Milhouse

Getting a new boiler, buying Nest

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Milhouse    355

Getting a new gas boiler fitted Tuesday. Had a quote from British Gas who are crazy expensive at £4K. An independent company will do the same work for £2400. As nice as Hive looks it ain't worth £1600! So I'll be having a Nest thermostat installed by the independent (it was their preferred wireless solution).

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MadDog    464

do you have to go via British Gas for Hive then?

Touch wood, I've had Next for over two years and it's been great - auto-away isn't working for me currently (I used a 3rd party app that worked great before it became native) but I suspect that's because it's trying to track 2 phones

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Milhouse    355

Yes, Hive is basically a British Gas proprietary product although I did ask the independent and he gave a reply which indicated he could get hold of one if I really wanted it (maybe off the back of a BG van...). Some boiler manufacturers have their own solutions eg. Worcester Bosch can provide their internet and app enabled "Wave" thermostat but it's not entirely wireless as it needs a wire back to the boiler.

The problem with BG is that they're so expensive - they came in at almost double an independent quote and that was with a 50% discount on the boiler (which is the cheapest component - installation is where they make their money). Plus BG are only giving a 5 year warranty, and I'm getting 8 years from the independent (would get 10 years if I went with Wave). With the 8 year warranty I think I'll get rid of British Gas HomeCare 400 cover which is costing me a whopping £41.50 a month, saving almost £4K!

Just looking on the BG website and I see their new "HomeCare 4" product would give me the same level of cover I currently have with "HomeCover 400", but for only £17.70/month, WTF! What the hell am I paying for... loyal, existing customers screwed over yet again!?

As for Nest, I guess Google must see this as a very long term business and they may be right - as home owners replace their ageing boilers they're going to be offered an internet based, wireless smart thermostat solution as the default. To be honest I'm not entirely sure why boiler manufacturers are spending their money developing their own proprietary and niche solutions rather than cut their losses and supply a third party product. At least buyers have the flexibility to choose which thermostat to install when using independent installers.

Good to hear Nest has been trouble free for 2 years!

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Milhouse    355

I did some research based on the above, and it turns out Hive is a Centrica subsidiary (same owner as British Gas). Obviously Centrica are allowing Hive hardware to be sold on the open market, which is sensible, when I'd assumed it was only available directly through BG.

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Milhouse    355

Got the boiler fitted, working really well.

The Nest is working OK, although the auto-away feature does think I'm away if it hasn't seen me for a while (like when I'm sleeping).

Unfortunately my Jolla won't work with the Nest app (the Nest app doesn't work with the Jolla location services) and to be honest I don't want to enable the GPS on my phone just to turn off my thermostat so I've got it working with something I wrote a few years ago, long before I could actually own a Nest, running on a Raspberry Pi using the Nest API - this works much better.

More building work to be done, then I'll replace my 20-year old smoke detector with a Nest Protect. I did read on reddit that stock of the Protect is getting low and they're hard to come by, so a new Gen3 version may be on the way.

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RobM    195
On 27/01/2017 at 9:21 PM, Milhouse said:

Got the boiler fitted, working really well.

The Nest is working OK, although the auto-away feature does think I'm away if it hasn't seen me for a while (like when I'm sleeping).

Unfortunately my Jolla won't work with the Nest app (the Nest app doesn't work with the Jolla location services) and to be honest I don't want to enable the GPS on my phone just to turn off my thermostat so I've got it working with something I wrote a few years ago, long before I could actually own a Nest, running on a Raspberry Pi using the Nest API - this works much better.

More building work to be done, then I'll replace my 20-year old smoke detector with a Nest Protect. I did read on reddit that stock of the Protect is getting low and they're hard to come by, so a new Gen3 version may be on the way.

This is why I went for Tado. The Nest away mode isn't particularly clever by comparison (and was utterly dumb when I was deciding, as it just had physical motion detection), whereas Tado 'just works' and knows exactly when to start heating the house when I'm heading back home, based on how far away I am and the thermal characteristics of the house.

Tado also has better (IMO) scheduling, with independent sleep and 'Away' temperature controls and as many different 'Home' schedules as you like, in addition to separate hot water controls. Once setup, you can practically ignore it.

