back to article Amid polar vortex... Honeywell gets frosty reception after remote smart thermostat tech freezes up for a week

Honeywell's remote-control "smart" thermostat platform has been down for a week, leaving thousands of customers fuming. The unironically named Total Connect Comfort platform allows home and business users to set the thermostat's temperature from their smartphones via the internet. However, for the past week, customers in both …

  1. Alister Silver badge

    Cloud = held to ransom

    A graphic demonstration of why using cloud connected services and appliances is a stupid idea. You are always at the mercy of the provider, and if they go bust, or change focus, or move on to the next big thing, then you are stuffed.

    As far as I know you have no legal recourse if a company decides to remove a cloud service they were providing for an appliance like this.

    1. Flakk Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Cloud = held to ransom

      Cannot upvote more than once. Have this.

    2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

      Re: Cloud = held to ransom

      It’s not a ransom - that suggests that you could do something (i.e. pay the ransom) and then it would start working again.

      It’s just shit.

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Cloud = held to ransom

      The obvious question is why they don't drop back to local connection via your router. If I can run Google Translate and Google Maps offline, why can't I have a tiny server with the config asnd have the system default to that?

      It would be quite wrong to suggest that the reason is something to do with slurping.

      1. jweinberg81

        Re: Cloud = held to ransom

        Resideo as an organization is way too dysfunctional and incompetent to implement a fallback like that and I'm talking from first-hand experience. They haven't been able to get their services on their own cloud back up and running in a week. That tells you all you need to know.

    4. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Cloud = held to ransom

      Sonos (sound system) did the same thing. Got everyone locked in, then changed their T&Cs so now they can snarf and sell ALL your personal data.

      Owners had the choice of sucking it up, or of binning their very expensive sound systems.

    5. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Cloud = held to ransom

      Thank God my IoT toilet seat having it's servers offline can't hurt me. Oh wait...

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Cloud = held to ransom

        Oh FFS! I can see this soon being a requirement for continuing coverage by everyone from private plans, Medicare, and NHS.

        Oh wait. Bears shit in the woods and being an outdoorsy type I know roughly what look for. You know, this could get very entertaining indeed. Note to self, check grizzly and cougar droppings for evidence of human remains.

    6. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Cloud = held to ransom

      Really, for an IoT home, there should be one device that talks to all the other IoT devices in your house, from all the different manufacturers, and provides command and control services for those devices. This should be the only thing they talk to, and it should only talk to approved (by you) apps that communicate securely with it over any medium - LAN/WAN/WiFi/BT, whatever. The apps should talk a common protocol with this device, so that you can replace the apps with anything compliant that you pair with the house controller.

      Of course, this will never happen. Consumers wouldn't buy it, they will opt for the version that talks directly to cloud servers because it is cheaper (you don't need an extra device), and manufacturers wouldn't make it, because a) they won't get your lovely data and b) it doesn't lock you in to buying things from them.

      1. Manolo

        Re: Cloud = held to ransom

        You describe the setup I have at home. A Raspberry Pi running Domoticz. It is connected to my smart meter by USB. It receives my weather station over 868 MHz and switches some lights over 433 MHz. It has a Z-wave USB stick that can connect to sensors for movement, light, vibration, temperature etc. It switches Philips Hue lights. It has a WiFi connection to an Opentherm gateway to make my thermostat smart. It receives temperature and humidity data over WiFi from a few ESP2866's spread over the house. Nothing of this requires the cloud or third parties. Everything keeps running if the Internet goes down. As long as the Internet works, I can connect safely to it all over VPN. I think everything together costs less than €500, but I did have to spend some time learning about it and setting it all up.

    7. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Cloud = held to ransom

      >You are always at the mercy of the provider

      You are also at the mercy of your internet provider. One of the reoccurring features of very cold weather and snow is overhead lines being brought down...

  2. ma1010 Silver badge
    Devil

    IOT=Crap

    As we've seen over and over again, what Alister above said is so true. Buying anything that depends on someone else's software platform means you're hooked through the bag. They can impose new charges, jack up current charges or just get tired and discontinue the service and your nifty IOT gadget is pretty much crap.

    In this case, at least you can still set the heat manually. I wonder if the thermostat is programmable like my (non-IOT) thermostat so it will set the heat back while I'm not at home or in bed. My thermostat cost about 1/3 of the price of this IOT thing. I can't change the heat from someplace else, but so what? I programmed it and have rarely touched it since.

    1. VikiAi Bronze badge
      Megaphone

      Re: IOT=Crap

      I call it "Designed for sale, not for use." It is endemic in the modern 'tech' sector, and not at all exclusive to IoL (Internet of Landfill).

      1. kuiash

        Re: IOT=Crap

        Bang on the money. Fucking landfill.

        All those Wifi enabled lightbulbs that serve no actual, practically useful purpose nor do they really help aesthetically.

        Marketing++ in full effect... Fuck the planet.

        *ARGH!* I'll just plant a few more trees for each lightbulb eh? G'z...

