My best friend Luca from Bologna had bought Netatmo for three years and therefore I knew in detail how Netatmo worked and its benefits.
Why spend so much on a thermostat?
It was very interesting for me to be able to know what temperature there was in the various apartments and to be able to remotely control the temperature of the house. It was also very interesting how fuel could be saved. In my case methane gas, anticipating the ignition of the heating and the use of a system of rules for heating the house. My friend is a bit of a “hedgehog” gag 🙂 and had NETATMO installed in the lower part of the house. Considering that the heat rises, it was always cold on the left side of the villa. He solved this problem with a nice fireplace, but I don’t have a fireplace and I needed to study it personally in my environments, different from his.
Why did I choose to buy NETATMO or TADO?
In the meantime I started to convert some apartments into AAUT tourist apartments, so I found myself in extreme situations. Some guests, when it was winter, perhaps with 3 ° C outside the house, set the chrono thermostat in the apartment at 30 °, leaving the veranda windows open and turning in a T-shirt. They smoked inside the apartment and therefore, rightly, left the windows open to ventilate, which is obviously absurd, as gas is included in the daily rental price.
Changes by guests of the facility
The event that made me decide to buy remote temperature control systems was when I also found the setting of the operating temperature of the water inside the radiator system changed and set to 80 °! Normally, the operating temperature is 59 °.
I got angry because at 80 ° the boiler deteriorates much faster, the fins of the exchanger inside the boiler disintegrate much earlier than normal. Furthermore, the boiler has to make a crazy effort to be able to reach 80 °. Above all, the welds of the copper pipes that carry hot water to the radiators risk melting, with all that can ensue, flooding and the opening of the wall to repair the leak and re-weld the pipes.
Waste of energy and GAS
Let’s not talk, then, about the waste of gas and the energy madness that we face. Few are interested in the pollution that is created, because “they are all environmentalists, but when they are cold, they cannot put on an extra sweater” cit. [With the. Perca ….]. Finally, once the guests leave the house, of course, they NEVER take care to turn off the heating, even knowing they will return after 10 hours. Perhaps they are afraid that on their return the house will be cold and leave the system at full throttle, which, unable to reach 30 °, obviously continues to burn gas.
Particularly high gas bills
For these reasons, in recent years, I have had particularly high gas bills, even if in winter I no longer live in those apartments that are used only a few times a year, for New Year’s or Easter. At this point I said enough! I started looking for what I would need.
Choosing and buying …
I immediately considered Netatmo, but then I also found Tado. Since I have 4 apartments with respectively 3 autonomous boilers and an apartment with condominium centralized boiler, I did the math in my pocket, I took a nice excel file, my girlfriend gave me a hand and we made the cost comparison between Netatmo and Tado, also considering the purchase of kits with thermostatic electronic valves and not a few, at least twenty. We ultimately chose Netatmo over Tado, not so much for the cost, but for a few issues:
Netatmo has been around for longer, it also has the possibility of being able to use other tools, such as the weather station, the air quality system and intruder control with cameras, all in a single site.
The economic difference was a few tens of € on the purchase of 12 electro-thermostatic valves and another 10 for the home with the centralized boiler.
Besides this when I saw that Netatmo also had open window detection I stayed on Netatmo, even if the reality has it too TADO.
I’m sorry, because I could also have tried Tado here in Genoa, but honestly I prefer to have a single system and everything under a single site where to check the temperatures.
The installation for two apartments in Riccione went very well, very easy, just remove the old chrono thermostat, identify the two cables that go to the boiler, four if there are also the power cables and choose how you want to install Netatmo. In the box everything is explained in detail. I believe anyone can install it, perhaps with the help of a friend. There are two types of installation: the classic one and the one that takes power from the boiler, with the latter you can also use the thermostat by moving it around the rooms and in fact having the possibility of using it as a thermometer for the room where you live most by closing all radiators in the case of very large houses or by putting the thermostatic valve heads at 2 and leaving them at 3 in the rooms where you live.
Problem with installing a Netatmo thermostat
For the third apartment it went very badly! I’ve had a number of very special problems. The thermostat installed itself, everything was fine, but in the end the relay did not communicate with the thermostat. I’ve been behind it for almost a month. The assistance responds with half-day latency, so being houses that I don’t live continuously, I kept going back and forth between Genoa and Riccione without solving the problem. Eventually I was about to send the whole package back.
I solved, by myself, like this:
first of all they were the mini stylus batteries of the thermostat which were slightly discharged and even if the thermostat was attached to the relay they were not visible. Solved the battery problem, going to buy 3 new packs because the first two were also slightly discharged, just bought from the supermarket.
