Honeywell's wifi thermostat
By Harold Glicken
For more than 15 years I’ve lived with a perfectly good thermostat. It had eight separate programs a day for heating and air-conditioning.
In summer, I’d set the air-conditioner to come on at 6 p.m., a half-hour before we returned home. During the day, when no one was home, it would be set at 85 degrees. Why cool an empty house? In winter, I’d set the heat to come on at 6 p.m. No sense in heating an empty house, either.
Setting the fan to come on at different times was child’s play. For its day, the Honeywell thermostat was cutting edge.
Fast-forward a decade and a half, and again I have a cutting edge Honeywell thermostat. This one has a colorful touch pad, the same 56 settings a week (four separate daily settings for heating and air-conditioning), along with settings for the fan, which circulates filtered air throughout the house, just as my old one did.
The new thermostat, which costs $200, can be controlled from a PC and smart phone over a wireless network. Call up the Honeywell program, and there’s a simulation of a thermostat on the screen. Temperatures and times can be set simply by clicking on up-and-down arrows. The new thermostat has three setting for fan: on, the best method for continuously circulating filtered air; automatic, which comes on only when the heater or air-conditioner come on; and circulate, which I use at night. Every few hours, the fan comes on – out goes the stale air, in comes the fresh air.
From everything I’ve read about the thermostat, installation is also child’s play. It’s not. If, as I am, you’re technologically challenged, it’s best to hire a professional . The person I hired charged $100, and earned his money. Wires – and there are a lot of them – have to be unattached from the old thermostat to tiny corresponding terminals on the new one. The installer wisely took a digital photo of the old thermostat’s wiring, and used the photo to guide him for the new one. Then he had to climb into the attic to fiddle with the heater. A trip to the air-conditioner unit came next, and even then things didn’t work quite right. So he retraced his steps.
When finally he turned the power back on, the thermostat took about half an hour to get used to my heating and air-conditioning system. Something was amiss, though, and he snapped the front of the thermostat off to change the wiring. I couldn’t have been happier that he was the one using the screw driver. After some more fiddling, both the air-conditioner and heater did their job independently.
I had read enough reviews of the thermostat to be forewarned that this device is smaller than most, and much smaller than my old thermostat. That would mean an ugly hole in the wall, along with three or four different paint colors along the edges of the hole. So I ordered several new face plates from Amazon, one of which fit perfectly for hiding the ugly areas around the thermostat.
Now it was time to program the thermostat on the Windows PC. (It also works on Macs.) Outside and inside temperatures and humidity are displayed on the virtual thermostat, along with a five-day forecast that’s fairly accurate. Heating and cooling can be set to switch automatically as temperatures fluctuate in the house, or either the heating and cooling can be set separately, but only if there are 3 degrees separating those settings. For my purposes, the automatic setting works best.
I set all four time periods, which can be changed easily, for 6 a.m., 10 a.m. (when the fan comes on, but neither heat nor air-conditioning comes on), 6 p.m., when we return home, and midnight, when everybody is tucked in.
It’s easy to override any of the settings – time, heating, cooling and fan – from either the physical keypad or the virtual one on a PC. The override lasts until the next time period is reached.
If you’re going on vacation, there’s a hold function that will keep temperatures at pre-set levels for the duration. Or you can just set temperatures to 85 for air-conditioning, for example, and 55 for heating on all 56 programmable time slots.
I tested the room temperature and found that the new Honeywell was 2 degrees off. A quick call to Honeywell tech support (less than five minutes on hold), and I was able to adjust the thermostat for the discrepancy.
So, again I’m cutting edge. Well, not quite. Both Honeywell and a company called Nest make thermostats that adapt to a person’s lifestyle and adjust themselves accordingly. They’re hot products that are really cool!
More information: www.honeywell.com