One of the key selling points of the smart home concept if flexibility and finer control over your heating settings. This flagship segment has seen rapid development in just a few years, with some products already up to their third generation.
All this energy and activity is thanks to unit sales rising fast, as the wider consumer market wakes up to the benefits on offer. The idea of reduced energy bills, personal control and the usefulness of management through a smartphone app to control your climate are all helping sell the idea, which is why these devices continue to evolve, despite the limited utility of the basic thermostat design.
Doing battle in our latest product comparison are Ecobee’s third-generation product and Honeywell’s new Lyric Smart Thermostat. While the HVAC systems they connect to remain largely the same, the range of features, connectivity and options that these smart thermostats offer, contines to grow.
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Key Features of Both
The Ecobee3 is a direct replacement for your current thermostat control, this model first went on-sale in September 2014 and increases on the functionality of its predecessors thanks to the room sensors that can be wirelessly linked to it. It is also easier for the homeowner to install. The Ecobee3 can be wired in to most current 24V HVAC systems and comes with a 3.5-inch full-color 320 x 480 LCD touchscreen, remote sensors and a free app.
The makers claim a potential 23% savings on your heating and cooling bill. It delivers regular home energy reports, can provide alerts and reminders, plus live weather updates, and can updated with new software as further improvements are made. The basic kit comes with a single sensor, but you can add more, up to 32, for different rooms. These monitor which rooms are occupied and deliver heat where needed. It also builds up an energy profile, based on your patterns of movement, so it can help heat the home for greater comfort at minimal cost.
Honeywell Lyric Smart Thermostat
Claiming an impressive average $215 of savings per year, the Honeywell Lyric is a more subtle device compared to the company’s recent full touchscreen thermostats, more in line with the look of modern devices likes Google’s Nest and the Ecobee.
While the Ecobee is hitting maturity in its third generation, the Lyric is a major change in form and function for Honeywell. There are two buttons on the front panel and a ring around the edge to adjust the temperature, you can also use it to check the weather, and let it know how long you’ll be gone.
Relying more on the use smartphones and apps, it will detect when you’re close to, or leaving, home using the geofencing feature of the app. However, everyone who lives there really needs it installed for this feature to make sense.
Once up and running it offers flexible programming to build a well-managed climate around your movements. Users can create patterns and sequences, to raise or lower the temperature as needed. With control from the app, you can make ad hoc changes as you come and go. There is also a Fine Tune feature that adapts to the current humidity to keep the temperature comfortable.
Another feature is the Smart Cues system that provides diagnostic information about your HVAC system, so you can stay ahead of any potential issues and get them fixed or checked out early.
The Ecobee3, with its sensor-based solution seems the most practical, compared to the Lyric’s reliance on smartphones. It also offers easier-to-use touchscreen support, while the Lyric relies largely on the app.
Pros and Cons
The Ecobee’s sensors mean that you can better manage the heating and cooling in a busy household, managing temperature despite all the comings and goings. It is also less expensive than the Honeywell Lyric and has an extra year on its warranty as an added bonus, with three year’s to Honeywell’s two.
Ecobee’s customer support also only have a few devices to manage, so they should be pretty expert, whereas Honeywell’s glut of products mean getting practical support could be much harder. On the negative side, the touchscreen can take a couple of taps to respond and
Honeywell Lyric Smart Thermostat
On the positive side, the Lyric looks great, with a stylish blue glow from the back of the device and clever use of presentation on the front. It has all the features required to smart manage your home heating and cooling, but since so much of the hype about this product is tied to the geofencing, it’s a shame that it isn’t 100% reliable.
Also, the Honeywell Lyric’s reliance on the smartphone doesn’t seem as natural as that of the Ecobee. Also note that geofencing is tied to Honeywell’s servers, and if they have issues, then Geofencing may not work (see here for details).
UPDATE: The Lyric (2nd generation) is now Apple HomeKit enabled, meaning that it has a broader array of integrations with other smart home devices (using SIRI). It is also compatible with the popular SmartThings Hub, Wink Hub, and IFTTT programming.
Comparison – Head to Head: Ecobee 3 vs Lyric
|Specs||Ecobee 3||Honeywell Lyric Smart Thermostat|
|Size||3.9 x 0.9 x 3.9 inches||3 x 1 x 3 inches|
|Compatible Devices||iOS and Android (unofficial Windows Phone app)||iOS and Android|
|Wi-Fi||WiFi, 2.11 b/g/n @ 2.4 GHZ 915MHz, future expansion slot||2.4GHz WiFi in DHCP mode only|
|Amazon List Price||hover here for live pricing||hover here for live pricing|
Final Recommendation: Which Would I Go With?
In this battle of the thermostats, we have Honeywell, a $40 billion-a-year 110-year old corporation, against Ecobee, a tiny startup less than a decade old. You’d think that Honeywell’s firepower and muscle would see it crush the Ecobee3 in all respects. Yet, imagine all the build and design department check boxes, and marketing hoops that a Honeywell product has to go through, while Ecobee can make and ship a product with a fraction of the resources.
It shows in the end results, the Ecobee3 is less fussy to setup, easier and more innovative to use thanks to its sensor technology and seems to be better thought out as an overall concept. It will take time to work out which saves the more money, but our bet would be on the more responsive nature of the Ecobee. You can check out the pricing details here, or see below for real time information.