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Thread: medium-smart thermostat needed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Wayland, MA
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    medium-smart thermostat needed

    I'd like a thermostat for my shop that will notice when I come in-- either by motion or the presence of my phone and turn the heat up. Then, either by sensing that I've been gone for an hour or two or noticing that it's past 6 pm, turn the temperature back down.

    Any such beast for less than the $200 for a Nest (will a Nest even do just that?)? My shop is really well insulated and even when I forget to manually turn the heat down my gas bill is only $30-40 a month in the dead of winter, so a huge investment is a little hard to justify. Also I don't keep a constant enough schedule for the thermostat to "learn" my pattern. I need a simpler algorithm than that.

    Suggestions welcome

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Yorkville,IL
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    248
    I like Ecobee 4. It come with built-in sensor plus you can add more sensors and put them in other end of your shop.
    I have two in my house and I bought them on eBay for $120 each.
    Jaromir

  3. #3
    I have the cheaper Nest, and it has a setting called Home/Away assist where it senses your presence, and sounds like it might do what you want. Haven't used that option, though.
    Gerry

    JointCAM

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Cedar Park, TX (NW Austin)
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    292
    Costco has the Nest and Mini-Google Bundle for $200. Not sure if you need/want the Mini-Google but you could put it on Ebay or give it away as a gift.

  5. #5
    Could you wire a second thermostat (set to desired temp) in parallel with first thermostat, that is connected thru a motion sensing light switch? When you are sensed as being in shop, second thermostat would over rule first one. Leave the shop, motion sensor kicks out, and first thermostat takes over. Only problem I see right now is every time you enter shop, second thermostat would kick in. You could also have second thermostat wired thru a relay tied to light switch. Turn on lights, second thermostat take over. Remember a thermostat is only an "off / on" switch. In my shop, I have a wall mounted vent free gas heater. On ceiling above heater, I mounted a thermostat that controls air cleaner. Heater comes on, air cleaner circulates heat thru shop. Cuts off after heater does.

  6. #6
    I just use at programmable tstat with times set 5-9 am 9-12am 12-9 pm 5-5 then set the temp for all at 55* then when i go into the shop I just turn it up to where I want it if I forget to turn it down it does so automatically at the next interval.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Florida
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    242
    https://www.amazon.com/ecobee-EB-STA...dp_ob_title_hi

    Eccobee 3 Lite. $169. I had a Nest for several years until it died. Was replaced with a Honeywell the HVAC guy charged $300 for (just the thermostat, the service was more, and his prices were fair for what it was). I didn't like the Honeywell since many of its capabilities were only accessible to him and he agreed to take it back. A cheaper Honeywell was underwhelming.

    The Ecobee is everything the Nest would be if it knew how to. It's user-friendly and configurable. Makes a ton of usage data available if you care about that. It will definitely do what you're asking.

    IMO the "Learn" feature is a really poor idea and I disabled it on both the Nest & Ecobee. You can turn the heat on in advance from phone or computer if you want or it will wake up when it knows you're there. The remote sensors (2 for $70) help with that if the thermostat might not notice you, depending on the geography.
    Last edited by Alan Rutherford; 01-17-2019 at 10:34 AM.

  8. #8
    Have you looked into the home automation stuff? I do a lot with Z Wave stuff. With that, you could set it up to do all sorts of stuff. Not sure you could get everything you need for<$200, but its something to think about. I use a Vera controller. The benefit would be that you have total control and you could set it up to automate other stuff.

    For example, my system turns off the outdoor lights 30 minutes before 'dawn.' If the garage door opens during that period, the outside lights by the garage turn on for 5 minutes. Pretty simple logic - very versatile.

    You could also use an Arduino with motion sensors, a real time clock, and a relay (PowerSwitch Tail is good). That's what I use to control my dehumidifier in the shop.


