Programmable Thermostats

Reviews of digital programmable thermostats

Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro 8000

Honeywell VisionPro 8000

Click here to find the Best Price for the Honeywell TH8321U1006 VisionPRO Universal Programmable Thermostat

List of Specifications

  • 4 periods per day and 1 program for each day of the week
  • Dehumidification control
  • Smart response
  • Temporary hold
  • Programmable fan settings
  • Auto change-over
  • Battery warning and filter warning
  • Touchscreen interface
  • Menu-driven programming
  • Vacation mode
  • Battery warning and filter warning
  • Accurate to +/- 1°F
  • Real time clock that makes allowances for daylight saving
  • Keeps programmed settings even after a power outage
  • 5 year warranty
  • Price: Honeywell TH8321U1006 VisionPRO Universal Programmable Thermostat $155

Compatibility

  • 3 stages of heating and 2 stages of cooling.
  • Air-con, gas, hot water, heat pump with auxiliary, millivolt system
  • Honeywell recommend that the Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro be installed by a professional electrician

The Honeywell TH8321U1006 VisionPRO Universal Programmable Thermostat is a great value Honeywell thermostat that takes has all the best aspects of the Honeywell RTH8500D and also includes humidity control for the home.

Review of the Honeywell TH321 VisionPro 8000 Programmable Thermostat

There is a large backlit touchscreen display that shows current temperature, set point temperature, humidity in the room, fan status as well as battery and filter status. As with the Honeywell RTH8500D the Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro has an easy to understand programming interface that uses menus to make setting up the 4 periods for each of the week straight forward work. A nice feature of the Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro is the ability to remove the unit from the wall and program, from the comfort of an armchair.

And as with all Honeywell thermostats in the TH range it holds the room temperature within 1 degree Fahrenheit of the programmed set point.

The thermostat uses adaptive intelligent recovery to make sure the set point is reached at the start of a programmed period. As discussed elsewhere on programmablethermostats.biz this function makes sure the house is always the ideal temperature when you wake up in the morning or return from work. It takes the guess work out of programming and helps to make the home more energy efficient.

If you live in a climatic zone where the humidity levels can become very high then the Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro’s ability to control humidity will be of particular interest to you. It does this through dropping the temperature using the air-con. It can be an added chore to have to check humidity levels all the time and make manual alterations to dehumidifiers. This thermostat allows you to bring all the aspects of climate control together with 1 device that can be pre-programmed. The Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro lets you set up what humidity level you desire and the device will automatically regulate the indoor humidity levels for you. Controlling humidity in a home not only brings extra comfort to the occupants of a home but also protects flooring and furniture made from such natural materials as hardwood, bamboo and coconut that can warp and bend with too much or water vapor in the air.

The Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro also has a temporary hold to let you suspend temperature settings if you decide to take a day off work or stay up late. There is also a vacation mode that lets you set the thermostat on a timer so the house is comfortable for when you return from your holiday.

As would be expected on a thermostat of this caliber it warns you when the filters need changing and also when the battery is running low. It also warns you when the humidifier pad needs changing. As with the Honeywell RTH7500D and the Honeywell RTH8500D the programmed settings are automatically adjusted to account for changes due to day light saving. The thermostat also maintains programmed settings even after a power failure.

Finally, the Honeywell TH8321 also includes a keyboard lockout. This feature is not found on any of the other Honeywell TH models (it is included in the top of the range Honeywell Prestige HD thermostat).

Drawbacks

There really are few drawbacks to the Honeywell TH8321 VisionPro 8000. It has a great range of functions and also includes the ability to regulate humidity in the home. The fact that the device has to be installed by a HVAC professional makes the overall expense higher. This is balanced by a better warranty of 5 years (most Honeywell thermostats only have a warranty of 1 year).

It should be remembered that the Honeywell TH8321 thermostat can only remove humidity from the air by using the air conditioner unit. Thus it this function is only of value in hot and humid climates not in cold and dry climates. For complete humidity control it is necessary to buy the Honeywell Prestige HD. Only the Prestige HD can actually regulate separate dehumidifier devices.

One possible drawback of this thermostat along with all Honeywell thermostats is a lack of swing control. This is the price paid for the promise made of keeping the room within 1 degree of the set point temperature. This issue is dealt with at length elsewhere on this site. Some people find the Honeywell alternative to swing control suitable and others complain that it leads to short cycling of the furnace.

Amazon Reviews

There are 12 reviews of the Honeywell TH8321U1006 VisionPRO Universal Programmable Thermostat With Armchair Programming. 5 of these are 5 star reviews and 2 are the minimum 1 star. Some reviewers point out that it is possible to do a self-installation. This might affect the warranty status. Another point to mention is that one person notes that the external sensor set up affects the thermostat and that it was necessary to remove the backup battery on the circuit board as well as the AAA batteries.

