Even though I did the work and took the pictures back in August, I never got around to posting the pictures from my basement backsplash. My wife and I picked out a transparent glass tile which proved to be a bit of an ordeal. Here’s what it looks like.
While I’m quite happy with the finished product, it was a bit of an ordeal to install — though I suppose that was self-inflicted. The individual tiles (which are about 1″x1/2″) came in 12×12 sheets. That’s fine, except the backing was yellow, which caused two problems: first, it changed the color of the tile (and some of the tiles are colorless); second, if you’ve ever installed tiles on sheets like this you know that the tile at the end of the sheet are only half stuck onto the sheet, the other half has no backing — which meant that if I had kept the tiles on the sheets there would be visible striping where the sheets interlock. So I ended up soaking the tile in warm water to remove the backing and setting them individually — which I think ended up being about 4,000 tiles. Good times
After reading my one-month round-up, I think I was bit negative. I didn’t call out the nice, unique features of the nest which I do actually appreciate. By way of full disclosure: I set up a schedule on my Nest on day 1, so I think that means I will have little/no benefit from its auto-learning capability.
But here is my more balanced summary:
- Easy to install and setup.
- Physically beautiful device
- Very easy to make manual adjustments on the thermostat: just walk up an turn it.
- Manual adjustments result in message estimating when the temperature will be reached
- Schedule when you want a temp reached, not when to start heating/cooling
- Slick iOS and Android apps
- Easy to program a manual schedule
- Customer support not what it was cracked up to be (at least in my experience)
- Initial setup interupted by firmware update
- Proximity and auto-away sensing seems flakey at best
- Auto-away, even if it works okay, is perhaps ill-conceived and is probably a hard-sell to most families like mine (coming home to a freezing house is out of the question)
- Mobile apps missing some features that I would think are “basic” for this kind of device (all related to Away)
- Energy report is probably more “gimicky” than anything else
- From what I could tell, the Android app was REALLY sluggish on a brand new Galaxy S3 compared to the iOS apps
- Energy usage report data is bogus: this will may be caused by bad firmware (that seems really far-fetched to me but who knows), but either way it’s doesn’t reflect well in my opinion.
- Unclear whether I’m missing anything by having set up a schedule, other than the ease of not having to set up a schedule
So, should you run out and buy one? I guess that depends on what you want. It was a fair amount of money and I’m not convinced that I will realize the energy savings they claim the average user might expect, meaning it probably won’t pay for itself any time soon. I am a tree hugger at heart, though, and I do like being able to save even a little bit of energy by activating “Away” when we are out of the house for a day or two, something I never felt able to do because I couldn’t do it remotely. And the nerd in me likes the idea of seeing the energy reports (I admit to checking it daily even though in my case the data is bogus) despite knowing that there is very little (if anything) that is actionable. The user experience is pretty good, but the usability freak in me thinks they probably would have benefited from more studying. And my customer support experience has been exceptionally bad so far.
So at the end of the day: for me, if you’re an environmentally conscious tech nerd like me, I think it’s a fun purchase as long as the usability nags won’t keep you up at night. I don’t think it has lived up to the surrounding hype, though, and for me that is probably the the biggest problem. I’m usually NOT an early adopter for this exact reason, but I think the Nest needs a bit more time to ripen. So while I don’t regret buying one, I wouldn’t recommend it at its current price point.
I just posted a summary of my experience after having lived with the Nest Thermostat for a month. In short, it’s aesthetically pleasing and it does have some nice features, but in my case at least there are still some glitches that need worked out.
But what about features you might expect but are completely lacking? Here are a few things on my Nest wishlist, all pertaining to its handling of (manual) Away:
- Scheduling “Away”: I’d like to be able to tell Nest that I expect to be gone , rather than the fact that I am currently “away”. For example, my family and I were out of town for a couple of days for Christmas. I would have liked to have been able to tell Nest that I was going to be gone — say, the night before when I was sitting on my couch doing nothing — instead of having to remember to tell it I was “away” as I walked out the door (which I did remember).
- Scheduling “Return”: More importantly, I’d like to tell Nest when I expect to be home — and at what temperature I want my house to be when I get home. One of the nice features about Nest is that when you make a manual adjustment on the physical device, it gives you feedback indicating when it expects the house to reach that temperature, and if scheduling your Nest, you can tell it to reach a temp by a certain time, rather than to start heating/cooling at a specific time — both pretty cool. Wouldn’t it be nice to tell Nest “I’m away now, but I expect to be home at this day/time and I would like my house to be at its regularly scheduled temperature”? As it stands, you have to remember to tell Nest that you are home ahead of being home if you care about the temperature when you get there. (And with a winter-time “Away” setting of 50 degrees, you might care). This is actually pretty important: because as things are now, you not only have to remember to tell Nest you’re home ahead of time, you have to time it right so as to not waste a bunch of energy or to come home to an uncomfortable house.
