It’s an age-old problem: One part of the house is warm and comfortable while other areas feel like an icebox. In homes with multiple levels, that one thermostat on the main floor is only able to monitor the temperature of that area. The temperature of the upper level, consequently, has no relevance on how the main floor thermostat reacts. The top portion of your house stays too hot or too cold. The same thing happens in guest bedrooms, lower-level rec rooms and new additions to a house.
Temperature sensors designed to be installed in temperature trouble spots are designed to eliminate this problem. They communicate current temperature readings to the main thermostat so that the entire house is heated and cooled more evenly. They also allow you to set the temperature of individual rooms differently to save energy—guest bedrooms, for example, can stay at 65 degrees when they aren’t being used.
In April Nest will offer its own thermostat sensors designed to work with both of the company’s current thermostat models.
How the Sensors Work
The tiny wireless sensors can adhere to walls or sit on shelves in any number of rooms. Any sensor can dictate the thermostat setting based on schedules created by the user within the Nest app. For example, if everyone leaves the house at 8 a.m. except for the work-at-home mom, then the Nest Thermostat could be set to automatically warm or cool the house based on the temperature in the home office.
In this example, even if the rest of the house is hot while the office runs cold, the Nest Thermostat will only respond to the office sensor, warming up the home to ensure Mom is comfortable as she works through the day.
“Typically, the thermostat is installed in a hallway that might get no exposure to the sun or might be subject to cool drafts,” says Gene LaNois, GM of Nest’s Professional channel.
“The temperature in the whole house should not be dictated by the needs of that particular location. The thermostat can be set up to make the occupants comfortable, wherever they may be.”
The Technology Behind the Sensor
The Nest Temperature Sensor communicates with the 3rd-generation Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Thermostat E via Bluetooth Low Energy.
“All BLE messages are secure and encrypted,” LaNois says. “Only Nest devices can interact with the Nest Temperature Sensor or receive its signal.”
Through the Nest app, users can view temperatures in all rooms and schedule which sensor (including the one embedded in the thermostat) should drive the HVAC system during the morning, midday, evening and late night.
In additionn to their ability to optimize HVAC operations, the Nest sensors can reveal valuable information about temperature patterns in each room.
For example, a dip in temperature in the teenager’s room could suggest a furtive outing in the middle of the night. Rising temperatures in a mechanical closet could portend equipment failure. And temperature shifts in the attic could indicate damage from that last wind storm or poor performance by electronic or mechanical systems.
Cosmetic Appeal of the Sensors
The discreet sensors can improve aesthetics by replacing bulky thermostats, no matter how beautiful those devices might be. Even if the thermostat is hidden from view – with its on-board sensors shielded from household activity – the Nest system can still learn user preferences and household activities via motion sensors embedded in other Nest devices and partner products.
“Interior designers already specify Nest Thermostats for their aesthetic appeal,” LaNois says, “but many designers and homeowners prefer no wall clutter at all. In these cases, our flat sensors would be the only technology they see … or not!”