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Hardware Review NEST Thermostat with Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Integration: A Review

Discussion in 'Accessories, Cables, and Remotes' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]
    The Perfect NEST For The Home
    Review by Ronald Epstein
    July 2014
    I have been wanting a Nest thermostat ever since it was introduced to the market in 2010 by Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. These were two guys who who were unimpressed by the herd of thermostats that were available on the market and ventured out to make one of their own. This was the birth of Nest Labs, which was acquired by Google in January of 2014.​
    As I noted, I really didn't need a new thermostat. I actually had a really great Honeywell unit that had been serving me quite well for the past year. So, when the folks at Nest offered a unit for me to review, I began giving myself as many reasons as I could to make the switch. The biggest benefit I saw in the Nest was its ability to connect to the Internet, thus allowing its owners to remotely monitor, set and schedule cooling and heating within their home. For a gadget freak like myself, this was the ultimate toy to try out.​
    The one thing that worried me more than anything else, was installing this thermostat on my own. I have no expertise in wiring or even drilling holes in the wall. The thermostat I owned was installed by an electrician. For me to even attempt to try this solo, was a very scary proposition. However, I was amazed at the amount of information available on the Nest website, which included video tutorials on how to properly install the device. There's even an online system match that uses checkboxes to determine if the wiring in your home is compatible. After spending about 20 minutes looking through all the website material, I felt rather comfortable that I could install this on my own and not screw it up too badly.​
    I'll talk more about the installation process in a few moments, but first want to give you a rundown of the Nest thermostat itself...​
    The Nest Thermostat Unboxing
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Unboxing the Nest, you sort of feel as if you are opening an Apple iPhone. Elegantly packaged, and with everything you will probably need to install (including a screwdriver), nothing about this product seems "cheap" nor conveys any sort of intimidation about its installation. ​
    Out of the box, the Nest thermostat feels like something quite remarkable. It has a wonderful glass and aluminum quality to it, and you can see that it's the kind of fixture that is going to get second looks by family and friends who happen to walk by it. ​
    The Nest Thermostat Installation
    My goal was to get this installed in under 30 minutes. As someone who was the furthest thing from a home remodeler, I knew that not calling in a professional electrician might be a huge mistake. Still, on the surface, it looked as if this wouldn't be a difficult install.​
    [​IMG]
    The most important thing I recommend to everyone before even purchasing a Nest, is to check the wiring on your current thermostat. The Nest works in 95% of homes with low voltage systems.​
    [​IMG]
    To show you just how easy it is to wire this thermostat, you simply take pen and paper and copy down the letters corresponding the wired connections in your current system. Go to the Nest online compatibility system check (halfway down page) and put checks next to the corresponding letters. The result will be a custom wiring diagram that you can print and use to rewire theNest. There are even peelable stickers provided in the box that allow you to effectively label your wires for easy reference.​
    [​IMG]
    After turning off the circuit breaker to my furnace, I unwired and unmounted my Honeywell thermostat. I saved the original large mounting plate because of the amount of unfinished wallpaper beneath it. That forced me to have to put the included Nest trim plate on top of it and then using dry anchors that I purchased, screw the wiring base into that plate. Did you notice the leveling bubble tool built into the base? Pretty neat!​
    Good spot in the review to point out that the Nest has a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery built into the unit and is constantly recharged by the power it receives. As thus, no need to install batteries.​
    [​IMG]
    I would have loved to have done a trimless install, but I don't have a clean fully-wallpapered wall to do that upon. Once you wire the new base, you simply snap the Nest into place. Turn your power back on, and the Nest comes to life.​
    By the way, it took me about 20 minutes total to install the Nest, and that is with difficulties I had using my original mounting plate and placing the new trim plate above it.​
    Setting Up And Using The Nest
    [​IMG]
    The initial setup of the Nest is very similar to turning on and setting up a smart phone. The first thing the Nest looks for is your home network. Through a combination of turns and presses, enter a password and you're connected. In most cases, your Nest will immediately search for, download, and install an initial update to its system. The great thing about having Internet connectivity is that all firmware updates are delivered directly to your device.​
    The next few steps are designed to establish the type of heating system your home has (Gas, Electric, Forced Air), as well as the lowest and highest temperatures you would like to set Nest for while you are away from home.​
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The Nest has a wealth of settings that can be accessed through various turns, clicks and presses. It's rather easy to navigate through and there's little chance of making any mistakes as you always have the option to cancel before committing to a new setting. ​
    [​IMG]
