SmartThings Community

Thermostat w/ ST for Medical Condition


(Raeven Phillips) #1

Hi,

I’ve been wanting to switch to a smart thermostat for quite some time now. I disabled due to a rare genetic disorder and this includes a medical condition where my body can’t regulates it’s temperature properly. So, the ability to have routines where a thermostat automatically changes temperature, plus the ability to change the temp when I need to from a smartphone will both be really helpful. I finally found out that our apartment heating system is 24v & will work with most smart thermostats. But I don’t want to go to the trouble of l installing only find out that the thermostat I chose won’t do what I need it to. So this isn’t the usual “which thermostat is best” comparison, I need help from folks who have actually used a thermostat with SmartThings because some interactive features just aren’t listed anywhere.

One thing I really want to be able to do is to change the temperature by voice for a short time and then have the thermostat return to previous “program”. For instance, I suddenly get too cold & I want to be able to tell Google Home to turn up the heat 4 degrees for 30 minutes. It goes from 67 to 71 for 30 minutes before return back to 67. I realize that may not be possible directly but might need a SmartThings routine or something similar that could be triggered by voice. Is this something that either (or both) Nest or Ecobee can do?

Secondly, we live in a smallish 2br apartment. The thermostat is right smack in the middle of the apartment. How important would separate sensors be for this situation? Will they make a huge difference? With me having no experience with a smart thermostat I can’t even make an educated guess. Can Ecobee be told to ignore sensors if needed? I’m concerned that if I were to want to make our bedroom cooler in the evening (we often leave a window cracked open all winter so I can sleep at night) it could be weird if we use the extra sensors - it might work against us. Conversely, from what I’ve read, it appears that Nest can integrate with ST via NST community interface. It also looks like Nest can use existing sensors as remote temp sensors via the integration. However it also appears that this uses Rule Machine but when I went to the thread discussing Rule Machine to learn more, it said that it was pulled and no longer available at all. So, I’m wondering, is it still possible to use remote sensors with Nest via NST and if so, is there a workaround for the now defunct Rule Machine?

I’m really having trouble deciding on which thermostat will work best for us. I have no interest at all in the Alexa integration (in fact, I’d want to turn it to privacy mode as we switched from Amazon Echos/Alexa to Google Home last year and haven’t looked back… And I don’t really need both companies listening in :wink: ). Having said that, I can easily keep it in privacy mode of it the better thermostat. I also like the AI learned feature of Nest, which might make easier to setup for more complex schedules. However, I also wonder if having to boost or drop the temps for short times periodically might be hard for the AI algorithm & have it end up always wanting to do that in trying to learn my needs (now, if it found it actually finds a pattern and I’m always for hot at 3pm, I guess that would be great but I don’t necessarily want it to just start bumping up the temp daily at that time). I equally like & worry about the temp sensors on Ecobee & don’t know if they would help me be more comfortable or make things worse if they can’t be ignored (if I find it’s problematic). I suppose I could also find they help given there are no heaters near the thermostat & that could cause overheating in winter. I’m also curious as to how the Nests can integrate with sensors via ST and how complex it is to setup for Nest to use them as I’m hoping to. I have two Aeon sensors for motion/temp/humidity, plus two multi-purpose ST sensors that also give temperature. I’ll probably be adding more fairly soon too, so that’s already quite a few of potential temp sensors that I have now. I did some additional & it appears that Ecobee can also use these sensors.

Do both Nest & Ecobee use “predictive” controls factoring in coming weather? I thought I read that one or both of them did this.

I’m also open to any other smart thermostat if these won’t do what I need. Overall user reviews strongly favor Nest rather than Ecobee, which kind of surprises me given how much “pro reviews” love the Ecobee4. Nest runs at 4.6 out of 16.5k reviews on Amazon and 4.8 out of 5k reviews on Best Buy vs Ecobee4 at 4.5 out of less than 300 reviews on Best Buy and 4.1 out of 500 reviews on Amazon. IF the Ecobee3 package is still available at Costco B&M that may also be an option sinces the built in Alexa integration the primary difference in Ecobee4 vs 3 (at least, that’s what my research has shown with all of the connections and HA protocols being the same). If anyone could offer their thoughts and experiences on how these integrate with ST and which one could most easily do what I want it to, I would really be grateful. As I said, it’s very difficult to get real info on how these work with ST without actually asking users.