        1. Ian K
          Stop

          Re: IOT=Crap

          kuiash: "All those Wifi enabled lightbulbs that serve no actual, practically useful purpose nor do they really help aesthetically."

          Speak for yourself, don't claim to speak for everyone; we have IoT-based (not actually WiFi) lightbulbs and with appropriate rules set up they're damn useful for turning the lights on automatically as someone arrives home.

          (House location makes regular IR sensor-type arrangements impractical, as bypassers mean it'd be turning on and off all night)

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Re: IOT=Crap

            Solving that problem of "I can't be arsed to touch a light switch". How did you ever live before? /s

            1. Ian K
              Facepalm

              Re: IOT=Crap

              Previously we stumbled about in the dark with our hands full of carrier bags, unlocked the door, then could actually get to the switch.

              Curse this modern neoliberal technology for making things easier!

              1. tiggity Silver badge

                Re: IOT=Crap

                Strangely I open the door in the dark (using a non IoT lock!), turn on lights, then if I have anything (carrier bags etc) to unload, I then go and bring them into the house. A whole one extra trip from vehicle to door, not a problem.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: IOT=Crap

                  For outside light we bought a cheap Chinese solar light with motion sensing. No connections at all, but we did have to position it to pick up sunlight

                2. Ian K
                  Mushroom

                  Re: IOT=Crap

                  We wouldn't trust an IoT lock either; as far as lights go, the auto-on outside lights make things significantly easier for us. The same goes for the motion sensor that turns on the dressing room light when you enter, the Nest thermostat we occasionally turn on and off remotely and the voice control on bedroom lights when we are feeling lazy and can't be arsed to stir ourselves.

                  None of it essential, all of it making things more convenient.

                  And, presumably, attracting a whole flurry of downvotes because it does seem that anything on the forums not condemning the IoT as the corporate tool of Satan, used solely by idiots, isn't very well received. I'll cope.

                  1. Patrician

                    Re: IOT=Crap

                    Same here, none of it is "necessary" but it is convenient; after all, nobody really *needs* a remote control for their TV, they could just get off their posteriors and turn on/off/change channel etc. But who would buy a new TV without a remote control these days?*

                    * Yes I know most remote controls don't demand internet access, but the point is still valid.

                    1. Tikimon Silver badge

                      Re: IOT=Crap - remotes needed, but wrong reason

                      "But who would buy a new TV without a remote control these days?*"

                      There's a functional reason why that has NOTHING to do with being lazy. When I were a wee lad, we had four local television stations, no cable, and a twist dial selector did the job just fine. Now there are hundreds of cable channels and multiple source inputs to choose from. We could technically put scads of buttons on the TV but that would make it bigger ( and fugly) for no benefit. Ergo, a remote control is really necessary as a multi-input, multi-channel selector.

                      Admittedly, I'll gladly stand to change channels, but it's damn handy to hit MUTE from my comfy perch. I change channels infrequently, but silence annoying ads, menus, etc, quite often!

                    2. jimbo60

                      Re: IOT=Crap

                      Do TVs still have control buttons on them? I don't think mine does...

                      At some point, you have to depend on the remote. I hope the IOT thingies don't reach that point for cloud access where there is no other way to use the things.

                    3. DropBear Silver badge

                      Re: IOT=Crap

                      The difference is that lots of us don't see any convenience* in rigging up our lightbulbs to the Internet, whether or not that makes them turn on or off in fancy ways - classic motion sensors or timers tend to do the job just fine if we truly feel our lives are pointless without lightbulbs with their own will. Nobody's preventing anyone here from going crazy with the stuff if they feel it really works for them, lots of us simply resent the ongoing implication that one needs to be crazy not to see all the marvellous advantages these modern net-connected wonders offer to allegedly absolutely everyone just as long as we're willing to repent our sins...

                      * Let me know when they make a lightbulb than can replace itself automatically when it burns out. I might just consider it actually convenient enough to buy a few...

                      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                        Re: IOT=Crap

                        "Let me know when they make a lightbulb than can replace itself automatically when it burns out"

                        I've replaced nearly all of my lights with LED bulbs and at my age, they'll out last me. Job done. When they burn out, it will be SEP.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: IOT=Crap

                          "I've replaced nearly all of my lights with LED bulbs"

                          Only the lighting on my enclosed three storey stairwell is critical if a bulb fails. To handle that contingency those light fittings use two LED bulbs.

                    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

                      Re: IOT=Crap

                      "nobody really *needs* a remote control for their TV,"

                      nor the TV to start with. I have three. One in the garage that needs a new home. One in hall closet that needs to be binned (works, but no AV conns and can't pickup DTV signals) and a big honkin' chunk of glass (30") in a corner of the living room that was here when I moved in. Works a treat and I'll throw in a second hand bluray for anybody that wants to come and get it. I've got shelves of books that still need reading and a drive full of audiobooks. TV went to the dogs years ago and the few things worth watching can be "found" posted here and there.

