Nest learning Thermostat Installed Sucessfully

Nest – The Beginnings of Home Automation in our House

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It has been a recent interest of mine to start working to make our home more automated and easier to maintain. Home automation has only really come into the limelight in the past few years and it seems that it is picking up pace. I decided if I was going to start somewhere it might as well be with Nest. For those unfamiliar with Nest they make a learning thermostat and a carbon monoxide and dioxide detector. I took the plunge and decided to check out the learning thermostat first and try and install it myself (no electrical work done in my life…EVER).

I drove to Future Shop to pick up my reserved Nest Learning Thermostat and brought it home with a Linksys RE4000W dual band range extender, figuring I may need some extra coverage of the house for the future garage opener and dropcams. I get home and rip open the plastic on the sleek packaging for the Thermostat (I have never been so excited to use a thermostat in my life) and grabbed the instructions to see what is needed. One of the things before you even get started, which I failed to notice, is to check and see if your thermostat is compatible to be upgraded to Nest. Going to the site will ask you the wire letters you have on the back of your thermostat and you check the boxes and click next. If compatible it will congratulate you and tell you to continue unboxing the Nest Learning Thermostat. The second step after checking compatibility is to turn off the furnace.

Who puts a furnace switch up there!

For those of you new home owners like myself I did not know that this was even possible to do, other than using the current thermostat to lower the temperature so low that the furnace would never kick in. Clearly calling someone for help was the right choice as I was directed to look for a light switch up high by the furnace and I would find the on/off switch. Low and behold there it was in all of its cobwebbed glory. I quickly grabbed the end of a swiffer handle, hooked the lightswitch and pulled it down from a distance to turn it off.

Once this was done I had the joy of taking off the Honeywell thermostat we currently had off the wall to expose the wires. As with most things in our new home it seems this hole the wires were protruding from was done not so gracefully. The back of the Honeywell looked no better. With no electrical experience as stated above, the jumble of wires looked like a hodgepodge of ridiculousness. I want to give a shout out to The Co-Operators for getting me disability insurance before attempting to do this.

After a moment of looking at the wires with my eyes glazed over at the back of the thermostat, I decided it was best to pay more attention to the instructions (after debating that calling a pro in would cost too much). They give you the URL – http://nest.com/works – With the instructions comes stickers to label the wires in case the person purchasing this is someone like me and has no idea whats going on. I peel one off at a time and meticulously place them on the wires feeling more confident as I go that I can’t mess this up with these nice blue stickers on here.

After the stickers were on I needed to unscrew the bolts holding the wires down and full the wires out to expose them for pulling through the base plate of the Nest. This had me a little freaked as I assumed this is where it would get interesting and my heart might possibly stop. Of course, this is an overreaction and the removal of the wires from the back of the Honeywell went flawlessly. After the Honeywell was placed aside, I grabbed the base plate (the large plate that hides previous holes), the base of the Nest (where the wires hooked into) and the two screws it came with. With these in hand I snapped the base for the Nest into the base plate, used the level on the base for the Nest to get it level and threaded the wires through the hole in the middle. After this was done I made sure the copper was straight and then I shoved the wires into the respective slots. I have included an image that would only happen in a perfect world as to what the scenario should be looking like.

Nest Wire Placement in a Perfect World

With the wires all in the slots and the baseplate was level I screwed in the top part first. SUCCESS! No wires were hit and the screw stuck in the wall. Now for the bottom part. This was my not so successful attempt as I went in well but then kept spinning. I figure as long as it holds the base plate and base for the Nest steady it was fine no being stuck in the wall and slightly loose. For those considering buying the Nest Learning Thermostat, this is the only point I had difficulty and took 15 minutes trying to get the base to stay snapped into the base plate with the wires hooked up as they were kind of stiff and the base plate would not stay snapped in when pressed into the wall.

With both screws in and me looking like a paranoid meth head trying to see if the baseplate would move when I jiggled it it was finally time for the moment of truth, will the Nest turn on when I push it on the base and go and turn the furnace on? I was fearful to say the least that I was going to need to replace a few fuses. I went down stairs and used the end of the swiffer to turn the furnace back on. With this done I ran up the stairs and checked the Nest. IT WAS ON! The first thing I have ever tried to do myself worked and it was on!

After Nest started up It asked me to step through the setup and after the setup and a firmware update it was ready to go. Changing the temperature once the Nest Thermostat is joined to the Nest account you need to create, is as easy as logging onto the app on your phone or visiting the website. Changes are almost instantaneous and they are working on a few new features. The one that impresses me most is the Google Now addition coming in the Fall/Winter. All you will have to do if you have a recent android device is say “OK Google change the temperature to 24 degree” and because of Google’s recent acquisition of Nest this will change the temperature on your Thermostat from anywhere you are.

This is the early beginnings of what I have planned for our home. With sites and apps such as IFTTT (If This Then That) out there that make it easier than ever to facilitate actions based on a particular event (ie. If the weather outside is x degrees then change my temperature to x degrees). With Nest developing a whole ecosystem with their developer API’s it has made possible a slew of products that include cameras, lights, cars and even garage door openers. All of these will assist in making your home a little more intuitive when it comes to your needs.

The future of our home and of home automation is looking bright and knowing myself I plan on being on the bleeding edge of it. Check back once in a while and see what else I am working on. Let me know if you have a Nest Learning Thermostat and what you are using it with as I am always looking for ideas. Until I can get more of my home automated, Happy Hacking!