Thanks so much in advance! looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


#2

I myself am a medically fragile person, and technology can definitely help in many situations .

Unfortunately, Smartthings is simply not reliable enough for any medically necessary application. The company says so themselves in their product usage guidelines:

Data accuracy and consistency from SmartThings sensors, including those provided by SmartThings directly, resold by SmartThings, or supported by SmartThings, is not guaranteed. Therefore, you should not rely on that data for any use that impacts health, safety, security, property or financial interests. For example, because temperature readings may vary significantly from reading to reading on an individual device, between devices, or over time, those readings should not be used to control heating and cooling in environments where food spoilage, health risks, or damage to physical goods could occur.

Moreover the company can and does push out firmware updates from time to time which will take your hub off-line from anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. And which may introduce various glitches. You can either refuse nor delay updates.

No device is perfect, and I am not saying don’t use a smart thermostat. But I am saying if it would affect your health if the rules you have set up to operate your thermostat suddenly went flaky (like thinking day was night or home was away or Fahrenheit was Celsius or just not running at all) then take SmartThings out of the picture for now. It just doesn’t have the kind of reliability needed for that kind of use case.

If it’s more a matter that if the rules don’t work, you will have to walk over to the thermostat and change it yourself, but you can do that without any long-term health consequences, then obviously it’s up to you. But do be aware of this issue.


#3

Back to your question… I have an Ecobee lite and like it very much. It will work directly with either Alexa or Siri without needing SmartThings in the picture. If you have an Apple device, the privacy and security with the Siri option are very good, much better than with Alexa if that’s a concern.

I can’t speak to the AI, but voice adjustments work well and the multi room sensors have both increased comfort and saved us money. You can definitely temporarily ignore the remote sensors if you want.

My guess would be that the nest reviews are just one step higher because it is a slightly simpler system. But I feel quite confident that Apple would not be promoting ecobee if it wasn’t a solid reliable system. I have had to talk to the ecobee customer support twice, and found them very helpful, if that’s of any value.

With regard to using SmartThings for non-critical stuff, web core is a scripting language for SmartThings which allows for very sophisticated stacked conditionals and goes way beyond what rule machine could do. It is very popular for those with a strong technical background. But again, I wouldn’t put any rules on it which might affect your health, not because of webcore, it is very well written, but because of the underlying instability of the SmartThings platform.


#4

One thing we have noted with the ecobee is that it is definitely aware of the outside temperature and is much better at having the home stay where we want it to be thAN our last thermostat which was programmable but not AI smart. I’m not sure of all the details, but it works well for us:

https://www.ecobee.com/how-we-are-smarter/

Nest has similar features


#5

( sorry for so many individual posts, but I think it’s easier to follow if any unrelated features are in separate posts.)

As an example of the kind of complexity that might get ecobee rated a little lower…

Out of the box, if you do a manual override, ecobee will stay at that manual override.

However, many people would prefer that at the next pre-scheduled change ecobee revert back to that schedule.

You can do that, but you have to tell ecobee that that’s what you want to do.

So if you’re not the kind of person who pours over manuals trying to figure out what all the options are, you might miss the fact that some of the settings can be changed. :sunglasses:

Even so, the ecobee3 has a rating on Amazon of 4.3 with over 4000 reviews. I personally see that as comparable to the nest, I don’t think review distinctions are that precise with less than a Star’s difference.


(Raeven Phillips) #6

Thanks so much for the extremely thoughtful, informative replies, @JDRoberts. I really, really appreciate you taking the time to share you knowledge, experience, and expertise.

