Programmable Thermostats

Reviews of digital programmable thermostats

Honeywell RTH221B Basic Programmable Thermostat

Click Here to find the Best Price on Amazon for the Honeywell RTH221B Basic Programmable Thermostat

List of Specifications:

  • 1 Week programming
  • 4 periods to set up – ‘wake’, ‘leave’, ‘return’ and ‘sleep’
  • Ability to skip periods
  • Temporary hold
  • Digital display (without back light)
  • Retains settings even after a power outage
  • 1 year warranty
  • Price about $22 from Amazon (click the link above to check the price on Amazon.com)

Compatibility:

  • Central air, heating only, cooling only, gravity/steam, 750 Millivolt, hot water, gas fireplaces
  • 1 stage of heating and 1 stage of cooling

Review

The Honeywell RTH221B Basic Programmable Thermostat is a one week device that comes with a 1 year warranty. It is a vertical style thermostat that may suit the gap in the wall left by an old thermostat. Its simplicity might suit people who are retired or don’t need to set a different program for every day of the week. The cheap price of just over $20 might also suit people who want to upgrade from an old mercury bubble thermostat but who don’t want to buy an expensive thermostat with lots of functions they are never going to use.

In reviews of the Honeywell RTH221B many people comment that they bought the device because they didn’t want the hassle of setting up  lots of programs for each day of the week. The Honeywell RTH221B has 1 program with 4 periods of heating/cooling to set up. They are ‘wake’, ‘leave’ ‘return’ and ‘sleep’. If you are retired and every day is effectively the ‘weekend’ then the Honeywell RTH221B might well be the device for you.

The thermostat is compatible with heating only, cooling only, single stage heating, single stage cooling, furnace (warm air), hot water, 750 Millivolt systems, central air, steam or gravity and gas fire places. It cannot manage heat pumps.

It is a battery powered device that has a small display that is not backlit. It is simple to self-install if you read the instructions carefully. With all instructions you shouldn’t rely on the wires being colored correctly; instead, you must use the configuration from the old thermostat to help you determine the correct coloring of each wire.

As this thermostat only has 1 program to set up it is very easy to program. There are few buttons and few functions to confuse or mislead you. If you don’t need all the 4 periods then you can skip any period by pressing the hold button for 4 seconds and the set up moves to another period. Whereas, the great thing about other programmable thermostats is their sophistication of programming, the great thing about the Honeywell RTH221B is its lack of sophistication, its simplicity.

One of the few functions the Honeywell RTH221B does have is temporary hold. This is simplicity itself. If you are a bit cold you press the up button once to see the set point, press it again to raise the temperature 1 degree and again to raise it 2 degrees and so on. The thermostat then runs the HVAC at this higher temperature until the start of a new programmed period (such as the night period) when the original settings are returned to.

If you go away for a few days you simply set a temperature press hold and the thermostat maintains the house at that temperature until you return home and press ‘hold’ again to return back to your programmed settings.

Other than ‘hold’ the only other ‘function’ worthy of the name is the Honeywell RTH221B’s ability to keep its programmed settings even after a power outage.

Drawbacks

As mentioned in the above review it is a matter of point of view whether you see the lack of programming options and functions as a drawback or an advantage. Some  people want as much control as possible over their heating and cooling; other people just want a basic programmable thermostat that you can use to set up a few programs and that you can quickly put on hold if you are a bit hot or cold. For this later group the Honeywell RTH221B Basic Programmable Thermostat is perfect.

And at only $20 simplicity does seem more attractive.

One drawback is that the thermostat is limited to just single stage heating and cooling and cannot manage heat pumps of any description. Also the lack of a back light might be irksome to people who want to check the thermostat at night.

Amazon Reviews

The Amazon reviews for the Honeywell RTH221B make for very interesting reading. It is possible to discount the odd criticism as down to a faulty device, but if the same criticism keeps reoccurring then it deserves to be taken more seriously. More than 5 reviewers out of a total of 64 reviews mentioned that the Honeywell RTH221B was not accurate. All these negative reviews  mentioned that the thermostat was about 5 degrees out. For some this was a minor problem that was easy to compensate for by altering the settings, for others it was symptomatic of bad and flawed equipment.

Furthermore, a couple of people noted that the Honeywell RTH221B stopped working altogether after 12 months.

At the same time many people commented about how they love the ease of programming, how the vertical design suits their house, how the device was easy to install and how the device works much better than their previous non-programmable thermostat.