    As you turn the nest higher and lower, the face color changes. Orange indicates higher heat settings while blue shows lower cold settings. An indication of a green leaf indicates conserve settings, which may help you save money. The most important thing to know about Nest is that it is a learning thermostat. In fact, it's constantly in learning mode. Say for instance you wake up at 8am and lower the temperature to 72 degrees, then later in the evening around 10pm you raise the temperature for overnight, the Nest is going to eventually learn those settings and automatically adjust. It will take Nest a few days to learn your routine, but trust that it will.​
    In my case, I wanted to program a hard schedule into my Nest from the first day. The ability to create a daily/weekly schedule can be done on the thermostat itself. However, I'll admit that I didn't pursue that option because quite frankly, these eyes are getting a bit old to work with the small graphics on the display screen.​
    Fortunately, all the major settings, including scheduling, can be accessed in quite a few ways. You can log on to the Nest website with your browser, log into your account, and access your settings. There is also an app available for the iPhone, iPad, Android/Windows phones and tablets. It was the iPad app that I used to access my Nest and adjust its schedule. Let me show you some screenshots...​
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Using the scheduling tool in the iPad wasn't the most pleasant experience. It took a bit of finger sliding in two different directions to get the temperature and time absolutely accurate. The biggest problem I found is that there is no option to set a schedule for a single day and then have it repeat for the entire week. You have to set each day's schedule separately. Thankfully there is a cut and paste feature that allows you to easily copy from one day to the next. ​
    [​IMG]
    For my schedule, I used the iPad app to schedule the Nest to start cooling the house to 72 degrees every morning at 1am. Since I go to bed rather early, I scheduled the temperature to go into a savings mode of 75 degrees at 4pm. Those iPad settings were easily confirmed on the Nest thermostat immediately after input.​
    Of course, the biggest reason for wanting remote connectivity to your thermostat is for those times you go away for an extended period of time and want the peace-of-mind of knowing what your thermostat is doing. Forget to change it before you left the house? You can adjust the temperature from your computer, Apple/Android/Windows/ device anywhere around the world at any point in time.​
    Ease of Use and Energy Savings
    You can tell that the Nest was created from engineers from Apple. It's as easy for anyone in your household to use as an iPhone would be. The thermostat remains completely dark, that is until you approach it and its sensors pick up your presence to light up its display. A simple turn of the dial in either direction will raise or lower the temperature. We did find that the sensor was not very good at sensing an approaching person. This seems to be a common problem from other reports I have read. These same sensors can tell how much traffic is going on within the room. When it senses no movement over an extended period of time, it will determine that you are on vacation and switch itself to away settings. Again, the Nest is always learning.​
    [​IMG]
    After approximately 10 days, you will have the ability to receive your first report on your Energy History. The history shows you how long your heating or cooling system has been running. In turn, this can assist you in making smart energy saving choices about your scheduling. For instance, the blue bars above represent cooling (red for heating), and how many hours my system was active during the day. Whenever a leaf icon appears, it signifies the fact that I have saved energy for that day. Additional icons represent reasons for energy savings such as Auto Away, Weather or Adjustments.​
    Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Control Integration
    [​IMG]
    For those of you seeking to integrate the Nest with your home theater remote, look no further than Logitech's Harmony Ultimate remote. It allows you to control the temperature of your environment directly from your favorite chair without having to get out of your seat.​
    CONCLUSION
    At the time of writing this review it seems that the price of the Nest Thermostat has been relaxed somewhat. This makes its purchase somewhat more tempting that it had been previously. Still, make no mistake about it, the Nest is a luxury item that costs about 5 times more than most standard thermostats. That being said, I believe that this thermostat lives up to its price tag. It's made of quality metal and glass construction. It's also basically a "set it and forget it" device whereas you manually change the temperature in your home over the course of the day, it begins to learn your lifestyle and programs itself. Of course, with access to your thermostat from a PC browser or mobile app, you can control the temperature from anywhere in the world. Just imagine coming home from work on the bus or train and being able to use the app to warm up your home before walking through the door. There's something to be said for that kind of convenience.​
    The only problems I saw with this device was the proximity sensor that didn't always wake the nest as you approached it. There were a few times I had to wave my hand in front of the sensor to activate the screen. Also found programming the Nest on my iPad was not as smooth as I would have hoped. Programmers really need to concentrate on making that experience more fluent for the end user. ​
    Final Word: I am thrilled with this thermostat. It certainly lives up to its hype. ​
     
  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Awesome review Ron, thanks! A few Qs:- There's been some hoopla over Nest being acquired by Google and subsequently Google notifying customers that it may change the privacy policy to allow opt in oversigth by Google's cloud. Any thoughts on this? Ref: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/06/24/nest-to-share-user-information-with-google-for-first-time/- Did you set this up for a single zone? Can one nest monitor two zones? Is is possible to replace one traditional thermostat with a Nest and leave others in place and have the Nest control them?
     
