If you’re in any way thinking of getting a thermostat, then you should now be cognizant of just how valuable a smart thermostat can be. In fact, the smart thermostat niche has become a bit crowded as of late, but among the many options available, the Honeywell Thermostat is considered a very worthwhile and cost-effective option by many.
What’s a Smart Thermostat?
If you’re new to home automation, the concept of a smart device can be a bit confusing. But essentially, it has two main functions:
- You can control it remotely. Smart control devices are usually smartphones with an app. That lets you control any number of smart gadgets through your smartphone, which is a device you tend to bring everywhere with you anyway.
With Wi-Fi access, you can even control it from your office or from any part of the world where you can get Wi-Fi access for your smartphone. And the communication can be 2-way, with the smart thermostat notifying you through email or push notifications about any issues that require your attention.
- You can program it. Again, with smart devices the difference is in the ease of programming and the level of control you have for your smart device. So in the case of your smart thermostat, programming it with the temperature change schedule you prefer is much easier that figuring out how to program a DVD player or an ancient VHS machine.
Also, it’s possible to configure it to activate when certain conditions are met. For example, it may even turn itself off when no one’s home.
With these standards in mind, let’s now take a closer look at what the Honeywell Smart Thermostat has to offer. This is a different model from the Honeywell Lyric, and of course it’s also different from other smart thermostats out there.
The thermostat is a rectangular device that measures 3.5 inches high, 4.5 inches wide, and ⅞ inches deep. Within the silver box is a touchscreen display that offers a lot of info. The main info is the current temperature reading, and under it is the humidity level. There’s also the date and time, the temperature and humidity outdoors, and the status (what mode it’s in). You also see the temperature you’ve set it to, along with buttons which can let you make adjustments to the temperature setting.
That’s just the “home” screen, mind you. The display also shows tabs at the top, so you can see other screens and other menu options. You can also view the weather in your area and the weather forecast for the next 5 days. Like your smartphone, the touchscreen offers locking and password options. It even has a 30-second lockout so you gave enough time to wipe away any unsightly fingerprints.
The color of the screen can be customized, so that you can integrate it more fully with your room’s interior design. You can choose from 12 different preset color schemes, and with sliders you can also adjust the color, shade, and brightness.
Of course, what’s probably more important to you is how it will integrate with your lifestyle and with your other smart devices.
- Smartphone control. As we’ve already mentioned, this is a crucial element in home automation, so here you get an app that works for the iOS and Android. This gives you the ability to monitor and control your thermostat from anywhere. You can check the temperature and humidity at home and outdoors and see that everything is working perfectly.
What’s great about the Honeywell app is that it has been in operation for several years now. It even predates the RTH9580WF Honeywell Smart Thermostat. And what that means is that they have had lots of input over the years so that they were able to tweak the app to work as well as it can for the convenience of its users. They know how to design the app for maximum efficiency and ease of use.
The app can also control multiple Smart Thermostats, which you may want if you wish to have different heating zones for your house. Just make sure you customize the names of each device instead of just Thermostat 1 or Thermostat 2. Instead, you can name it for the area it controls, so you can have “ground floor” and “upstairs”, or “master bedroom” and “dining room”. Then you can just click on one to view the status and make your adjustments.
- Scheduling. The Honeywell allows you to set your own schedule, but you should also take a look at some of the choices that you have with this aspect of your thermostat use. For example, it can offer you a schedule that takes note of your utility company’s peak rate pricing, so that you can cut down on your energy bill.
You also get more options depending on whether it’s for home or business use. You can choose a temperature level when your shop is occupied so that you don’t have to endure any cold morning or muggy afternoon.
And you can set your thermostat to get ready a certain temperature at a certain time, and it will activate in advance so that by the time arrives the correct temperature is achieved. It discovers your heating and cooling cycles, so it knows how long it will take to reach a certain temperature.
So you come home at 7 PM every evening during the winter? Tell the thermostat how warm you want it by that time and it will be so when you arrive.
- Alerts. The Honeywell seems conscientious enough, as it keeps track of the thermostat and HVAC system for you, even when you’re not actively monitoring the device. If something is “off”, then you’ll hear about it. The notification is shown on the screen and on your smartphone.