- Overriding Away: I’d like Nest to tell me (estimate) when it expects to have my house “back to normal” if/when I manually disable “Away”. True story: I was at my in-laws for Christmas. We decided to head home (a 2.5-hour drive) Christmas night because of a bad storm expected the next morning. Thankfully my wife reminded me to tell the Nest we were home before we left, which I did and happily reported, but I had no answer to her query: “What’s the temperature going to be when we get home?” You see, I had let the Nest keep the house at 50 degrees while we were away — a fact I shared with my extended family-in-law. The whole drive home my loving wife suggested the Nest might be the worst she ever bestowed on anyone, and threatened me with unpleasant things should the house be unacceptable to her when we got home. (Thankfully I have a new furnace and it was able to heat my house almost 30 degrees in three hours). Point being, I would have preferred to have some idea from Nest what expectations I should have — it should know!
These are all perhaps a bit nitpicky, but I bought the Nest because I heard it was the “Apple” of thermostats, and these feel like basic usability things to me that I frankly expected they would have anticipated and worked out by now (this is a second generation device, after all).
Well, it’s been just over a month since we installed our Nest Thermostat. I do like the thermostat (my wife’s opinion is vastly different, though) but I can’t say that it’s been an entirely wonderful experience. Here is a summary:
- Physical installation was a breeze, even though I had never installed a thermostat before.
- I opted to program a basic schedule on the Nest basically matching what I had before. I set up the program on my iPad, which was pretty easy to do — certainly the easiest thermostat I’ve ever programmed.
- I then tried to finesse our schedule to reduce the heat in our house (by two degrees) when my wife is usually away, and to have the house back to normal temperature by lunch time. While it was easy to schedule, my wife objected (she was home more often than not that week) so we agreed to keep the house programmed to the “normal” temperature and let the Nest’s “auto-away” feature do it’s magic.
- The Nest, by default, has an auto-away temperature (during heating) of 50 degrees (F). I usually keep my house at 72 during the day and 68 at night. I bumped the minimum auto-away temp to 60 degrees, but after my wife came home to a “freezing” house I bumped the minimum auto-away to 68. After Nest auto-awayed us while we were in the house (but on different floors) several times, I gave up on auto-away (disabled it).
- The energy reports are great in theory, and I do like seeing how much/little energy I used on a particular day, but you should realize that the information is largely meaningless because there is no basis to compare it with anything — i.e., I have no idea whether or not the Nest is saving energy (money) because I have no idea of what my energy usage looked like before it was installed, and unless you have fairly stable environmental conditions it’s hard to know how you did day-to-day. So while cool and maybe interesting, it’s kind of gimicky in my opinion.
- On top of that, the energy usage report in my case is flakey — the callouts and summaries are often flat-out wrong. I have some screenshots and commentary, below. My favorite example is that Nest is treating our schedule as an “adjustment” and saying that it caused above average energy usage, even though we have the same schedule every day.
- I sent an email to Nest’s customer service on Dec. 5 explaining these issues (via their online form). I got a canned response saying that they would contact me within 72 hours. On Dec. 16th I still had not received a response, so I sent another message using their online form with the same canned response. I did finally hear from Nest on Dec. 23rd. While they did appologize for not responding sooner, they told me the firmware on my Nest must be corrupted and to update it — with no instructions other than a link to a tarball and that I would need a USB cable (gee, that’s descriptive, thanks). I haven’t yet had a chance to even research how I might do this, but I plan to do it in a few days.
Here are the screenshots:
I picked up a second-generation Nest learning thermostat today (my wife bought it for me for the holidays — we’re worse than our kids when it comes to gifting this time of year).
- The packaging is really nice if you care about that kind of thing. I can appreciate aesthetics but don’t really care when it comes to this kind of purchase.
- The installation instructions were very clear. I’ve never installed a thermostat before but I was undaunted enough to start the installation at 10pm despite a house full of sleeping wife and kids.
- Installation took about seven minutes. This included me missing the note in the instructions saying that I didn’t need to worry about the jumper wire and calling Nest. (I was on hold for a minute when I saw what I had missed in the instructions so I hung up).
- My only disappointment was that Nest decided to download and install an update before letting me finish setting it up, which meant I had to wait. It took about 15 minutes (I think) to get back to a usable state so I could finish.
- I find it interesting that Nest thinks my house was at 77 degrees. It was definitely on the warm side but I don’t think we ever set our old thermostat above 72. It read the humidity in my house at 33% which is close to where I have it set.
- The feel of the Nest is quite pleasant. More resistance to turn than I expected. It’s also smaller than I thought it would be.
- I’m going to reserve judgment on the iOS apps for now. More on that later.
Well, after several trips to Lowes, Home Depot, and a specialty plumbing store I was able to finally fix the Pegasus faucet that I broke trying to install it. It was, relatively speaking, quite an ordeal. Here’s what happened.
