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Support › Nest Thermostat vs Alarm.com Energy Management
November 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm #1250November 27, 2013 at 11:01 am #1275
I had been looking into Nest for a longtime. Saw a Nest 1 at SAMs Club and was curious shout what the differences were. I fully agree with this article and the points also add up with what reviews say. Your security system sees what you do and how often you enter and leave. We barely pass by our thermostat in a week.November 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm #1295
I’ve come to the conclusion that if you don’t have any interest in security or automating anything except for your thermostat then Nest is a good value. On the other hand, if you do want a security system or you want to automate other aspects of your home, Nest doesn’t make much sense. I honestly think the biggest advantage Nest currently has is that it looks cooler than any z-wave thermostat on the market. Why doesn’t someone develop a really cool looking z-wave thermostat?December 27, 2013 at 3:15 pm #1610
…or add the z-wave component to the next generation of Nest?!December 27, 2013 at 4:14 pm #1613
That should work but why have a $250 thermostat when Alarm.com can do the same thing with an $83 thermostat?January 16, 2014 at 3:17 pm #1976
I’ve had a Nest longer than I’ve had the Alarm.com system, and can tell you there are a few things I like about Nest that don’t appear to be available in the Alarm.com thermostat.
#1: ability to control humidifier (or dehumidifier, if that’s your thing), including set point.
#2: an API to allow me to write my own software to interface with the controls — I have a script that automatically sets my humidifier setting according to the outside temperature, one to turn on the recirculation fan for an hour or so before bedtime (letting me turn down the heat a little earlier), and a couple of other goodies.
These two features alone make it worth the extra $166 and the additional app / system to take care of. Not to mention, my current Alarm.com provider wanted an extra $5-10 per month to enable the home automation features.January 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm #1987
I agree that both of those are advantages of Nest over Alarm.com thermostats. But what about all the other advantages Alarm.com thermostats have over Nest that were pointed out in the article? It seems like a much smaller job for Alarm.com to address those 2 disadvantages than for Nest to address all the advantages Alarm.com has, doesn’t it?
As for the additional monthly cost by your Alarm.com provider, why not use an Alarm.com provider that includes thermostats like our Gold Interactive service?January 17, 2014 at 1:57 pm #1989
Actually, Ryan, it’s not.
To deal with humidifier adjustments would likely require different hardware as it is unlikely that the current thermostat equipment from Alarm.com has a humidistat to sense current humidity, nor would it have the wiring connection point.
As for the API — Alarm.com seems to be very opposed to providing access to their system via outside methods. It’s been asked & answered by a bunch of different sources, from what I’ve seen in online discussions.
Part of me is pleased by this, as it’s a security issue. Another part of me would like to develop some of my own integrations (heck, if Alarm.com provided an API, I could integrate my Nest thermostat with Alarm.com… best of both worlds!)
The advantages are actually pretty minimal to me:
1. Single Pane of Glass integration — I only need one app, one website login, etc.
2. Lower initial cost (but higher monthly cost, depending on your Alarm.com provider)
3. integration with my alarm to know if I’m home or not
Addressing in order:
1. To get best of breed, I’m happy to have a separate app / website to go to
2. Initial cost difference eclipsed by additional monthly fee over the span of the monitoring contract
3. If Alarm.com solves the API issue, then #3 could be made available the Nest system as well, so that’s moot point.
And the final piece: the cellular connection of my Alarm.com panel is likely less reliable than my wifi. The cell provider in this area has had an outage of about 36 hours within the last two years. My wifi / home broadband hasn’t had more than an hour or two.
In short, Nest still provides a better solution for me. Not to mention, it looks a lot sexier on the wall. 🙂January 17, 2014 at 1:58 pm #1990
(as an aside, I’d never get the Nest smoke detector — that’s life-safety equipment and should be tied to the alarm system, both for reliability and monitoring.)January 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm #1995
We install the 2GIG/Radio Thermostat CT100 and it doesn’t have wiring terminals for an external humidifier or dehumidifier, at least not that I’m aware of. Alarm.com doesn’t make or support a particular thermostat. Alarm.com works with just about any z-wave thermostat. There must be a z-wave thermostat from Honeywell, Trane or some manufacturer that supports humidity control. Isn’t there? Assuming yes, if humidity control is important to you then you could use one of those instead of a CT100. Of course, if you use a thermostat from Honeywell or Trane it’ll probably cost more and eat into the cost advantage of CT100 thermostats. And then you’d have to wait for Alarm.com to support humidity control. I honestly don’t know what Alarm.com’s plans are, if they have any at all, for humidity control. I’ll do some digging and try to find out.
