Honeywell (s hon) has played around with a variety of connected thermostats, and even offered a Wi-Fi option that let people set the temperature using voice commands, but Tuesday it launched its first “smart” thermostat that will control your comfort based on a series of algorithms. The Lyric thermostat costs $279 and will be available in August.
While the Lyric thermostat is easily pegged as Honeywell’s answer to the Nest thermostat, which launched in 2011 and saw its parent company bought earlier this year by Google for $3.2 billion, it is a bit different. The thermostat doesn’t aim to “learn” a home inhabitants’ habits in order to set the temperature, as the Nest does. Instead it uses geo-fencing to set the temps. When someone is home as judged by the person’s cell phone, it optimizes for comfort, and when people leave the house, it optimizes for energy savings.
The app can tell the thermostat to start optimizing for comfort when a person is 7 miles from home or 500 feet. You choose based on your commute. Families can also tell the thermostat that they will be gone for a set amount of time — for example if your trigger point is at the seven-mile marker and you want to run some errands close by.
The thermostat also has humidity sensors that work in conjunction with the temperature sensors and fans to keep a home cool even without conditioning the air. Honeywell calls this Fine Tune. As someone who lives in a really humid climate with moderate transitional seasons, this feature could come in handy in the fall and spring when the temps aren’t extreme enough for A/C or heat, but the house gets “stuffy.” Lyric can also control a separate add-on humidifier like the competitive thermostat.
The thermostat looks nice (although the design isn’t as smooth as Nest’s is). The app also looks nice. And the device will likely play nicely with other platforms, unlike the Nest. However, it’s still a really expensive thermostat, which means it’s going to compete at the high end. So do people want a thermostat that tries to anticipate their needs or one that knows where they are and acts accordingly? I don’t know. I imagine most buyers won’t know either.