Just last week I saw the British Gas version of the smart thermostat called Hive and am really impressed. Coincidentally, the next week my wireless thermostat dies and I decide to invest in a smart new one to replace it. Here’s how I got on…
In the Nest Thermostat box you get included;
- The Main Thermostat and the Control Unit that connects into the boiler
- Install manual
- Micro USB power lead
- Power brick
My old wireless thermostat (Towerstat) has lasted years, fitted below the boiler so removing this and fitting the main control unit was easy. If you’re not sure how to attach it yourself there are lots of tutorials on Youtube and heating engineers should be well versed in installing these now.
Most boilers have a simple switched make/break connector for controlling the boiler from a thermostat. There can be some complications though I as found out; the previous Towerstat only fed live mains voltage so removing that was more complicated than fitting the Nest unit.
The thermostat is really solid and heavy to hold, so heavy in fact that it's not designed to sit flat, the smallest press on the unit activates the button. So it's best to be mounted on the wall. They supply a conversion plate for your old thermostat or you can buy the Nest Stand for an extra £29.95.
The Hive Thermostat has batteries and so is more portable, this I thought was the deal breaker when looking at both. Actually the Nest really only needs to be in one place and I'll control it from the app. With the old Towerstat you needed to be close to manually adjust it.
So once you’ve plugged it all in, the thermostat gets you to jump through a few hoops like wifi, minimum temp, country and postcode. These are standard setup steps to ensure you can control it properly. A couple more updates come and then you’re onto an online signup that asks the same questions again, a bit weird. And that's it, finished! You get the same display on your phone, tablet app, Web Page as the screen on the unit.
If you're used to setting a schedule for heating then it's hard to get your head around the learning side of the Nest at first. I went straight to the schedule and found it unintuitive to add a time and temperature, and that's just it, you don't need to.
Turn it down as you go to bed, turn it up in the morning, all day on Saturday and extra early Sunday and it learns this. It learns how long it takes to heat up so if you're home at 5.30pm it's already warmed the house to what you set the day before. It even distinguishes days so if you work at home on Thursdays it knows this. It monitors the outside weather and adjusts for this too. It knows if you are in and if you've left the house will turn the heating down.
Some more Techy details
Inside the Nest there is a proximity (PIR) sensor, when you walk near it lights up to show you the temperature, also far proximity sensor and light sensor. It also features a lipo battery and a humidity sensor which shows the percent on the front screen and of course a temperature sensor.
If you're desperate connect the Nest to your PC (it'll keep it charged) you also get a 37mb USB flash drive, bonus!
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