    Tony

  9. #9
    Like Tony mentions, I use home automation in my shop for things like this. I use a different home automation platform (Homeseer). It glues several things together and makes for a nearly seemless experience. When I arrive at my shop (sensed by a geofence from my security camera system), homeseer changes my Ecobee thermostat to "home", which raises the set temperature of the heat. It also turns on ceiling fans, and other ZWave stuff. When I leave, sets heat to "away", turns off ZWave stuff and so on. I can't imagine not having this stuff now that I have it dialed in.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Wayland, MA
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    Thanks all! The Ecobee sounds like an interesting option. The home automation stuff sounds like fun, I've also been wanting a method to turn the lights on a remote building off and on from the house and ZWave was also suggested for that, but it sounds like there will be a bit of a learning curve to that-- geofence?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Kamiah, ID
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    226
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerome Sidley View Post
    I just use at programmable tstat with times set 5-9 am 9-12am 12-9 pm 5-5 then set the temp for all at 55* then when i go into the shop I just turn it up to where I want it if I forget to turn it down it does so automatically at the next interval.
    I've done this on a couple occasional-use rooms with wall heaters. Works great! Very simple, very inexpensive, no learning curve (for either me or the t-stat ).

  12. #12
    This is one area where there are many options, you really have to define what your specific wants are, and could evolve to. Personally I went with an Ecobee too. You can use its own geofencing to switch it between normal and eco modes, but I ended up using the geofencing of my Abode Security system since it is very stable. Ecobee integrates with Abode also, so I could use Abode to tell the Ecobee when I'm away, but I actually use IFFFT to bridge the two devices by building commands that takes Abode's occupancy status and then sends a command to Ecobee to be in normal or eco modes (which I've defined). Using IFFFT is probably what you'll want to automate all the actions you mentioned. Basically you are looking at four forms of control for these smart devices. First, they all usually have an app (you'll need wifi and internet service in your shop) for direct control. Second, some may have occupany/geofencing for more automated actions. Third, sometimes devices are able to integrate so that one that doesn't have occupancy/geofencing can use that function from another device that does. Fourth, when that is not possible, IFFFT comes in. It connects to most smart devices, and you build custom rules to automate actions among the devices. So when one device senses you are not home and communicates that with IFFFT, IFFFT can then tell the lights to turn off, or the smart thermostat to go to eco mode, etc. A smart hub can also be used to bridge the devices, but i haven't got around to getting one since I don't have smart devices outside of the security and thermostat.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Wayland, MA
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    Thought I'd follow up on this. I bought the Ecobee 3 and it is not the answer.

    1) It cannot change the thermostat state from "home" to "away" or whatever based on occupancy
    2) at best, the "smart home/away" feature will turn the temp down by a couple of degrees, this is not programmable. (I want to turn it down by ~25 deg when I'm not there) Even then it runs the furnace for a couple hours just to see if you'll show up.
    3) The "smart home/away" feature doesn't work at all if you don't pony up another ~$75 for the remote sensors. Apparently the thermostat itself has no motion sensor.
    4) you can't set a temperature below 45 for some unknown reason.

    The crowning glory was when the tech support guy told me "you need to adopt a more strict schedule for your thermostat to work correctly". I told him (more gently than I was inclined) that I wasn't going to change my life to make things easier for my "smart" thermostat.

    So basically, out of the box, it won't do anything a simple timer thermostat can't do for for a quarter the money, other than the phone app. Since the issues are mostly software programming perhaps future updates will improve it.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Florida
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    242
    I recommended the Ecobee and feel some responsibility here. You're right that the Ecobee 3 Lite needs a remote sensor for home/away to work. I wasn't aware of that distinction because I had bought sensors.

    There's a setting for minimum and max heat/cool ranges which defaults to 55. You can set that as low as 45 and then you can set a "Comfort Setting" e.g. "away" down to 45 if you want and it should turn it down that far. Asking a thermostat to go lower than 45 is a pretty unusual situation. Maybe you should just tell it to turn heat off. Or you can set a low temp and tell it to hold until you change it.

    If it's running for a couple of hours to "see if you'll show up" it must miss you. I don't get that at all. Ours didn't run from Monday until Friday last week because the weather was mild (apologies to the rest of the country). The fan runs for 20 minutes every hour, but that's another thing you can change.

    I'm sorry it's not working for you. I hope you can get it worked out.

  15. #15
    Roger, I do what you are describing with Homeseer to manipulate the ecobee 3's that I have in three different locations. I keep the one place 36-38F this way to minimize utility costs for a storage building. It works well, but requires homeseer.

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