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Milhouse    355

Oh the Nest now does all of that, using the phone GPS to decide when you are close to "home", plus IFTT and Google Now integration etc. (all useless for me, of course). The problem is that if anything it's now too smart as it decides I'm away in the morning (it goes into "auto-away" mode about 9.30am) even though I'm home - it's inferred some sort of daily routine even though none such exists. I'm not sure if it's a bug or by design (I've opened a case with Nest) but for now I've solved it using the Nest API, although I really shouldn't have to.

It seems that Nest is great if you come and go on a fairly regular schedule, but can be annoying if you're home a lot of the time and only going out occasionally (or not walking past the thermostat every hour - I might be working in the study or sleeping late, and suddenly it decides I'm no longer home if it hasn't seen me in a while...)

I'm starting to see the benefits compared to my old dumb programmable timer, but a little surprised that one of the most highly touted features of the Nest, ie. away mode, still isn't perfect after all this time.

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Milhouse    355

Nest called me earlier today.

The first line support guy took me through the thermostat and app settings and yep, "auto-away" is definitely disabled and I've done all I can to stop it from thinking I'm away and shutting off my heating when I'm still at home.

Hands me on to one of their technical specialists, we go through the same settings, I explain to him I've been monitoring the status every 60 seconds through the Nest API and I can see it go into "auto-away" status just after 9am each morning despite everything related to "auto-away" being disabled.

Conclusion: the Nest is "misbehaving" and it shouldn't be doing what it's doing. Case now passed on to third line support.

It's not as big of a deal as it could be, as my script that polls the Nest every 60 seconds is currently setting the home/away status back to "home" whenever it sees the Nest has gone into "auto-away" state. Not right though, so should get this fixed - if I didn't have the script this would be unusable.

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RobM    195

It'll be interesting to see how this pans out, as it sounds like Nest caught between two worlds. The original selling point of Nest is it will learn your schedule over the first few weeks and automate it for you... so if you always leave the house at 9am, it will learn that and turn the heating off at that time. But with the additional of location awareness, this shouldn't happen if it knows you're at home. It looks like it's doing both at the same time!

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Stuclark    70

I've just bitten the bullet and bought the Tado system - what I especially liked was being able to rent the gear each month for a pretty reasonable sum. I know it works out more exoensive in the long run, but it does make entry into the whole automated home thing a lot cheaper

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Milhouse    355

Interesting. I presume you can buy outright if you decide it's a keeper? Other than lower entry cost, are there any other advantage of renting, ie. free or reduced price hardware upgrades?

On my Nest auto-away issue - they've fixed it (I think).

I'd been posting on the Nest developers forum for the last 2 weeks and they pushed a fix for their backend services at the end of last week. So far so good, no phantom "auto-away" events since then (although I was actually out all day Thursday/Friday so couldn't tell if it is working or not for those two days). I should be able to confirm the fix tomorrow. Searching around the web I discovered an Android App designed to deal with this exact same problem (that's all it does - flip back to home when it detects auto-away) that was released over 2 years ago, which is quite shocking. I guess it pays to complain, and in fairness to Nest they've responded to the complaints.

Still undecided about getting a Nest Protect Smoke+CO alarm if this is any indication of their software quality though - the home/away feature is their big ticket selling point and should be nigh on perfect by now, how hard can it be?!!

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Stuclark    70

To be honest I don't know. I'm planning on investigating that a bit more once I've got the stuff installed (it's still about a week away from being with me). I imagine you can get out of the rental somehow, as otherwise you'll end up paying more overall come 2 or 3 years time (as the initial purchase cost includes the first year's rental). ... maybe I should have read the small print... nah, what's the point in that?!

EDIT: I looked it up... here's what their website says: "At any time you can decide to purchase your rented tado° devices. Your contract will be automatically changed at the end of the current rental year. You will receive a discount equivalent to the rent for the final 6 rental months of your current contract on the regular current purchase price."

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Milhouse    355

Jesus H. Christ.

I went out this evening at 17:45 so switched the Nest to "away" and it automatically enabled "eco" mode so that it wouldn't heat an empty home.

