We continue to enjoy having hit the pause button on the work for a bit. Symbolic of the new state of affairs, Ed the contractor towed his tool trailer away yesterday at 7am, so we got a little driveway back. He assures us it will be back and that’s just fine.
LGH is quite livable and we are taking the opportunity to settle in. Yesterday, I pulled several large garbage bags full of linens out of the birthing room where we have all kinds of stuff stashed, sorted through and loaded them in the linen closet outside the upstairs bath. Of course, the cabinet doors have no pulls. Shortly we’ll be pulling together a punch list of stuff like that to work through. Stay tuned.
I also took the opportunity to install a Nest thermostat downstairs. Scotty the HVACguy/plumber had put the one in upstairs. This is our fourth and the third I’ve installed.
The product is really solid, and as a company Nest really has its act together. They provide informative on-line information, self-diagnostics within the unit and good old-fashioned customer support. The first one I installed was in our former Cotuit house, and it went in with out a hitch. I’ve run into glitches with the last two and had to call tech support. They were very good. If you are at all handy, don’t be shy about installing yourself.
Where I’ve need help is with the wiring. The problem is the great variety of equipment and systems already in place. Each thermostat is wired differently and exactly how depends on the type of system type of heat, AC, heat pump, etc. There’s standardization around wire colors, but it only goes so far. For example, there was one yellow wire for my old Honeywell thermostat, but the Nest can accommodate Y1 and/or Y2. (I went with Y1 and that turned out to be correct.)
The process is essentially: Pull off the old, mount the new, rewire, plug unit into the base and you are off. To give you a sense for how well thought out the product is, the blue bar in the pic above is a built in bubble level to ease installation. When I plugged in there was no “voila.” No power, nothing. So, I first consulted the website and it took me through some troubleshooting. A minor annoyance is that full troubleshooting may call for plugging the unit into a USB charger to get a little power, and that requires a special USB cable that does not come with the unit (I suppose it’s not needed often enough). I’ve always been able to dig through old gadgets to find one and this time successfully found the right cable in the box of an old Motorola XYboard.
So, once I got a little juice into the unit’s battery, I was able to again install it and get the self-diagnostics telling me the red wire did not seem to be powered. I called them up and it turned out that blue was supposed to go to C (common). (Sometimes blue goes to O/B which is where I had it.) Anyway, that 20 second fix did it, and we were up and running.
I now have full control of the thermostats in our Waltham loft as well as the two in Cotuit from my phone. It’s particularly useful when you have two houses to be able to check the temperature and switch on and off remotely, for example, when returning after an absence. Another use case is making sure the heat is turned down when you are away, but also the Nest can sense when you are not home and automatically turn the heat down. The new one is now learning our habits in Cotuit and building a schedule. Some people just override and create their own schedule, but I have found it does a pretty good job on it’s own. And, if you do want to tweak, you can do so on your phone or their website or with the thermostat itself. The system also collect interesting data on usage vs. outside temperature, etc. OK, you probably noticed the other issue. “Cocktail Room” was not an option. We can live with that.
There are other options out there and Nest’s are fairly expensive ($250). However, in Massachusetts at least, you can get a rebate of $100.