SmartThings Community

Is a thermostat really required? Is there an alternative?

1st. of all - not certain if this post should be here. Please excuse.
Every room of mine has a sensor which captures temperature already. In a standard thermostat: it collects temp information and then connections are established between certain wires dictating cooling to start on or vice versa. I do realize there are other complexities like band maint between heat/cool, cooling protection, fan on/off, etc., etc.
However all of which I believe can be achieved via a smart app and then those same wires are instead connected to a Z-wave/Zigbee relay? Switch on/off of relay is smart app controlled and thus the need for a dedicatedthermostat doesn’t seem to arise. Is this realistic? Can anyone recommend a few…
If thermostat is the way to go, I find Ecobee or Nest to be an overkill because of the pointers above. Is there a dumb Z-wave thermostat which is essentially working like the relay I write above, thus saving me money. I am just not able to figure out what makes Ecobee/Nest popular especially when SmartThings seem to provide so many viable alternatives.

I think for safety reasons, you want a thermostat. ST platform is not reliable enough to be controlling the heat / cool alone via relays as you describe. Likely the relays would end up costing you as much and you would be in a very precarious position.

You have many choices (assuming you want the thermostat connected to SmartThings). Zwave, zigbee, nest, ecobee, etc. If you are in the USA, you will likely find your power company or gas company will give you a 100$ rebate if you install a wifi thermostat. With sales going on, you can get a Nest for 100$ net.

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I’m agreeing with @E_Sch, There are virtual thermostats that work fairly well, but even if you already have temperature sensors in every room, the relays you would need for the furnace would cost at least as much as a " cheap " thermostat. Right now you can get a top shelf Ecobee or Nest for < $100 net after sale price and energy rebates. You can get an entry level connected thermostat for free or less.
There are certain things like smoke, gas detection , heat, locks that need to be 100% reliable and while it is fine to include them with networked devices you want the actual device to be able to do its job without relying on outside cloud.
Yes my Nest protect smoke detectors are online, but if Al Gore decided to shut off his interweb I would still get notified that my toast was burning. The same goes for my locks, yes they can be locked & unlocked, but if the cloud goes down I just enter my codes into the keypad and ( provided batteries aren’t dead ) I can still get into my house. My Ecobee3s will still turn my heat on/off with or without working internet.

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Trying hard but not finding rebates effectively reducing my price point lower than $100! I am in NJ, US. Yes - with < 100, definitely its the way to go. What I didn’t know is that Ecobee works even if there’s no Net. What about Nest will it work if no Internet?

Yes, it will.

Thank you. Now need to figure out whether Nest suits me better or Ecobee. I have 2 storied town home with a basement. From SmartThings perspective though - which integrates better and has better suite of apps? I think,from what i read - both are more or less same from SmartThings perspective…

Hi @baivab

Between the Nest and the Ecobee, you need to know that the Nest integration is not officially supported by ST. There are many data restrictions with the Nest that you don’t have with ecobee. You can download your ecobee data anytime at the ecobee portal. HomeIQ is a powerful tool to compare your data with other homeowners in your area.

The Ecobee APIs are also way richer than the Nest ones which don’t even expose the scheduled setpoints and fan settings the way ecobee does.

This means that you basically need to let SmartThings schedules the setpoints for you which is a major reliability drawback from my point of view. You don’t want to wake up in the middle of a cold night without heating…

My ecobee Device (the custom ecobee device handler) that I’ve developed let ecobee takes care of the scheduling and use only SmartThings to make adjustments to your programs when needed ex. you’re away when you are supposed to be home or vice versa.

With the right configuration (holdType parameter), My ecobee does not create permanent holds at the thermostat and follows the programs that you’ve set for your home. The ecobee APIs allow you to resume the scheduled program anytime.

Also, if you want to connect other equipment to your ecobee (HRV, humidifier, dehumidifier), My ecobee Device can control them in a very efficient manner…I’ve developed some smartapps to control the humidity in your home as an example. Humidity is a major factor to consider for heating/cooling your home as too little humidity is not comfortable and too much can increase your heating/cooling bill.

This is something to consider in the long run. My Ecobee device is evolutive with your growing HA needs as the ecobee APIs are pretty comprehensive.

