Smart thermostats are the next wave of home automation. Right now, two big giants are facing off against each other in this space; Google’s Nest vs Honeywell’s Lyric. Both have compelling features and offer a step up from traditional thermostats, but does one have a clear advantage over the other?
Bottom Line Up Front: I lean towards the Google Nest (Gen 3 available here) as the better option.
In this article, I will be comparing the Lyric vs Nest head-to-head to see which one wins overall. In doing so, I will evaluate the two devices using the following criteria: core features, software, performance and reliability, installation, and price. Please feel free to share your opinions in the comments section a the bottom of the page.
In a hurry? Read my quick summary below:
|Nest Advantages||Lyric Advantages|
|More usable features||Geofencing detects when you are close to home|
|Smarter “learning” algorithm||Easier to set up and install|
|Good for people with “regular” routines||Slightly less expensive: see here|
|Generation 2 recently reduced in price (see here)|
Contents (Jump to)
Both the Nest and the Lyric are in a heated “features” battle. While the Nest originally held the advantage as the first smart thermostat to market, Honeywell has been quickly catching up over the past year.
Nest: The core of the Nest is the auto-scheduling feature, allowing you to schedule your presets for temperatures that you prefer at specific times of the day. Nest is a “smart learning” device, meaning that it adjusts to your preferences on a daily and seasonal basis, learning and improving as it goes.
The “auto-away” feature recognizes when rooms or the entire house is not being used and can bring over 90% energy savings. The upside is that not every household member needs to have the app installed, but the drawback is that sometimes a single Nest device has some difficulty tracking movement in a large house.
The Nest can be controlled remotely via smartphones or other WiFi enabled devices. This allows for the ability to control your climate while away from the physical location.
The airwave feature is designed to efficiently manage cooling when humidity allows, thereby saving costs.
By utilizing the “Nest Leaf” feature, owners can automatically start making smarter climate control choices without having to do any work!
Nest also offers a number of personalized features depending on the nuances of your system. Filter reminders let you know if you need to change air filters and heat pump balance helps you maximize the efficiency of your heating pumps by limiting the use of costly “auxiliary heat”. For home owners with radiators, True Radiant creates a predictable schedule of heating, thus taking out the guess-work completely. Another nice feature that is unique to the Nest is in-depth “usage reports“, something that the Lyric does not offer.
UPDATE 9/10/15: The Nest Generation 3 has recently been released. It’s mainly a cosmetic upgrade, with a better screen, but they also introduced FarSight which is a better system for picking up human activity from further away. A nice addition, but not really a game changer.
Lyric: The Lyric has started to quickly catch up with the Nest in terms of the number of features available. While still in its first generation, the Lyric has evolved relatively quickly to keep pace with the more established Nest.
Using a technology called “geofencing” the Lyric adjusts to when you are home and away to maximize comfort and cost savings. This is very similar to the Nest’s core selling proposition. Lyric knows when you are physically home by detecting how far away your phone app is relative to the location. This is an excellent feature and works very well for users with the app installed. However, for home members without the app there is no auto-detect motion sensor system. In short, the app works flawlessly but requires that everyone has the app installed.
You can set sequences to take place at certain times during the day based off of home occupancy patters (for example: turning down the heat 2 degrees when you are sleeping after 1:00 AM).
This is enhanced by their Fine Tune feature which adjust the temperature based off of the humidity to ensure that it actually feels like the temperature you want.
An added benefit is the Smart Cues feature which provides up to date notifications and status updates on your HVAC system, allowing you to catch problems early and extend the life of your system overall.
For integration, the Lyric offers fully supported iOS integration and supports a wide variety of HVAC systems.
Who Wins? Overall, the Nest wins out in the “features” category, although the Lyric is quickly catching up. The main features: Nest’s auto-scheduling and Lyric’s geofencing are very similar.
Nest: Nest is a Google owned product and as such is not as “integration-friendly” with Apple devices, although Google-owned Android users might actually like this aspect.
At the heart of the Nest’s software is a “self-learning” algorithm that adapts to your behavior over time. In theory, the Nest will become more valuable the longer you own it, especially over multiple seasons / years.