I came home just after midnight to discover not a cold home but a nice and toasty home. After checking the logs it's clear that at 19:00 the Nest had automatically switched itself out of "eco" mode and back into "heat" mode despite still being in the "away" state:

Wed 15 Feb 17:44:00 GMT 2017: Away [home     ] Mode [heat] State [off    ] Temp [21.0C] Target [21.0C]
Wed 15 Feb 17:45:00 GMT 2017: Away [home     ] Mode [heat] State [off    ] Temp [21.0C] Target [21.0C]
Wed 15 Feb 17:46:00 GMT 2017: Away [away     ] Mode [eco ] State [off    ] Temp [21.0C] Target [21.0C]
Wed 15 Feb 17:47:00 GMT 2017: Away [away     ] Mode [eco ] State [off    ] Temp [21.0C] Target [21.0C]
...
Wed 15 Feb 18:58:01 GMT 2017: Away [away     ] Mode [eco ] State [off    ] Temp [20.5C] Target [21.0C]
Wed 15 Feb 18:59:00 GMT 2017: Away [away     ] Mode [eco ] State [off    ] Temp [20.5C] Target [21.0C]
Wed 15 Feb 19:00:00 GMT 2017: Away [away     ] Mode [heat] State [heating] Temp [20.5C] Target [22.0C]
Wed 15 Feb 19:01:00 GMT 2017: Away [away     ] Mode [heat] State [heating] Temp [20.5C] Target [22.0C]

This is insane, and utterly dreadful that a product that's been on the market for several years still can't get the absolute basics right. Arrghh! :(

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Milhouse    355

I would not suggest a Nest to anyone I cared about. Pretty​ looking hardware, but utterly defective software that renders the combined product unfit for purpose IMHO. I really wanted a fancy Nest smoke alarm too (I do need to replace my 20 year old alarm sooner than later!) but after experiencing their software quality and inability to get even the basics right after all these years I'm not sure I want to put my life in their less than safe hands.

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Stuclark    70

I almost went for Nest purely because of the smoke alarm - having read what you've been posting, I'm glad I didn't.

I'm going to split this topic into some new ones to make this a more useful resource for others to find

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MeKeV    98

I replaced my ancient boiler controller with a 2 channel Zwave controller at the weekend. While the pin outs on my old controller's wall plate were the same, the wallplate itself was too fat for the new controller to fit, so I had to rewire it in the end anyway. Was straight forward enough though.

My heating was already automated with a Zwave wireless thermostat anyway, so all this new programmer means is I dont have to reset the hotwater schedule on the ancient programmer anymore after the electric has been off, and I can turn the hotwater on from my phone if needs be.

 

So now my heating is automated with a couple of StellaZ's reporting room temperatures and controlling individual radiators on a schedule, one of these as the sort of master control for boiler. And one of these TINY multisensors in the babies room, overriding everything.

The room stat speaks directly to the boiler control, so even if my zwave network went down I'd still have thermostatic control, I'd just lose the scheduling/presence detection.

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Stuclark    70

When my Tado stuff eventually turns up (I know they said 2 weeks, but it feels like months already); I'll be replacing our utterly broken boiler controller as well (using their "extension kit") - I'm expecting to have to re-wire everything, but so long as the wiring is sensibly marked up on my existing controller it should be easy enough to do.

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MeKeV    98

Yeah, mine wasnt marked up at all! There were more wires terminating on the plate than I was expecting and a chocolate block connector thrown in there that I could only just about fit in the space.

Luckily I was just refitting the wires in the same place on a new back plate, so I managed it!

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RobM    195
2 hours ago, Stuclark said:

When my Tado stuff eventually turns up (I know they said 2 weeks, but it feels like months already); I'll be replacing our utterly broken boiler controller as well (using their "extension kit") - I'm expecting to have to re-wire everything, but so long as the wiring is sensibly marked up on my existing controller it should be easy enough to do.

If you're in any doubt at all, email a photo of the existing wiring to Tado support for their advice. They are by far and away the best technical customer service department I've ever spoken to and they have a good understanding of typical heating wiring setups (e.g. S-Plan or Y-Plan).