                  2. Alister Silver badge

                    Re: IOT=Crap

                    We wouldn't trust an IoT lock either; as far as lights go, the auto-on outside lights make things significantly easier for us. The same goes for the motion sensor that turns on the dressing room light when you enter, the Nest thermostat we occasionally turn on and off remotely and the voice control on bedroom lights when we are feeling lazy and can't be arsed to stir ourselves.

                    it does seem that anything on the forums not condemning the IoT as the corporate tool of Satan, used solely by idiots, isn't very well received.

                    @Ian K,

                    I think you are missing the point. It is perfectly possible to have all these conveniences, to control your lights by voice or from a smartphone app, and all the other things, without the need to use the internet or someone else's server.

                    That is why people on this forum are disparaging of IoT, it is unnecessarily complicated and prone to being made obsolete or unusable at the whim of the manufacturer or service provider, much more so than discrete electronics or equipment based on internal WiFi connections.

                    If you think that what has happened to the Honeywell thermostat is acceptable, then fine, carry on as you are, but understand that a lot of the technically minded people who post on the Reg have seen this coming for a long time, and it won't be the last time this happens.

                    1. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge
                      Pint

                      Re: IOT=Crap

                      "It is perfectly possible to have all these conveniences, to control your lights by voice or from a smartphone app, and all the other things, without the need to use the internet or someone else's server."

                      Upvote and pint.

                    2. Ian K

                      Re: IOT=Crap

                      @Alister

                      I think you are missing the point. It is perfectly possible to have all these conveniences, to control your lights by voice or from a smartphone app, and all the other things, without the need to use the internet or someone else's server.

                      I don't think I am; I'm fully aware of the options for home automation, and have decided that for the time being at least the best balance of functionality and ease of use is to be found with some internet-based components.

                      That is why people on this forum are disparaging of IoT, it is unnecessarily complicated and prone to being made obsolete or unusable at the whim of the manufacturer or service provider, much more so than discrete electronics or equipment based on internal WiFi connections.

                      Hubs, and the external things that tie into them, may go obsolete; that's why all the in-house stuff we use here is based on a non-proprietary communication protocol. If one hub goes dark we can swtich to another, if they all die a death for some reason I'll get a Z-Wave module for the Pi, install the appropriate public domain packages and use that as the controller.

                      If you think that what has happened to the Honeywell thermostat is acceptable, then fine, carry on as you are, but understand that a lot of the technically minded people who post on the Reg have seen this coming for a long time, and it won't be the last time this happens.

                      I have to admit that I'm a little amused that you're presenting this as "the technically minded people" vs me - without going into details I really have got a fairly technical background myself. I've got no illusions about cloud-based systems being perfect, but find their flaws and potential future issues worth it for the advantages they provide.

                      As far as what I find acceptable goes, the original Reg article describes a problem where the control system's entirely functional locally, just not accessable remotely via the app - given that any remote system's going to be dependent on the house internet working, and probably my phone being on the internet too (so already vulnerable to several external points of failure), I'd say the Honeywell issue would be annoying but not a deal breaker.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: IOT=Crap

            And when we go away we use sequence to turn lights on and off to simulate people being in the house. Seems to dissuade burglars in our rural environment.

          3. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

            Re: IOT=Crap

            "we have IoT-based (not actually WiFi) lightbulbs and with appropriate rules set up they're damn useful for turning the lights on automatically as someone arrives home."

            Why do you need the internet just to turn on the lights from outside your house?

        2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: IOT=Crap

          I can definitely see the use for an IoT lightbulb. I always keep one light on when it's dark, and all the reviews I've seen for dusk til dawn bulbs basically say they don't work reliably. With an IoT bulb it could adjust to dusk til dawn each day (also useful if you're orthodox Jewish).

          Alternatively there's one light I keep forgetting to turn off, I could do with a rule that if it's later than 2am, or there's no-one in the room - switch the light off.

          However, given all the Internet security and general lack of product quality I haven't bothered doing this so far.

          Obviously what I actually want is an IoT light socket, not a bulb, as bulbs expire.

          1. Ian K

            Re: IOT=Crap

            This does the job for us - installed behind the lightswitch or in the ceiling rose, you hook the switch up to it then can control the light manually as well as via some Z-Wave-based system (so turning it off at the switch doesn't disable the controllable unit, as it would with an IoT bulb).

            https://www.vesternet.com/z-wave-fibaro-universal-dimmer-2-250w

            Advantages: Doesn't need a neutral line (most UK wall switches don't have one) - this is the only device of its type I've found that doesn't.

            Disadvantages: Needs a deep backbox if installed behind the switch, may need an extra bypass unit for some bulb types, needs a Z-Wave hub.

            1. jtaylor

              Re: IOT=Crap

              I have no use for this stuff either, but some people do.

              A blind friend manages home lighting through IoT. Lamps are plugged into smart plugs. "Alexa, turn off kitchen light."