It will tell you if you need a filter change, for example. You can also set it up so that you’re notified if the temperature or humidity is lower or higher than the temperature you set for a specified number of hours. You’re also told if you’ve lost your connection to the Honeywell servers or of any command you set doesn’t reach your thermostat. And if conditions return to normal, you’ll also be told.
However (and this is a crucial omission), you don’t get any reports concerning your energy usage. This is the kind of info that can really help when you’re determined to cut down on your energy bill.
- Away mode. What’s the point of heating or cooling your home when you’re not there? That’s why it has an Away mode. You should just switch to this setting when you’re going away for an extended period of time. That prevents it from following a schedule, even if it has “learned” your habits. But the heating still works, so that it can heat your home even when you’re not there. What you don’t want is to come home over a winter break with damage due to frozen pipes.
- Integrations. Your thermostat can work with other services and systems, too. This capability can expand its capabilities. For example, you can integrate it with the Amazon Echo, which can then enable you to control the thermostat through verbal commands. And when you use it with a hub and IFTTT, you can get it to work in tandem with all your other smart devices in your home.
With these integrations, you can program the Honeywell in ways beyond its normal capabilities. It can track you with your smartphone GPS and estimate your arrival at your place, so that it can then start heating or cooling your place in advance. You can even have it coordinate with lights and motion sensors. It will become a truly integral part of your home automation system.
All these Honeywell features won’t really do you much good if your HVAC system is incompatible. And that’s a question you need to answer. If you have a heat pump with electric baseboard heat (120-240 volts), then it’s not compatible.
Here are some guidelines to help you out:
- You need to a thermostat with 110V or higher written on it. If you have a lower voltage. It’s not compatible.
- Your system should have thick wires which are connected with wire nuts. If this isn’t the case, then it’s not compatible.
- You should also have a wire connected to a terminal with the label “C”. That usually means your system can integrate with the Honeywell.
- If that’s not the case, check if the wire is connected to a “G” terminal instead. You can also look for an extra wire which isn’t connected to any terminal on the thermostat wall plate. Both of these scenarios mean your system may be compatible.
Still, these are just guidelines, and what’s really annoying is that there are exceptions to these rules. To be really sure, you can communicate with a dealer or seller and send them a picture of your existing thermostat wiring. You’ll have to send them a picture of the wall plate, and the wires connected to the lettered terminals should be clearly visible.
Pros and Cons
In some ways, the Honeywell Smart is great, and its main selling point is its price. While the official Honeywell site offers it for about $230, with some Amazon sellers the price is below $180. While shipping is free, the installation can cost extra.
Of course, for some, the installation can very easy. Honeywell even promises that you can setup and install the thermostat without any tools or the need for a manual. But not everyone has that kind of DIY knowledge (or patience). For that matter, it’s not compatible for some HVAC systems, and you’ll need to know if your system is compatible before you make your purchase.
The look of the Honeywell is also a nice touch. Although its boxy design does seem old-fashioned, the ability to change the color schemes of the display is a big plus. And you also get a lot of info just by looking at the screen.
And of course, its capacity to offer substantial energy savings is also a great benefit. Add the more affordable price tag, and it offers you a way to recoup your investment quickly.
It does lack certain features that other thermostats have. One notably lacking feature is a motion sensor that detects when you’re in the room. And it doesn’t take into account if you’re in the room or not or how many there are in the room, which can affect the temperature.
Basically, what you do have with the Honeywell Smart is a device that’s very easy to use and control. It’s fairly straightforward. But then this is also a weakness. While it does learn your heating and cycle schedule, it’s not quite as effective in this as the Nest, which is famed for this very feature.
But for some people, this comparative lack of ability to learn is a benefit, because it makes everything so much simpler. It does seem a bit outdated (it is several years old) and its look is also old-fashioned. Still, it does its job simply and to the point.
In many ways, the Honeywell thermostat can be considered a bit old. It can’t hold a candle to the features found in newer and more expensive models. But at the same time it’s not obsolete despite its rather ordinary appearance. Its features and benefits are still high tech.
This is a very simple device in usage, but sophisticated in the benefits it offers. With the low price, the Honeywell Smart Thermostat is extremely cost-effective and should always be an option to be considered by any smart consumer. If you still think it’s not high tech enough, try pairing it with Alexa and a smart hub and you will get the advanced features you need.