular "feature".
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,927
    edited January 2019
    @NY_Rob is correct. Utilities are switching away from the unit they place on the exterior of your home to manage set points during peak load, which they have to build a network to monitor, over to wifi thermostats.
    The other thing, I discovered, is if there is something wrong with your thermostat, you better figure out who is responsible to fix it. If it's the utility, good luck with getting service in a reasonable time.
    If you have to have a wifi thermostat, buy your own, install your own, or have a professional buy/install for you.
    steve
    adasilva
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,257
    A wifi thermostat will function as a regular programmable if you loose the internet. I have had excellent luck with the Honeywell VisionPro and even the FocusPro wifi. Easy to setup and easy to operate. You must have at least 3 conductors to your thermostat though. The "C" wire isn't optional.

    As far as running a steam system it's the cycles per hour setting which you will enjoy. Generally 1 or 2 CPH is perfect.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • adasilva
    adasilva Member Posts: 144
    @NY_Rob unreal the fingers that reach!!
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    edited January 2019
    ^ yup... and they (the utility co's) are very sneaky about it. You have to dig deep into their program literature before you find the single sentence regarding their ability/right to control your home's thermostat whenever they want to.

    If the OP still want's to upgrade to a WiFi stat without the utility having a hand in it (and probably forgoing the rebate) the Honeywell WiFi 9000 series are pretty nice and have settings for steam.
    adasilvaSolid_Fuel_Man
  • Chris_L
    Chris_L Member Posts: 206
    NY_Rob said:

    ^ yup... and they (the utility co's) are very sneaky about it. You have to dig deep into their program literature before you find the single sentence regarding their ability/right to control your home's thermostat whenever they want to.

    If the OP still want's to upgrade to a WiFi stat without the utility having a hand in it (and probably forgoing the rebate) the Honeywell WiFi 9000 series are pretty nice and have settings for steam.

    The OP didn't state where they are located. If anyone has any literature from any rebate programs in MA that give the utility the right or ability to control a thermostat obtained through a rebate program, could you post it here? I am skeptical that is the case here.
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 201
    It's tough for me to tell who the rebate is actually from. As best I can tell MassSave, who offers the rebates, is a pool into which the various gas and elec utilities throw the energy efficieny surcharges and that get tacked onto my bill. They use the money to incentivise customers to insulate and use less energy.

    So I mostly want my "free stuff" since I'm paying for it anyway in my bills.

    It never occured to me that National Grid might want to remotely turn down my stat! I figured the main goal was to get rid of the holdouts with non programable mechanical stats (even though they don't appear to stipulate that you need to replace a non programable) to promote turning the heat down when unoccupied.

    I don't have to buy through them or even have them installed it To get the rebate. I can just buy and install my own and submit the proof of purchase. So I feel safer from remote interferenc since I would own it...i think
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 201
    Great info. Thanks!
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,927
    Zipper13 said:


    I don't have to buy through them or even have them installed it To get the rebate. I can just buy and install my own and submit the proof of purchase. So I feel safer from remote interferenc since I would own it...i think

    Then that’s different to what I was referring.
    steve
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,257
    I dont think any utility would be able to remotely control your thermostat. If that ever went down, there would be some serious blow back from the public. Remember these guys are regulated under the PUC.

    I'd be more worried about someone hacking into it and freezing your house while supplying you with info tha it's nice and warm. All of that is a pretty long stretch really.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 678
    > @Solid_Fuel_Man said:
    > I dont think any utility would be able to remotely control your thermostat. If that ever went down, there would be some serious blow back from the public. Remember these guys are regulated under the PUC.
    >
    > I'd be more worried about someone hacking into it and freezing your house while supplying you with info tha it's nice and warm. All of that is a pretty long stretch really.

    I'd be more worried that the geo fencing and motion sensors would let someone else know if I'm home or not
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    edited January 2019

    I dont think any utility would be able to remotely control your thermostat. If that ever went down, there would be some serious blow back from the public. Remember these guys are regulated under the PUC.



    I'd be more worried about someone hacking into it and freezing your house while supplying you with info tha it's nice and warm. All of that is a pretty long stretch really.

    IDK if you're referring to this particular case, but utilities supplying "rebate/free/discounted" t-stats that they have the "right to control" is becoming more and more common.

    Here's the offer from our power supplier (PSEG LI) on Long Island:
    https://www.psegliny.com/saveenergyandmoney/energystarrebates

    The text is small in the screen cap but it states:
    "Smart Savers Thermostat Program: $85 Rebate
    You'll get $85 from us if you have central air and install a qualifying smart thermostat. The thermostat allows us to make minor, short-term adjustments remotely during periods of high demand. Learn more and enroll in the Smart Savers program today!
    See qualifying smart thermostats and enroll
    "





  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,748
    Whatever the conspiracy theories here -- and I do know that PB&E has a voluntary program where you get lower electricity rates if they can turn off your air conditioning and electric heat at times of high demand -- the fact remains that anything which is connected to the internet has the potential to transmit information to, and be controlled by, third parties through the internet. Anything -- from your coffee maker to main control valves on gas pipelines. The questions become then, which third parties? When? and how does one keep unauthorized third parties out of the cookie jar?

    Judging only by reading news and technical articles -- a somewhat dubious source these days, given the amount of fake news around -- I have the impression that many people take a remarkably casual attitude to this. Even if they do bother to change the passwords and authorization codes on their devices -- which most folks don't bother to do -- they are still operating under the assurances that the companies collecting this information are holding it secure and that anything sent out to other companies is fully anonymized. To which fond hope I respond with a resounding maybe. With regard to passwords and the like, I would like to point out that from a programming standpoint it is child's play to provide a backdoor access routine to an internet connected device allowing entities with access to that routine to gain access to the device.