              Before this, the lights would be turned on for (or by) visitors and forgotten.

              If I were caring for a frail relative, I'd love a smart thermostat, even knowing the risks. And if that service suddenly failed, it would be more than a minor inconvenience.

          2. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: IOT=Crap

            With an IoT bulb it could adjust to dusk til dawn each day

            A simple light sensor does that job even better, allowing for lights being on during overcast days if you set the threshold appropriately.

          3. myhandler

            Re: IOT=Crap

            Ah, of course, the orthodox Jews - using IoT to avert God's wrath.

    2. Terje

      Re: IOT=Crap

      The only use for an internet connected thermostat I can see is if you have something like a cottage that you only visit rarely and set it to maintenance temperature to avoid freezing when not there but want to turn on heat remotely so that it's warm and nice when you arrive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IOT=Crap

        Having a holiday cottage, I don't really see the value in this. Currently, I phone the housekeeper, they go in, check the place hasn't been broken into (by weather, wildlife or people) clear the mountain of junk mail, check the fridge is still working etc., air the cottage, put out fresh towels and bedding and leave a few essentials ready for my arrival (ie. fresh local: milk, bread, cake etc.), if I'm really lucky they will also have set the wood fire going - a luxury I don't have in the city. By this very small engagement with a local, I get some interesting returns, such as not having the police walking in because no one locally knew the house was occupied that weekend... (Yes the local police do occasionally drop by, but the introductions and conversation are much more cordial.)

        Also, the housekeeper enables me to more easily let the property out: having people in paying the heating bill is cheaper than keeping the place locked up ...

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: IOT=Crap

      ma1010, I'm the same way. I programmed my thermostat years ago and haven't touched it. I live in the desert so the heat is off in the summer and the swamp cooler keep things cool. Spring and Fall, I save a few bob and don't have anything running at all, I just open and close a window or two. The last thing I'm thinking about when I'm out on a job is if I should change the settings.

  3. AndrueC Silver badge
    Meh

    I hope someone gets into hot water over this :)

    But I still say there is little point for most people in internet heating control. Every house I've owned has taken at least an hour, a couple of hours sometimes to get up to temperature in the afternoon. Just how often is the average person so far away from home that their sudden decision to return allows enough time for the heating to act? Come to that just how often is the average person uncertain what time they will be returning home when they leave?

    I'm pretty sure that for most people a 7 day programmable timer would suffice. Maintain temperature between 7am and 9am, 4pm to 11pm during the week. 7am to 11pm at the weekend. Jobs a good 'un.

    1. VikiAi Bronze badge
      Boffin

      Yes, and even if you want remote control and/or monitoring, there is no (good) reason it has to be via someone else's web interface!

    2. Tomato42 Silver badge

      over 50 people die across Europe because of drunk drivers every day and we collectively decided to do nothing about it

      things usually have to become very bad before people say enough is enough

    3. coconuthead

      I can think of two good use cases.

      Someone who is often away from home on business and doesn't know ahead of time when they'll be back. Turn the heating on before leaving for the flight home.

      Someone who has a holiday home, perhaps in a snow resort. Turn the heating on before getting in the car to drive there.

      1. The Original Steve

        Was going to say the same. I work from home about 60% of the time, the rest I'm at a random location at random times off to client sites. I can't program in a reliable schedule, and my Tado (no frills, very good) has learnt that when I'm 100+ miles away, but I've been heading in the direction of home for 20 mins to start warming the house up.

        My bills are genuinely lower than before, and my house is warmer when I'm going through the door.

        BUT - I do know how to use it manually. It's also the only IoT device I own. (Inc any "Assistant" - none in my home thank you). One of the only IoT devices I would recommend or even consider in my home.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "Turn the heating on before getting in the car to drive there."

        I could do it twenty years ago with a phone call... no human was involved and it didn't use the internet either. You don't really needed something connected to someone else's server to achieve that. Remote control is not bad. Remote control through a useless centralized system is - a system that when down will affect a large number of users. In such systems de-centralization is good exactly for this reason, a failure will be limited to the failed system - and won't propagate to thousands of users - and the only reasons it's implemented as a centralized system is to make money from a subscription while snooping data, no user benefits.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Holiday Homes

      Our parish has the highest proportion of holiday homes in the country. Holiday home owners do not always know when they’ll be available to come down but many turn their heating on as they join the M4 or M5 so that the house is warm when they get here. Can’t do that with a simple timer.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Holiday Homes

        Poor you. I hope your area has managed to maintain some local facilities. As an exiled Cornishman, it's painful to return and see areas that are dead for most of the with nothing left for when it's busier.

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Holiday Homes

        I can't help but note that the number of one-percenters owning separate "holiday homes" is astonishingly high here.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Holiday Homes

          Most thermostats keep the house above something like 16C so I'm not sure what the big deal is about. We arrive back from holiday, turn the thermostat up and the house heats while we're un;oaidng the car and unpacking the cases etc.

