Smart thermostats, changing your energy usage

With the ever-evolving world of IoT (internet of things) more and more “Smart” Thermostats are coming out. The Nest is known for its simple design with a round knob for basic adjustments with additional advanced programming on the web-based or app-based program. The Nest product came to be from an ex-Apple engineer that wanted a better thermostat for his vacation home and couldn’t find anything that would work easily and connected well in the IoT product line.

Nest’s interpretation of the modern thermostat

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Creative Electron blog without the x-ray of the Nest e!

Pro Thermostat – the good-old thermostat…

Nest E (Left) and Pro Thermostat (Right)

You might ask “What makes a smart thermostat different then a programmable thermostat?” Well, a smart thermostat has the same capabilities to program your AC as a programmable thermostat but with remote control access via your smartphone or your classic desktop or laptop. The caveat of constant monitoring of the AC enables for more precise adjustments and allows for more precise cost factoring that is used with smart electric meters. This is seen in the new “Time of Use” pricing for electricity for my home area that SDG&E is moving to this year. The Wi-Fi connection on the smart thermostat allows for continual updates from the user via remote connectivity adjustments, as well as monitoring to adjust your usage to minimize power consumption during the peak-rate hours of 4 to 9 PM. The use of smart devices for the basis of monitoring remotely also allows others, such as Google, Facebook, and hackers to learn your habits and try to sell you more stuff. Or, use your information to aggregate a greater plan of your needs that can enable the “I need that right now” at any moment.
It also allows for additional information to be displayed on the thermostat, but we want to look inside and see how this is done. I grabbed our Nest E and our old Pro thermostats and did some imaging with our Parts Counter AI and Prime x-ray machines.

Geek Level 11


Nest E and Pro Thermostat
Nest E PCBA design
Nest E special BGA design

Zoomed in BGA on Nest E
Multi-layer board design on Nest E
Micro USB connector on Nest E

Pro thermostat

When comparing the older Pro thermostat you find larger, through-hole components instead of the smaller SMT components that are on the Nest smart thermostat. The Pro was designed around the mono colored screen with just basic KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principles.

Basic Electronics design from the Pro Thermostat

Pro Thermostat Sensor

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