Nest Home status and some key problems

Posted on
Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:43 pm
dduff617 offline
Posts: 427
Joined: Jul 05, 2006

Nest Home status and some key problems

As I dig in and try to get more serious about optimizing my HVAC system, I'm running into some limitations (of Nest Home, Nest, Indigo, etc.) and looking for workarounds, hints, or suggestions.

Home/Away. The existence of Home and Away modes looks promising as a way to store different set points for when my house is occupied or not and then easily enact them by just switching modes between home and away. Nest Home implements device actions that can set status to "Home" or "Away". However..... problem #1: Nest Home (and Nest API, apparently) will only let me set Home or Away on a whole house basis. So for example, if I have Nest thermostat on the main level covering the central area of my house, another Nest thermostat on the downstairs rec-room area (only occupied occasionally), and another one covering my upstairs converted-attic office (also occupied only occasionally), then home/away will not really solve my problem. and problem #2: Nest seems to have deprecated "away" status (see also notes below regarding "Eco").

Tracking and recording. One benefit I hoped for of having connected thermostats (setting aside any "smart" features and even if you only adjust them "manually" by using the interface on the thermostat) is the ability to track settings and performance, keep track settings in use as well as tracking of run-time hours for filter maintenance, monitor for crazy erroneous settings, etc. With the current state of Nest Home plugin (as I understand it), I can see things like changes to set points and changing of HVAC modes (heat/cool/auto/off). However, due to Problem #2, I can't detect any changes that involve Eco mode, therefore can't detect if either a user manually puts the system in Eco mode or if Nest auto home-away detection does this. So this blows a big hole in Nest Home's ability to track Nest thermostats; the only way to rely on it is to a) change settings to completely disable auto home/away detection and b) train users to avoid using either Away or Eco settings from the Nest app or locally on the thermostats. Also, Problem #3: I've seen and reported cases in the past where Indigo and Nest Home were simply not staying in sync with my thermostats. At least one other Nest Home user has confirmed he has seen similar issues..

API Changes and Eco Mode. I believe Nest Home was written prior to Eco Mode becoming part of the Nest API. No criticism of the original developer is intended, but at this point, I consider key parts of Nest Home to be "broken" until proper support for Eco is patched in. It will clearly require code and doc changes to bring the plugin back into sync with the new Nest API. I'd be happy to pitch in with developing, testing, and/or documenting if I can be of any use.

Plugin resetting, deletion of devices from Indigo. Problem #4: Twice, I've had the Nest Home plugin reset itself for some reason, and existing Indigo devices belonging to the plugin were somehow deleted along with multiple schedules and triggers that I had set up that referenced these devices. I'm not completely clear on exactly how this happened or what the specific trigger was. It could have been re-installing a new version of the Plugin. It could have been related to a version update of Indigo. Unfortunately, some time had elapsed before I realized that a bunch of stuff I had setup had simply disappeared. This issue was reported and independently reported by another user. The continuing existence of this problem and the threat of putting time and energy into configuring stuff to have it randomly disappear is discouraging me from putting much effort into my system based on the current version of the plugin.

Regarding Problem #1... I see that Nest supports the idea of multiple "structures", so I could declare different zones of my house to be different structures, but that doesn't feel right. I also see that Nest now allows for a "sticky" setting of ECO mode on a per-thermostat basis (unlike "Away" mode, which I believe only applied to the entire house). So perhaps a workaround is that (assuming Problem #2 gets resolved), I could resume using home/away and even use auto home-away detection mode in Nest, but leave my rec-room and attic-office zones set to sticky-Eco mode unless they are occupied. From Indigo, when I detect that those zones are in use, I just switch the thermostats covering those zones from sticky-eco mode back to "home" and vice versa.

Regarding Problem #2... I see the issue discussed in the forums for quite a long time now. I was hoping to see a patch, but I gather that the original plugin developer has been busy or away for a while, so I'm wondering if anyone else is contemplating taking on fixing this? Supporting Eco seems to be a fairly extensive change, as it will affect several actions and triggers. I think (but am not completely sure) that "away" mode may need to be removed also.

Regarding Problem #3... I don't have familiarity with the inner workings of the plugin. I would hope that this problem could be analyzed and addressed with better logging and diagnostic messages if/when there are problems communicating. Some plugin states that seem relate to the health of cloud communication are currently confusing at best and possibly buggy, as reported here. Fixing those might enable further diagnosis. My "wishful" thinking is that this is this is not an independent problem, but perhaps is merely a symptom of problem #2.

Regarding Problem #4... There was some discussion about this issue involving Matt and Jay. I'm not sure exactly what the fix is, but at the very least, I think it would involve some defensive coding surrounding circumstances where the plugin currently chooses to delete existing devices. Again, this would be a case where I previously would normally have hoped for a patch from the plugin owner... Anyone else working on a fix for this?

Regarding plugin status, in general... Are there still people using Nest Home? Are you somehow working around these problems or maybe just using the plugin differently than I do? Anyone know if the original plugin owner, Mike (Chameleon) is going to return? Anyone contemplating taking over development of the plugin or even just posting a patched version?

The Nest product universe continues to grow, adding cameras a few years ago and a security/alarm system more recently, neither of which are covered by Nest Home, afaik. A quick glance seems to indicate that as of now, the Nest developer API covers the former, but not the latter. Aside from the efficiency of having a single API key, there is little reason to try to roll Protect (smoke/co detectors), Thermostats, Cameras, and Alarms into a single plugin; a case could be made that each should exist separately.

I know at one point a long while back, "Nest support" appeared on a forum "ballot" to become an Indigodomo-supported technology (aka "built-in") - not sure whether anything is afoot there, but I for one would applaud that happening.

I could imagine just punting on trying to have tight Nest/Indigo coordination via plugin and just manage my Nest devices separately using their app. I could patch-in selective event notifications using IFTT or something if there were some specific capability I really needed.

Other thoughts? How are you currently using Nest?

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