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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Remote Control with My Nest, #BBYConnectedHome

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.
Have you ever heard of the Connected Home Nest Smart Thermostat before? For short, the thermostat is just called a Nest. The Nest allows you to control your thermostat from your couch without having to get up or even when you're away from the home. Have fun with your spouse and set it to be too cold/hot.

For someone who loves and lives with technology, the Nest is something I hadn't picked up on my own. I'd been eyeing one for the longest time but hadn't bought yet. I think I may be glad I waited as this one is the new 3rd generation version, which is thinner, sleeker in design, and allows for a bigger, crisper display than the prior 2nd generation version.

Installation of the Nest was a breeze. I've installed thermostats before so I had a good idea of what I needed to do. The key thing to know is you have to make sure you connect the colored wires to the right connectors. Each color has a special meaning. Connect them wrong and the furnace/air conditioning won't work right.

First you have to disconnect the old thermostat. There are stickers to help you label the wires with the right letters so you know where to reconnect things. Given my past experience, I decided to forgo putting the stickers on. I did take a picture of the original layout before hand so if things got out of place I knew where they were originally located. That picture kind of took the place of the stickers.
After disconnecting the old system, that's when you get to connect the Nest. You need to feed the wires through the center of the wall plate and unit first. Then, you screw down the wall plate with the Nest. You'll use the top and bottom screw holes with the longer screws. Depending upon what your wall looks like, you may also need another cover to go over a junction box first but we didn't need that plate or the four short screws that went along with it.
After you connect the unit to the wall, that's when you need to connect the wires. Follow the colors from where they were originally placed. Most of the letters used are obvious like R is for Red and O is for Orange. Black goes on C though so not all are so obvious, but B is for Blue so you can't have two Bs.

After connecting the wires and placing the face on the system, it will verify the wires are in the right place. Get them wrong and the unit will tell you. I had my yellow wire on Y1 when it should have been on Y2 for instance. It was originally on Y/Y2 so I wasn't sure which since there was only one Y spot on the old unit.
Get the wiring wrong and the associated setup of what your system is and your system won't work right. By setup of your system, I mean you have to tell it things like if you have a heat pump or baseboard heating for instance. If you're uncomfortable with installing, Best Buy does offer its Geek Squad to come out and do the initial configuration.
Configuration of the Nest doesn't just involve the thermostat. As part of the setup process, you need to connect the unit to the WiFi in your house to take full advantage of its connectedness. As part of my review of the Nest, I also received a Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Router with DST Adapter. This is a much better router than we already had as the DST there stands for Dead Spot Adapter. Besides the stronger signal from the router, the DST adapter can be placed such that if you have an area of the house with a weaker signal, the adapter gets a stronger signal there. Not into setup of the WiFi router either? The Geek Squad Setup service is available for a year via phone and web and allows you to call for help 24/7 whenever they want, vs. the need to schedule an appointment.
If you like tech, it is actually fun configuring the Nest and its router access. As you'll discover with all the setup features, there are two modes of input with the Next: twist and press, three if you count twist left and right separately. So the Nest will walk you through the setup of language, location, etc. You do put in your zip code so the Nest knows your physical location and will have a mini weather report like outside temperature. When you enter the WiFi password, that's where you'll twist and turn the most. You need to "cycle" through the different character sets as numbers, uppercase characters, and some non-English characters are available on other screens. Once done, remember to turn to the "Done" icon (the check mark) to save the password. The first time after entering the password I instead pressed the Back icon which required me to start over again. Oops. I thought it looked like the return key a little.
Once everything is configured, that's when the fun begins. You'll need to register the device on the website so you can access it from ANYWHERE that has an Internet connection, including within your house. You can install the free app from iTunes or GooglePlay on your phone/tablet or connect to the device from your laptop/desktop computer over the web. It is here where you can configure the unit to help you save money. You can create your own schedule on when to turn the furnace/AC on or off, or you can rely on the Nest to learn your schedule and build things up on your own. Within a week, the Nest learning thermostat starts programming itself. It learns your habits and adjusts automatically, regulating your home’s temperature based on your schedule – which can save you energy and money. When you're not at home (the “Away” mode), it will automatically switch to an energy-efficient temperature. In independent studies, the Nest saved an average of 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling bills.
Nest provides your energy usage, tracking how much you've used and provides tips that will help you conserve. Make an energy-saving temperature adjustment and the Nest Leaf will notify you immediately. Nest also provides alerts and reminders for peace of mind: it monitors your heating/cooling equipment, and tells you if anything is not working correctly. You can also be alerted if your home's temperature goes above or below limits you set. And, if you're into the whole home automation thing, the Nest works with other Nest products, such as the Nest Cam and Protect.

A little more on the AC1900 router... This is a brand new router that was exclusively developed between Netgear and Best Buy to help provide consumers with an easy, all-in-one solution to support their home’s connected devices. As the number of Wi-Fi dependent products increase in a home – the average US household has 7 “connected devices” – from smart phones (often several in a home), to tablets, to laptops, to computers, and Wi-Fi printers, this puts a strain on the home’s network, especially the router. With the interest in online gaming and 4k TVs, connected devices such as smart thermostats, plus the need to stream shows from Netflix or hulu, it places even more demands on the network. Many households may experience slow Wi-Fi, dropped calls, or experience “dead zones” – which could be improved upon with an “AC” router, Wi-Fi extenders and expert help. This high-performance router was built to support 10+ connected devices – you can also prioritize devices for streaming videos or music, and included advanced features for lag-free gaming.

We're only a couple weeks into using the Nest but we're loving the extra control we have available to our heating and air conditioning system. We had a digital thermostat before so we had some extra control beyond a basic thermostat. However, it was such a pain to program that we never used it to its fullest potential. Plus, you couldn't just tell the system you were away easily. Here's to having gas and electric bills that are at lest 10% lower.

Not sure if the Nest will work with your system setup? I wasn't sure myself as we have a heat pump and can't get a basic thermostat. Any time you need dual fuels support, you have to be extra careful when getting a new one. There is a questionnaire on the Nest site to help answer the question for you. Just tell it what wires your current thermostat uses.

What sounds the most appealing to you about the Nest?

Since you've read this far, if you're interested in our old digital thermostat, a Carrier TC-PHP01, and are willing to pay postage, let me know and I can ship it off to you. If I hear from several people in the first week after posting, I'll hold a random draw. After that, it will be first come first served. I'll try to remember to remove this after it is claimed.
*Read my Disclosure


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