Oct 162014

If you are planning to change your old thermostat, one of these smart models might just fit your needs.

When Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers exposed their first-gen Nest Learning Thermostat in the year 2011, they ignited interest in a previously overlooked part of the home. All of a sudden, folks were paying attention to more than thermostat functionality — they were looking at design and the possibility of integrating their heating and cooling systems into their app-centric connected worlds.

But, Nest (better Google’s Nest) did more than just showcase smart design and offer an outlet for tech savvy consumers; it also inspired other companies (ecobee, honeywell, etc.) to create their own versions of the DIY smart thermostat.

The innovative heat and AC incubators that have emerged are all slight variations on the same energy-efficient, customization-focused theme. Still, each one did something a bit different in terms of features and final execution. Take a look a the five smart thermostats we’ve reviewed so far to see if you might be ready for an upgrade.

All the listed thermostats below are the same price tag range (~ 250 USD); so the price won’t be a criteria for your decision. Look into the functionality, and the customer reviews.

Ecobee’s Ecobee3 Smart Thermostat

The $249 Ecobee3 (as of October 2014) is a Wi-Fi and mobile app enabled thermostat that relies on its sensors to detect whether you’re home or away. You can still schedule the thermostat the old-fashioned way, but this thermostat’s adaptive sensors know that your routine can be unpredictable. So, it will automatically cancel Away mode if the motion and proximity sensors sense that you’ve come back home unexpectedly — all so that you can be as comfortable as possible. Isn’t this feature nice? And also, the researches show us that almost 75% of the programmable thermostat owners never program their thermostats (Unbelievable)! Ecobee’s thermostat does the work itself.

You can read more on Ecobee3 Smart thermostat here: A completely new design from Ecobee (which may disturb Nest)


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May 022014
honeywell's nest
honeywell's nest

honeywell’s nest

Do you have any idea what’s this we have here?

It looks a lot like a Nest programmable smart thermostat, and the only difference is that Honeywell brand name. Not much details yet, but this picture came from the Facebook page of a Honeywell employee. Or maybe soon-to-be-former Honeywell employee.

Honeywell has its own smart thermostats. They look like regular old thermostats, maybe a little larger and with touch screens, except they’re wifi enabled and mobile app controlled. This, if it is a real picture, is a very clear design change, one that looks very informed by Nest. Apparently gizmodo reached out to Honeywell for comment, and this is the response that they got:

We don’t comment on rumor and speculation – we have no comment at this time.

What do you think? Could this be a real product?

Apr 232014
Nest or Honeywell

This particular review is actually a comparison between Honeywell RTH8580WF thermostat and Nest 2nd Gen programmable thermostat, the main 2 thermostats which dominating the market these days.

With small number of choices on the thermostat market for a 7-day programmable thermostat having an user-friendly interface, an effective appealing small physical style and design, Wireless features, along with a reliable manufacturer, the Honeywell RTH8580WF thermostat has shown to be a lifesaver, and in my personal opinion, the best return for the money within these types.

Nest Learning Thermostat - 2nd Generation - 1Nest Learning Thermostat – 2nd Generation – 1

The history starts in Christmas time 2012 when I requested a Nest 2nd Gen programmable thermostat. The product was gorgeous, simple to use, and apparently the obvious option for almost all home owners trying to upgrade to a better thermostat. Nest is additionally very popular with homeowners who have an Apple device and take pleasure in the capability to check out and modify schedules from an Apple device remotely. Sadly, my personal passion for the Nest decreased rapidly. A phone call to Nest support team within the initial few days of ownership verified that the “set temperature” is simply regarded as “a desired ambient temp.” Which means that as opposed to Honeywell thermostats, THE NEST HAS A 3 or 4 DEGREE +/- SWING! This became cause many issues with programming within the forthcoming several weeks with Nest kicking ON the heat when it was cold (as it should), but then STOPPING the heating system 2-3 degrees BEFORE getting to my set temp! This particular main flaw (for me) became the downfall of the Nest. Almost all elements of interacting and looking at Nest are enjoyable using a truly amazing web/iPhone user interface, along with usage of very good quality glass and metal parts, which establish a legendary design/interface which sets apart the Nest from the competitors. This 3 degree +/- temperature swing from the set temp designed by Nest engineers to “help conserve power and reduce yearly heating and cooling expenses” with no solution to edit this from the set temp, well, next, I had to look elsewhere for a programmable thermostat which is in fact functional with regards to heating and cooling my home to an appropriate temperature.

