Search this site:


July 10, 2005 06:28 PM

Broken: Hotel thermometer

Dsc00821Seth Godin writes:

Even the guys who like to point out how everything is not really broken have to agree that this thermostat is broken.

It's in a hotel room. By definition, people in hotel rooms don't stay long.

Since it doesn't have a thermometer on it, there's no way to know HOW MUCH to turn the dial to adjust the temp. Turn it too much and an hour later, you're out of bed, adjusting it again.

How does a thermostat without a thermometer do a better job than one that gives feedback when you set it?

(at the Chancery Court hotel in London, where, by the way, internet access costs a STUNNING $30 a day. Theft.)


FIRST, use you thermal vision to detect the temperature and adjust it acordingly and $30 a day for internet is a rip off unless it is NxT1.

(my isp gets about T1 speed for $30 a month)

Posted by: unknown at July 10, 2005 06:49 PM

i get comcast for 45 a month

Posted by: dont start the "this isnt broken" at July 10, 2005 07:21 PM

I dunno, I manage OK with the one in my car.

Posted by: rich at July 10, 2005 08:06 PM

Still, this is better than the gawdawful Honeywell ones where you can supposedly set a particular temperature on the digital readout...only as soon as you do it reverts back to whatever was programmed into its memory. You can select from various memories (supposedly...I have no idea how because pressing the button that corresponds to each mode shows the mode but DOESN'T ACTUALLY TURN IT ON) for occupied heat, occupied cool, unoccupied heat, unoccupied cool. These in turn supposedly match up to a clock cycle, only the time is incorrect on the damn thermostat and nobody can figure out how to set it. Oh, and it's a moot point anyway since it is a 24 hour office with employees there 265 days a year...the office is never "unoccupied." You can override whatever the timer mode is supposed to be with a 3 hour 'occupied' button, but then it goes right back to whatever setting is in 'unoccupied' until it thinks that it is supposed to be in 'occupied' mode again.

It then gets screwed up from sweating employees cranking the temperature down in a vain attempt to get the A/C going...when the stupid thing is in 'unoccupied heat' mode for some unfathomable reason and can't be forced out of it. Or it has decided that it is supposed to be in 'occupied cool' mode and is freezing everyone out despite people pushing the temp override buttons to set it up around 95 degrees...which 30 seconds later it then proceeds to ignore and switches itself back to whatever was programmed into it (purposefully or by accident) some ages ago. When it was a different season outside.

Point being: WHY can't we just have a friggin' thermostat that you set at ONE TEMPERATURE and the thermostat KEEPS THE ROOM THAT TEMPERATURE until set to a different temperature, and you don't have to worry about heating or cooling modes because the damn thing is smart enough to know that if it is set to 75 degrees and it is 60 in the room that means HEAT and if it is set to 75 degrees and it is 90 in the room that means COOL?


Apparently too hard, because I have yet to come across an accurate, digital thermostat that actually does this and doesn't have sixty bazillion "features" that never get used. I don't want bells and whistles, I want 75 degrees all the time, set it and forget it and never touch the damn thing again.

So there.

Posted by: Erich at July 10, 2005 08:32 PM

cool rant!

Posted by: glatzer at July 10, 2005 08:54 PM

cool rant!

Posted by: glatzer at July 10, 2005 08:54 PM

Very enjoyable and well put rant, exactly what this site is all about, and those Honeywell thermostats are definitely broken, though no doubt someone will say the user is.

That being said, 68F would be a more reasonable temperature and probably save a fortune (but I don't know where you live). I am fed up with finding everywhere indoors freezing cold in the summer and boiling hot in the winter.

Posted by: Simon Trew at July 10, 2005 09:31 PM

It is a blind scale my friend. The knob has 8-10 lines in a circle & a "+" and a "-" sign at each extreme. If you go towards the +, then it gets Hot. If you go towards the - then it gets colder.

Knowing the exact numbered degree is really irrelevant.

Posted by: Bubba at July 10, 2005 10:07 PM

This is a tough one. I'm not sure it's a thermostat. If it was, you could just print numbers on it and be done. So it must be a multistate switch, with various options for "hotter", "colder", and the tall line in the middle meaning "just right".

Assuming the dial does not move back on it's own power, I would imagine if you twisted it to the left or the right, the room would continue to get colder and colder or hotter and hotter until you MANUALLY set it back to where you wanted. But then, why have a smooth range of choices? Aren't there just two settings: "get hotter" and "get colder"? If the room wasn't at a comfortable temperature, why would you want anything except the fastest possible rate of change to the desired temperature?

Even so, you still have to jump out of bed when the temperature is just right and twist it back to the correct setting.

Have I successfully enumerated all the ways in which this is broken, or can other people find more? Truly, truly horrible. This is Mr. Godin's best find in recent memory.

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at July 10, 2005 11:11 PM

Umm what about the other 100 days In a year? LOL....I think Erich's Post is Broken.. since there are 365 Days in a year...