          It's a minor discomfort even when there's snow on the ground.

          Even in the old days when we didn't have central heating it was hardly a drama to arrive home to a cold house (I'm not talking about countries with outside temperatures of -20C like parts of Canada).

          So, I find it hard to understand how remote access to your thermostat can be worth paying for. It's not like I get up and down and adjust the thermostat ten times a day, I don't think we've needed to touch it in the last five years (barring late arrivals home from holiday).

          Still, 1st world problems hey!

          1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: Holiday Homes

            The point is most people don't turn their thermostats up and down, they only turn the heating on and off and wait for it to reach the thermostat temperature. You're busy wasting a lot of money heating an empty house when on holiday.

            A thermostat definitely won't heat the house to 16C by default, but they will usually switch on the heating as things tend towards freezing to stop potential pipe damage.

            It's not a life ending drama to survive without central heating, but I do remember those days and they sucked majorly. I didn't enjoy arriving home to a cold house, and I certainly didn't like putting my feet onto a freezing cold floor in the morning, even if you had the foresight to have placed some slippers by your bed.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Holiday Homes

              I have multiple redundancy on the frost-stats and a manual over-ride on the multi-temperature timed room stat. It's one of the joys of DIY, being able to understand what wire does what and then being able to change it. The boiler controls are powered through a mains-failover switch to a 13Amp socket which can be plugged into a UPS or a petrol generator.

              For clarity, I live in the middle of a Victorian town where the ancient under-street mains cables have a disturbing tendency to melt and go POP! all too frequently. The longest I've been down was 5 days, due to multiple points of failure and the fact they didn't fix it right last time the cable melted. Why they don't just renew the whole length, I've no idea.

            2. Mr Han

              Re: Holiday Homes

              From experience, most people do turn their thermostats up and down. I would say more than 95% of the time men lower the temperature and women raise it. It's a very common point of contention.

              Many older programmable thermostats have a default 'comfort' setting of 16 deg (siemens, honeywell, drayton), so the earlier poster is partly correct. The newer ones tend to work at 7 deg, probably because people complained the comfort setting was too high. I vary mine between 16 and 22 depending on how active I am.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Holiday Homes

        "Holiday home owners do not always know when they’ll be available to come down but many turn their heating on as they join the M4 or M5 so that the house is warm when they get here. Can’t do that with a simple timer."

        Can do that with some appropriate bit of cellphone-derived technology (late 1990s), and if that's not trendy enough, a WeMo switch (ex Belkin) used to work for me (for basic background warming up). And then the WeMo stopped connecting to the WiFi and became a piece of WEEE, like lots of Belkin stuff apparently does.

        Incidentally, the "don't know when I'll be home" applies to some folks (e.g. me) not in the case of a holiday home but in the case of an itinerant technical bod, who also had unwell family members needing local support (2 hours drive away from my "home"), so schedules and in particular "returning home" dates were a bit unpredictable.

        Not quite the same situation as e.g.

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-20944852

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " Maintain temperature between 7am and 9am, "

      About 30 years ago I looked at installing an "intelligent" heating controller - IIRC a Danish design.

      You set the temperature for each room with a 7 day timer - and there were wired thermostats.

      The clever bit was that the controller learned how your house reacted to the outside temperature and wind chill. So it fired up the boiler only sufficiently in advance to achieve the required room conditions at the designated time.

      It also allowed an automatic slight increase on the nominal room temperature in the evening when people would tend to be sitting about - rather than active as in the morning.

      The boiler shut-down was also designed so that it kept pumping residual hot water into the radiators rather than let it cool in the boiler. Thus it anticipated the point at which the residual heating would bring the room to temperature - rather than overshooting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Optimum Start" heating controls

        Optimum start heating controls: you tell them what temperature you want to achieve and when you want it, and the controller works the rest out. Early versions for commercial installations used clockwork and cams (mid 1970s?), the one I had in my small 3 bed semi in in the 1990s used microcontrollers (and was designed and made by Honeywell, not just badged as Honeywell).

        The one I had also included a PID-style control loop, and a "delay for an hour" button in case the party's running a little late, and an "away for a few days" button.. All for £70 or so, no Interweb of Tat required. Was it worth it? In principle, yes. In practice, not convinced that the world that needed VideoPlus+ (to avoid having to program the VCR's timeclock) would ever actually cope with the optimum start concept (and the equivalen when the heating goes off), let alone PID control.

        Honeywell CM900 programmable thermostat:

        https://heatingcontrols.honeywellhome.com/products/programmable-thermostats/wired-digital/CM907-7-Day-Programmable-Thermostat/

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_t5cuXNYHA

        Traditional control: "The room's still too cold, so I've turned the room thermostat up"

        "But no more heat will come out, you need to turn the *boiler* thermostat up"

        "Why?"

        etc

        At which point it all vanishes in a puff of fuzzy logic.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I admit to having a (not Honeywell) smart stat

    So Anon. Only bought it 'cos it's available for staff purchase by staff in other parts of the group, so nyah.

