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Network Thermostat: possibly interesting alternative to other smart thermostats (except looks?)

dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember

Just found this: networkthermostat.com/thermostat/up32h-ip

It seems to have pretty much everything that people are missing in other smart and connected thermostats:
ethernet or wifi, and more
local control
multiple sensors and control options, etc

Not sure about the price but they are probably a bit pricey (more than other smart thermostats?)

Perhaps the only thing missing is a sexy appearance... :)

Comments

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    Actually, these thermostats are based on tstats originally from Enerstat in Canada. When they hit the market, their design was incredibly popular and well received from the public, particularly the 'thin-ness' of the tstat.

    Enerstat decided to sell out it's tstat products to Robert Shaw. RS names them DSL tstats, and has them in multiple flavors.

    One of the most popular, early to market communicating tstats was the StatNet. It was based on the DSL tstat with an accessory board to handle an RS485 communication connection to the stat. StatNet went on to become the defacto standard for Crestron and other high end building automating product lines.

    Aprilaire then bought out StatNet, and created the 8870 Communicating tstat to virtually replicate the StatNet. It's now the 8880 tstat - requires a 485 network interface.

    It looks like Network Thermostat has gone farther, replacing 485 with Ethernet. It also looks to be a true network appliance, with an assigned IP address. I.e., you interface directly to it via a web browser (the tstat has a built in web server), versus with Ecobee's (and Nest, and Honewell) you have to interface with Ecobee's company servers which in turn interface with the tstat. For a commercial environment, where there's multiple to many tstats, this is a preferred environment. It also puts the owner in charge of firmware updates - no surprises.

    I'm going to study up on Network Thermostat to get more familiar with it's offerings.

    Yes, it looks to be about double the cost of Ecobee's products. On the order of $500 each if you are only buying one and you're buying it via a retail channel.

    Best regards,

    Bill

    pvr4mevaluequest
  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember

    Bill, thanks for that very interesting bit of info.

    For the record, I paid more than that for a (discontinued within minutes of completing the transaction) ecobee Smart thermostat and Remote Sensor Module, in Canada.

    One of my favorite functions of the ecobee is the Smart Recovery function handling both a heat pump and electric furnace. It's not perfect (in my opinion) but it does a fairly good job of keeping me comfortable and keeping more money in my pockets. I wonder how well this line of thermostats does in that respect. Obviously having finer-grained controllability and local access probably means you can have it do exactly what you want if you're willing (and able) to control it on a tight loop (so to speak).

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    I've made progress learning about Network Thermostat's line of offerings.

    Indeed, starting point for them is the SlimLine tstat that they private manufacture, starting in mid-90s, for numerous companies, including Enerstat (who later sold their tstat line to White Rogers), and Johnson Controls.

    In the late 90s, many tstat companies, like Enerzone, Aprilaire, and others, used Network Thermostat's SlimLine offering, put an RS485 network bus on them, and thus started the communicating tstat revolution. Crestron and AMX are good example of high end building automation that used these products.

    In the past few years Network Thermostat decided to directly offer networked tstats, starting with Ethernet and WiFi. Unlike Ecobee, Nest and Honeywell, NT's product offering are network appliances, where there's direct communication capability to the tstat. I.e., each NT tstat has an embedded web server.

    I'm looking at doing a 4 tstat trial run with NT tstats.

    Best regards,

    Bill Neukranz

  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember

    Please do keep us posted. I am definitely interested in what they have to offer (beyond their website's description) especially in the handling of heat pumps and "smart recovery" features and their ability to control more than just heating and cooling.

    Thanks,
    Daniel

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember
    edited February 2015

    NetworkThermostats' 'Smart Schedule Recovery' works for both heat pumps and electric conventional furnaces.

    I'm now authorized to sell to the retail populace. Tell me which model you want and I can give to you a price now.

    There's really just 4 key models:
    1. WiFi w/o RH control
    2. WiFi w/ RH control
    3. Ethernet w/o RH control
    4. Ether net w/ RH control

    The remainder are more unusual versions.

    Best regards,

    Bill

    Bill Neukranz

    American Energy Efficiencies Inc.

  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember

    Nice :) My choice would be #4 myself. Once I get tired of playing with my ecobee Smart, I'll probably go with that one. I'll keep your coordinates for the future.