After a couple of nice and useful calls with Nest customer service who eventually couldn’t fix my problem, I ended up returning my Nest to Amazon and starting my search for a alternative product.

Choosing an ideal product right after having a Nest turned out to be a really complicated task. Initially, absolutely nothing seemed to compare! It took a few days to eliminate thermostats by Venstar and Ecobee since the price tags were higher, the design and style was just alright, and what eventually affected my decision was the concern of incompatibility with my simple heating/cooling system and potentially requiring a professional to come in and perform the install. Following the problems with Nest, further complicating things with a costly install did not sound appealing.


I finally decided on the Honeywell RTH8580WF. For $149 price tag on Amazon (as of today – the price is $122 (April 23th)), I was capable of getting all the functionality of the Nest with simply a slightly sacrificed design. The screen is very large, sharp, and simple to understand – use. The touchscreen display is effective despite it appearing just a little dated in comparison to modern devices like the iPhone or iPad, on the other hand I appreciate that by default the product continuously glows a dim green color which can be read at night time or day and brightens up whenever you touch the display to make an adjustment. This particular setting can be turned off in order that the display is dark constantly unless the screen is touched (I guess you may want to turn it off, if the thermostat is located in your bedroom).

The web interface for the Honeywell is excellent. I had very low expectations in this department before having the product. For whatever reason though, it is simple to use, enjoyable to work with, and quite reliable. The setup procedure to get the Honeywell on my network was super easy. After installing the thermostat on the wall and connected, it did not take very long to get the system registered on Honeywell’s internet site and get started scheduling out my week from my personal computer.

The only possible issue that you may have is the ‘C wire’. My old thermostat used four wires: White, Red, Green and Yellow (W,R, G, Y). Nest also only required the same four wires to run. However, for Honeywell a “C wire” is REQUIRED to power the unit. Once I managed to add the ‘C Wire’ the unit started working and has been working like a charm ever since.

My only issue regarding the Honeywell is the fact that 7-day schedule for the week can’t be modified through the iPhone application. This is a minor complaint overall. The present temperature may still be modified through the Honeywell application, etc. just fine, and the application has a decent user interface and it is quite simple to use. It also displays the present outside temperature for my neighborhood combined with the five day forecast! Nest was lacking this built into their application.

Overall, I would personally highly recommend the Honeywell RTH8580WF programmable thermostat to any home owner planning to upgrade to a WiFi smart thermostat. In case you do not want or require the WiFi accessibility, the product is very attractive to look at on the wall and work with. Honeywell customer service was very punctual, polite, and very helpful when I called, precisely the same excellent support I received with Nest.

If you’re ok with the +/- 3 degree swing from the set temp of your thermostat and want a remarkably gorgeous piece of art and functionality on your wall, choose the Nest. On the other hand, in case you are like me and wish to be comfortable without continuously manually switching the heat on/off, choose the Honeywell which maintains your house within +/- 1 degree of the set temp.

I would like to talk about some customers’ concerns that I’ve read in a few reviews regarding a number of thermostats continuously switching on/off to preserve a set temperature and this being damaging to the heating unit. I haven’t noticed this to be an issue in my house with this Honeywell thermostat. The product simply switches on/off when needed – like a thermostat should.

I hope this review will help someone out there who is planning for an upgrade to a smart programmable thermostat.


Jan 302014
zstat wifi programmable thermostat

Zstat, a Cambridge-based wireless thermostat startup that bills itself as a cheaper alternative to the thermostat made by Nest Labs, on Wednesday launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $125,000.

Zstat’s main thermostat product retails for $75 and allows users to change the temperature and set a temperature schedule remotely with wireless and Bluetooth technology. The average homeowner can save between $40 and $400 annually by using Zstat, according to the company’s website.

The thermostat connects to a smartphone using Bluetooth Low Energy technology. It is low-power and doesn’t have a liquid-crystal display (LCD), making it cheaper than Nest’s product, according to CEO and co-founder Christian von Stackelberg.

“You lose the LCD screen with my product, but you gain a major advantage with lower power, so it doesn’t need to recharge as often and it won’t has as many problems,” von Stackelberg said.

California-based Nest Labs, which was acquired by Google Inc. earlier this month for $3.2 billion, sells its Nest Learning Thermostat for $249.

The Zstat aims to give users a faster return on investment because it’s cheaper, von Stackelberg said. Continue reading »