Posted by: Infinity at July 10, 2005 11:29 PM

If it was a Microsoft product, you'd have several dozen posters telling you it wasn't broken. You were broken because you didn't know that three dots past the tall bar in the center is room temperature.

But, since it's Siemens, no one feels the need to make excuses :P

Posted by: Michael McWatters at July 11, 2005 12:36 AM

I'll chime in with "not broken". First, I assume the center position of the dial roughly corresponds to the temperature that a sane person finds comfortable. Now if someone finds the temperature just a tad too warm or cold, they can adjust the dial a little bit in one direction. Crazy Americans who like to sit around in their underwear in winter and wear sweaters in summer can turn the dial all the way to the right or left. Pedants who need the temperature to be precisely 75 degrees can't be satisfied anyway because it's a hotel room thermostat and not a scientific instrument damnit, so expect to see 20% tolerance. To top it off, if it did have degrees printed on it, Americans still wouldn't understand it, because it would be degrees Celcius and not inane Fahrenheit measures.

Posted by: a2800276 at July 11, 2005 08:40 AM

a2800276, i'm so glad you were able to frame your discussion as to whether or not a thermostat should have some indication of temperature or not in an anti-american tirade. beautiful prose, my friend.

you are, of course, absolutely right! only americans would expect something that controls temperature to give you an indication of what temperature you are controlling. the more sensible european way would be to set the temperature to the third dot to the left of the vertical bar and hope someone doles you out a satisfactory gust of air. we should all be so egalitarian and accepting of what mother thermostat gives us.


Posted by: Mac at July 11, 2005 09:29 AM

a2800276 says: "Pedants who need the temperature to be precisely 75 degrees can't be satisfied anyway because it's a hotel room thermostat and not a scientific instrument damnit, so expect to see 20% tolerance."

20% is absurd. 20% of 75 degrees (either way) gives you a range of 60 to 90! Why even have climate control if you can't actually control it?

Posted by: cmadler at July 11, 2005 10:08 AM

a2800276 assumes that " the center position of the dial roughly corresponds to the temperature that a sane person finds comfortable." I find absolutly no evidence to support this conclusion.

I recently stayed at a hotel in Washington D.C. that had a similar "thermostat." I found it nearly impossible to adjust the temp simply because there is no indication as to how much the temp will change based upon your movement of the dial. Does one mark change the temp 1 degree or 10. There is no way to tell. I found this to be teriibly disturbing, especially given that I was paying in excess of $200 a night.

Speaking of Washington D.C. Something that is broken is the cab system there. Who in the world uses cabs without meters. It was the biggest rip off I have ever seen.

Posted by: Bryan at July 11, 2005 10:19 AM

"internet access costs a STUNNING $30 a day."

The Memphis International airport gives you wireless access for $10 a day. I really don't ever want to be at an airport an entire day.

Because the users are a transient audience, the rate is effectively more like $10 an hour.

Posted by: Sean at July 11, 2005 10:37 AM

As has been pointed out by several posters, it is arguable that the device is broken because it does not tell you what the temperatures are. Maybe, maybe not.

But it is definitely broken because it does not tell you how much the dial affects the temp.

I am hot; I want to be cooler. Do I turn the knob a little bit, or a lot?

Easy if you're up watching TV. Wait an hour, adjust. (which is broken). But who wants to wake up every hour or two at night, adjusting the thing arbitrarily?

Posted by: DaveC426913 at July 11, 2005 02:58 PM

You all who think it is Broken couldnt tell your arse from a hole in the ground.

The t'stat is pure and simple in its design and works relative to how the occupant "feels". German engineering at its best.

If you are Hot, turn it towards the "-" sign.

If you are still Hot then keep going.

The A/c will cut off when it reaches manipulate until you are satisfied.

With no scale present, the front desk of the Hotel deso not get calls from guests used to F degrees or C degrees asking what does 30 stand for?

What about the Fan buttons then for those of you still convinced it is broken. DO the smaller to larger icons not tell you it adjusts the speed of the fan? Or do you need a "number" to tell you the rpm's of the fan?

Posted by: Bubba at July 11, 2005 04:49 PM

Why are everyones' posts so long today?

Posted by: nickd at July 11, 2005 05:26 PM

bubba, the problem with that is you have to repeatedly return to the thermostat and set it lower if the first setting doesnt get it low enough for you. When you change it it doesnt immediately change the temperature of the entire room. And even then, there is still no measurement for how my colder its making it. Don't say you can guess how much its changing by changing it once, seeing what happens and changing it again. Customer service is not Trial by error.

Posted by: Dragon at July 11, 2005 06:41 PM

For at least 2-3 decades, speedometers have shown both kilometers and miles per hour on the same circular path. Here is an example:

There is no reason degrees farenheit and celsius can't be done the same exact it is on nearly every other thermostat I've seen.

