Just how much smarter can a smart home thermostat get?
The original generations, just two or three years old, managed the program and adjusted it to your whereabouts. Since then, similar devices have been made by growing numbers of companies, but there’s a finite limit to where the technology can go: geofencing, connectivity and additional HVAC support are about as good as we got.
This has been shown by the reducing number of new features in recent Nest models, and now the Lyric T5 seems to be remarkably similar to its predecessor. If fact, if the main features are “its square and can show more information,” then it seems the technology is pretty much mature, with the only decision left to pick a model that works best for your smart home.
Special Holiday Pricing Update: In case you missed it, the Lyric T5 is on sale here. That’s the best price I’ve seen all year, so be sure to check this listing if you are considering buying.
Key Features of the Lyric T5
- New Design: The Lyric T5 abandons the classic round motif ring design of the T3, and goes back to boring and functional squareness. It has a black glass front and a sloping grey edge, it looks okay from the front, but rather functional and boring side on, which may be a problem if your thermostat is located where people walk by. The square design comes from the company’s Pro T range, which will soon include the touchscreen Pro T6, but the Lyric models are aimed at the consumer market.
- Geofencing + Extended Compatibility: To that end, the new model now comes with geofencing, and support for Amazon Echo’s Alexa and Apple’s HomeKit and Siri. That ticks the boxes for those users with a growing range of gadgets that can be controlled by voice.
- Cost Effective: However, at its price (check here for latest), it costs a lot less than Honeywell’s WiFi Smart Thermostat and rivals like Nest. At that price, there are some limitations, it only uses WiFi and most control is expected to be done via a smartphone or voice control.
- Improved Display: The square face opens up more room for a bigger LCD display, even though the unit itself is compact. Showing off the time, current temp and with Mode, Menu and Fan options, you can control the basics from the panel, but the app is a lot easier to set up scheduling, geofencing and other features.
Pros of the Honeywell Lyric T5
- Easy to Install: Decades of Honeywell experience in thermostats and a good learning curve with recent Lyrics mean that the company has pretty much mastered all it needs to know. It requires a C wire and won’t work with electric baseboard heat (120-240V) units, but in most cases, the Lyric T5 is very easy to install. Optional extras include small or large decorative cover plates and a standard installation adapter.
- Easy to Configure with your Smart Device: It is also easy to set up with your WiFi and smartphone, and from then on, it pretty much just works. The app is being aggressively developed with new features including System Active Icon and Vacation Mode due to be added in the next round of firmware updates.
- Plays Well with Others: As mentioned, the Lyric works Amazon’s Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT to give a wide range of control and interaction options with other smart home fear. Three’s a range of setting options including location-based scheduling, smart scheduling, time based scheduling with support for 7 Day 1 Day, 5-1-1, or 5-2 and no schedule for manual control.
- Flexible Scheduling: With seven-day scheduling, you can also use location-based settings to trigger the heating as you come home or leave and there’s the usual adaptive learning feature where Lyric knows how long it takes to get to the right temperature, so it can fine tune start and off times.
- Smart Alerts: When in use, the Lyric 5 will produce smart alerts to warn about temperature extremes outside of the normal range, and can tell you to change filters on devices. The unit can also work in auto changeover mode, determining if the house needs to be cooled or warmed automatically to keep the temperature steady.
Cons of the Honeywell Lyric T5
The original Lyrics at least looked interesting, whereas the T5 is dull and functional in all aspects, if you want your smart home to make a statement, this probably isn’t for you. Your personal preference may be different, but the budget clearly didn’t stretch to an interesting design.
Having praised its design, the Lyric with its UWP backplate still isn’t as easy to install from a wiring perspective as the Nest, which is simply less fiddly, but that’s a minor issue. Otherwise you should be good to go, barring the usual connectivity issues and iOS or Android app glitches that can affect almost any product.
The Lyric app is actually one of the better looking ones, but even the new version only gets a 1.5 star rating on the iOS store, suggesting the company still has more work to do. Apple Watch support is coming in 2017, so Honeywell’s coders are going to be busy. Perhaps that’s why there’s so much fuss over using Siri or Alexa voice control, to save people using the app?
Lyric T5 Alternatives?
There is some fierce competition in the smart thermostat space right now. For some analysis of the closest competitors to Lyric, check out my articles below:
Nest Smart Thermostat: The Nest is easily one of the most popular options, especially since being acquired by Google. You can check out my full review here and learn more about the differences between Gen2 and Gen3 here.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat: Ecobee is a close runner up, known for the easy to add sensor extenders (instead of buying multiple full units), You can read the full review and/or check out the new “lite” version here.
Looking for a Z-Wave Compatible Thermostat? Here are some of the best options to consider.
Final Take on the T5
If you have a smart home thermostat, even a first generation model, there really is no need to update to a later generation, they do the job perfectly. However, if you are new to the market, then with so much more smart home technology available than there was a few years ago, you might be looking to stretch your budget across lighting, cameras, garage openers and more products.
So, the Lyric T5 is a lower cost (see pricing here) unit that looks okay, has all the connectivity features that a modern smart home could require and is a decent option in terms of control and settings. While it might not be the unit of choice for a high end smart home owner, it looks like it will do a great job for people who just want more control and aren’t worried about luxury features or looks.