    Cheers,
    Daniel

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    The Smart SI is a solid tstat. We install the commercial version. It's the same firmware but with just a different network interface. We like them. And would continue with them were it not for two show-stopper subjects for us: Ecobee's unwillingness or inability to let us know in advance when a firmware update is coming, and, lack of Ethernet hard wire cable option.

    I predict you'll stay with what you have for a while!

    Best regards,

    Bill

  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember

    Well, if it fails (or ecobee web portal does), I have my old one as a stopgap measure but then I'll be going with an NT for sure. I really like the two module setup of the EB-STAT-02 as I only need to run all those extra wires about 10" away from the furnace and only need 4 wires to go up to the stat (currently have an 18/8 wire going to it and it's easy enough to add an extra 18/8 if I need to) but I don't see many other stats going that route, on the contrary.

    I can't say I find the NT stats very "sexy" but in the end, it's a thermostat not a work of art!

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    Yes, the installation of the STAT-02 is very easy because only 4 wires are needed. Makes them virtually installable anywhere. We don't use them, though, because customers just aren't comfortable with the touch screen. It's over/under sensitivity (depending on location) is more than many of our customers like. Whereas the Smart SIs are elegantly simple. Particularly the home screen. Just walk by the screen and you get inside and outside temps, and inside and outside RHs. Nice and simple. And it's straight forward button presses to get weather. And weather is nicely displayed.

    The NTs are generally viewed as very elegant. The thinness of the tstat is very attractive to many. In the mid to late 90s, and early 2000s, we used these extensively, networked via RS485, and connected to a processor that did all of the tstat changing automatically as a function of occupancy sensors, window/door closures, time of day, fire alarm, etc.

    Best regards,

    Bill

    American Energy Efficiencies Inc.

  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember

    Yes, the touch screen isn't the best. It reminds me of my 6-year-old Garmin GPS... I'm used to it now. It works better when you tap rather than slide. I like the visual display of the STAT-02, it's a bit boxy but still nice enough to be seen when entering the house. The functionality is the best I've had up to now. Perhaps seeing an NT tstat on a webbrowser doesn't do it justice. What interests me more is brains over beauty (at least for thermostats!)

  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember
    edited March 2015

    @a0128958: since you are an authorized reseller, would you happen to have documentation in pdf form for the NT thermostats? I'd be interested in reading up on them beyond what's available on the manufacturer's website.

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    Just saw the posting above - I thus apologize for the delay in responding.

    The extensive documentation I have in PDF form is the same as what's available from the manufacturer's website.

    The information on the manufacturer's website is in fact very comprehensive. So is the PDF downloadable doc.

    I think the biggest problem is that there's too much material for the residential market - the material covers a lot of detail and areas that many residential customers are simply not familiar with (BACNet, LONworks, MODBUS, etc.)

    Hence I think I understand your request to simply provide the PDF docs for you.

    I think if you'll go out to the website, skip past all of the commercial communications protocol stuff, and limit yourself to just Wi-Fi tstats (two 'flavors,' w/o and w/ RH control0, you'll find what interests you quickly.

    Website is at http://www.networkthermostat.com .

    One feature these tstats don't have is variable indoor RH control as a function of outside conditions (temp and/or RH). This capability is commonly refered to as Ecobee's 'frost on the windows' setting.

    We're very pleased with these thermostats - we're starting with putting them into churches where there are many tstats, and where the church doesn't want the visitors to mess with them. Programming is done from any web browser world wide, and likewise so for seeing real time information. No s/w to install either - on a PC, tablet, or smartphone since each tstat in an 'internet appliance' with a unique IP address. The cloud capability that Ecobee has to make available for everyone (and keep operational) is simply not used with these commercial tstats.

    Hope this helps.

    Best regards,

    Bill

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    Yes, we not only install Network Thermostats, we also sell them - Wifi/Ethernet=$475, add $30 for RH control. Built-in communications & Web server - no cloud service or connect fees. Tablet / smart phone access free. Integrated email / text message alerting. Add $35 if it's a 4-wire cable to the tstat (where 24VAC needs to be generated with 'Phantom Wire Kit' (just like Ecobee's).

    These are commercial thermostats that are particularly designed to exist in environmnents where multiple tstats exist. They're internet appliance tstats such that each one is reachable via a web browser on anything (PC, tablet, smart phone), and, they're set up to be manageable in groups, etc. No unscheduled downloads also.

    Hope this helps.

    Best regards,

    Bill

    American Energy Efficiencies Inc.