Some reviews mention the need to buy an outdoor sensor to go with the unit.

One person mentioned that the random fan circulation mode was very useful in making sure the temperature was even throughout the home.

Another reviewer complained about a clicking noise when the thermostat turned on the air-con, fan or auxiliary heat.

One reviewer complained that the cycles per hour function didn’t work properly. This is again part of the swing control vs span control debate.

Keynote quote:

“In contrast to others, I have found this to be an excellent thermostat. It was easy to install myself and has a lot of great features. It automatically adjusts for high humidity by using the air conditioning system. It drops the set temperature lower to bring the humidity more in line with the level set by the user.”

Bob Barker

Wed, August 31 2011 » Honeywell, Under $200 » No Comments

Hunter 44360

Hunter Fan Company 44360

Click Here to find the Best Price for the Hunter Fan Company 44360 7 Day Energy Star Programmable Thermostat

List of Specifications:

  • 7 day programming with 4 periods per day
  • Auto Recovery (adaptive intelligent control)
  • Energy Star approved
  • Mercury free Indiglo digital display
  • Temporary hold
  • Vacation mode
  • Span Setting
  • Energy usage monitor
  • Easy adjustments for daylight saving
  • 2 stage battery change warning
  • Front battery access
  • Filter change warning
  • Accurate to +/- 1° F
  • Read out in either Fahrenheit or Celsius
  • Price: just under $40

Compatibility

  • Air-con, heating only, cooling only, 2 wire hot water, 24 volt millivolt systems, gas and single stage heat pumps
  • Single stage heating and single stage cooling

Review of Hunter Fan Company 7 Day Energy Star Programmable Thermostat

The Hunter 44360 is a 7 day digital programmable thermostat that is Energy Star compliant. It is a thermostat that offers good value for its price tag of $40.

The thermostat has a program for each day of the week to set up and within each day there are 4 periods to define. The Hunter 44360 is compatible with single stage heating and cooling systems including heat pumps, air-con units and furnaces.

The digital display on the Hunter 44360 has an Indiglo backlight that stays on for 5 seconds after any button is pushed. The Hunter 44360 can display temperatures between 32 degrees and 99 degrees. Beneath the digital display is the control panel. The controls are hidden behind a flap to stop people accidentally touching the thermostat and changing the controls.

The controls for the thermostat are easy to understand. There are also instructions on the door of the protective cover to guide the user in programming.

Besides 7 day programming the Hunter 44360 offers temporary hold to pause programs if the user wants to change his or her schedule the one time or the weather becomes unseasonably hot or cold. There is also a vacation mode to suspend programs for longer periods when inhabitants of a home go on holiday.

There is also an auto recovery function that uses PID technology to make sure the set point temperature is always reached at the start of a programmed period. This is invaluable for home comfort and prevents people coming home to an uncomfortable house and turning the heating/cooling up high in the mistaken belief that they will reach a the right temperature quicker.

To help the user make real time assessments about energy consumption there is an energy usage monitor. This is a great way to see how decisions about set point temperatures affect bills and help to tutor owners about how to maximize the savings that can be made using a programmable thermostat.

Many programmable thermostats have a swing control function that allows the user to define how many degrees from the set point the room temperature can rise and fall between the thermostat activates the heating or cooling. The Hunter 44360 ‘Set and Save’ (as it is also called) rather than having swing control uses a span control. This is similar to Honeywell thermostats. Rather the Hunter 44360 comes on when the room temperature falls or rises 1 degree Fahrenheit past the set point. It is possible to increase or decrease the span in order to stop short cycling. The span is the amount of time the furnace or air-con runs. This is a system that under temperate conditions can work fine. Also having control of the span is better than no control at all.

Another feature of the thermostat is a 2 stage battery warning light and a daylight savings key that helps the user to make seasonal adjustments in the set point times. There is also a filter change warning.

The Hunter 44360 dimensions are 5 inches by 6 inches by 1 1/4 inches. It comes with a limited 1 year warranty.

Drawbacks

There are a few functions missing from the Hunter Fan Company 44360 7 Day Programmable Thermostat. There is no keyboard lock out to stop unauthorized access to the settings or auto change-over to switch between heating and cooling automatically. More importantly there is no swing control. As mentioned above swing control is replaced by a span setting function that lets the user increase or reduce the time length of each ‘blast’ to keep the room at a steady temperature. As with the Honeywell alternative to swing control it is a controversial topic as to which system is best for holding room temperature and avoiding short cycling.