That aside, so long as you've given them the right controller and other information, the instructions they provide you are very easy to follow. The first Extension Kit I installed took 45-minutes and most of that was me being paranoid. The second hit a snag (which they helped with massively by helping identify the correct wiring layout) but would have otherwise been 30-minutes tops.

Edited by RobM

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Stuclark    70
17 minutes ago, RobM said:

If you're in any doubt at all, email a photo of the existing wiring to Tado support for their advice. They are by far and away the best technical customer service department I've ever spoken to and they have a good understanding of typical heating wiring setups (e.g. S-Plan or Y-Plan).

That aside, so long as you've given them the right controller and other information, the instructions they provide you are very easy to follow. The first Extension Kit I installed took 45-minutes and most of that was me being paranoid. The second hit a snag (which they helped with massively by helping identify the correct wiring layout) but would have otherwise been 30-minutes tops.

I haven't given them any information, as I did a bit of reading and it "seems" the controller I have is wired in a relatively standard way.

So long as there's something that says "this does that" then I'll figure it out... "how hard can it be?"

(sorry, couldn't resist)

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RobM    195

The only downside to that plan is, with Tado at least, there is some configuration they do at their end to make sure everything is configured properly. When I moved house and moved Tado with me, they needed the new programmer and boiler information before I could re-install it.

 

It's all simple stuff, they just need to know. The benefit is they send you exact installation instructions, step-by-step, with pictures of exactly how to connect each wire and which to ignore totally.

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Stuclark    70

Tado stuff turned up a couple of days ago and is now fully installed and running beautifully.

I decided to install the thermostat first, it being a direct replacement for our existing wired thermostat. The Tado online installation instructions couldn't have been clearer, and from unboxing to putting my screwdriver away, it only took me about 30 minutes. (yes, that was the first time I'd touched anything Tado, or our heating sytem)

I then registered our expansion kit (which was bought to replace our knackered boiler programmer) and while doing so then got prompted to provide the boiler make and model, along with the controller make and model. I was told I'd then get an email with the installation instructions.

That email turned up about 12 hours later (so mid-day yesterday) and as soon as I got home I set about installing the expansion kit. It was almost an easier process than the thermostat (that is to say the instructions are even more detailed) and indeed the only issues I had were that I initally mounted it too close to a shelf (so couldn't get at the securing screws) and had to move the whole thing... even then that only took 5 minutes. The other issue was that being in our airing cupboard, the expansion kit had a little trouble "seeing" the internet bridge which was plugged in to my router. To get round that I just stuck it on a longer CAT5 cable and moved it to a more central location in the flat. (another 5 minute fix)

I've already noticed the difference; our existing boiler is an ancient, inefficient dinasaur, and the difference in being able to have it only run for a few minutes at a time, rather than be on almost constantly, is very telling. I reckon the system will pay for itself in no time :)

I've even decided to extend it's capabilities even further and have bought (although I won't receive them until sometime in April) a couple of their smart radiator thermostats - that way I can have multiple zones within the house and keep the temperature in the bedroom cooler than the living room etc.

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Milhouse    355

I resolved my issues with Nest, btw. Turns out the thermostat coming back on when I wasn't there is how it's meant to behave, having learned some schedule (that I swear I don't have) it heats up the house shortly before it expects you home... it will do this for 2 days and if you're still not home it will stop doing it. Weird that it logs this predicted activity as "Someone came home" rather than "Predicted occupancy" or similar (which is apparently how it used to log this activity). But anyway my solution now is once again my script and to manually flip it into "off" mode when I'm away rather than the "eco" mode (which will come back on for up to 2 days)... thank God Nest has an API is all I can say! :)

So now my Nest is behaving how I want it to, although it took a bit of trouble getting there. It really is designed for people with predictable schedules (which isn't really me).

I agree about the new boiler though. I think that's impressed me more than the Nest (which I got over pretty quickly!) The new boiler is so much quieter than my old one, there's no clanking of pipes, and as you say, it just comes on for 15 minutes at a time. My old thermostat was stuck behind a door (less than ideal location) and I remember my old boiler would be on for hours at a time.

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