Is It Smart? – Nest Thermostat

Hello BIMfans,
Welcome to ‘Is It Smart?‘, a blog series where I have a look at the smart technology within installed Ty Crempog as I explore the power of BIM Level 2 and the Internet of Things (IoT).   This week, I take a look at my Nest Thermostat.

What is it?


The Nest Thermostat is an electronic, programmable, Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that learns from real-time use to optimize heating.  I currently have it installed in 002: Living Room as it is the most frequently occupied room in my home.  It has a series of built-in sensors that measure temperature as well humidity, motion, and ambient light.

How Does it Work?

The UI is incredibly simple to use.  Also, you can customize the location, so my Nest is now in 002: Living Room to match my information model

When installed, the Nest Thermostat is connected over Wi-Fi to the boiler via an additional device called Heat Link which bypasses the boiler controls.

Quite simply, the big number in the middle is the programmed temperature (19) and the gauge shows the current temperature (21).  When the current temperature drops below the programmed temperature the heat link is activated; telling the boiler to run on full.  Once the programmed temperature is reached, a signal is sent to the heat link to deactivate the boiler and the cycle repeats indefinitely.

How Did I Model it?

My Nest Thermostat family can be downloaded from here.

Under the Industry Foundation Class (IFC) Schema, a thermostat isn’t included (it doesn’t appear until IFC4) so I have had to resort to IfcSensorType.  So, using a face based generic model I created a hollow cylinder and two inserts to represent the thermostat.  Due to the low level of graphical detail used the object file is only around 316KB.  The file was named following the BS8541-1 naming convention to:


Note:  Strangely, IfcUnitaryControlElement is included within BS8541-1, but not in the IFC2x3TC1 schema.  So for consistency, I haven’t used it.

Using the requirements set out within my Data Requirements, I populated this object with the data needed to manage my thermostat.  Capturing information such as: Installation information, bar code, serial number, replacement cost and warranty information.  NOTE, my thermostat is one of the few items I manage within its warranty period.

When used in collaboration with my IFC Export mapping text file, my thermostat is populating all of the relevant COBie fields I require; fantastic.

Is it Smart?

The Nest Thermostat ticks many of the right boxes to be considered smart.

  • Data In:  With a number of sensors, a Wi-Fi connection, and both physical and digital interfaces methods there is a wealth of ways that it can collect data.  As a result, the thermostat learns about the space, proving an estimated amount of time needed to take effect based on past data.  In addition, Nest stores a heating programme for your home and maintains an activity log.
As you can see, the fiancee decided to put the heating on before bed last week which I only discovered when writing this blog post.  Cold!? It’s September!
  • Data Out:  Each month, Nest also provides owners with a report detailing how long the heating has been on as well as an update about the performance of my devices.  If you want more sophisticated data out of your nest, the API can be accessed here.
2 hours of heating in June!? I wonder who did that…
  • Connectivity:  The ease that the Nest Thermostat can connect to other devices is a real strength.  Other products included within the ‘Works with Nest‘ category are able to access information from the Nest Thermostat.  For example, as a security feature, my Philips Hue bulbs will intermittently switch on/off in the evenings if my thermostat is set to ‘Away’.  In addition, as discussed in a previous post, through the use of IFTTT my thermostat can trigger (and be triggered) by other events.  Currently when my thermostat is set to ‘Home’, I receive a welcome home message in addition to any tweets from @TyCrempog when it is too hot or too cold.
As clever as this is, there is nothing more worrying then seeing this message on your Twitter feed when you are away on business and the fiancee is in work. #BlameTheRabbit?

The Potential

Imagine the data I could give my thermostat when my COBie files are full.

Currently, there is no method to automate the exchange of information to my Nest Thermostat from my information model; but this doesn’t have to be the case.  For example, within my Architectural model, there is a lot of good information that the Nest Thermostat could take advantage of including: Facility Name, Space Name, Area, & Volume and perhaps even external object thermal transmittance.

This kind of information could potentially improve the Nest Thermostat‘s ability to predict and control the temperature of my home if there was a way to import it.

The verdict


Is It Smart? The answer is Yes, with an Impressive IQ of 130!

Since we had planned to buy our first home, the Nest Thermostat had always been on my shopping list and may very well have been the first purchase I made.  I’m glad to say it has not disappointed.

Since programming in a compromised heating schedule, I have barely had to touch the Thermostat control for the past 12 months.  While fairly simple in function, the Nest Thermostat has a lot of data being considered in the background, coupled with an impressive list of connectable products and regular reporting, it was always going to do well.

And there you have it, This week my Nest Thermostat has proved to be quite smart.  Tune in next time when I consider my Amazon Dash and ask one simple question; Is It Smart?

3 thoughts on “Is It Smart? – Nest Thermostat

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