  3. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    I'll answer the "numerous thermostat"...Nest was on my radar till its cost was factored in. I got 3 net enabled for barely more than 1 nest.Mine do exactly as this does...and goes several steps further (part of ADT...).Mine know when no one is home (by lack of electrical use). They are tied into the UPS(whole home UPS).I can real time see my energy usage keeping the house at certain temps (cause the UPS is tied to the generator...and NG is part of the energy use).But, no. Nest cannot control the other two thermostats. Mine can, but my set up is 1000x smarter.Yes my three stats cost less than 1 Nest. But, my setup cost(counting the UPS and energy monitoring) was well into 4 digits. Counting the generator...a few bills shy of 5 digits.Mine (if I had these) could be tied into outdoor motion lights(have them at the barn, not the house) and when those popped up my phone would get a text asking me If I wanted the house returned to "an awake" state. And if so, what areas.
     
  4. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Ron, thanks for the review. It was interesting and I got some bits I hadn't seen elsewhere on installation and programming. But I've still got a basic question I'm left wanting after every Nest review: Does it do a better job as a thermostat?Is it easier to program than your previous thermostat? Your review suggests maybe it's harder.Is it easier or have more options for programming seasonal changes, particularly Summer and Winter, but also for DST time change?Has its learning lead to a more comfortable house than you had with your initial settings? Or to lower utility bills?Is it just pretty, or does it really do a better job of being a thermostat?
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Dave,

    It pretty much does the same job as my previous thermostat.

    Just prettier.

    I used the iPad to program it. The app is slightly cumbersome to use as it
    involves having to slide your finger up and across to get the exact temperature
    and time you want it adjusted. There's no obvious way to copy the settings to
    each day of the week until you eventually find the "copy" option. It would have
    been nice to have the option to just select WEEK to copy the same settings.

    I don't see any seasonal or DST time settings. The latter (DST) could be in there
    but I haven't even set up my Nest for winter heating. Will do that in September when
    it begins to cool down.

    I already noted that it pretty much does the same job as my previous thermostat. So,
    in that respect, no, I don't think it gives better performance.

    However, there are little things this thermostat does that might suggest otherwise such
    as helping you select energy settings, automatically set to Auto Away, energy reports,
    filter reminders, etc.

    One of the problems I find with the Nest is that its auto sensor is weak. Doesn't always
    automatically light up as you approach the unit. This seems to be a common problem from
    other reviews I have read on Amazon and the Nest support site. Because of this, right now,
    I am having an issue with AUTO AWAY automatically initiating because it is not properly sensing
    movement (or lack of) in the room. It has come to the point where I just have to turn that option off.

    So, lots of pluses and minuses. In all, the biggest benefit of the Nest over any other similar
    option is the fact that it can be remotely monitored and adjusted from wherever you may be
    in the world. It's compatible with the Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote.

    There's also a Honeywell thermostat out there that is also wireless and has a mobile/tablet app
    that you may wish to look at. It's getting rather good reviews as well.
     
  6. Jacksmyname

    Jacksmyname Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the great review, Ron. Absolutely first rate.
    I was in the P/H/AC businesss for thirty years, so I really enjoyed your review.
    Might have to really consider installing a Nest.
    BTW, the reason for a battery in programmable clock thermostats:
    Back in the '60's, if you had an oil fired heating system and wanted to switch to natural gas, you couldn't. There was concern about a natural gas shortage.
    Well, in the early '70's, gas was opened up, but you had to meet some requirements.
    Requirements were storm doors and windows, cap insulation, and a programmable clock thermostat. Most people had the windows and doors, and cap insulation, but many did not have a clock thermostat. And believe it or not, installing one could be just enough to break the budget. The clock thermostat required two additional wires to operate the clock. In many older homes, just running those wires could be a time consuming, and therefore, pricey proposition. So, Honeywell came up with the battery operated clock thermostat. As Ron noted in his review, the battery would be recharged by the existing wiring. The recharge would take place while the system was off, and the battery would operate the clock only while the system was running. Simple solution that saved a lot of money. It worked very well, but Honeywell had a problem with the original release of the thermostat. We were one of the biggest contractors in the state (NJ) and we did a LOT of oil to gas conversions, and therefor moved a LOT of thermostats. Easily half of the thermostats had clocks that failed in less than a year, which of course we had to replace. Turned out that the clock assemblies that Honeywell was buying were bad. Honeywell wound up doubling the warranty.
    Just a bit of trivia for you. :)
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Hey Jack!