As far as the medical side goes, there is no danger for my health on this at all if it malfunctions. Sadly, there is no medical treatment that can help me with the dysautonomia only trying to “manage” it for comfort - which is where the smart thermostat comes in. ANYTHING will be vastly superior to what we currently have (see a photo of the sexy thing we have right now here: https://goo.gl/ePnQyd). Obviously, that’s a sarcastic joke. It’s about as old school as it can be and I honestly don’t even think it works very well at holding temperatures accurately so it’s hard to say how much better a new smart thermostat will be just in helping keep the temp more even in the apartment.

How do you get the Ecobee3 Lite to work with sensors? Is that part of the ST integration? I read that the Lite doesn’t work with external sensors.

I’m sure I can use Google Home to trigger ST routines because the pre-made ones already show up in the UI. So, that should part should work. Is it possible to set up a routine that raises or lowers the temp for say, 30 minutes then returns to the previous programming (or will either Ecobee or Nest allow this directly even w/o the ST integration)? Obviously, thanks to your knowledge, I now know that I can setup Ecobee to change the temps manually then it will automatically switch back to the program after at the next saved temp change (rather than fully manual override where it just stays that temp). Other than trying to set the thermostat to “false switch” to the same temperature every hour to try to force things to be setup so that it will automatically switch back to the desired temp every hour regardless of what I set it to (which may not even be possible) I just don’t know how to set things up with either system to allow me to create this short term override.

Thanks again for your help. I’d love to hear if anyone has experience tying Nest into their ST system & using external sensors, too. I’m just on the fence if I should go with the Google backed company since I’m already heavily invested in Google Home or if the additional integration offered by ST and Ecobee makes it a better option. The overall reviews for both of these units blow away competition like the Honeywell Lyric/Round/T5, etc.


#7

The Ecobee lite doesn’t come with the extra ecobee sensor, but it uses them if you buy them separately. Which we did, because we got a rebate from our utility company on the main unit. :sunglasses:

Originally the lite did not work with the sensors, but then they added that feature back in as it’s their main brand differentiator.

One of the main differences between the lite and the regular ecobee is that with the regular ecobee you can wire it to “accessories” like a humidifier. You can’t do that with the lite. But I believe the sensor logic is the same.


(Kirk Hilzinger) #8

I use the Ecobee and I agree that is probably the best solution for what you want. Modifying the temperature for only X number of minutes I have not tried but…

I really do not use the schedule in the Ecobee, itself, because I have temp changes tied into SmartThings, which seems to me to make things a lot easier and flexible and, for instance, when it turns down the thermostat for bed, that hold issue on the Ecobee is moot because that hold is at whatever temp ST has in its schedule.

For instance, I got up and felt cold so I bumped up the temp using my voice from 72 to 74. I went out, and it turns down to 68. Then, I returned home and it was back to 72. For some reason, I would get cold in the middle of the night so now I have a routine that bumps up that temp before I would wake up cold…I sleep through the night. I wake up around 6AM for work and it bumps up even higher because I take my shower, then I get dressed, then I leave for work…and it bumps down to 68 and when I arrive (presence), it kicks it back up to 72.

Plus, I have a SmartApp that turns it off if the windows are open and turns it back on when they close or override that if it gets too hot, even if the windows are open, or heats up if it gets too cold.


(Raeven Phillips) #9

Wow, that is freaking crazy stuff there. I’m realizing that my mind is only just barely beginning to think about what types of things can be done with routines, and IFTTT applets, and Stringify flows. I’m amazed at the intelligent and well thought out integration with windows sensors. Having it auto cut off with windows open but with an override if it gets too warm or cold is genius. I was concerned because we do like to have windows open often and this would allow potentially the best situation for a setup. I could also have it primarily use the sensors in the rooms that are occupied so if I want to cool down our bedroom before we go back there, it won’t turn off the heat overall in the LR. I’ll have to think a lot about what I could do with this.