  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember
    edited March 2015

    Thanks for answering Bill. No problem for the time delay, it's no rush.

    With the encouraging news we just got from ecobee about their commitment to continue supporting their older products, I don't feel the need to switch to something else as quickly. The day that my tstat fails, I will definitely consider the NT tstats for their versatility and local control ability.

    I would probably go with a wired ethernet unit with RH control. I don't use ecobee's frost control RH as it is for a humidifier and not a dehumidifier. I rolled my own in the form of a perl script accessing their API from my linux server so I would feel quite comfortable in continuing to do something similar but locally instead of over the public internet with all that it entails.

    Thanks for pointing me to the documentation, I will definitely go download and read it as I like to keep myself informed about such things. :)

    Regards,
    Daniel

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    The API has long been publicly aware. If I wanted to control indoor RH as a function of outside Wet Bulb temp (or just outside Dry Bulb temp, like Ecobee attemps to do, you would do something like this:

    Assume outside temp has dropped and thus inside RH needs to be lowered to continue frost free windows.

    In building controller:
    IF outside temp < XX degrees
    THEN (to) Ethernet Port: SNx HP-

    Where XX = outside temp boundary for changing inside RH
    x = Thermostat number
    HP = Heating Set Point
    - = decrement

    Best regards,

    Bill

  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember
    edited March 2015

    One thing I like very much about the ecobee stat is its logging of environmental and usage data in 5 minute increments (every 15 minutes). Is there such a possiblity with the NT stats? I suppose it can be polled regularly by an external server for its state and other parameters?

    I also read in the docs that the lower RH limit for a dehumidifier is 35%. I use my HRV as a dehumidifier for winter use and sometimes it's necessary to go below 35% (the ecobee is locked at 30%). My house is fairly new (2008) and very well insulated. It doesn't need a humidifier but it does need a dehumidifier in winter.

    Thanks,
    Daniel

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    No. The NT stats do not have any logging features.

    Yes, you figured out why. Since the NT stats are in fact 'internet appliances,' with unique IP addresses, you can poll them as much as you like for whatever information you want. There's no 'cloud' to go through and rely on being able to connect to, like with Ecobee (or all of the other residential focused tstat manufacturers.)

    It's not so much of a critique of Ecobee as it is representative of an environment where there are a lot of tstats at one location/structure.

    And there's a higher price than the residential focused tstats. We sell the NT tstats for $475 each, higher than Ecobee and Nest and Honewell. But now you have connectivity to each tstat, you have access to each via any computer, tablet or smartphone, and you don't need any 'app' to install - it's all done with web server pages that are generated by the tstat itself. And you have very elegant and sophisticated means to program more complexly than 4 different periods each day, along with having ability to manage multiple/all tstats at one time.

    The price point that Ecobee (or Nest, etc.) have to sell at to be successful make it tough to have the kind of features and reliability that many ask for here on this bulletin board.

    Keep in mind too that for commercial structures there's typically something separate from the tstats being used to measure/aggregate HVAC energy costs. Ecobee's inclusion of it as part of the tstat is clever and innovative, but, is not where it's typically done commercially.

    Interesting that the NT tstats can't control below 35%. My guess is because in reality the raw Honeywell RH chips aren't very accurate as RH gets in to the bottom one-third of the 0-100% range. My guess is NT tstats simply don't try to control something that's not accurate.

    Best regards,

    Bill

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    I now have my Ecobee commercial 'flavor' tstats removed. Replaced with Network Thermostat units.

    Now with a week of familiarity, I've got some update to the above.

    The NT stats do have logging. Just didn't know how it's done.

    Capabilities are similar.

    Reliability is solid. The NT tstats come in either WiFi or Ethernet 'flavor' (mine are Ethernet). The NT tstats have been manufactured for 22 years, and, to this day, all models are backward compatible.

    Occupancy sensing is hooked up.

    Weather information comes in nicely. Can choose from different weather sources.

    Six remote sensors per tstat possible. Plus outdoor sensor support. They are the wired 'flavor,' though.

    Each NT tstat has 3 colored LEDs on the top. They can be configured to represent time to change a filter, too much run time, on emergency heat, or a host of other alarm situations. They can also accommodate an external wired connection to be triggered on something external to the tstat.

    Since the NT tstats are Internet Appliances (each has a web server built in to enable 'talking' to it directly, without requiring indirect communication via the cloud), data logging is local, and thus, it doesn't miss. Sampling frequency can be all the way down to 10 seconds if that's what you want.