I guess if you buy a Honeywell RTH221B bearing in mind that it is both ‘basic’ and ‘$20’ then you won’t have unreasonably high expectations for the device. It will definitely save you money (and pay for itself), but it is debatable whether it will be as accurate as more expensive Honeywell’s such as the RTH7500D, RTH7600D or the RTH8500D.

Keynote Quote:

“Seems to be perfect for the job, but it reads about 5 degrees F too high. Works well by setting up the control point.”

C. Brock

Thu, February 3 2011 » Honeywell, Under $30 » No Comments

Lux TX9100E

Lux TX9100E

Click Here to find the Best Price on Amazon for the Lux TX9100E

List of Specifications:

  • 7 Day programming and 4 periods per day
  • Large mercury-free display with back light
  • Lux Products patented speed dial and ‘copy’ function
  • Smart Recovery (adaptive intelligent recovery)
  • Swing Control (up to 2.25 degrees in 0.25 increments)
  • Temporary override
  • Vacation mode
  • Batteries not needed
  • Filter warning
  • Can cycle fan
  • Keyboard lockout (10,000 plus combinations)
  • Display in Celsius or Fahrenheit & 12 or 24 hour clock
  • Energy Star approved
  • 1 year warranty
  • Price $40 (use the link above to check the latest price on Amazon)

Compatibility:

  • Central air, heating only, cooling only, single stage  heat pumps, heat pumps with auxiliary, 2 wire hydronics, 3 wire hydronics, gas
  • up to 2 stages of heating and 1 stage of cooling

Review

The Lux TX9100E 7 Day Universal Programmable Thermostat is a recommended programmable thermostat which is reliable and accurate and approved by Energy Star. It is similar to the Lux Products TX9000TS except that it doesn’t feature touchscreen programming. It does, however, come at an attractive price of just over $50 and it is compatible with a wider range of heating and cooling systems than the Lux Products TX9000TS.

The Lux TX9100E is a 7 day device that offers not only daily programs but also 4 programs per day. It can regulate gas, oil, electric, 2-Wire hydronic (hot water) systems and 3-wire zone valve hydronic (hot water) systems. It can also control single and multi stage heat pumps and up to 2 stages of heating and 1 stage of cooling. It can also draw its power from the mains (unlike the Lux Products TX9000TS).

Installation is straight forward  once you have read the instruction manual and it has a large mercury free display that can show the temperature in either Celsius or Fahrenheit and the time in either 12 or 24 hours styles. Programming is not hard to master and there is a handy copy function so you can repeat programs from one day to the next. As with most Lux Products thermostats, the Lux TX9100E also has an excellent keyboard lockout (with over 10,000 combinations) to stop anyone changing the settings.

The Lux TX9100E also has smart recovery to make sure the temperature set point is always reached at the start of a programmed period. There is also an adjustable swing control to let you set up a range around the temperature set point within which the thermostat doesn’t activate the heating or cooling. This is a useful feature to stop the HVAC short cycling.

There is also a temporary hold and unlike the Honeywell RTH7500D and Honeywell RTH7600D the Lux TX9100E also has a vacation mode so you can set a low heating/cooling program for while you are away and have the house comfortable for your return.

Drawbacks

There is very little to find fault with this programmable thermostat. It represents excellent value for money at just over $50. If any improvements were to made it would be to allow the Lux TX9100E to regulate 2 stage cooling. Also the inclusion of an auto change-over function (to automatically switch between heating and cooling) would be appreciated by many consumers. And perhaps like the Lux Products TX9000TS a relative humidity monitor on the display would be useful.

Amazon Reviews

The Lux TX9100E 7 Day Universal Programmable Thermostat is the 15th best selling thermostat on Amazon. It has garnered 36 customer reviews. 28 people give the device 5 stars, 7 people give it 4 stars and only 1 person awarded a single star.

One happy customer commented how useful it was being able to set up when the second stage of the heat pump was activated because auxiliary heat is expensive. The same customer did note that the backlight could be brighter.

Another customer describes the Lux TX1500E as ‘extremely flexible’ and ‘super easy’ to install.

A lot of people comment about installation. These comments are mostly technical points about the specifics of different types of HVAC systems, heat pumps etc. One comment mentioned that Lux Products quickly responded with a wiring solution for his particular system. This positive comment about the customer service was repeated by several people.

One customer commented that being able to adjust the swing meant that the Lux TX9100E cycled his furnace just 2 or 3 times an hour compared to his old Honeywell unit which cycled the furnace 5 or 6 times an hour.