    It HAS occasionally been useful. Mostly when visiting family with a pretty elastic schedule, or on holiday and likely to make a side trip visiting somewhere interesting on the way home.

    Once we know for sure when we'll be back, the house can be bought on line a suitable period earlier.

    That's literally the only benefit though.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: I admit to having a (not Honeywell) smart stat

      What happens when you have your elderly relatives to stay in a Polar Vortex cold snap and you forget to give them the credentials before you go out for the day?

      You come home and find all the radiators turned full up, that's what. Having worked out how to turn them on full, nobody can be bothered to turn them down again.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: I admit to having a (not Honeywell) smart stat

      Yes, coming back from holiday occasionally shows the limitations of mine, albeit they aren't that big a deal. I can only tell mine that I'm going away for several days and which day I return. Most of the time I arrive back in the afternoon which means that the morning heating is wasted. If I return on a week day (unusual but not unheard of) it can mean returning to a cool house.

      Then again I don't go on vacation much in the colder months and in summer the heating (although I leave it on all year round) won't be doing anything anyway. So better control over how it should handle the resumption of normal programming would be nice but is far from essential.

      My model (a Honeywell CM67) had an add on module that allowed for some kind of control by telephone. I opted for the Radio Controlled Clock module instead though as that seemed more useful.

  5. EveryTime Silver badge

    A call for honesty

    Why do we let companies get away with claiming "undergoing maintenance"?

    "Maintenance" is keeping something functioning. Clearly the service isn't functioning.

    They appear a total system failure. Not a crash, or a fault, or even system recovery. Their service has been down for a week, and they aren't even providing status updates.

    This is why you don't buy products from little start-up companies that have no experience in designing industrial control systems like, what was their name again, Honeywell?

  6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    I guess ...

    ... I shouldn't have tossed my old mercury bulb thermostat in the dustbin.

    1. Sureo

      Re: I guess ...

      "I shouldn't have tossed my old mercury bulb thermostat in the dustbin"

      No, you should have taken it to hazardous waste disposal.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: I guess ...

        ""I shouldn't have tossed my old mercury bulb thermostat in the dustbin"

        No, you should have taken it to hazardous waste disposal."

        No, you should have salvaged the Mercury and sold it on eBay.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I guess ...

          "No, you should have salvaged the Mercury and sold it on eBay.

          IIRC in the UK mercury is a banned substance for transport by the postal/courier services.

  7. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Cloud casting shadows

    Some people bought this as a component of a whole home monitoring solution (video cameras, locks, garage doors), also for an additional cost.

    The company providing the cloud services is Resideo, a recent spin-off company of Honeywell. So "Total Connect", is no longer a Honeywell solution.

    If smart-phones are any indication, smart-thermostats may need to be replaced on a similar schedule to remain tech viable...or maybe just their cloudy overseers.

    Raindrops always require their cloud.

    1. Matthew 3

      Re: Cloud casting shadows

      They can try, but nobody will buy the 'not our fault, guv' line when Honeywell tries it.

  8. TheProf
    Alien

    Winter drawers on

    "With both the UK and part of the US experiencing unusual low temperatures"

    Ah! That'll be because it's winter up here in the northern hemisphere . You know, when the weather gets cold.

    Mind you, you're not alone in being surprised by the weather turning cold. The newspapers seem fascinated by all fluctuations in the climate.

    1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

      Re: Winter drawers on

      When it gets cold, it's Weather.

      When it gets hot, it's Climate.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Winter drawers on

        When it gets astoundingly ignorant, it's yet another climate change denier.

        1. Mr Han

          Re: Winter drawers on

          Putting 'denier' in there makes you sound like a religious zealot.

      2. TomG

        Re: Winter drawers on

        yes

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Winter drawers on

          "yes"

          My Finnish girlfriend taught me that the style of underwear doesn't alter over the year. You just add more layers when you go outside in the winter - and expect inside the house to be a comfortable temperature with almost nothing on. She did find most English houses much too cold.

          She was no snowflake. In Finland the family had a weekend cottage with the Baltic lapping at the jetty. After a sauna she said that rolling in the snow was rather hard at -20C - she preferred a plunge hole cut in the sea ice.

  9. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Validation

    I do love hearing these stories. Of course that's only because I had a new HVAC system installed four years ago they were pushing a smart thermostat for just $50 and when I said no thanks they went touting all the benefits of the connected smart phone app. At which point I went into the other room, pulled the old Nokia E66 from the drawer, came back out, and asked how to install the app on that. The only response was "Oh" and now I have a nice programmable dumb thermostat which just works.

  10. Mayday Silver badge
    Stop

    Someone tell me why

    That getting this shit where you're at the mercy of the cloud, the vendor, your ISP, carriage and whatever else is better than getting of your arse and adjusting a dial?

  11. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Forget the cloud

    Sit in the sunshine

  12. revenant
    Facepalm

    ".. users openly discussing shifting to competing products .."

