Honeywell started the evolution of the round thermostat in the mid-1940s. From there, thermostats have grown to be sleeker, more attractive and smarter. Honeywell has had more than 125 years to perfect its products, and until recently, no one questioned that. However, with Google's Nest arriving on the scene, the ultimate thermostat showdown has begun between the Nest and the newly developed Honeywell Lyric.
The Newcomer: Google Nest
Nest can brag of great beginnings because it was actually designed by a team from Apple. In looking at its black and orange interface, any consumer can see it is modern and attractive. Nest is manually programmable, providing consumers with more control when they need it, and it operates on motion-sensor technology, allowing it to adjust temperatures according to the current occupancy of the house. Nest will even track and "remember" commonly set temperatures, adjusting automatically to fit within a preferred range.
Honeywell responded to Nest with Lyric. Lyric runs a well-maintained ship with manual settings or with geofencing. Geofencing is Lyric's answer to the Nest's motion-sensor approach to heating and cooling the home. Honeywell uses geofencing to keep track of the number of smartphones associated with its system by creating a perimeter that can reach from 500 feet up to as much as seven miles, allowing the thermostat to kick on when people are arriving home. During the day, when everyone is at work or school, the Lyric adjusts the thermostat accordingly, only changing settings when the geofencing kicks on.
According to Honeywell, Nest can't possibly provide a customized experience because motion-sensor technology, used from a single point in the home, won't provide an accurate enough picture for Nest to accommodate everyone.
The only apparent drawback in choosing Nest over Lyric, from an energy-saving standpoint, is in Nest's "learning" phase. According to advice given by electrical companies, it is best to set a digital thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 in the winter. If Nest has to "learn" what favored patterns are, this could offset the benefit of using a digital thermostat.
While each device has good and bad points, only time will tell which will be left standing when the smoke clears. The Honeywell Lyric will not be released for sale until August 2014.