Background, and adding temperature graphing

A couple of years back I added additional attic insulation into my home, bring the insulation up from R-19 to R-38. I also added a radiant barrier in the attic as well, in an attempt to reduce the heat rise in the attic during the summer months especially since the air conditioning ductwork is located up there.

Since I was curious how hot it actually gets in the attic, I installed a ControlByWeb temperature module to monitor the temps. The module provides 4 temperature inputs, using 1-Wire sensors, and uses its built-in web server to output data on a web page or in XML format. It came with 1 temperature sensor, but it was easy to fabricate 3 more using Cat-6 cable and some shrink wrap tubing.

I put two of the temperature sensors in the attic: one near the center, and another near the rear of the attic right above the master bedroom. The remaining two sensors were placed in the garage and outside of the the eaves on the shaded (north-facing) side of the home.

I wrote a short PHP script that parses the temperature module’s XML page and set up a cron job to run every 5 minutes to poll it + pipe it to rrdupdate. A separate bash script calls rrdtool graph and updates the actual rrd graph every couple of minutes via cron and voila, graphs:

Sending temperatures to Weather Underground

Since I am tracking exterior temperature 24/7, I figured it would be cool to create a Weather Underground Personal Weather Station. That same PHP script that polls the temperature also sends the exterior temp to Weather Underground, via their simple upload protocol.

Adding the Nest Thermostat to the mix

I also installed a Nest Thermostat into the mix, and since it was network-enabled like the ControlByWeb temperature module, it would be great to add its temperature reading to my graphs as well. I could have just repurposed one of the 1-Wire sensors to track indoor temps, but that would have required potentially drilling through some drywall and poking out a sensor somewhere in my house, which would have been unsightly. What better than to just use the reading from the thermostat?

Sadly, Nest doesn’t provide a public API to access its data (at least not yet, until the Nest Developer Program is publicly available), but some enterprising folks have figure out the API that the Nest uses to communicate with the mothership. One such package is nest-api. The package is easy to use, and after a few minutes configuring it, I was able to get the temperature reading of my thermostat. It was more work adding the new data source to the rrd than get nest-api integrated.

The Nest’s temperature graphed in my temperature graph:

Download the files

Go to my project on github to get the source files.

TODOs

1) Since nest-api basically gives me all the data on the Nest, like if the A/C or furnace are on, it would be nice add to the graph a visualization of that.

2) Also, once I get a Nest Protect, and assuming that it has a built-in temperature sensor, it would be nice to integrate its temperature reading into the graphs as well.