    What? Why on earth do they expect to not have the same experience with another service provider?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll just set the heating clock timer rather than have another gaping IoT security hole lurking on my property thanks.

  14. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Reviews never cover local hosting

    This really annoys, one of the monthly computer magazines has an article about smart thermostats and from what I can see it's cloud all the way.

    Any IoT device should offer the ability to host either locally, or on your own cloud server, otherwise it's worse than useless. If it does exist it's not covered in the reviews.

    Granted, 98% of people will use the manufacturer provided service, but if they/it go belly up you have the security that another provider can take the code and carry on hosting.

    I can see the advantage to this as home is usually at least half an hour from work, and arrival times can vary, but I'm not about to stick any data in a public cloud.

  15. xpz393

    Local cache FTW!

    I still have an early device from Honeywell's Total Comfort Connect range, which in addition to the thermostat on the wall, also has a "gateway" box which is connected to my LAN, communicates with the wall thermostat via a proprietary wireless link, and holds a local cache of the app-programmed schedule.

    This level of built-in resilience to keep the system working as normally as possible in the event of a connectivity or cloud-based failure is the very reason I opted for this system over others available at the time.

    So, whenever the inevitable <1% (annually) downtime for the “connected” features of the system occurs, it’s nothing more than a minor irritation. I still wake up to a suitably heated house, and I still have a system in place which will at least work as well as my old non-connected 7-day programmable thermostat did.

    Bootnote: Obviously, the gateway box sits on a dedicated IoT VLAN with some firewally-goodness going on for good measure :-)

  16. IanCa
    Coat

    much ado about nothing

    this story is IOT misinformation.

    I have a honeywell evohome system. one of the reasons I chose it is that it carries on working perfectly without an working internet connection. the other, is that it was (at least at the time I fitted it) the only system to do true per-room programmable zoning properly. The internet part is optional, unlike some of the other competitors. I use the internet temp change feature only rarely when a signficant change to time of occupancy occurs and I don't want to reprogramme. most of the time it just runs.

    actually, I just checked, the total connect comfort feature IS working. for a UK user. and it was working on sunday 3rd as well.

    I'll get my coat when I go outside.

    right now, sitting in my home office, only heating the 1 room, the system is doing precisely the job I bought it for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: much ado about nothing

      I also have an evohome but do make extensive use of the remote facility as I'm often away for days at a time and don't know when I'm going to be back.

      Whilst it's not a show-stopper if remote control isn't working, it is inconvenient when all zones have been set to "away", they are all at 13C and the "put the heating up" command doesn't work when used just before I start a three hour drive home - which is about the same time it takes to get the living spaces up to a comfortable temperature.

      The issues I really have are:

      1) Why is "maintenance" taking over a month?

      2) Why no real effort to communicate what the issue is until the press get involved?

      3) Why did this ever happen? Someone must have known how many units had been made and what the sales growth projections where, so why was there no adequate plan in place for provisioning of server resources?

      4) Why did some of my zones keep turning on out of scheduled hours at temperatures that are not set? This was either due to a bug with the server or it had been compromised in some way - I had not activated any of these overrides and had to keep cancelling them all night (luckily I was at home, as the app wasn't working).

      I really like the system and hope that they manage to keep on top of provisioning in future (if that's all there is to the story).

      And one for The Register - I also reported this to you, but no credit ;-)

  17. m0rt Silver badge

    Kieran, Kieran, Kieran....How many quoted tweets?

    I mean your articles are very informative, interesting, well written and spot on El Reg fodder.

    But 3 quoted tweets? You looking to work for BBC News? :)

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Re: Kieran, Kieran, Kieran....How many quoted tweets?

      Apologies for spelling your name wrong, Kieren...

  18. adam 40

    Service Life

    I have a thermostat in my house that's probably 40 years old and still going strong.

    Even after they fix this fiasco, what are the changes of their service still working in 40 years time? Or even in 10 years time?

    1. Medical Cynic

      Re: Service Life

      The problem is, though, that as soon as the room with the thermostat gets up to temperature, the heat to the rest of the building is turned off.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Service Life

        "The problem is, though, that as soon as the room with the thermostat gets up to temperature, the heat to the rest of the building is turned off."

        My three storey house was built with one thermostat in the middle floor lounge.

        An internal rebuild gave me the opportunity to replumb the heating with a slightly cunning DIY solution.

        Now the kitchen and lounge have thermostats controlling the water flow to the ground and first floors' radiators respectively. All the radiators in the other rooms of the house have thermostatic flow valves.

        The top floor bedrooms' radiators get their hot water if either of the other two floors is being heated. Their room temperatures are relatively low so the thermostatic valves quickly cut in.

      2. Mr Han

        Re: Service Life

        That's why it's recommended to fit the thermostat in a cold part of the house, but this isn't always feasible. Most new builds now have 2 zones for upstairs and downstairs, so provide greater control.

