Choosing a Wifi Thermostat for the Vacation Cabin

Since 2007, I’ve been using a Proliphix NT20e thermostat to remotely turn on and off the thermostat at the mountain cabin. It’s great for warming up the cabin in advance of our arrival. But now I’ve been looking for a replacement thermostat, here’s the story why….

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There’s a possibility I may drop my unreliable DSL at the cabin and go with a Verizon wireless USB modem. Or at least in the near term, keep the DSL, but use the USB modem as a backup. Either way, when I’m running on the USB modem, I will get a private IP address behind Verizon’s NAT. That means I would not be able to communicate with my thermostat from outside of the cabin. Now I could pay Verizon Wireless a one time fee $500 for a static IP address to resolve that problem. But I’d rather put some of the money to a new thermostat will work, while pocketing the rest.

The internet thermostat market has changed since I got my Proliphix in 2007. Nowadays, the internet thermostats are all wifi enabled (don’t need to run an ethernet cable to the thermostat) and are able to connect via the “cloud”, so they don’t require setting up dynamic DNS and port forwarding on the router. So a thermostat hiding behind a private IP address on Verizon would be able to communicate with the thermostat company’s servers, where it would pick up the on/off commands which I send from my web browser or iPhone. All is well, as long as the server isn’t down or the thermostat company goes out of business.

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So which thermostat to get? First of all, the Nest is out. Don’t want a learning thermostat, when there’s no regular patterns to learn in a vacation home.

The Ecobee seemed the best of the bunch, but also the most expensive at around $300. What I liked was the scheduling by calendar date, so if I knew on a Monday that I was planning to go to the cabin a couple of weekends away, I could program the thermostat right then and there. Otherwise I might not remember until I start the drive, then it’s too late to get the cabin up to temperature. (Been there, done that.) Oh, did I mention that I have a millvolt floor furnace? Sorry, this thermostat is not compatible (though it could be done with a relay as discussed here).

I also considered the Bayweb. That was a bit cheaper, at around $200, and compatible with millivolt furnaces. Though the scheduling is done by day of the week, not a calendar type schedule as with the Ecobee.

Then there is the Motison Cyberstat, definitely the cheapest of the bunch at under $80. The thermostat is accessible via the web, but a definite minus is that they don’t have an iPhone app. Plus I have to wonder if (what seems to be) a small company like that would go out of business, which would turn my thermostat into a paperweight.

I finally settled on the same thermostat I have at home, the Radio Thermostat CT-30, with a list price of about $140. (Actually, I have the rebranded 3M Filtrete 3M-50, which is the same thing, but for $100 – though I picked it up on sale for $80.)  More about this in my next post…

One thought on “Choosing a Wifi Thermostat for the Vacation Cabin

  1. Mike

    Hi Brian-
    How did you overcome the 24v issue on that new thermostat?? Couldn’t find your next post after reading the first =(
    Tryin to do the same at my cabin!

    I finally settled on the same thermostat I have at home, the Radio Thermostat CT-30, with a list price of about $140. (Actually, I have the rebranded 3M Filtrete 3M-50, which is the same thing, but for $100 – though I picked it up on sale for $80.) More about this in my next post…

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