Keynote Quote:

“This is a highly flexible thermostat at a cheap price. I believe that Lux thermostats are top-rated by a leading consumer publication and I can see why. The customer service is great, the product works well and my sense is that it will last a long time based on the seemingly solid build quality. Highly recommended! ”

– Brad Willis

Wed, January 26 2011 » Lux Products, Under $50 » 1 Comment

Honeywell RTH8500D

buy a Honeywell RTH8500D

Click Here to find the Best Price on Amazon for the Honeywell RTH8500D

List of Specifications:

  • 7 Day programming and 4 periods per day
  • Large touchscreen with back light
  • Intuitive, menu driven touchscreen programming
  • Smart Response
  • Temporary override
  • Vacation mode
  • Auto change-over
  • Batteries not needed
  • Filter warning
  • Can cycle fan
  • Real time display that takes account for daylight saving
  • Keeps settings even after a power outage
  • Energy Star approved
  • 1 year warranty
  • Price $109 (use the link above to check the latest price on Amazon)

Compatibility:

  • Central air, heating only, cooling only, single stage heat pumps, heat pumps with auxiliary, 2 wire hydronics, gas, 750 Millivolt, gas fireplaces
  • up to 2 stages of heating and 2 stages of cooling

Review

The Honeywell RTH8500D 7 Day Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat is the eighth best selling thermostat on Amazon.com. It is a device that has excellent compatibility and nearly every conceivable function a home owner could want from a programmable thermostat excepting wi-fi and humidity control. And at just over $100 this Honeywell International thermostat is being sold at a good price.

The Honeywell RTH8500D gives the user a program slot for each day of the week and for each day the user can set up for 4 periods of heating and cooling. Programming is via a large touchscreen with a backlight. The thermostat uses an intuitive menu driven style of programming that is easy to understand and lets the user quickly set up his or her programs.

The thermostat is compatible with nearly all 24 volt HVAC systems including heating only, cooling only, furnace (warm air), central air conditioning, heat pump (with and without auxiliary heat), hot water, steam or gravity, 750 Millivolt, and gas fireplaces. The thermostat can also manage up to 2 stages of heating and cooling. This makes the Honeywell RTH8500D far more compatible than the Lux Products TX9100E or Lux TX9000TS.

The Honeywell RTH8500D has temporary hold, vacation mode, auto change-over and smart response. Having a vacation mode makes the Honeywell RTH8500D better than the Honeywell RTH7500D and Honeywell RTH7600D which are both models missing vacation mode. This is a useful function because you can set the thermostat on a timer. Until the timer point is reached (when you return home) the thermostat keeps the HVAC just ticking over to protect your house.

The smart response function on the Honeywell RTH8500D is a powerful function that tracks how long it takes to heat or warm a room during the changing of the seasons and uses this information to pre-heat or pre-cool a room so at the start of a programmed period the temperature is just as you want it.

The Honeywell RTH8500D 7 Day Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat is accurate to 1 degree Fahrenheit and is a reliable device. It is an Energy Star approved device and comes with a 1 year warranty.

Other features include the ability to cycle the fan. The clock works in real time and automatically makes changes to compensate for daylight saving. The thermostat can be hardwired into the HVAC so it can be powered by the mains. This obviates the need for battery changes. The Honeywell RTH8500D can also keep programmed settings even after a power outage.

Drawbacks


There is very little that you can write in criticism of the Honeywell RTH8500D. It has a whole slew of functions and can be installed onto most heating/cooling systems.

As with all Honeywell thermostats, the RTH8500D is missing a swing control function. Instead the Honeywell RTH8500D limits the number of cycles of the heating/cooling per hour. This is a system that usually works well to stop the HVAC systems from becoming damaged with too much short cycling. The system is particularly suited to temperate zones. For more extreme conditions it is not certain whether swing control is not a better option.

The only other notable function that is missing from the Honeywell RTH8500D is keyboard lockout. If this is important for you because your programmable thermostat will be placed in a public spot then you should look at a Lux Products thermostat.

Amazon Reviews


There are surprisingly few reviews of the Honeywell RTH8500D – only 12. Of these 12 reviews, 9 people give the thermostat 5 stars and the other 3 give the Honeywell RTH8500D 4 stars.

As you would imagine with mostly 5 star reviews, opinions are mostly positive about the device. One reviewer noted how useful the vacation mode is. Another that the pre-set times and temperatures (in line with Energy Star recommendations) were useful guidelines.

A reviewer from North Carolina noted that “set up was a cinch” and the temporary hold works effectively.

The only negative comments were about the touchscreen interface. One person found it ‘wonky’ and another that the backlight didn’t stay on for long enough

Keynote Quote:

“Highly recommended! I have three of these in my home, one for each zone.”