It's just plain bad design. Face it.

Posted by: Mac at July 11, 2005 06:51 PM

More likely, it's just the cheapest thermostats the hotel could find. Reasonably accurate thermometers are in no way expensive, but no thermostat at all, that's even cheaper.

It looks to me like the dials on those cheap in-window airconditioners. You just turn it on, and then set it to cool/cooler/coolest. This looks like the same thing, only for both the A/C and heater.

I'll bet there isn't even a thermometer in the unit.

That said, at least you had an actual A/C. I recently spent the night at a hotel that claimed to have A/C, had an actual thermostat with a temp reading and everything, but the A/C wouldn't come on. Punk kids at the front desk wouldn't bring any extra pillows either. Who ever heard of a hotel being out of pillows!

Posted by: Patrick at July 11, 2005 07:38 PM

This is silly. Many hotel A/C's have this feature especially on built-in-the wall units that come up knee high.

How many of you have a scale on the temperature settings of your car's A/C?

Less than 10% is my guess. so quit ur beetchin.

Posted by: Bubba at July 11, 2005 10:08 PM

bubba, the A/C in a car is measured by fan level, not temperature, and it's not inconvenient in a car because i dont go lie down in the back and then figure i need to turn the A/C up or down after i've already adjusted it, i can just reach over from my drivers position and turn it, with no inconvenience at all, as opposed to the temperature settings in a hotel room, where i have to get my ass up and change it.

Also, when you drive a car, you learn and know how much A/C you'll get on different levels. Unless you're living in this hotel room, then you arent going to be making that adjustment to it anyways.

Posted by: Dragon at July 11, 2005 10:12 PM

I think it's broken. First of all, a nice simple WORKING thermostat has a dial to set your desired temp and a meter showing your current temp. Halfway-decent ones also have "cool", "off" and "hot" for temp, as well as "auto" and "fan on" for fan control. Like the one at my house =P

Posted by: Tricky at July 11, 2005 10:52 PM

This is Broken, but only as a thermostat.

How can it be a thermostat without a thermometer? It's just an A/C control panel. This is ONLY broken if it's suppposed to keep the room at a certain temperature. My guess is that it just controls how much cold/hot air comes out of the vents, as in a wall or window-mounted unit, and in that case it isn't broken.


Posted by: Bob at July 12, 2005 10:45 AM

It's amazing how people are missing the part about "customer experience". You can discuss the relative merits of the control knob markings . But the bottom line is that as a hotel customer, I just want to set the temperature I want, and forget about it. I don't want the annoyance of the constantly fiddling with the dial until I get the right temperature. It's annoying, and it's unneccessary. It results in a poor customer experience affecting the customers view of their stay at a hotel.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at July 13, 2005 09:42 AM

"You all who think it is Broken couldnt tell your arse from a hole in the ground.

The t'stat is pure and simple in its design and works relative to how the occupant "feels". German engineering at its best.

If you are Hot, turn it towards the "-" sign.

If you are still Hot then keep going.

The A/c will cut off when it reaches manipulate until you are satisfied." = Bubba

Germans must enjoy getting up every 10 minutes to adjust the thermostat. What's the German word for "pain in the butt"? That would get on my last nerve, esp. if I was trying to sleep or work.

On the other hand, I also know that if the hotel had a thermostat that had both C, F and Kelvin on it so that nobody on the planet would have to guess as to the setting, there would be somebody in here posting a picture of it and whining about how you would have to spend half a day deciphering the various different numbers on the dial. It's too big, it's too small, it's too hard, it's too soft, it's to complex, it's too simple...whine whine whine. Gotta love it!

Posted by: Julie at July 14, 2005 12:56 AM

a2800276: Regarding your comment about the 20% tolerance; percentages involving temperature are very difficult and confusing.

If using fahrenheit, a 20% tolerance on 72 degrees results in between 57.6 and 86.4 degrees, which is 14.22-30.22 celsius, or 287.22-303.22 kelvin. This is rather absurd, as another user has pointed out.

If you are using celsuis, you get 17.776-26.664, which translates to between 64 and 80 fahrenheit or 291-300 kelvin.

Now if the calculation is done correctly, in kelvin, which uses absolute zero as its zero, we get 236.176-354.264 degrees, or -34.29 to 178.27 degrees fahrenheit, or -37 to 81 celsius. As I am quite certain you understand, no human would be able to survive this for more than several minutes.

Posted by: NK at August 9, 2005 03:56 AM

The temperature control device may or may not be broken. depending on its functionality. (I avoid the use of the word thermostat, because a thermostat is a device intended to keep temperature constant, hence the -stat suffix.)

The internet service price is broken beyond all beleif, thats how much I pay for 3.0mbps down/.5 up every month. Charging that much for 24 hours is cruel and inhumane.

Posted by: NK at August 9, 2005 04:05 AM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous Posts: