I just installed a wifi thermostat for my home. Easy to do and now I can monitor and reset the heating/cooling from my computer or iPhone. And I did it rather inexpensively.
This summer, while traveling, I thought about how nice it would be to reset my thermostat to cool down my house before I got home. I normally set the temperature to 85º when I am away in the summer to keep my air-conditioning bills down. It normally takes a few hours for my house to cool down after I get home and restart the thermostat’s regular schedule, and that can be a problem if I arrive home late in the evening, since I’d like to get to sleep.
Asking around, friends recommended the Nest thermostat. I had seen it in the Apple Store and online and was ready to buy one. It had all the bling of Apple coolness as a product. But then I looked into it more. Did I really need a thermostat that learned what temperature I wanted it set at by monitoring my adjusting the temperature throughout the day? Reading more, I found that it could also learn when I left the house and reset the thermostat as well.
I was happy with my current Honeywell thermostat. It came with my new furnace that I had installed last year – a basic seven day model, much like my old one, but with a touch screen. So I checked online to see what Honeywell had to offer and found that they had just introduced a new model called Lyric to keep with the Nest. It was available only through furnace installers, but would be available in August in Lowes. Both the Nest and Lyric models are priced around $250. Many of the reviews I read online focused on ease of installation.
Checking further, I found that Honeywell had a model similar to the one I was currently using, but with Wi-Fi capabilities, enabling users to monitor and set the thermostat remotely. Its controls were the same as the model I was currently using, so ease of use wasn’t a concern for me. It was priced at about $100. Again, complaints centered on the need to have a C wire to the thermostat – something that older installations don’t have. I popped open my current thermostat and found that it had the needed C wire, so installation would not be an issue.
Honeywell offered a range of models that included additional features such as voice activation, color screen, learning how long it took for the house to come to new temperatures, automatically switching between heating and cooling, etc. These features added cost and filled in the price spectrum between the basic wifi model I was considering and the Nest/Lyric.
I finally decided to go with Honeywell’s basic wifi model instead of Nest or Lyric, because I’m competent enough to set my own temperatures and schedules and don’t need it to “learn” from my re-setting the temperature or monitoring my location (through my iPhone) – spooky! Shopping around, I found a new one (in an open package) offered at about $70 on eBay. Of course, given the newness of the Nest and Lyric, I couldn’t find any with much of a discount from their $250 list prices. So that amounted to a savings of about $180!
I received the unit today, read over the instructions, and watched the videos on Honeywell’s installation assistance website. I got my tools together – a cordless screwdriver, drill and drill bits, a small electronics screwdriver, and small needle-nose pliers – and got to work. I turned off the circuit breakers for my furnace and air conditioner, removed the old thermostat front, and detached and labeled the wires from the old thermostat mounting plate. I found that my furnace installer had screwed the old mounting plate directly into the wallboard without anchors, so I drilled holes and installed the anchors provided with the new thermostat. I mounted the new plate, attached the wires, clicked on the new thermostat cover, and turned my circuit breakers back on. I continued, as instructed, setting the time and day of the new unit, establishing a wifi connection with my router via my laptop, and setting up an online account that lets me monitor and control the unit via the Internet or iPhone app. I had tried to get the air conditioning running again by manually setting the temperature setting lower, but it was only after I had set up the online connection that my HVAC system started running again.
I started setting up the thermostat schedule on the unit as I had with my old unit, but found I had to do it one day at a time. So I checked out the online interface and I was pleased to see that I could set my temperature schedule much more easily, able to set blocks of days and not have to set all four modes (wake, leave, return, sleep) when not needed. The thermostat appears to get the outside temperature and humidity readings through the Internet.
The whole process, from opening the box to system running, took about 1 hour. The unit appears to be working properly; my house is pleasantly cool and the fan cycles on and off as before.
I am happy with the experience, and look forward to monitoring and resetting my thermostat temperature while away from home as well as from within my house, wherever I have a computer or iPhone. One hour and $70 was very little to be able to come home finding it at the right temperature after being away. I don’t have the bling factor of the neat new Nest or Lyric thermostats sitting on my wall, but frankly I don’t need anyone admiring such devices when they come visit me, and I get all the functionality I really need.