I’ve heard that Nest only has one terminal to support either a humidifier or a dehumidifier but not both. Is that true? Is there as big a need to remote control & automate humidity? Does it have a similar energy consumption impact compared to automating target temperature? I’m curious because obviously I only automate target temperature at my home with Alarm.com.
I would personally love to see an API for certain Alarm.com features, even if perhaps excluding the security related features. In some cases we’ve set up a Vera controller as the master and the 2GIG controller as a sub just to work around the lack of an programming API. You can script with Vera and the thermostat & lights still work with Alarm.com.
There are more advantages for Alarm.com in the article than just the three you addressed. I’m more concerned about the big picture and system architecture though. Doesn’t the Alarm.com architecture just make more sense for a connected home control system? It does to me.
It’s unusual that your broadband/WIFI is more reliable than your cellular. We see at least 10 times the reliability problems with the broadband connections we monitor vs the cellular. Part of it is that people screw up or default their own WIFI routers.
Nest may be the best solution for you due to your particular needs and I’m not arguing against that. I’m arguing against the wild fanaticism I hear and read every day about Nest. I don’t think it’s a bad product. I just think Nest is getting way more fanfare and media attention that it technically deserves, as a result of very good marketing. I’d like to see people more aware of what’s available from Alarm.com for HVAC and energy management.January 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm #1996
P.S. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alarm.com using Nest’s API to integrate with Nest some time in the future so you might end up getting the “best of both worlds”.January 17, 2014 at 5:56 pm #1997
The thing about humidity control is that it’s partly about water usage, but also about keeping your house in good shape and comfortable.
Up north, we humidify for most of the winter — and the humidifier setting should be adjusted regularly to match the outside temperature. If you don’t have the humidity set low enough when the outside temperature is low, you’ll get condensation and ice on the windows, which results in damage to the window sill and wall. If the humidity isn’t high enough, it’s quite uncomfortable, you get static electricity from walking down the hallway, and the house is equally damaged as the water is sucked out of the wood.
With Nest’s API, I have a script that runs several times per hour to check outside temperature and set the humidity setpoint accordingly.
As for energy consumption — if the system were really intelligent, yes, it could be substantial. You could set it to have a wider variance on the set point when nobody is home, meaning the furnace fan is run less.
As for the one terminal for both humid & dehumid — this isn’t a big deal. In environments where you would want to dehumidify (largely coastal), you wouldn’t also need to humidify… at least I don’t see any situation where that would be an issue.
I did notice a few others, but they weren’t relevant to me, hence why I didn’t address them.
As for the architecture making more sense — perhaps, but again, it comes down to how crippled you’re willing to make your system just for the sake of a single architecture.
I’ve got an Alarm.com -type system (Vivint’s go!control) and love it. But all the light switches and modules I’ve seen that would work with it are ugly-as-sin. Enter WeMo. 🙂 Likewise with the thermostat.
Yeah, I suppose there’s that issue of people messing up their WiFi — but do you really find that many people who can’t configure their own WiFi, but still want (and use) full-home automation?
I do agree that Nest has been getting a lot of undeserved press lately. Don’t expect that to stop with the recent Google acquisition, either! 🙂January 17, 2014 at 7:17 pm #2000
Thanks for the info on humidity control. In our area few people have whole home humidifiers. I’ll post if I learn anything about Alarm.com about humidity plans.
For your Vivint system, have you looked at the Aeon labs Aeotec line of z-wave devices? We use the Aeotec in-wall light switches and it doesn’t matter that they’re ugly, they go in the wall behind your existing light switches so you don’t see them. The Aeotec z-wave repeaters are great too, very small and easy on the eyes compared to the bigger z-wave appliance modules.
Yes, we see a lot of people who want whole home automation who have a tendency to mess up their WIFI routers. It’s their willingness/bravery to tinker with it without a solid understanding of TCP/IP and WIFI that causes the problems. That’s just part of it though. Aside from user error, we see far more cable/DSL outages than cell tower outages. I think it comes down to 1) there are more low priority (to the cable company) points of failure getting a cable connection out to your house and 2) The Alarm.com cellular module is dedicated to your Alarm.com system whereas the WIFI router is shared among multiple (maybe many) devices/systems and one can interfere with another – or changing the router to accommodate one breaks another.
I don’t expect the Nest press to decrease any time soon. I’m really looking forward to what Google will bring to the table and the attention it’s bringing to this industry.January 20, 2014 at 3:45 pm #2046
I’m told that humidity control is on the roadmap for Alarm.com but I don’t have a timeline. That would be funny if they ended up doing it via Nest integration.December 28, 2014 at 7:12 pm #12600
I am a huge fan of NEST I have 5 of them and 4 protects. I think it’s well overdue for Alarm.com to use their API and add it into the offering.
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