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Nest On Tour: Thread, Works With Nest & the Installer Channel

Google hits the road with its Nest Pro roadshow discussing its Works With Nest and Thread initiatives. Sixty percent of attendees sign up to be certified installers, which now number 25,000 nationwide.


Tom Deserti of Nest Pro spoke at the MRI Expo held by MRI Distributing in New England. One of the criteria to become a certified Nest installer is that you cannot sell the products via ecommerce.
Jason Knott · October 30, 2014

The Nest Pro roadshow is coming to a town near you, and so far, the results have been very promising for the Google-owned company.

Nest Labs is touring the country targeting custom installers, HVAC contractors, electricians and security dealers with the message to become a certified installer of Nest thermostats, DropCam cameras and Nest Protect smoke detectors. To date, according to Tom Deserti, eastern regional sales manager, Nest Pro has signed up 25,000 certified installers and has a 60 percent conversion rate among those who attend the Nest Pro roadshow event.

Not bad for a four-year-old company that had only 16 employees back in 2010. Today, the company touts about 1,000 employees, with 5,000 available locations where Nest Labs’ products can be purchased. That includes 1,500 distribution outlets solely for professional installers.

Thread vs. WWN

PowerHouse Alliance member MRI Distribution’s MRI Expo in Sturbridge, Mass. was one stop on the tour based around the theme that Nest Labs is “much more than just a thermostat.” Speaking to a full room, Deserti ran through the Nest thermostat, Nest Protect smoke/CO detector, and the DropCam camera. The class did not delve into the recent purchase and subsequent shutdown of Revolv. He also spent time updating dealers on the status of the Works With Nest (WWN) developer partnership program that opens the products up to third-party control, and the new Thread wireless protocol.

The class includes several powerful videos that feature testimonials from companies that are embracing cloud-based WWN API to make their products compatible with Nest, including LIFX, Mercedes-Benz and Jawbone.

“The sky is the limit,” remarked Deserti in reference to the WWN third-party app development. He noted that 5,000 companies have filed to be a WWN partner or are already actively communicating with Nest, including control companies Control4, Crestron, URC and RTI.

RELATED: Led by Nest, ‘Thread’ is Most Promising IoT Standard Yet

In the meantime, Deserti says the new Thread wireless communications protocol is gaining steam. Thread is the meant to be the communicating protocol for the home.

“ZigBee, Z-Wave and Wi-fi were just not doing what we needed for connecting products about the home,” he says.

The original seven founders of Thread are Nest, Yale, Samsung, ARM, Big Ass Fans, Freescale Semiconductor and Silicon Labs, but Deserti says the group held a meeting three weeks ago to engage with new members and more than 800 companies showed up.

To help differentiate WWN from Thread for the audience, Deserti says dealers should simply think of WWN as a cloud-based Internet communication while Thread is more hardware-based “intranet” communication that will involve embedded chips in devices.

Already, Nest Protect smoke/CO detectors use Thread to communicate with each other within a home. That wireless communication meets the NFPA standard for communication between smoke detectors, which, of course, must still be hardwired for power supply. But Thread allows dealers to bypass the need to run wires between individual detectors, which is the code in certain states for hardwired detectors.
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Benefits of Being a Certified Installer

The one-hour class also ran through all the feature sets for the Nest thermostat, Nest Protect and DropCam camera. Deserti did not shy away from the recent recall of the Nest Protect, addressing it head-on with attendees. He noted that the company has deactivated the Wave alert feature in the smoke detector that was the cause for the recall.

For dealers who sign up to become Nest Pros, among the perks is a spot on the company’s online installer finder page designed to guide consumers to hire a professional installer. Dealers are also required to sign an agreement that specifies they cannot open an ecommerce site and resell the products.

“We need to protect against margin erosion that is already not great, We need to keep the trade clean,” says Deserti.

The contract has a clause that makes dealers who violate the agreement subject to very stiff financial penalties.

Meanwhile, if the plan goes accordingly, Nest Pros will soon be the lucky recipients of additional consumer interests as the company begins a massive new marketing push starting in mid-November targeting specific metro areas across the country, including Boston. Deserti said the marketing will include every medium, including bus stops.

Google are Nest’s ‘Rich Parents’

Last but not least, Deserti also addressed the Google ownership issue of Nest.

“Our CEO Tony Fadell is the only employee that reports to Google. Now we have rich parents so we can do what we always wanted to do,” he said. “We are not going to start placing ads on your thermostat and your personal usage data is not going to be sold.”

The data is going to be put to good use, however. Deserti says the usage data is fed into algorithms that constantly “learn” the habits of the homeowner to the thermostat can improve HVAC efficiency. The thermostat’s “time to reach the target temperature” feature is still unique and not used by other smart thermostat, he says.

He cited data that homes with Nest thermostats are 20 percent more efficient in the use of their heating/cooling system than they were previously, saving on average $173 per year. The second-generation of the device is now compatible with 95 percent of all 24V HVAC systems on the market, including those with radiant heating and auxiliary heat pumps.



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  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jason.knott@emeraldexpo.com

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