Apr 302014
Carrier ComfortChoice Touch

An extensive study by Nest Labs Inc. on how customers use thermostats has found that the one — the sleek unit that is supposed to be drop-dead simple to make use of — fell in the middle of the pack on numerous criteria and features a design and style flaw that gave it a near-bottom rating for usability.

An additional important conclusion within the study of “smart” thermostats is that none was all that intuitive or helped users easily adjust settings in methods that save power.

The study was carried out by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in California, where the thermostat plays an particularly important role in energy use. Residential thermostats manage one-quarter of all power consumption, far more than any California utility. On a hot summer season day in SMUD’s service area in the Central Valley, home air conditioning accounts for about a third from the utility’s 300-gigawatt peak demand.

“What we discovered is that clients actually do possess a challenge utilizing thermostats. They are not in a position to use them really well, they discover the interface nonintuitive,” said Lupe Jimenez, a senior project manager at SMUD who managed the study. “You’d think by now the industry would have gotten about to it.”

A brand new generation of “smart” thermostats wirelessly connect to other devices inside the house. They may be being sold by alarm organizations, big-box shops and cable providers with the promise of managing energy use without having significantly input from the occupant (EnergyWire, April 14). Nevertheless, the study makes clear that the new connected thermostats aren’t a great deal easier to manually system than the old “dumb” thermostats.

The results for Nest had been surprising, especially offered that the company’s founder and CEO, Tony Fadell, led the design in the original iPod and brought Apple’s design aesthetic to Nest. In February, Google acquired Nest for $3.two billion.

The survey was absolutely nothing if not extensive. A total of 163 folks in SMUD’s service area participated, selected to represent a balanced sampling of gender, age, race, earnings, education and house ownership. Participants were videotaped to measure how long it took to execute tasks having a thermostat, filled out questionnaires and participated in follow-up interviews.

The study looked at the “walk-up usability” of a thermostat — in other words, with out any guidance or even a manual. Ten “smart” thermostats had been inside the study, together with two “dumb” thermostats. Every participant compared two thermostats side by side, and each and every thermostat was evaluated by a minimum of 26 folks.

The all round winner was the Carrier ComfortChoice Touch, which came in initial in each overall ease of use and general really feel and sound. Ninety-one percent of those that tried it known as it their favorite thermostat. Runners-up were the Ecobee Smart  Si and Emerson Smart Energy. (I will test both of them very soon, and will publish the review in here. Please be around :-) ).

Pitfalls for the Nest

In general ease of use, Nest came in 11th, second in the bottom, behind even the two “dumb” thermostats within the competitors. In all round feel and sound, it came in seventh. In all round look, Nest came in fourth. On the rating of “task efficiency” — how extended it takes to complete a specific function — Nest came in second from last.

The study found that most of the dissatisfaction with Nest came down to a single function: the dial. As opposed to all other thermostats tested which can be boxes controlled by buttons, the Nest is essentially a circle which is manipulated by pushing and twisting the entire unit.

“More than half from the participants that tested the Nest — 16 of 28 — had been unable to figure out the input mechanism at all or till the really end. Because of this, the Nest garnered a really low 38% Activity Efficiency score,” the study noted.

It added, “Removing those frustrated users who couldn’t determine the dial, the efficiency score changed to put Nest in first for efficiency and fourth for preference.”

The capability to utilize a thermostat without having a manual is vital in managing the energy use of the numerous properties where the thermostat is currently on the wall when a brand new renter or homeowner moves in.

“A customer who buys a Nest and brings it home is probably not going to possess the problem. But if somebody moves into that residence, that client might not have the ability to figure it out,” Jimenez stated.

Participants in the study stated they liked that the Nest was sleek and modern-looking and thought the dial and also the app had been easy to utilize. On the other hand, they thought that the screen was as well little, that the menu was hard to decipher and that it was hard to get started.

Jimenez stated that SMUD would base its future acquisitions of thermostats around the final results of this study. Moreover, she hoped that it would nudge the whole thermostat market to produce user encounter a priority.

“The question remains … regardless of whether the new thermostats will be utilized in a way that actually aids consumers use less energy,” the study said. “While it’s also soon [to] pass judgment on the far finish of the communications path, we are able to say with some certainty that these new requirements is not going to impact power savings if clients don’t like or can not determine how you can make use of the new thermostats.”


Apr 232014
Nest or Honeywell

This particular review is actually a comparison between Honeywell RTH8580WF thermostat and Nest 2nd Gen programmable thermostat, the main 2 thermostats which dominating the market these days.

With small number of choices on the thermostat market for a 7-day programmable thermostat having an user-friendly interface, an effective appealing small physical style and design, Wireless features, along with a reliable manufacturer, the Honeywell RTH8580WF thermostat has shown to be a lifesaver, and in my personal opinion, the best return for the money within these types.