    So it's really a matter of security and privacy. If your gadget, whatever it is, is connected to the internet, the information it gathers is out there and available, and control of the gadget is also out there and available. Any other approach to internet connectivity is wishful thinking.

    Which is why the aforementioned main line gas valves or aqueduct controls for major cities or electrical grid controls, etc., are not and should not be connected to the internet...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Solid_Fuel_ManCanuckerJean-David Beyer
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,257
    I agree with Jamie whole heartedly.

    What I was referring to is the utility gaining control without your concent. What @NY_Rob posted is certainly concent, and I understand why they would want to do that as the aging and undersized infrastructure of both gas and electric is maxed out.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    Looks like you can purchase your own t-stat on the MassSave program and still qualify for their $125 rebate and you will be the only one controlling your t-stat.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 201
    edited January 2019
    IF we assume for the moment that I have full faith that my privacy and control remain intact (I feel like we've fleshed that out pretty well).......

    what thermostat features are worth while for a steam system? someone said cycles per hour is nice to be able to control. what else?

    what models should I investigate?
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    I believe the last Honeywell WiFi t-stat that let you dial in your own CPH setting was the VisionPro TH8320WF, it's successor the RTH8580WF had CPH presets of "1/3/5/9" only (you are out of luck if you needed 2 or 4 CPH), and the current 9000 series has been dumbed down to completely do away with the CPH user settings :(

    You can still find NOS VisionPro TH8320WF t-stats on ebay, they will work great on your system but probably won't get you your $125 rebate. The current 9000 series will get you the rebate, but you just set the system for "steam" and hope it chooses the correct CPH rate for your system.
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 201
    So I'm gathering , then, that CPH is the the only real upgrade I might actually need and anything else is just user preference for the interface
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
    adasilva
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,665
    CPH is the the only real upgrade I might actually need and anything else is just user preference for the interface


    ... and perhaps your existing thermostat already has that feature.

    I bought a fancy thermostat long ago to save money. Back when I did not realize the implications of radiant slab at grade heating. The only way to save money and improve comfort with a system like that is to find the temperature I like and run it there 24/7. Because a setback takes many hours to begin to take effect, and over 24 hours to establish a stable new setting. And the same to recover after the setback.

    I get my biggest savings from outdoor reset of the heating curve(s) and that has nothing to do with the thermostats.
    NY_RobSolid_Fuel_Man
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    Zipper13 said:

    So I'm gathering , then, that CPH is the the only real upgrade I might actually need and anything else is just user preference for the interface

    Can you supply the brand and model of your current t-stat?

    Honestly, there isn't much that's been added other than connectivity, pretty UI colors and the ability to get outdoor temps, etc.. from the web vs. you supplying sensors locally. IMO the current Honeywell 9000 series is a step backwards from the very flexible (now discontinued) 8000 series that offered lots of custom tweaks in the installer menu.

    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 201
    @NY_Rob I can't see a model number but the front and back looks identical to Honeywell CT3200. Just a two wire connection in back. Which is odd since the manual I found for that states that it's not compatible with steam boilers.

    I'm cooling off on thinking I need the fancy UI and doo-dads and wifi. Maybe I just need one that has settings built in for a steam boilers.
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    edited January 2019
    There's a VisionPro TH8320WF on ebay for $59 (free shipping)... looks like a decent buy and it has all the custom settings you could ask for.
    Item# 233079538435

    Funny... look at his description "This was a great device for us for many years. Swapped it out for a Nest, which I somewhat regret."

    EDIT:
    Just noticed, the t-stat above is actually a RTH8580WF not a TH8320WF, look closely at the description of the Item near the bottom of the page in bold "Honeywell Product Number RTH8580WF1007".
    It simply means you can set the CPH at 1/3/5/9 no other settings like 2 or 4 CPH which is still OK for the OP as he will still set it at 1 for steam. It also means there is no way to connect a remote indoor sensor if that's important.
    Zipper13
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,257
    Yes the 8000 series was a great stat. I think they didn't sell well due to the fact there was a lot to setup/wire. Too bad, the market dictates what sells.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    edited January 2019
    ^ agreed!

    Very possibly it was too labor intensive/time consuming (and maybe even confusing) to work through all the VP 8000 menu options. But all those options and choices are what made it a great t-stat.

    It's sad to see when excellent products are dumbed down for the masses and given a nice new color user interface to make you think it's "better" then it's predecessor. Honeywell probably got lots of tech support phone calls on the VP 8000's so they made the 9000 series super simple to set up, and they save $$ on support hours. Unfortunately they neutered the product in the process. :(
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 201
    I currently only have a two wire connection. The common was run, but is not connected on either end. aside from hooking up the common on both ends. is that 8000 stat really all that complicated to wire? or are you suggesting more that menus and and settings offered too much confusion. I guess for my purposes I only care that the stat turns my heat on and off and that I can set CPH.
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    edited January 2019
    ^ you only need three wires if you have a two wire "heat only" system right now.

    For a simple steam boiler running off a two wire t-stat the setup on the VP 8000 will be very straight forward. You'll probably spend more time getting the WiFi part of it registered on the Honeywell site vs. setting up your particular system parameters. IIRC I only set four options for my system in the menu, most of the other stuff either didn't apply or was correctly pre-set (like F vs. C for temp display) for me.

    The complicated setup seems like it's reserved for homeowners with multi-stage heating/heatpumps and integrated A/C units and or people with backup heat sources, etc...
    Zipper13
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,751
    Some of the complication can be reduced by buying a single stage version (TH8110), they don't prompt for the multi-stage options.

    And the 9000 is flexible in it's own right. IIRC it exposes the parameters of the PID that controls operation—not bad for a residential stat. I can't think of another one that does.

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