I think a lot of tech/gadget enthusiasts are naturally attracted to the Nest thermostat. Its not super expensive. Its advertised as something you can DIY pretty easily. It looks beautiful! I purchased one after reading about the energy saving people were able to get out of them. And mostly I have no impulse control.

The first signs of trouble were when my order hadn’t shipped after 4 days (albeit I ordered on a Friday afternoon). I emailed Nest support on the morning of the fifth day and received a cryptic call from them that afternoon that I couldn’t really devote much attention to as I was neck deep in a new server for a client. But at the end of the call the phone rep told me I’d be getting an email in a few minutes showing that the Nest had shipped. I didn’t, and I called 2 hours later. After about 30 minutes on the phone I spoke to someone that explained that their ordering system had some sort of error, that they had sorted it out and that my Nest would ship the next day. And it did. So that’s one problem dealt with.

I received the thermostat on a Saturday. I eagerly un-boxed and got the thing on the wall. No issues and it was a snap to get setup. Thermostat wiring, at least for our system here, is pretty much a no-brainer. While stepping through the initial setup I joined our wireless network. The Nest then reported it timed out looking for updates and would try again later (first sign of trouble). I was then presented with the error “Entry Key Error: Initializing please try again” when I tried to get the code I needed to pair to my Nest account from the device. The online account is how the Nest talks to the various apps and monitoring that really make it interesting. I shrugged it off and left for the night, the thermostat itself was working fine.

The next day I started down a rabbit hole of troubleshooting that killed an entire Sunday afternoon.

While the Nest reported that it joined my wireless - it couldn’t get online, apparently. I suspected it was my Meraki network equipment as I’ve had some issues with other “consumer” wireless clients and the Meraki. I tried changing my router/ap to a trusty Netgear WNDR3700 that I’ve had for years. Same issue. After joining the wireless - “Entry Key Error: Initializing please try again”. At this point I called Nest support and I was promptly shutdown. My Netgear was on Nest’s unsupported routers list. Yes they have a list of some pretty common home routers that Nest just can’t seem to work correctly with. Never mind that I had only switched to the Netgear because my Meraki didn’t work. The support rep basically said she was sorry and that was that.

So I get off the line and I go into full IT guy mode. I started forwarding ports. And I turned off wireless security. I set static IPs. Blah blah blah, wireless sucks and you get used to dealing with weird issues. I even took my (horrible) Ubee modem from TWC out of bridge mode and tried to use it as the wireless router. None of this worked. So I called Nest support again and explained all I had been doing. I got bumped to level two and then level three. We connected the Nest to my computer via USB and manually updated it. We even got out my Karma hotspot and tried to connect the Nest to it. No dice. Btw if you’re reading this and have a Nest, if the unit reports 0ms ping it means the wireless isn’t working.

So finally Nest support decides they’re going to send me a replacement unit. I received that replacement today. For the past several days the original unit has been fine as just a pretty looking thermostat.

The swap should have been easy. You just pop the busted unit off the wall (it sort of just clicks into its wall mount) and then put the new unit on. The new unit immediately got stuck in a loop. It would tell you “Please remove the Nest from it’s base and then reattach it” and then “Please attach the display to the base.” Over and over and over. Back on the phone with Nest support. This time we moved wires around on the base. Turned our ac/heating units on and off a half dozen times. Reset the Nest over USB using a ResetToDefault file. All to no avail. The unit would not finish booting. It cannot be used as a thermostat. Maybe it could pass as a busted GladOS unit.

I am now waiting on a replacement for my replacement. They were at least nice enough to overnight it.

The kicker to all this? The original unit was working fine, just no wireless. After giving up on the replacement I put it back on the base and it immediately asked me to “Please remove the Nest from it’s base and then reattach it”. In the words of the Jonah Hill meme - Fuck me, right? I’m sort of questioning what I might have done wrong. Did I wire something incorrectly? I have our original thermostat reconnected and its working fine. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. Even if the second replacement works I’m kind of worried its going to somehow put out the pilot on our furnace and blow the house up.

Update 8-16-2013 The second replacement unit and base came in. I installed both and the Nest booted up and walked through setup without an issue. Joined the wireless with no problem and its working just fine. So two bad units in a row and nothing more? Time will tell.