    Has similar grouping capabilities as Ecobee does.

    No 'demo mode.' Can't turn on a 'read only' mechanism.

    Definitely a very high reliability tstat. I'm a lot more comfortable putting these tstats in commercial environments, i.e. schools, churches, gas stations, and other small commercial structures that aren't big enough for a building automation management system.

    Best regards,

    Bill

  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember

    Interesting... VERY interesting... ;-)
    If it wasn't for the wads of cash I lay down on that 'other' thermostat less than a year ago, I'd be ordering an NT tstat real soon.

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    I couldn't hold out from switching as long as some of you are. Went ahead and proceeded to make the change.

    I started with Hunter for 5 zones in 1992. Then Enerstat in 1994. Then StatNet with RS485 communicating cards in 1997. Then Aprilaire 8870 communicating tstats in 2002.

    Then a cut to 4 zones and using White Rogers 'Big Blue' in 2007 when my geo HP went in (WaterFurnace wouldn't accept the Aprilaire tstats), and updated 'Big Blues' in '09.

    Then Ecobee WiFi in 2014. Now Network Thermostat.

    Some of the changes were paid for as I did field testing and design update services for some of these companies.

    The Ecobee tstats stayed the least amount of time. I had high hopes for them. But read the Ecobee portion of the forum here for a picture of the challengers are for purchasers, and thus why I left so quickly.

    I've started selling the NT tstats, and am already installing them into small commercial buildings. Ethernet connection is fault-free, and there's no surprise firmware updates.

    These guys have been selling their tstats for 22 years. They're thus not in panic mode to fix bugs.

       Best regards,  Bill
    
  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    Well I've been up a week now with these four Network Thermostats.

    Rock solid Internet connection via Ethernet.

    No missing data (although it's not dependent on the cloud for the data).

    Calibration of the tstats is holding perfectly (I have an external instrumentation system to tell me what the ambient temperature accurately is in each room).

    Weather appears to being accurately forecasted, although I don't yet know how much the forecast affects tstat operation.

    Also haven't conclusively determined that the blue display backlighting doesn't affect temp accuracy.

    Ability to do mass updates to multiple tstats is nice.

    So far so good, after one week.

    Best regards,

    Bill

  • MahoneyXMahoneyX TampaMember

    Found this WiFi controller on Amazon - not sure what to think of it yet but looks pretty neat. Seems to have similar features as do Ecobee, Sensi, etc.

  • dborndborn Montreal, CanadaMember

    @a0128958 said:
    Well I've been up a week now with these four Network Thermostats.

    Rock solid Internet connection via Ethernet.

    No missing data (although it's not dependent on the cloud for the data).

    Calibration of the tstats is holding perfectly (I have an external instrumentation system to tell me what the ambient temperature accurately is in each room).

    Weather appears to being accurately forecasted, although I don't yet know how much the forecast affects tstat operation.

    Also haven't conclusively determined that the blue display backlighting doesn't affect temp accuracy.

    Ability to do mass updates to multiple tstats is nice.

    So far so good, after one week.

    Best regards,

    Bill

    Hi Bill,

    Are you still happy with your Network Thermostats?
    I'm still using my ecobee and I am generally pleased with it but the lack of local control remains a source of frustration for me.

    Would it be possible for me to get a copy of the API documentation for the Network Thermostats? I haven't found this anywhere on the NT's website. I would really like to read up on this subject. Please let me know if it is possible to get this.

    Thanks,
    Daniel

  • a0128958a0128958 Dallas, TXMember

    Yes, still happy. In fact, Network Thermostat thermostats are the finest I've ever used. It's easy to see why they're the de facto standard for multi-thermostat installations.

    The move from using Ecobee is dramatic, ranging from quality of product to robustness of capabilities to rock solid customer support. Plus they're true internet appliances, allowing for communication and control on a local basis - cloud access/control not required and no fees to pay. And, no surprise s/w updates to deal with.

    Ethernet connectivity versus WiFi is nice.

    I am actually a dealer for Network Thermostats products. I'd be happy to supply you and others with whatever your needs are. See their website for products: http://www.networkthermostat.com .

    I am under an NDA with Network Thermostat and thus I'm unable to freely share their API. NT will supply the API but only via NDA with each receiving party.

    If you're family with the historic RS-485 communicating thermostatus with the Net Stat protocol then you're well understanding how these tstats work.

    Best regards,

    Bill

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