Not All Smart Home Tech is DIY Simple

SHARE Smart home tech can be bought in any Best Buy, Apple Store or even Target. With smart home tech being available seemingly at every turn comes a sense of simplicity. If I can buy it at Walmart along with laundry detergent, how difficult could it be to set up myself? You probably have friends […]

Smart home tech can be bought in any Best Buy, Apple Store or even Target. With smart home tech being available seemingly at every turn comes a sense of simplicity. If I can buy it at Walmart along with laundry detergent, how difficult could it be to set up myself?

You probably have friends or co-workers who aren’t exactly big DIY people that have installed smart home tech themselves so why can’t you? That’s exactly how I felt this past weekend as I embarked on my first major smart home tech install: an ecobee3 smart thermostat.

Featured-Image-ecobee3

I had talked to at least half a dozen people who installed their own Nest thermostat so I figured I would have no issues installing a simple thermostat myself. In fact the install was quite simple. Until it wasn’t and that was not the fault of the tech. It was my home that was the problem.

My choice of the ecobee3 over the Nest was made after I interviewed a VP at ecobee, Rahul Raj, at CES this past January. During my interview, I discovered that ecobee solves the problem that has long been the focus of rage in my home. You see my home’s A/C and heating are controlled by separate thermostats. The A/C thermostat is upstairs in the hallway, but the hottest room in the house is the downstairs family room. So the thermostat upstairs turns off when it reaches the desired temperature, but downstairs it’s still hot. What makes the ecobee3 the solution to my problem is that it comes with a remote sensor which tells the thermostat upstairs to keep the A/C on even when the thermostat itself reaches the desired temp.

Having bought the ecobee3 at Best Buy this weekend, I set out to replace my existing and ancient analog thermostat which was probably installed in the early 1970’s when my home was built. The deconstruction of the old thermostat and the installing of the ecobee3 was actually pretty simple. The instructions walked me through every step and I felt pretty good about my handyman skills. That was until I turned the breaker to the thermostat back on and found out the new thermostat had no power.

Ugh.

Now I have no air conditioning and I need to either put the old thermostat back on or figure out what went wrong with the new one. Fortunately for me, the ecobee3 instructions had a footnote that said if the unit would not power on, it could be a bigger issue and I should call their technical support.

The dreaded tech support call. No one wants to do it and you never know what to expect, but I can tell you that my experience with ecobee’s customer support was nothing short of awesomeness. Turns out my central air unit had been wired in some ridiculous way and it required me to do a bunch of things I’ve never done before like rewiring an A/C unit in my attic for the better part of two hours. Yes, it took me about 2 hours talking with ecobee technical support to figure it out, but the ecobee tech asked me to send him pictures of what I was seeing and was able to give me precise directions on what to do.

central-air-wiring

This is what I was working with.

If my home was setup correctly, installing the ecobee3 would have taken maybe 30 minutes, but what this ordeal and 2 hours in a cramped and steamy attack showed me was the growing importance of professional help in turning your home into a smart home. Or at the very least, expert help.

Older homes way not have the precise setup for an easy install, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made to work with smart home tech. I give huge amounts of credit to ecobee technical support. They were extremely knowledgeable and didn’t bail out by recommending I pay to have a professional come out for an install.

However a professional installation may be just what your home needs in order to make it a smart home. Services like Alarm.com, Pro.com or Vivint all offer professional installation of smart security systems, thermostats, lighting and more. The trick is knowing when your home needs a pro or just need a free afternoon of DIY smart home fun.

I discovered you might not know until you dig in, but I most definitely will check on customer support availability ahead of any new smart home tech purchase.

Or if you just want to a buy a new smart home instead of converting your new one, we can help you with that at coldwellbanker.com/smarthome.

Husband. Father. Socializer. Mets Lifer. TV Aficionado. Consumer Engager.

David Marine is the Chief Marketing Officer at Coldwell Banker, where he oversees the brand’s marketing efforts and content strategy including acting as managing editor for the Coldwell Banker blog and heading up video production efforts. While CMO by day, David runs a three ring circus at night as he is the father of 4 boys. He also happens to be married to Wonder Woman. True story.

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