Lyric: The Lyric is an iOS approved device with HomeKit (as of Version 2), meaning that it is more compatible with iPhone’s and other Apple devices and the smarthome ecosystem.
The main unique software proposition of the Lyric is the “geofencing” technology which can track your app installed smartphone to determine if you are home or not (has a range of up to 7 miles “as the crow flies” from your home).
Who Wins? The Nest still has the better software package. While geofencing is a GREAT feature of the Lyric that sets it apart, the sheer possibilities with the Nest’s learning algorithm sets it a part over the long term.
Performance and Reliability
Nest: The Nest’s 2nd generation has improved many of the bugs and problems with the original. Overall, the Nest has a smooth operation, but it does have its moments. The most annoying is when the Nest does not recognize that your are home and can’t communicate with the app. While this is rare, you might find that certain rooms in your house have a bad signal. You can opt to install secondary (or even tertiary) devices to extend the range, but this can be a pricey proposition. For most homeowners this probably won’t be an issue, but its still worth pointing out for larger homeowners.
One of the nicest features of the Nest is that it learns over time and improves. This is ideal if you have a relatively normal routine (like most of us) where the Nest can put this “learned behavior” into action for significant cost savings and comfort.
Lyric: The Lyric’s geofencing technology works extremely well, with a small caveat; all residents must have the app installed for it to work properly. This can cause some problems when you have relatives or visitors from out of town, kids without smartphones, or elderly relatives without smartphones.
Overall, the Lyric still has some performance kinks to work out. I will caveat this by saying that it has a TON of potential. The Nest 2nd generation just clearly has had more time in development and is a few steps ahead of the Lyric in terms of general software and HVAC integration performance and reliability.
Who Wins? It’s getting very close, but the Nest still wins out here due to its longer track record and development time. One point Nest!
Installation and Configuration
Nest: The Nest advertises a 30-minute install and basic configuration time. While this is likely the case for most homeowners, the more complex your HVAC climate control system, the longer it will generally take. For more complex schematics and non-technical folks, using an approved Nest certified installer is probably a good idea for initial set-up and advanced troubleshooting.
Lyric: I found the Lyric to actually be a bit easier to install, especially with my iOS devices. The physical mounting is also more straightforward and Lyric is better able to deal with different types of wiring. The Nest sometimes struggles with eccentric wiring systems. Finally, the integration with the app is extremely easy. The Lyric creates a 3-minute hotspot on installation, enabling the device to be directly connected to your iOS device without having to fiddle with WiFi settings indefinitely.
Who Wins? The Lyric has a slightly better installation process from A-Z. Both the Nest and Lyric are easier than expected, but if you are a heavy iOS user or are looking for a simpler process, I would go with the Lyric. 1 point Lyric!
Nest: The 2nd Generation Google Nest retails for about $249. You can usually find it for less than retail with free shipping here.
Lyric: The Honeywell Lyric is a bit more pricey, but not by much. It was retailing for about $279, until recently. Fortunately, you can find some good deals online. The price is now down even further here.
UPDATE: Who Wins? Overall, the Nest was winning this category, back win the Lyric was $279. The Nest 2nd Gen is now slightly more expensive than the Lyric. The Lyric wins this category a as it is significantly cheaper.
SECOND UPDATE: The pricing wars continue! With the release of the Nest Generation 3, the Gen 2 has been cut in price here. The Nest Gen 3 is priced at $249 (MSRP as of this writing), roughly where the older Nest Gen 2 used to be. The Lyric was similarly cut to under $200 (see here). The Lyric is still in the lead, but it’s a lot tighter than it used to be.
Conclusion: Lyric vs Nest
UPDATE: Based off of my analysis, the Nest is still the clear winner by a margin of 4-2, even with the price difference. The Nest could certainly learn a thing or two from the Lyric when it comes to initial set-up and configuration, but the Nest has had more time on the market and it clearly shows.
In short, the Lyric is the best competitor to the Nest yet, but it still has a fair amount to prove. It’s a much closer race, now that the Lyric has undercut Nest’s pricing. As it stands now, the Nest is still just a better overall product that has benefited from added development and product refinement.