  19. Neoc

    I will look at IoT items once companies get through their head that these devices SHOULD NOT have to call home to work. I'll accept the need to purchase a "Command & Control" device to put on my side of the firewall and have to install various companies apps on it to control their IoT products. Said C&C apps may also, at times, have access to the Internet to update themselves. But that's it. I currently have a Firewall device on my network and at no time does it need to call back home automagically for it to work. Even updates are only done when the App connects to it, either via my internal LAN or via a port I opened on my router (and said communication between the App and the Device is done using keys which must be shared over the LAN).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Said C&C apps may also, at times, have access to the Internet to update themselves."

      IIRC it was an update that killed the NEST thermostats in 2117.

  20. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Giving up control

    There are circumstances where it's handy to have a way to turn on lights and do other things without having to get up and flip a switch or change a setting. It's a big leap to add a layer of tech that you have absolutely no control over and can do nothing about if it stops working other than finding another way to do the same task and paying through the nose again to implement it. Along with KISS, there is also the Ian Malcolm rule, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should". Parents thought an internet connected baby cam would be a good thing until they started finding out that it was simple to hack them and what they did was to install a public CCTV into their home.

    Most people here could breadboard some very simple workarounds from Chinesium parts found on eBay/Banggood/Aliexpress if there wasn't something already available from the local DIY shop. Programmable thermostats have been around for ages. It's still possible to get x-10 control products to control most anything that connects to the mains. The cloud services that support this type of kit will only be around until the company isn't making any money (or enough money) from new parts sales. Once the product is discontinued or sold off to another firm, it's a goner. So, within a year or three when the novelty has worn off and the negative publicity won't impact the company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Giving up control

      "Ian Malcolm rule, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should"."

      Possibly the same who advised at an engineering conference many years ago - "With C you can shoot yourself in the foot. With C++ you can blow your leg off".

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My sister isn't healthy enough to go and change the thermostat.

    Right now in Texas I need the AC. Next week I will need the heater. It is a very big deal for my sister to change the temperature from her bedroom when I am not there. I am using Nest but they have had similar issues in the past.

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    Getting Honeywell to front them pretty smart

    Getting Resideo to provide the back end.

    Not so smart.

    F**k me sideways. 5 days? For a thermostat? And p**s poor communications between them and their customers.

    Their "anonymous server farms in unknown jurisdictions" cloud infrastructure "Cannot cope"?

    I thought the whole f**king point of a cloud was "Capacity on demand"?

    Does this sound like a company that's "Let's sell the concept, then we'll get someone to implement it" to you?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Loada Overstated Rubbish

    I have an EvoHome, as do some others here. The specific reason I went for it and not a Nest, Tado, or any number of competitors is because the ENTIRE system is configurable on the in-built touch screen controller. There is no dependence on an App.

    The idea of adding something fundamental to the fabric of my home, like a heating system, and then depending on an ever-changing technology (bet these controller Apps are going to look so good in 2030) to control it is just madness. I bought it specifically because it can be used in a self-contained manner.

    I agree Honeywell should have communicated this better - I got no email notifying me of service problems, read about it in the forums. I did get a mail notifying me that the communication was restored on 25th January.

    There were a few app outages. At no point was my system performance impaired, just the inconvenience of not being able to adjust or monitor temperature remotely for a few hours at a time. That's it.

    Obviously this article's author has an axe in need of grinding. Systems need upgraded sometimes. Get over it.

    Oh sorry, I forgot. This is The Register. PANIC!!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Systems need upgraded sometimes. Get over it.

      Sure they do, but users should be informed (properly) and it shouldn't take 6 weeks to provision more capacity. One or two (brief) service interuptions, not weeks of them.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this the same Honeywell?

    According to

    https://www.barrons.com/articles/honeywell-spinoff-resideo-technologies-stock-1541041049 (1 Nov 2018)

    the company in this picture is no longer part of Honeywell, but is using the Honeywell trademark under licence, having been spun off in 2018.

    As luck would have it, the CEO of this company has previously been a major player at DXC. Readers may know that company name, maybe even the particular CEO's name:

    "Resideo already has 4.7 million connected customers and “hundreds of millions in recurring revenue,” CEO Mike Nefkens told Barron’s. Nefkens says of the company’s future:

    “We will connect the guts of the home and make it smart.

    Nefkens isn’t a typical industrial CEO. He came from information-technology services company DXC Technology (DXC), not Honeywell . “(DXC) was about cost cutting, (Resideo) is about accelerating product cadence and innovating faster,” says Nefkens. He adds that “we’ll take care of the base business” and guides analysts to 4% revenue growth; in line with Resideo’s history inside Honeywell .

    [continues]

    ======================

    I mean, what could possibly go. It's not as though somebody might forget to renew a hostname registration, or a critical certificate might expire, or a critical supplier might go into a huff and revoke an agreement. No, none of those could ever happen.

    Speaking of things that should never happen, Nefkens was at HP too :(

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/18/dxc_confirms_veep_level_shakeup_in_new_world_order/

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