The second problem was the name of the thermostat which I replaced from “thermostat” to “thermostat 2” and so I did respectively in the other apartments. In the end everything went well and now I have 3 thermostats that work perfectly …
The functioning of NETATMO is simple, both with the App and from the website. Obviously everything is much easier from the website, but also from the App you can easily configure the temperatures for each period of the day and according to your needs.
How do electronic heads work?
I also bought these at the beginning, by mistake, because I bought the kit, while instead I had to buy the individual valves. In Riccione the systems are autonomous and not centralized as in Genoa. In Riccione I have a large ground floor apartment. The thermostat cannot sense the temperature in the garage, where there is almost 2 ° C difference. So I would have to do the installation of the thermostat by also connecting it to the boiler power supply, disconnecting it and taking it down to the garage.
In Riccione throughout the house there are thermostatic valves with relative non-electric heads. My idea was to install the thermostat with the boiler power supply. By detaching the thermostat from the wall, it acts as a mobile probe, then moving it to the garage it reads the lowest temperature and makes the boiler work until it is able to bring the desired temperature. It would have been the best and least expensive solution. It would have been better for the guests who could not have changed the boiler temperature in this way. In retrospect, I preferred to allow guests to change the temperature in the house and use a NETATMO electronic valve in the garage. With this configuration, when I arrive in winter, having set all the thermostatic heads in the house to 2, I can give the impulse to the NETATMO head in the garage, which in turn switches on the boiler via the NETATMO thermostat and the hot water will heat just the garage radiator. Obviously the best solution would be to have NETATMO electric thermostatic heads in all radiators.
How did I fix it?
So I thought that when I bought the electrostatic valve kit for the centralized system, by mistake, and I temporarily used one of these two valves within the Riccione system, in fact I didn’t do anything with the kit in Riccione and therefore I took it to Genoa where I actually have the centralized boiler here. I should have simply bought single tubes for Riccione and so I will. Meanwhile, I put them to the test. I have to say it’s a further cool.
In practice, in the house, in the entrance there is the thermostat which is attached to the wall and from there it does not move, if you detach the thermostat you can no longer turn on the boiler. While in the garage and on the veranda, there are two NETATMO electronic heads. When this valve goes below the set temperature or below the programming that has just been set, it is the same that switches on the boiler from the input to the input thermostat. So if in the whole house the normal thermostatic valves are set to two, therefore to 18 °, the boiler starts and heats only the garage.
With the centralized system, however, how does NETATMO work?
In Genoa, the question is different, since the boiler is centralized, it is not me who decides the times of ignition of the boiler. So, I create a schedule, for example I would like my bathroom to be very hot early in the morning, so I set the NETATMO electric head to heat the bathroom, while I don’t like waking up to the heat in the bedroom. The only flaw is that when I come home in the evening and it is cold the central heating turns off at 10:30 pm so I cannot make sure that at 1 am the radiators in the room are warm. So in Genoa, the thermo electronic valves are used only to prevent the heating from working during the day when I am not there or in case I leave suddenly and forget to close the radiators. I also solve the problem I have with a bathroom furniture radiator which is very close to the load column of the condominium system which even if the old FAR thermostatic head is set to 2, it heats a lot, so I really need some programming .
We bought 6 more valves for the centralized system ……
In the end, Martina checked me on the price difference between the purchase on Amazon and directly on the NETATMO website. The difference is that on Amazon, you can’t buy more than 5 tubes from the same seller.
While on the NETATMO website you can buy 6 valves at the price of € 419.99 which allows you to save about € 30, obviously choosing shipping with SDA within 5 working days.
If you pay € 16 you can lower the shipping to 4 working days, little changes, but it costs more … In the end we placed the order on November 1st and the valves were expected to arrive on Wednesday November 13th, so well beyond the promised 5 working days, more than double … the 12th of November arrives at the end.
So, if you are in a hurry you can order them by spending something more directly on Amazon Prime, or pay € 16 for shipping by fast courier, but I do not guarantee that they are actually the days that NETATMO says on the site because, in the end, as you can see the order we did it on November 1st and the shipment from their warehouse started on November 8th …, considering that November 1st was Friday and holiday, Saturday was not working, there is Sunday … at the end they took charge of the order 5 working days later, I would say a lot.
Take into account the batteries …!