    Being in the business, you know far more about these things
    than I do.

    Obviously, I am the most unqualified person to be doing a review
    on a thermostat...

    ...until, that is, you take into account I'm doing it from an everyman
    perspective. I was interested to see how a novice like myself with
    very little DIY experience would be able to handle wiring and installing
    one of these things. I really surprised myself. I can't tell you how proud
    I was that I did it on my own. I'm certain not a big deal for everyone else.

    This is a really neat device, no doubt. Just not certain that everyone needs
    to have one.

    ...and thanks for the trivia on the battery. Interesting read.

    I live in New Jersey so it's cool to hear you did installs here.
     
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  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Ron, Thanks for the added info. I appreciate it, since I've been considering a Nest (I'd need two) for a couple years now.But the consistent conclusion on review is it doesn't do a better job as a thermostat. And it's quirky enough that it may be harder to program and manage than a lesser thermostat.Unless you want to change your hvac settings while on vacation. Which I don't. So here's my next few questions: I take it you're reviewing a vendor provided Nest. Do you have to return it? Will you go and buy your own Nest? What about the nest is worth the cost? Is it solely aesthetics?Sorry if I'm sounding really strident on this review :) this is a product I've been verging on buying for a while. It seems like it should be really great. But it's very expensive (for its category) and I can't figure out if it's residual Apple RDF getting people buy or the Nest does something useful.I'm looking forward to long-term update when we get to this Winter :)
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Quite alright as far as the questions are concerned, Dave.

    I am returning a vendor provided Nest that I do not have to return.

    Would I have bought one anyway? Eventually, yes. I just bought a
    new thermostat in the past two years so as much as I wanted one, I
    would not have bought one this soon. The vendor providing one for
    review obviously changed that.

    Is it worth its cost? At the moment, if you want something like this that
    can be controlled remotely, then you are going to pay a premium. I believe
    the competing Honeywell is probably nearly as expensive, but I am not certain.

    Is it more an aesthetics thing? Yes, partly. It does look cool on the wall.
    When it mostly works, it's neat to walk up to it and see it light up in response.
     
  10. Jason_V

    Jason_V Well-Known Member

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    My sister got me a Nest the first Christmas I was in my new house (2012). I really liked it, but was super intimidated by the install. I even thought about calling someone (like Ron) to put it in for me. But then I bit the bullet last fall, almost a full year after getting the Nest. Going through the directions, it couldn't have been easier to install. It literally took me a total of 10 minutes...which made me feel good because I'm sort of a home repair/install dummy.

    It's worked like a charm and I really appreciated being able to monitor the house temperature when I was away for half of December. I even get a kick out of the energy usage/saving reports Nest sends out.

    I only have one item it's controlling now: heat. There's no AC and I don't have it set up for different zones or any other shenanigans.

    Is it expensive? Totally. When I mentioned a digital thermostat, I was thinking something far cheaper. The one that was in the house when I bought it was a relic from the 1980s.

    Is it worth it? That's harder to answer. I like the functionality and the "set it and forget it" aspect. I also like the mobility/portability of the settings and monitoring. But, in the end, it's a thermostat. You don't play a movie on it. You don't stream music. It sits on the wall, lights up when you walk by (yup, be ready for that!) and gives you the temperature.
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I still pat myself on the back for the install.

    I didn't think I had it in me.

    Glad you are enjoying your Nest.

    Support has been really great. They respond to emails very fast. Have had many
    back-and-forths with them over the past week.

    Found out I can disable Auto-Away and just did so. It was initiating itself way too often
    when there was actually someone in the house. However, to be fair, it's not a high traffic
    area so it probably just put itself in that mode thinking nobody was walking past the thermostat.
     
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  12. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Thanks for the additional info Ron :) I wish you could keep your demo unit through the rest of the year. I'd really like to hear your long-term experience.

    Likewise, Jason for your experience.
     
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  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I can save a few hundred dollars on a Nest if I spend ten grand on a whole-house smart system. Gotcha.

    ...backs up slowly...