I still wish I could hear from some Nest users and the ST integrations/sensors. I have to admit, I had a great experience with the Nest official support team chat late last night. I was really impressed. I decided to ask them a couple of my questions directly to try to find out the answers and also experience their customer support. Obviously, my needs are unusual but they took the time to ask senior support team members my questions and found that you can do an auto override for a short time and have the programming automatically resume and that once the initially AI programming is set, it won’t screw up the AI feature. However, if it were to detect that there was a pattern over multiple days when I actually had temp changes at the same time of day, it could automatically respond in advance. But only if it found it were a pattern over days, not just a time or two at different times of day. I think I’m probably going to go with Ecobee anyway just because it appears that the API is much, much deeper and more robust than the unofficial NST integration (as good as I’ve heard it is). From what I can tell, it’s partially because Ecobee allows much more control in their API and certainly more info from your own data and usage. But still not 100% sure. Costco has an Ecobee3 (full) deal right now with I think 3 sensors included for $199. Not quite as good a deal with the Ecobee4 having dropped to $199 w/ one sensor but still decent. I’m also torn on this as it’s hard not to get the upgraded model but since literally the only difference is the Alexa integration and I’d have to turn that feature off on the Ecobee4 and it sounds like they don’t (yet) have a way to turn off the red light when privacy mode is on, I may just be better off going with the Ecobee3 setup from Costco. If I’ve misunderstood any other differences in the Ecobee3 vs 4, please let me know. :slight_smile:

Thanks again for all the fantastic knowledge and info!


(Kirk Hilzinger) #10

I did a ton of research before I chose mine back in June (I was laid up and could not walk). Nest makes a good product but it did not have the flexibility that the Ecobee had and in the reviews I viewed, actual HVAC contractors were preferring it over Nest. That was what sold me.

My only complaint: I cannot include it as a whole-house speaker for playing music. That’s it.


(Raeven Phillips) #11

Oh, thanks for this! That really, really helps - and I truly appreciate you taking the time to share this. I’ve been trying to find time to read reviews and opinions and other data comparing the two but it’s quite hard, especially this time of year when everything is super busy. I don’t really feel like I’ve been able to give it as much time as I normally would but sort of just want to switch over from the exceedingly dumb and poorly working thermostat we have now. I like the fact that Google is behind Nest and the AI algorithms but I don’t love that they give you so little of your own data (which is actually very weird as Google normally is super good about letting you have your own data!). I actually like the colors and form factor of the Nest too but I think I’m gonna love the Ecobee ST integration more. And it appears that it does have its own AI for predictive temp control based on coming weather, and other things, too. It also seems a little more HA agnostic by integrating into many different systems which is a definite plus. Even though I don’t know yet if I’ll use the sensors much or if they will help, they might well help a great deal and seem like they’ll be much easier than trying to integrate existing ST sensors into the NST unofficial integration (as good as that may be, which I understand is really good, given the limitations of the Nest API that is has to deal with).

Again, @kahilzinger, really grateful that you shared your research findings (and subsequent experience with Ecobee & ST now). Thanks so much. One last question, did you also find in your research that the only difference in the Ecobee3 vs Ecobee4 is Alexa integration? If so, I may go ahead with the Ecobee3 (not Lite, the full version). Since I don’t want to deal with Alexa built in and they don’t yet have the ability (from what I’ve read, at least) to turn off the red light that shows Alexa is off/privacy mode, I’m thinking that the Ecobee3 may work better for us. If you know any reason that isn’t the case or any upgrades that will hit Ecobee4 that won’t hit 3, I’d love to know before I buy. Thanks again for your help and sharing your knowledge. :smiley:


(Glen King) #12

I’m finding the ecobee cloud has more downtime than I would have expected. It’s more an inconvenience than a problem… I still like having chosen ecobee, but I hope they work a bit more on cloud reliability.


(Kirk Hilzinger) #13

I do not have any downtime that I have experienced.


#14

Me, either.

We had an issue for the first two weeks that the sensor in the remote bedroom kept notifying us that it had gone off-line. Then it would come back on its own. But after the first two weeks that problem went away without us having to do anything and it’s been solid for four months since. So we’ve been happy with it.