W. Price

Sat, January 22 2011 » Honeywell, Under $150 » No Comments

Lux Products TX1500E Smart Temp

Click Here to Find the Best Price on Amazon for the Lux Products TX1500E Smart Temp

List of Specifications:

  • 5-1-1 programming and 4 periods per day
  • Large Display with electroluminescent back light
  • Swing control (up to 2.25 degrees in 0.25 degree increments)
  • Temporary override
  • Vacation mode
  • Keyboard lockout
  • Lux speed dial for quick programming
  • Battery change warning
  • Filter warning
  • Can cycle fan
  • Relative humidity monitor
  • Energy Star approved
  • 1 year warranty
  • Price $40 (use the link above to check the latest price on Amazon)

Compatibility:

  • Central air, heating only, cooling only, single stage heat pumps, 2 wire hydronics, gas
  • 1 stage heating and 1 stage cooling

Review

The Lux Products TX1500E Smart Temp Programmable Thermostat is a good quality thermostat that has sold well over the last few years. It costs about $40 and comes with an Energy Star approval and a 1 year warranty.

The Lux Products TX1500E is a 5-1-1 device. This means it gives the user 3 program slots – weekdays, Saturday and Sunday. And for each of the 3 program slots you can program 4 periods in the day. For those people with a job with regular hours not being able to set a program for each day of the week is not such a big issue. The basic idea behind programmable thermostats is to match the heating and cooling of a house with the comings and goings of the inhabitants in order to cut out waste. If your schedule during weekdays doesn’t vary then a 5-1-1 programmable thermostat can do as an effective a job as a 7 day programmable thermostat. Indeed some people prefer it because it means fewer programs to set up.

There are, however, several other useful functions on the Lux Products TX1500E. It has temporary override to let you quickly change the room temperature if you are a bit hot/cold or you want to stay up late. Temporary override lets you suspend your programmed settings until you turn the override off. The Lux Products TX1500E, unlike the more expensive Honeywell RTH7500D and Honeywell RTH7600D, has a vacation mode that lets you set a program that allows the HVAC to just tick over while you are away. You can set the vacation mode on a timer so the normal settings are returned to on the day of your return.

Other features on the Lux Products TX1500E include swing control, filter change warning, battery change warning and keyboard lockout. An interesting feature on the Lux Products TX1500E is that it has a relative humidity monitor. It cannot regulate humidity control devices but it can tell you whether the humidity in a room is too high or too low. To keep strand woven bamboo flooring or hardwood flooring safe, for example, the relative humidity has to stay within 30% and 60%.

Installation of the Lux Products TX1500E Smart Temp Programmable Thermostat is straight forward. The device can be installed onto most 24V heating & A/C systems including 1 stage heat, 1 stage cool, gas, oil, electric or single stage heat pump systems, 2 wire heat only hydronic systems and MilliV systems.  The Lux Products TX1500E cannot handle 2 stage heating and 2 stage cooling or multi-stage heat pumps.

As with many Lux Products thermostats the Lux Products TX1500E features a patented speed dial system for quick programming. There is a backlit display to let you quickly check the temperature, filter status etc.

Drawbacks

The Lux TX1500E is the third best selling programmable thermostat on Amazon so for the money it is hard to talk about drawbacks. Yes the device does have limited compatibility and yes it lacks several features such as 7 day programming, auto change-over and smart response/recovery, but this is to be expected when you only pay $40 for a programmable thermostat.

One thing that could be improved on this model of programmable thermostat is that it could be made to draw its power off the HVAC power instead of depending on batteries. However, it is not a device that quickly drains batteries.

Amazon Reviews

There are 102 reviews on Amazon.com for the Lux Products TX1500E. Of the 102 reviews, 62 people give the thermostat a 5 star review and 6 people give the device a 1 star review.

A number of reviewers mention that they had decided to buy the Lux Products TX1500E because the thermostat got good Consumer Report reviews.

One reviewer mentioned the fact that the vacation mode effectively adds another program slot to the Lux Products TX1500E making it a 5-1-1-1 device. Another mentioned that Lux Products were very helpful when he asked them a question about swing control. A number of people noted the usefulness of being able to check the relative humidity in a room.

On the negative side, one reviewer bemoaned the lack of auto switch-over that automatically changes from heating to cooling and vice versa to make sure a steady room temperature is maintained even during seasonal changes of weather.

Many of the reviews deal with people’s experiences of installation. Many people managed to get the thermostat working in under an hour while others struggled and felt that the instructions could be better. This is pretty much the same for all reviews for programmable thermostats. It is essential to read the instructions before attempting installation and it is essential to know exactly what types of heating/cooling system you have in your home.