    :D
     
  14. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    I have three separate HVAC. Nest doesn't cover more than itself. Mine, if I adjust 1, the other two ask. Nest...doesn't even have that in the pipeline. My home is total network.Front door lock.Garage door opener. HVAC.UPS.
     
  15. Mark Booth

    Mark Booth Well-Known Member

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    Excellent review, Ron!!

    I've had a Nest since the very first version. Before I retired the Nest's learning feature was pretty handy. But since I've retired I had to turn the learning/scheduling features off. They simply aren't compatible with a completely random schedule. There's practically no day or time when we are consistently gone. For someone with a completely random schedule (including what time you go to bed or get up in the morning), the Nest's learning/scheduling feature is more of a negative than a positive.

    So, now we just use the nest as a "semi-smart" thermostat. The Auto-Away feature is terrific. As is the ability to pull the Nest app up on my iPhone and adjust the thermostat remotely.

    That said, I wouldn't buy a Nest again for one very basic reason... It has 3 degree comfort range. Let me explain...

    If I set my Nest to 74 degrees, the A/C doesn't come on until the temp hits about 75 degrees. But then the Nest runs the A/C until the temp is all the way down to 73 degrees. For my wife and I, that's too cold. We want the Nest to kick on the A/C at 75 degrees and shut off the A/C at 74 degrees (if that's the temp the Nest is set at). That's what our old (dumb) thermostat did and it did a better job of keeping the house at a consistent temperature range.

    Because 73 degrees is too cold, we tried setting the Nest to 75 degrees. Then it kicks on the A/C at 76 degrees and shuts off at 74 degrees. Only, then the house gets too warm (for us) before the Nest kicks the A/C on.

    It's beyond me why the Nest can't be set to shut off the A/C when the target temp is reached. Every other thermostat I've ever used worked that way.

    And, no, we do NOT have the Airwave feature turned on. (Airwave runs the fan only while the A/C coils are still cold to further cool the house using less energy.) The Airwave feature made things worse. Instead of cooling to 73 degrees before it shut off, Airwave would take the temp down to 72 or so. Sure, it was less expensive cooling, but if we are too cold at 73 degrees then 72 degrees doesn't help.

    I've contacted Nest about this issue and got the corporate line about not wanting to "overwork" my A/C equipment (turning it on and off to frequently). Yet, as I said, every other thermostat I've ever used worked exactly like that.

    If your family has a very regular schedule, the Nest's learning/scheduling feature probably makes it a good investment. Just be aware that it's not for everyone.

    Mark
     
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  16. DavidJ

    DavidJ Premium
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    I'm sure it's not for everyone, but I've been very happy with ours. Auto away works well in our configuration. It's learned a schedule that works well and if I make minor adjustments, it doesn't throw everything out of whack. I don't know if we just have one of the good ones, but it works well for us even with a fairly random schedule.
     
  17. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    It's mine. I don't have to return it. I will report back in the Winter.

    By the way, just got an email from NEST. I am not endorsing the offer
    but perhaps some of you might want to look at it...

    Click here for more info

    nestad.jpeg
     
  18. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Thanks. My wife works from home and is home most days, all day. We don't have a "nobody's home so reduce usage" period. And I've seen other reviews of similar import: Nest can self-generate strange behaviors if owners don't have a constant weekly schedule.

    The +/-3 degree band sounds...stupid. I don't know if that's a problem for me, but it's not a selling feature.

    My wife wants a new thermostat. And I like gadgets. So I keep flirting with the Nest. Unfortunately, the reviews keep indicating it may not be for me. I need to do some more reading. I'd love to try one out. But I need two, and $400 for a trial is too much. I may have to find some less space-age Honeywell thermostat to buy.
     
  19. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    If you had time & inclination, you should start a thread to discuss and review your system. It would be of interest to more than just me, I expect.
     
  20. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    If I can find the model numbers, I will. Each t-stat looks like a tablet on the wall. It works like Honeywell's IQ Prestige 2.0...but with three separate controls. The IQ P2.0 is not wifi. It comes with a walk around the house module though.

    The main reason I went with what I did was for the auto heat/cold. It was "new" when the addition went on. Adding an a-bus or Ethernet control was more cost prohibitive than wifi.

    There are numerous t-stats capable of controlling 2-3 systems at a time...if you can run Ethernet/a-bus.

    The app I have is ADT. With it I can set up and text a temporary code for the front door and garage door. When I did the SVS Ultra review...I wasn't home when they were dropped off...or picked up. I had the driver send me a text...I went on the app, created a 2-use code for the driver...he let himself into the garage.
     

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