For more details about My ecobee Device, refer to

[RELEASE] The Most Comprehensive & Resilient Ecobee Integration - My Ecobee Device & ecosystem v5 - The smartest thermostat under ST with new "comfort tips" features and Unique Integration with Echo/Ask Alexa.

P. S. The latest ecobee is cheaper than the Nest thermostat:


Regards.

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This right here says you would be better off with Ecobee3. Put the remote sensor upstairs in the bedroom to keep your bedroom at your desired sleep temperature, not your dininn room / living rom wherever your main thermostat it.
The thermostat rebates are through your local utility company energy efficiency programs. Assuming you use gas or electricity to heat, check your bill or their website for info. Home Depot, Lowe’s, Nest, Ecobee websites also have links to the rebate form, list of participating utility companies. If you use oil or propane you are up the proverbial creak. If you have central air hooked up to Nest or Ecobee you can also earn $25 credits for allowing your electric company raise your house temp 1-2* when nobody is home during the summer.

Yes, you can use the ecobee3 with its remote sensors or buy the ecobee lite and use any ST connected sensors with My Ecobee device. The main benefit of the latter approach is that the z-wave or zigbee temp/motion sensors can be used for other real time Home Automation scenarios (such as for Lighting). Ecobee’s remote sensors’ motion capability is not reported in “real time” (sometimes 30 minutes later). This is the one ecobee API constraint.

My Ecobee device and related smartapps can reproduce the “follow me” and “smart away” features with any ST connected temp/motion sensors.

Either way: ecobee3 with its remote sensors or ecobee lite with some ST connected sensors; ecobee and My Ecobee device are the right choice for Home Automation purposes.

I hope that the information will be useful for your search.

I agree with all the advice you received so far, and both the nest and ecobee are good thermostats with many advanced features.

That said, I did want to mention that there are a couple of very simple networked thermostats that work very much like you first described except they are including the thermostat itself as well. They don’t have all the fancy features of the other two like motion detectors, but they work just fine as simple thermostats and they work well with SmartThings. You can typically buy these for about $85 and they are often sold at Home Depot or Best Buy.

The 2Gig Z wave thermostat is on the official “works with smartthings list” and is a good example. Many community members have it if they don’t require the advanced features of the more expensive thermostats. :sunglasses:

So depending on what you need, that’s another option to consider.

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Hi @JDRoberts, that goes back to the following comparison that I produced with your input:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=My_Ecobee_Device#Why_ecobee_vs._other_connected_thermostats.3F

One thing you have to keep in mind, with any ST zigbee and z-wave thermostat, you’re totally dependent on the ST scheduling platform (and we all know that it’s not as reliable as we wish it would be)…

In some parts of the US, it could be OK, but not in the Northeast where I live for sure…
Regards.

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Those would be 2 of the " entry level " that I mentioned that would end up being free or less after $100 utility rebate. Honeywell also has WiFi and Z-Wave models without all the bells and whistles currently under $100

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I was going to get a dumb thermostat and control it with ST, but they were out of stock. I’m glad I got the Ecobee. I also bought two additional sensors. Hence, I’m not dependent on ST. The Ecobee HomeIQ reports are nice. It also looks really nice next to my tablet running SmartTiles. It’s much nicer looking than the Nest. And with Yves groveStreams smart app, I can get fantastic analytics. (I could get close with a dumb thermostat, but the runtime report might be a little tricky. . . )

I have a two story house with a basement. I have a old gas boiler with 9 radiators in the house. It’s a pain to tune. The reports are helping. I can see how fast certain rooms are loosing heat compared to others. And I can get a sense of how my weather proofing is improving things. . . . I wish I had data from a previous winter to compare. Oh well.

At $200 - any local rebates (I’ll get $50 back from National Grid), the Ecobee is a nice gadget. It’s roughly the cost of 4 dimmer switches. In the home automation game, this is a drop in the bucket.

(I also have redundant temperature and humidty sensors. I’m using wireless sensor tags. If I ever want to use these, I can with the software. Options. . . .)

Thanks for this post. A few years go I started looking into a better thermostat, in part because of rebates. But the one I got was ultimately incompatible with my heating system, so I returned it and forgot about it.

So I’m now reminded that I should be looking into it. Given all the other smart stuff my house is doing, it’s time.