Week 6: Paul's Smart home diary

It's heating up (well, it will be in a few weeks)

Week 6: Paul's Smart home diary
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This post first appeared on Wareable, in March 2016...

Smart heating. Sounds dull right? But it's not. We've often discussed at Wareable HQ how the 'boring' smart home devices and platforms are the ones proving to be the most successful in these early days of connected houses. And smart heating is leading that 'boring' pack.

Sure, a connected toilet that analyses your poop and sends warnings over email to your doctor is the dream (right?), but saving a few pennies on your heating bill is the reality… at least for now.

Luckily, the people making smart heating systems have at least attempted to make things less dull by creating well-crafted, slick looking devices that definitely look futuristic. Special mention here to Nest, of course, baby of Tony Fadell of iPod fame.

But I'm not going to let looks alone contribute to my decision as to what smart heating system to install. Cost obviously plays a massive part, as does the feature set. And, once again, I'm firmly focused on future-proofing. I don't want to install a clunky, expensive, system just to see its slicker competition race ahead in the coming years.

Anyway – I'm racing ahead a bit. Currently we don't even have any radiators so there's nothing for a clever thermostat to even connect to.

The house, as I've described in previous weeks, is still a complete building site – although it is slowly taking shape. But before it could we (well, my builder – I've got very soft hands not suited to manual work) had to rip everything out. Everything. Wires, pipes, walls, rotten floorboards… the lot.

However, one thing we could save was the boiler, which the previous owners only had installed a couple of years before they bought the farm. It is a combi-boiler that my builder described as "pukka". US readers, that's cockney-talk for "very good". It needs to be moved to a new location (who has a boiler in a bedroom?) but is still very much usable with the new pipes and radiators that will be fitted in the coming weeks.

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So, with new radiators on order – what system are we going to power them with?

Nest. That's what.

Why? It's all down to the ease of installation and the connectivity. Sure, Tado and Honeywell offer more complete solutions, with individual zones and sensors and a much more customisable set of heating controls, but Nest is just so darned simple. And, like we said in the intro, smart heating systems are boring.

I don't want to be thinking too much about it and spending too long creating multiple profiles, zones and scenarios. Essentially, I want my smart thermostat to do some of my thinking for me, but also allow me to easily change things if needs be. And I want it to be able to talk to other connected devices in my smart home.

Nest, with the might of Google behind it, ticks all those boxes. It's already got companion Nest branded devices on its team and there are a tonne of apps and devices donning the 'Works with Nest' certificate.

When comparing Nest and Honeywell recently, we wrote:

Nest is smarter because it learns your habits and, after a week or two, it begins to understand your routines. It knows that you want your house to be warm at 7am when you get out of bed and it knows that you'll be gone by 9am, so maybe to stop heating the house about 8.30am.

Zones are important, I agree – you don't necessarily want your whole house at the same temperature – and while Tado and Honeywell offer more on this aspect, Nest still supports zoned heating – you just have to add more thermostats and links to the mix.

So, that's where we're at with heating. When we do install the system in a couple of weeks I'll give you a much more detailed breakdown of how it works. In the meantime, if you think I'm making a big mistake by going with Nest, let me know in the comments below.

Bear in mind that I require a thermostat that makes me feel like I'm talking to HAL 9000. That's key.

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TAGGED    smart home

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