I installed the shut-off valves and water filter before the counter was installed. After the counter was installed, I mounted the faucet on the counter, but the water filter terminated with a 3/8″ male fitting, not a standard 1/2″ female fitting. The instructions said I should get a 3/8″ to 1/2″ adapter. I picked one up from Home Depot, not realizing two things: (a) if I rejiggered the water filter tubing, I could use a standard 3/8″ to 1/2″ braided line, which I had on hand, and (b) the male end on the faucet needs a washer. I screwed the adapter on and in trying to stop the leak, over-tightened it so that when I tried to take it off, I broke the copper tubing that connects to the faucet. (Because the adapter didn’t have a washer, it was never going to stop leaking).
At this point, I still had about 5″ of good tubing left, and I thought a SharkBite 1/4″ to 1/2″ adapter that would work (available at Home Depot). Upon further inspection, though, the tubing I had was a bit smaller than 1/4″ pipe, so that didn’t work. I started looking at 5/16″ fittings, but the tubing on the faucet was a fraction smaller than standard 5/16″ tubing, so none of those would work, either. (Unfortunately, it took me two trips to Home Depot and one trip to a specialty plumbing store to figure this out).
Next, I tried to sweat the tubing off the 1/2″ fitting that I had on hand (the one that I broke off) — thinking that I could solder it back on. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much tubing left on the fitting, and I wasn’t able to get it off — and in my attempt to do so, I “squished” the fitting, making it unusable.
So I called Pegasus. I explained what happened, and they kindly said they would send me a new fitting “no problem”. Unfortunately, they sent me a valve, not a brass fitting. Not sure what the confusion was there, but I was back at square one.
At this point, I figured I was either going to be able to get a standard fitting to work, or I was going to have to buy a new faucet, and I wasn’t 100% sure but I thought the remaining tubing may have had a crack in it at the base. So I broke the remaining tubing off and used plyers to unscrew the fitting where it attaches to the faucet. It looked like 1/4″ thread, so I took the fitting to Home Depot and bought 2″ and 4″ brass nipples with 1/4″ threading on both ends, and a 1/4″ to 1/2″ adapter. After I verified that the nipple fit, I was able to easily unscrew the existing tubing and fitting from the faucet (I had bent it a bit and figured I’d rather not have to make yet another trip to the hardware store for more of the same parts). Thankfully, that worked.
Unfortunately, though, the 2″ nipple is a bit too short — I had to use nipples with different lenths so that I would have room to attach the fittings (and to get the faucet through the hole in the counter with all the fittings on — which I technically didn’t have to do, but wanted to so that I could have an easier time tightening). But because the 2″ nipple is so short, the fitting sits above the bottom of the counter and impedes the bracket that is used to secure the faucet to the underside of the counter. For the time being I’m just using the nut that came with the faucet (no bracket) but I’m going to have to use a washer of some kind to give the nut more surface are to make contact. Or, I may look for a 6″ nipple (which Home Depot didn’t happen to have, but I think I can get from Amazon) — but then, the faucet is connected and not leaking, so I’m inclined not to mess with it.
The counters were installed in the wet bar and laundry room today, and I stopped at Lowes after work to pick up a few things I would need to to finish the plumbing. The laundry room faucet went in with no problem, but I ran into some issues on the wet bar.
This is the laundry room. You may notice that the washer and dryer are further off the wall (deeper) than the base cabinetry. We had considered installing the cabinets off the wall, but that would have created a lot of extra work for the plumbing, so we decided to keep them flush to the back wall and put a curve in the counter top instead. I think it worked out nicely.
Both counters are “absolute black” granite, which is the same material we used in our master bath and have been very happy with.
The faucet in the laundry room installed with no issues — prior to the counters being installed, I installed shut-off valves on the rough-in plumbing, so all I had to do was secure the faucet to the counter and connect the water supply using braided connectors. The drain on the laundry sink required a little finessing — b/c the cabinetry is installed on a platform to raise them to the same height as the washer/dryer, the drain was about a half-inch off the floor of the cabinet. I used an S-trap (which terminates vertically instead of horizontally as a P-trap does) and used a 90-degree fitting on the PVC.
The wet bar faucet was not quite so smooth. I had installed the shut-off valves and a 3M water filter prior to the counters going in. Unfortunately, the water filter terminated with a male, 3/8-inch connector instead of the standard female, 1/2-inch connector which the faucet could marry to. At Lowes I was looking for a female-to-female reducer, but I couldn’t find such a thing so I ended up buying a 3/8-inch compression flex fitting with a 1/2-inch female connector. What I didn’t realize is that the faucet NEEDS a rubber washer in the female connection, so I over-tightened the connection (trying to fix the leak) and broke the faucet after giving up and trying to disconnect the fitting. Oops. The good news is that I think I was able to trim the copper on the faucet with pipe cutters, and SharkeBite makes a 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch reducer that should work (I just have to hope Lowes or Home Depot carries it). So, what I thought was going to be thirty minute job turned into three hours of cursing.