Also some people complained about short cycling. This is because the default setting for the swing control is 0.25 degrees. This needs to be increased to prevent short cycling.

Keynote Quote:

“Overall,  I am very pleased with the Lux 1500E. It feels well built, has a nice display, and a competitive price. Add Lux’s great customer support, and I’d highly recommend it. ”

G. P. Stern

Mon, January 17 2011 » Lux Products, Under $50 » No Comments

Lux Products TX9000TS

buy Lux Products TX9000TS Touchscreen 7 Day Programmable Thermostat

Click here to find the best price on Amazon for the Lux Products TX9000TS

List of Specifications:

  • 7 Day programming and 4 periods per day
  • Touchscreen programming
  • Mercury free one touch blue backlight
  • Auto change-over
  • Smart recovery (adaptive intelligent recovery)
  • Swing control (up to 2.5 degrees in 0.5 degree increments)
  • Temporary override
  • Power monitor to measure electricity costs
  • Audio confirmation
  • Keyboard lockout (over 10,000 combinations)
  • Battery change warning
  • Filter warning
  • Can cycle fan
  • Energy Star approved
  • Display in Fahrenheit or Celsius / 12 hour or 24 hour
  • 1 year warranty
  • Price $70 (use the link above to check the latest price on Amazon)

Compatibility:

  • Central air, heating only, cooling only, single stage heat pumps, 2 wire hydronics, gas
  • 1 stage heating and 1 stage cooling

Review

The Lux Products TX9000TS Touchscreen 7 Day Programmable Thermostat is a powerful device at a most reasonable price. It features 7 day programming with 4 periods of heating/cooling per day to set up. It also has several other useful functions to help the user increase home comfort and maximize the savings that can be made from properly regulating indoor climate.

The Lux Products TX9000TS has a large electroluminescent touchscreen display that has blue backlight and is mercury free. Programming in your settings is hassle free as is installation of the thermostat to your HVAC system.

There is a smart recovery function that learns how long it takes to pre-heat or pre-cool a room prior to the beginning of a programmed period. This function relieves the user of having to guess how early to set the thermostat in the morning before the first person wakes up. It also means that when the homeowner gets back from work the house is always comfortable. Smart recovery also prevents the user from being tempted to turn up the heating or cooling because he or she has come home to house that is too hot/cold.

The Lux Products TX9000TS has a seasonal auto change-over function that detects the changing of the seasons and automatically adjusts between heating and cooling to keep room temperature exactly as set.

Other features found on this programmable thermostat include filter change warning, battery change warning and swing control. The swing control can be adjusted so that the user has control of how many degrees the temperature is allowed to rise or fall before the thermostat cycles the HVAC systems. This is a useful function to protect the air-con, furnace etc. from short cycling too often. Short cycling leads to HVAC equipment prematurely wearing out.

Two useful functions found on this Lux Products thermostat that are not found on many other thermostats is keyboard lockout to protect your settings from unauthorized people altering the settings on the thermostat. There are over 10,000 keyboard combinations to choose from. The other function not commonly found on the Lux Products TX9000TS Touchscreen 7 Day Programmable Thermostat is audible touch confirmation so you know your alterations have been registered.

Drawbacks

One drawback from the Lux Products TX9000TS is that it is only compatible with single stage heating and single stage cooling. Also it can only regulate heat pumps without auxiliary or emergency heat.

The only function of note that is missing is a vacation mode.

Another downside is that the unit cannot be run from the mains power.

Amazon Reviews

181 people have bought the Lux Products TX9000TS and commented on Amazon about their purchase. The thermostat receives 117 five star reviews and 9 one star reviews.

Reviewers found it easy to install the thermostat and liked the large backlit touchscreen. One reviewer commented about the ease of starting the backlight (unlike the Honeywell RTH7600D and RTH7500D starting the backlight didn’t involve initiating a program change that then needed to be cancelled).

Another reviewer noted the usefulness of the power monitor to allow you to keep track on how much electricity your settings are costing you.

Regards programming some users thought the controls could be simplified but most people said that it didn’t take long to get used to the programming style. To balance the criticism about programming, several  people noted how useful the ‘copy’ function was that let you quickly transfer the settings from 1 day to the next.

One negative comment was about the fan. The Lux Products TX9000TS cycles the fan when the heating/cooling is on and you can turn the fan on via the thermostat but you can’t put the fan on a separate timer.

Keynote Quote:

“Considering all the features of the TX9000TS, I think Lux offers this product at a very reasonable price. I have found that similar touchscreen thermostats from other companies cost much more. ”

– Elizabeth

Mon, January 10 2011 » Lux Products, Under $100 » No Comments