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Saturday, January 11, 2014

1441. Remote Controlled Thermostats

I have a remote facility for my business that I only need to go into occasionally. When I do go in, it’s either broiling hot (in the summer) or freezing cold (in the winter), because I just don’t want to run the A/C or heat continuously. There must be some way I can control the HVAC system remotely, so I can turn it on before I get there? And to be honest, I’d love something like this in my home as well. Any suggestions?
As long as you have a WiFi/Internet connection available at the facility, you have a number of options. Ken has personally used two different solutions: One for his business, and one for his home. For home use, you cannot beat the Nest thermostat (https://nest.com/thermostat/). This amazing device connects to the Internet, and allows you to control it remotely using an app on your phone or tablet (or via a Web site that you can visit from any computer). It also has a special trick up its sleeve: Not only can you program its behavior so that it goes on and off at particular times of the day on particulars days of the week, but you can set it to learn your family’s schedule, so you don’t need to program it. It includes sensors that can determine when you’re home, when you’re asleep, and so on, so that it can react to your motion and program itself for you. If your daily schedule is erratic, like Ken’s is, you can change it manually as well, either from home or from away. It’s an incredible device, but it doesn’t come cheap. (And it’s important to note that Nest was recently purchased by Google—it’s unclear what that means for the company, but it’s hard to believe that even Google could ruin this wildly popular device.) The Nest thermostat works with most home HVAC systems, but check out their site for specific details on determining if it will work with yours.
If you don’t want to spend the cash for the Nest thermostat, or if you’re working with a business location, you might be better served to find one of the less-expensive options. These thermostats aren’t as pretty as the Nest, and they don’t learn on their own, but they work just fine. You can easily control them remotely, as long as your installation site includes a Wi-Fi connection.

Ken uses a Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat (you can find all their devices here: http://yourhome.honeywell.com/home/Products/Thermostats/). Although Honeywell makes several Wi-Fi-enabled models, the least expensive one is the RTH6580WF model, which works just fine. Ken has been using this model for a few months, and it has saved a ton of trips into town just to turn on the heat before someone needs to use the facility—instead, he can turn on the heat from wherever he is, using the Honeywell app for his iPhone. This thermostat works with most HVAC systems, but you should check on the Honeywell site for more specifics before purchasing the unit.  This thermostat costs half as much as the Nest, and it works, for the most part, just as well. Give it a try, if you need to control your temperature remotely.

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