Another downside of the Hunter 44360 is that it is reliant on batteries – it can’t be hardwired to run off the HVAC power. Another negative is that it is limited in compatibility to single stage heating and cooling.

Amazon Reviews

61 people have reviewed the Hunter Fan Company 44360 7 Day Energy Star Programmable Thermostat. Of those 61 reviews 31 were 5 stars and 6 were 1 star.

One mixed review mentioned that the Hunter 44360 was reading 3 degrees under the real temperature. He still gave the thermostat a 5 star rating because Amazon sent out a replacement the next day and that worked fine.

Some reviews of the Hunter 44360 mention a clicking noise every time the thermostat turns the furnace on and off.

There are many comments about the energy usage monitor that quickly show the user how long the thermostat has been running that day and previous days. Being able to check length of heating/cooling times helps to improve energy efficiency in the home and reduce bills.

Several comments mention how easy the installation and programming of the Hunter 44360 is.

Finally, there are a few negative comments about the front plate falling off or not clicking shut properly. Another criticism by some is that the batteries need changing too often.

Keynote Quote:

“I love this thermostat, and recommended it…It’s much lower-priced compared to other competitors like Honeywell, and has a nice, simple interface. The blue backlight is gorgeous as well ..I HIGHLY recommend it!”

NM02

Sun, July 17 2011 » Hunter, Under $40 » No Comments

Tips for installing a Digital Programmable Thermostat

Introduction to programmable thermostat installation

If you have some experience with DIY and electrical wiring in your home it should not be too difficult to install a digital programmable thermostat in your home. The easiest type of installation is to replace one digital thermostat with another. The hardest is to replace a mechanical thermostat with a digital thermostat. Also some thermostats such as the Honeywell Prestige HD also require the installation of an outdoor sensor and possibly require connection to humidity control devices.

The very first thing you should do, even before getting your tools out, is to read the instruction manual carefully that comes with your new digital programmable thermostat. We’ve included links down the right for some instruction manuals in case you lose the manual.

The next thing to decide is whether your house is a single zone or multi zone house. Most houses have just one HVAC system and thus require just one programmable thermostat. Bigger houses might have 2 or more furnaces etc. and will require a programmable thermostat for each zone.

Where to place a programmable Thermostat

Another important consideration is where to put a digital programmable thermostat. Usually you will put the thermostat in the same place as the old one to cover the hole. There is, however, a possibility that the last thermostat was put in the wrong place (or that the room has been renovated and changed and that what was once the ‘right place’ is now the wrong place). Here is a check list of WHERE NOT TO PUT A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT

  • Never put it near a fireplace or on the same wall as a fireplace. This is always the case even if the fireplace is inoperable.
  • Never put the thermostat on an outside wall.
  • Never put the thermostat in a place where the sun shines directly on it as this will affect the accuracy of the thermostat.

If you find that your old thermostat breaks any of these rules you will have to run the wires from your old thermostat to a more suitable location for the installation of your new programmable thermostat.

Programmable Thermostat installation guidelines

The most important thing to do before starting the job of replacing a thermostat is to turn off the power at the breakers. Even though the voltage going to a thermostat is low you don’t want to have a shock or damage your HVAC by forgetting to turn off the power.

Now you are ready to install a programmable thermostat. Take the front cover off the old thermostat and then unscrew the sub-base or wall plate and take the thermostat off the wall. At this stage do not un-attach any of the wires. You must study the wiring of the old thermostat and use this as the basis for wiring your new programmable thermostat. It is a good idea to have some sticky tape nearby so you can mark the wires so you know exactly what color they are.

It is sometimes the case that the wire colors are faded or that they are wrongly colored. To ascertain the correct color for each wire check with the back of the old thermostat to see which terminal it is connected to. If your old thermostat worked fine then you must continue to follow the same coloring system.

Once you are sure the correct color designation for a wire then tape it (writing the color on the tape) and then unscrew it from the old thermostat. Wrap the wire around a pencil to stop it falling down into the wall cavity.

One all the wires have been taped and coiled around pencils you can drill holes for the new wall plate and attach the wall plate. Next consult the instruction manual carefully and screw the wires onto the back of the new programmable thermostat.

Next put batteries into the new thermostat and then you are ready to start programming your new digital programmable thermostat. Turn the power back on and try out the fan, heat and air-con separately to make sure they are all working. If all is good then it is time to start inputting your set point temperatures and times.

Wiring Notes

Red is the ‘hot’ wire from the transformer
Green is the fan
Yellow is the air-conditioner
White is the heat
Red is sometimes marked RC or RH
Make sure the live wires do not touch anything except the terminal that they are attached to.
Sometimes it is necessary to note the heat anticipator setting from the old thermostat. Most programmable thermostats set the heat anticipator automatically. Again check in the instruction manual.
Tape up the ends of any wires not used.

