Google Nest Acquisition- Where the Home Energy Market is Going

The financial news has talked about the recent 3.2 billion acquisition of  Nest, so what does that mean to the home energy market?

I believe the smart money is going into energy analytics- not just Google, but any business who has a connection to your house; cable, security, utility....Solar City for example, last year pulled out of the energy retrofit/audit market to focus on their core PV business and with a 24x7 PV monitor, develop the interfaces to monitor whole house energy usage. Don't tell me how much I will save adding insulation- when I can see and control my heating/AC costs I will pay for that and thus a great recurring revenue business model...

I also believe we cannot simply talk about energy savings, comfort, etc.. to today's homeowner- Real data, show me!!! Google, for better or worse, is becoming more and more involved in our lives..

Your comments, please....

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Nest stat is just ezsy to use.   small good and does a lot.  just does not work with 2 stage things or heat pump 2nd stage. or much more than very base things

Agreed! also, to directly address Jose's theme, google will use the installed base of nest owner thermostats to overtly spy on this populations, as there is a motion sensor in the nest which sets an "Occupancy Bit." google is no different than the nsa; if they say they are not doing it, that is spyese for 'of course we are doing it.' google started spying on the nest population the 1st day. yes, analytics will be huge!

The Nest has some major technical flaws, especially for heat pump systems.

1: No ability to adjust temperature swing/cycle times. A feature virtually every other quality thermostat has.

2: No ability to use emergency heat and aux heat without reconfiguring the thermostat each time.

3: On multi stage equipment and heat pumps the system "stages up" but shuts completely down when it reaches setpoint instead of "staging down".

4: Power stealing technology that creates issues with some systems.

5: Reversing valve on heat pump systems cycles with each compressor call instead of changing with mode.

That was a short list of the biggest flaws, there are others also.

Good luck with a NEST! Nest site complaints: Nest to be off by 3 to 3.2 degrees to the high side.  Nest copied Honeywell's temp control algorithm, which copies old mechanical thermostats. I told you this two years ago. At this point in time you only want to use a lux or luxpro with fresh batteries in it! Or another brand that has a setting for true differential, sometimes known as swing. The only decent & correct writing on the subject, from EMERSON white rodgers: Balancing comfort and technology with residential thermostats temperature control: cooling differential should be between 0.8°F and 2°F; the heating differential should be between 0.5°F and 1°F. A heating differential below 0.5°F is too narrow and causes excessive cycles. 

Any of you who have installed a thermostat which does not control directly on temperature instead of honeywell heat anticipator style have delivered discomfort to your customer! Nest is a fad! (btw, both of my children have 2 nests!)

NEST, for all it's faults, certainly has real appeal, and what it tells us about the controls building inhabitants REALLY want is invaluable.

Simplicity and feedback.

For residential, it's a little alarming to see the simple, yet sophisticated control and feedback systems we need for efficent building operation "going online" as subscription based schemes.  Is it likely to be cost effective?  A $10 monthly fee is $120 a year, maybe 5% of a homeowners heating / cooling costs.  To be bothered with it at all, it'd have to save 10%, and if the instrumentation costs $300, it might need to cut 15% to justify its existence.

Slam dunk if the home owner has been so out to lunch they NEVER setback the heating / cooling, debatable if they mostly do, or have a simple setback vs a 4 setbacks a day, plus different settings for weekends and birthdays.

Would additional savings from electrical / HW other load control help justify that monthly fee, yes, but, the instrumentation cost goes up too.

My control device?  A sign on a string under the thermostat - One side says ON, the other OFF, last one to bed turns it down, flips it to off, etc..  now the thermostat is on the way to the stairs to the bedrooms.  Would it work as well if the thermostat was tucked off in a corner somewhere no.  So, maybe the biggest control issue for residences is putting them where building inhabitants will use them.  Cost to implement, a few bucks of wire, installer for a half day, and a sign.  Payback - Endless.

In my nirvana, the government, recognizing that energy savings secure the nation against foreign threats, reduced pollution  lowers health care costs of it's citizens, and all savings in energy, military spending and healthcare would directly add to the GDP, would sponsor a basic on line system for feedback and a minimal control system to tie heating and cooling systems into it.  Also no reason it couldn't be a collective open sourced industry led effort, no doubt subsidized by the gov't to some extent, but with profit centers from enhanced reporting, devices, certified providers, data collection and sales, etc..

Lots of complaints from steam and hydronic system owners as well.  Looks like a fail with high mass systems in general.

No matter how much computing power and gee-whiz you layer on top of one, a conventional thermostat can only tell the HVAC system two things: Either  I'm too hot or I'm too cold.  This can be viewed as a one-bit communications channel having a bandwidth of less than 0.1 Hz.  The Nest is no different in this respect because the fundamental system limitation has not been addressed.

The same two wires which communicate this information can easily carry far richer data -- even without moving to a serial protocol a la OpenTherm.  A thermistor and a couple of signal pulses (or a third wire) can easily manage a proportional heat source and deliver superior comfort (which was available a century ago in many systems, BTW.)

The broader question is energy analytics- the Nest being one of a number of products and services that address home energy comfort and data. The news mentioned that Nest sales are over 250,000 units per month- whether it works or not isn't the issue-- why do homeowners shell out $$ for a Nest rather than a simple programmable unit, and are those same people taking the next steps in energy upgrades such as energy audits, insulation, etc.?? It's about understanding market behavior and what the homeowner is looking for- cool technology a la Apple,, reducing my energy costs with real data or both??? And those of us in the energy retrofit market, are we addressing this market????

Obviously the youthful consumer market will always opt for Cool Technology, not having enough life experience to discriminate between function and form! There's an inbuilt analogy here: the forum discussions here are lively and vibrant, while the blogs posted here are dull and unimaginative! Aggregated analytics will augment what google already does well. Call or email your congressman today to let them know where you stand on this burning issue.

When and if we have far more variable renewable power available and therefore grid operators need much more demand/response opportunity via TOU power pricing and thermal and electrical storage via car batteries,hot water, ice,etc., then I will need an all encompassing device to control when various appliances turn on and off as my off peak DHW storage does now via utility communication thru their power distribution lines.

TOU pricing is here, our utility is most interested in reducing AC demand in summer.


Sending price signals to the end user is a good thing in my book.  There's the potential here to benefit both consumers and utilities if it's done right.

Smart Grid & meter Plan :my regional utility analytics has cost me $2500 out of pocket in three months,since it's implementation, for real! last post for the ivory tower people, most of whom don't lead real lives in real homes! buon fortuna


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