Taking on Nest: Honeywell Lyric Smart Thermostat
Honeywell’s new Lyric Wi-Fi thermostat uses geofencing to keep homes feeling comfortable.
It’s no secret Google’s energy saving Nest thermostat changed the way people think about how they manage their home’s temperature. Smart thermostats, once a small niche category among smart home automation products, are now popular. Honeywell, one of the originators of thermostat technology, wants a bigger piece of that niche.
Enter the Lyric, Honeywell’s latest Wi-Fi connected smart thermostat. The Lyric isn’t the company’s first high-tech thermostat. In fact Honeywell has several Wi-Fi connected thermostats on the market, including one that responds to voice commands and one that changes colors. The Honeywell Lyric is the first of the company’s products to radically depart from the traditional square or rectangular white box design and go back to something even more traditional. The new Lyric’s design pays homage to Honeywell’s original Round dial-based thermostat from 1953 (which also happens to still be in my parents’ house).
One of the things that made the Nest popular was its design—yes it has nice technology features, but it’s the product’s modern design that gets attention. The Lyric also scores high on the cool factor. It features a gloss white finish with a bright display and several icons. One of the Lyric’s neater features is the touch-sensitive edge which acts like the dial on the old 1950s models. Buttons on the face are also flush and touch sensitive, so those thick, button-heavy thermostat days are gone.
The Lyric is a radical departure for Honeywell in terms of function too. Instead of managing your home’s temperature based on a pre-programed (or learned, as in the case of Nest) schedule, the Lyric senses when you’re home and adjusts the temperature accordingly. Honeywell calls this Geofencing and does this trick by connecting to your smart phone (iOS or Android) to detect whether or not you’re in the house (it can connect to multiple smartphones for the whole family). Honeywell emphasizes that this method is better than a thermostat that learns your schedule, because most families don’t live by rigid schedules anymore (I can attest to this). The Lyric connects through Wi-Fi and the cloud, so no gateway or hub is required. Apps for iOS or Android also allow for complete control, in house or when away.
Don’t worry that the Lyric will start turning your AC on and off just when you walk to the curb to check the mail. The thermostat’s geofencing feature doesn’t makes changes until it knows you’re a few miles away (you can customize the distance), so you can take your dog for a walk in winter and not worry that the heat will turn off. The same feature also kicks into action as you approach your home, so the house reaches your desired temp by the time you open the door. The system should save you money by not driving your heater or AC when you’re not around to enjoy it.
In addition to indoor temperature, the Lyric takes into account the outdoor temperature, humidity and weather, throws that all into an algorithm, and uses that to maintain the ideal comfort.
There are a few other interesting things about the Lyric, including a proximity sensor that wakes up when you get close to the thermostat and displays the temp and mode. A soft background light illuminates when you make adjustments, and a touch-sensitive button gets you weather info. You can also assign several shortcut settings such as “sleep” or “party.”
Honeywell’s Lyric is designed for do-it-yourself installations. All the installation information is included in the app. At the moment the Lyric cannot be integrated with other smart home automation or control systems (which means you can’t depend on geofencing to adjust the temperature and the lights too), as the Nest can, but hopefully that will be coming. The Lyric smart thermostat is currently available for $279.
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Grant Clauser is a technology editor, covering home electronics for more than 10 years for such publications as Electronic House and Dealerscope. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email at email@example.com
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