Eh …? Oh yes .. you have to take into account the fact that the tubes work with AA batteries. Those inside the package are, on a scale of 0 to 10, charged at 6/7. They are almost dead when they get home. After a month of operation, I already have to replace the batteries of a valve that I have here in Genoa. Valve that didn’t work much, just a month. Basically you need to get AA rechargeable branded AA batteries and replace them periodically, keeping them charged with a battery charger. Same thing for the chrono thermostat on the wall, which instead mount AAA batteries. For the moment I have had to replace only 3 inside the thermostat that I could not connect to the WiFi and another 3 in the other thermostat, I also replaced them in 3 electric valves. So you have to consider that you will have to buy at least two AA battery packs and one AAA pack per season.
What has changed with the guests? 🙂
Guests go to change the temperature anyway, as the thermostat is where it was before. I chose to install it without power from the boiler. By replacing the old thermostat and reconnecting only two cables and not the boiler power supply. The thermostat, therefore, does not function as a mobile probe and cannot be hidden in a piece of furniture. In the settings I entered 20 minutes as a maximum change, then the system returns to the programming that I gave it.
After twenty minutes they forget
Then, the guests raise the temperature to 27 °, then after twenty minutes they forget it and automatically the programming returns to 23 °. Most do not forget and do not notice anything. Other guests instead call me and tell me they are cold. I remind people that 23 ° in the house is more than enough and that they can put on a sweater.
They can no longer modify the system
I also removed the front panel of the boiler and had it replaced with a plastic panel where you cannot press the buttons to change the operating temperature of the heaters. The system is always at 59 °, it certainly takes longer to warm up the apartment, but at least the fins of the exchanger do not disintegrate and the welds of the system pipes do not melt.
I set the arrival times and the boiler knows how much to anticipate the departure
So I am able to make my guests find the house perfectly warm and ready to welcome guests, without having to go to turn on the system and without having to go and check that everything is working. Every now and then I go there anyway because it’s better this way. But basically I never go, I notice if there is a problem if the temperature does not rise in the house, looking at the graph from the NETATMO app.
Conclusions at the end of winter 2019
For Genoa, where I have thermostatic valves, I have not yet calculated an effective saving, for a variety of reasons, including switching to a different condominium GAS dispenser, but certainly the consumption of calories has dropped. I will be more precise towards October / November when the final balances arrive.
In Riccione, on the other hand, I was able to see a considerable saving in consumption, I will be more precise in October / November when I have finished a year.
Update in October 2020
The interesting thing is that if the valves and the chrono-thermostat remain on and with electricity, even if they are connected via Wi-Fi, they keep the entire history of the temperatures in the rooms. So now I have practically a year of analysis.
In Genoa, the valves on the radiators always had their batteries inside and they continued to record temperatures and were obviously off.
In Riccione, on the other hand, the two attics were connected to the wall and recorded the temperatures even lower than the apartments so I was able to notice if the guests used the air conditioner a lot.
In the apartment below, however, I made a change. I installed NETATMO by disconnecting it from the wall and connecting it directly to the boiler.
NETATMO installation by disconnecting it from the wall, directly in the boiler.
I decided in the apartment below, to connect the panel eight which is usually connected to the electrical outlet directly in the boiler, thus bypassing all the cables that arrive from the boiler in the entrance of the house. I connected the control panel to the boiler electrical power line, and the ON / OFFs to the boiler logic board. This I can was the most delicate. Then I went to retrieve a support inside the box to be connected behind the chrono thermostat piece that I detached from the wall and which makes it all become a sort of box, which can be moved from room to room …
Very interesting thing! However, there is a consideration to be made: every time you move the thermostat from room to room, the system will take the room temperature as good. So basically there could be a loss in the precision of the algorithm that provides for the switching on and off. Of course if you carry the picture with you during the day on the veranda, a colder place and then move it to the room at night, the detection will be the most real, for us, but not for the rooms.
With guests, on the other hand, just hide it inside a cabinet at the top and it’s quickly done. The important thing is that they do not find it and take it out in the cold to lower its temperature, as they did with me when it was hung in the entrance and left the entrance door open to lower the temperature (with the entrance radiator access ) …
I remind you that it is useless at the same time to drastically drop the temperature in an environment and then make it rise again in the evening.
If the pressure in the boiler is increased from 1 atmosphere to 2 atmospheres, the boiling point of the water decreases, but the load on the system structures and the work on the boiler membrane increases, in any case I keep the boiler at 2 atmospheres.
If a guest disconnects the repeater from the power socket you will not be able to set up or reach the relay and therefore you will not be able to control the temperature.