Video showing how to install a programmable thermostat

This video by Home Depot clearly shows how to install a programmable thermostat.

Fri, June 10 2011 » Installation » No Comments

Digital Thermostats with PID Controller

A PID controller is what is used on modern programmable thermostats. PID stands for proportional–integral–derivative controller. It uses a controller calculation or algorithm to make adjustments to a system.

For Honeywell, Hunter and Lux Products thermostats it is a PID controller that is used for the smart response function or adaptive intelligent recovery.

Basically the PID controller remembers the times needed to heat or cool a room previously and checks this information against the current room temperature. The PID controller will come up with a time when the thermostat  needs to activate the heating or  cooling so that the set point temperature is reached at the beginning of a programmed period.

The advantage of using a PID controller with smart response is that it ‘learns’ how long it takes to pre-heat or pre-cool a room. The optimum time needed to make a room comfortable changes throughout the year – in mild fall and spring weather less time is needed and in summer and winter more time is needed. Also hot water systems take longer to change room temperature than do central air systems. PID takes the guess work out of doing this. Without PID a user would either have to wake up to an uncomfortable house or guess when to set the thermostat  to start prior to waking up. The issue of the purpose of adaptive intelligent recovery is covered in another post.

Finally, the PID controller on programmable thermostats is used to keep the temperature stable. As said before, it learns about the behavior of a  room with regard to heating and cooling. PID prevents overshoots with heating or cooling. The PID controller tells the thermostat when to stop heating or cooling so the room temperature is nudged up to the desired level. If you want a room at 21 degrees Celsius then if the heating was on until this temperature was reached then the room would go higher than 21 degrees. It is PID that tells the thermostat   to turn the heating off at 19 or 18 degrees and allow the residual heat to bring the temperature up.

Sat, April 16 2011 » Functions » No Comments

About Adaptive Intelligent Recovery

Adaptive intelligent recovery is known as smart response on Honeywell thermostats and as smart recovery on Lux Products programmable thermostats. It is a function that pre-heats or pre-cools a room so the set point temperature is reached at the start of a programmed period.

There is some debate of the purpose of this function. Some people in forums question whether this function is necessary and whether it saves money. Other people have gone to HVAC forums to find out ways to turn off adaptive intelligent recovery. Here is a link for instructions to turn off smart response on a Honeywell RTH series thermostat:

http://www.fixya.com/support/t8386450-honeywell_rth2510

The idea of smart recovery is that the Honeywell thermostat learns how long it takes to pre-heat or pre-cool house so you don’t have to guess what time to set the heating/cooling for. People want to wake up to a comfortable house or get home to a comfortable house. While cheaper adaptive intelligent recovery systems may just start 15 minutes prior to the start of a programmed period, Honeywell thermostats monitor the changing conditions in a room and finds the optimum time needed.

The temptation for the average person if they encounter a house that is too warm or too cold is to turn the thermostat up to full heating or full cooling to make the home comfortable quickly. This does not cause the house to reach a comfortable temperature quicker. It just makes the house too hot or too cold and costs more money.

Thus, it might not be immediately apparent what the value of smart response or smart recovery is at first. However, if you consider that it stops you turning the heating/cooling up too much then it becomes clearer why it is a useful function.

A number of comments on HVAC forums note that the house becomes too hot or too cold early in the morning. This is probably because the settings are wrong. The recommended Energy Star settings are as follows:

Morning

70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) in winter and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) in summer.

The morning period should finish when you leave the house to go to work.

Afternoon

For the afternoon or day setting you should reduce the temperature on your programmable thermostat by 8 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) in winter and increase the temperature by 7 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) in summer.

Evening

The evening period starting point should be the time when you usually  return from work. The settings for this period should be the same as for morning.

Night

At midnight or whenever you go to bed should be the start point for the night settings. For  this period you should reduce the temperature by 8 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) in winter and increase the temperature by 4 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) in summer.

The closer you can match the settings with your movements and the closer you can stick to these settings the more energy efficient you will be, and the lower your heating/cooling bills will be. If adaptive intelligent recovery is working correctly it should be a help not a hindrance.

Heat Pumps

The situation with heat pumps is slightly more complicated. The performance of heat pumps is determined by the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors: the colder it is outside the longer it takes for a heat pump to generate heat and to warm a house. Either you buy a Honeywell thermostat such as the Prestige HD that connects through wi-fi to an outdoor sensor to monitor outside temperature changes or you install a thermometer outside and regularly check the temperature so you can estimate what time to start the programs.

Sat, April 9 2011 » Functions » No Comments