Nest Learning Thermostat - 2nd Generation - 1Nest Learning Thermostat – 2nd Generation – 1

The history starts in Christmas time 2012 when I requested a Nest 2nd Gen programmable thermostat. The product was gorgeous, simple to use, and apparently the obvious option for almost all home owners trying to upgrade to a better thermostat. Nest is additionally very popular with homeowners who have an Apple device and take pleasure in the capability to check out and modify schedules from an Apple device remotely. Sadly, my personal passion for the Nest decreased rapidly. A phone call to Nest support team within the initial few days of ownership verified that the “set temperature” is simply regarded as “a desired ambient temp.” Which means that as opposed to Honeywell thermostats, THE NEST HAS A 3 or 4 DEGREE +/- SWING! This became cause many issues with programming within the forthcoming several weeks with Nest kicking ON the heat when it was cold (as it should), but then STOPPING the heating system 2-3 degrees BEFORE getting to my set temp! This particular main flaw (for me) became the downfall of the Nest. Almost all elements of interacting and looking at Nest are enjoyable using a truly amazing web/iPhone user interface, along with usage of very good quality glass and metal parts, which establish a legendary design/interface which sets apart the Nest from the competitors. This 3 degree +/- temperature swing from the set temp designed by Nest engineers to “help conserve power and reduce yearly heating and cooling expenses” with no solution to edit this from the set temp, well, next, I had to look elsewhere for a programmable thermostat which is in fact functional with regards to heating and cooling my home to an appropriate temperature.

After a couple of nice and useful calls with Nest customer service who eventually couldn’t fix my problem, I ended up returning my Nest to Amazon and starting my search for a alternative product.

Choosing an ideal product right after having a Nest turned out to be a really complicated task. Initially, absolutely nothing seemed to compare! It took a few days to eliminate thermostats by Venstar and Ecobee since the price tags were higher, the design and style was just alright, and what eventually affected my decision was the concern of incompatibility with my simple heating/cooling system and potentially requiring a professional to come in and perform the install. Following the problems with Nest, further complicating things with a costly install did not sound appealing.


I finally decided on the Honeywell RTH8580WF. For $149 price tag on Amazon (as of today – the price is $122 (April 23th)), I was capable of getting all the functionality of the Nest with simply a slightly sacrificed design. The screen is very large, sharp, and simple to understand – use. The touchscreen display is effective despite it appearing just a little dated in comparison to modern devices like the iPhone or iPad, on the other hand I appreciate that by default the product continuously glows a dim green color which can be read at night time or day and brightens up whenever you touch the display to make an adjustment. This particular setting can be turned off in order that the display is dark constantly unless the screen is touched (I guess you may want to turn it off, if the thermostat is located in your bedroom).

The web interface for the Honeywell is excellent. I had very low expectations in this department before having the product. For whatever reason though, it is simple to use, enjoyable to work with, and quite reliable. The setup procedure to get the Honeywell on my network was super easy. After installing the thermostat on the wall and connected, it did not take very long to get the system registered on Honeywell’s internet site and get started scheduling out my week from my personal computer.

The only possible issue that you may have is the ‘C wire’. My old thermostat used four wires: White, Red, Green and Yellow (W,R, G, Y). Nest also only required the same four wires to run. However, for Honeywell a “C wire” is REQUIRED to power the unit. Once I managed to add the ‘C Wire’ the unit started working and has been working like a charm ever since.

My only issue regarding the Honeywell is the fact that 7-day schedule for the week can’t be modified through the iPhone application. This is a minor complaint overall. The present temperature may still be modified through the Honeywell application, etc. just fine, and the application has a decent user interface and it is quite simple to use. It also displays the present outside temperature for my neighborhood combined with the five day forecast! Nest was lacking this built into their application.

Overall, I would personally highly recommend the Honeywell RTH8580WF programmable thermostat to any home owner planning to upgrade to a WiFi smart thermostat. In case you do not want or require the WiFi accessibility, the product is very attractive to look at on the wall and work with. Honeywell customer service was very punctual, polite, and very helpful when I called, precisely the same excellent support I received with Nest.

If you’re ok with the +/- 3 degree swing from the set temp of your thermostat and want a remarkably gorgeous piece of art and functionality on your wall, choose the Nest. On the other hand, in case you are like me and wish to be comfortable without continuously manually switching the heat on/off, choose the Honeywell which maintains your house within +/- 1 degree of the set temp.

I would like to talk about some customers’ concerns that I’ve read in a few reviews regarding a number of thermostats continuously switching on/off to preserve a set temperature and this being damaging to the heating unit. I haven’t noticed this to be an issue in my house with this Honeywell thermostat. The product simply switches on/off when needed – like a thermostat should.

I hope this review will help someone out there who is planning for an upgrade to a smart programmable thermostat.