Next up (number three) in our Apple HomeKit series is Thermostats. While everyone knows the Nest range of products quite well, their thermostats are not compatible with Apple HomeKit. As such alternatives are required, and a number of them are available.
If you’re ever unsure if a product will work with HomeKit, Apple certifies all products to ensure they work correctly, just look out for the “Works with Apple HomeKit” logo displayed on the packaging. Other products may still have apps in the Apple Store, but won’t integrate into HomeKit.
Thermostats have been in use for decades, originally very simple in nature, over the years they have progressed, and common thermostats will include the ability to program schedules into them. Smart thermostats take this to the next level by offering remote controllability, improved programmability, and even the ability to learn your patterns and adapt its program accordingly.
The Ecobee3 requires a hard-wired power connection to ensure best use, although a backup battery is also provided. It connects via Wi-Fi to your home network, and thus allows remote control from anywhere in the world. The Ecobee3’s biggest marketing aspect is its use of remote sensors to monitor temperature and occupancy in different rooms around your house, and modify the current heating to that scenario. Ecobee bundle one sensor with your thermostat, and you can purchase another two sensors for around $80, up to a maximum of 32 sensors.
Ecobee advertise themselves as offering the first HomeKit enabled thermostat, but obviously several more are now available. A 45minute installation is promised, along with incorporation into most of the standard HVAC systems. Reports can be setup to show your usage patterns as well as savings. The Ecobee makes use of sensor data as well as weather and other information to setup a unique profile for your house and adapt appropriately, notifying you if any problems are found.
One of the best-selling thermostats on the market, the included sensor gives the Ecobee3 a unique appeal, and customers rate it highly for this feature. Including a 3-year warranty, it’s no wonder customers are impressed with the device. Reliability is often praised, and the feedback the Ecobee3 provides is useful. A cheaper Ecobee3 Lite Thermostat is available, that does not include sensors, and although a good performer, the lack of sensors means it’s not a top choice.
One of the few products marketed purely at Apple users (although it does feature Alexa support), the iDevices Thermostat is also the cheapest unit for sale today. But for good reason. This is a fairly basic thermostat, allowing you to set up schedules, and desired temperatures. The device doesn’t do any ‘learning’ and doesn’t make use of your geolocation to activate/deactivate your furnace.
It’s also not compatible with as many HVAC systems as other products. Furthermore a number of customers have complained about Wi-Fi connectivity issues. The only real benefit that this thermostat offers over much cheaper, non-smart devices, is the remote control and Siri control features. If those are your only desires from a thermostat, then it may be worth getting, otherwise you’re going to have to pay more.
The more expensive of the two HomeKit compliant Honeywell thermostats, the Honeywell Lyric product tries to compete head on with the Nest. Featuring a similar circular design with a focus on learning. Geofencing is used in combination with your own settings to determine when you’re home or away and adjust the temperature accordingly. Over time the thermostat also learns how long it takes your rooms to get up to temperature, adding that info to its model.
The connection with HomeKit further allows remote control and the Lyric will push notifications to your phone in extreme conditions. Unfortunately as promising as the Lyric looks, it’s taken a lot of flack for a variety of customer complaints. Everything from connectivity issues, non-reactive units and lack of scheduling ability. While not everyone was unhappy with their purchase, at the price of this thermostat, we’d give it a skip.
Our second Honeywell product, the Lyric T5 is the only thermostat actually for sale through Apple’s own store. It features many of the features of the circular lyric such as geofencing and smart alerts. Although it doesn’t learn your schedule as much as its more expensive brother, the T5 opts instead for a flexible 7-day scheduling system.
The T5 offers everything you need in a Thermostat. It’s missing some fancy learning ability, but otherwise is a good, reliable product, supported by higher customer ratings than the standard, more expensive Lyric In our opinion, this would definitely be the choice out of the two Honeywell products.
Automation Haus Verdict
Connected thermostats are not cheap. A normal programmable one can be had for $20ish, but if you’re looking for the convenience of activating scenes or remote controlling your thermostat, the Ecobee3 with several sensors is the best experience you can buy. If that’s too expensive for you, and you’re going to forego a thermostat’s awareness of what you’re doing, the Honeywell Lyric T5 is a simple, reliable thermostat that offers all you really need out of a thermostat.
No matter what thermostat you choose, be sure to check out what wiring system your HVAC makes use of, so that you don’t waste money on a non-conforming thermostat.