Smart Home Technology - Wi-Fi Thermostats
Traditional vs. Wi-Fi
Traditionally, thermostats have fallen into two categories: non-programmable and programmable. Non-Programmable thermostats are the most affordable, but very antiquated. They require a manual temperature setting and manual setting of heat or cool to cycle your HVAC unit, and can be rather imprecise. Programmable thermostats offer a digital interface with time period programming, which will automatically adjust the heat and/or cool temperature based on time, and often they allow for multiple set points points per day. However, neither of these older-style thermostats come close to the technology available with today's Wi-Fi thermostats.
Wi-Fi thermostats are the next evolution of heating and cooling control in your home. They build upon the basic temperature setting, scheduling and digital interface options of non-programmable and programmable thermostats with a variety of added features. Some of these features include improved energy efficiency and feedback, remote programming, geofencing, learning and alerts. Once these Smart Thermostats are synced up with a Wi-Fi router, you will have remote access from a computer or via an app, all from the comfort and convenience of a smartphone or tablet virtually anywhere you access to the web. The future of comfort control is now - no matter where you are, a Wi-Fi thermostat keeps you connected to your home with control in the palm of your hand. Here are some of the more popular Wi-Fi netowrk thermostats available today:
Honeywell Lyric Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat
You're in. You're out. You're all over the place, even when you're home. Lyric uses your smartphone to know when you're away, and can save you energy.
ecobee3 Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat
Using remote sensors, it will compile data to streamline heating and cooling in a home, offering control of exact temperatures in different rooms.
Honeywell Wi-Fi Touchscreen Thermostat
Using Honeywell's reliable, highly-rated app, program this thermostat from a computer, tablet, and smartphone, whether you're across the room or around the world.
Wi-Fi Thermostats and Automation in the Connected Home
Do you want to control more than the temperature from your computer, iPhone, Android or Windows smartphone - how about lights and appliances? Maybe you want to monitor your home with wireless door/window sensors, motion senors or even leak detectors. With all of the connected home and IoT products and apps available, you may want to consider a Wi-Fi thermostat as a seamless component in a larger home automation system, such as the Insteon. With Insteon you can incorporate all of these features from a single, convenient app. Although Smarthome offers a variety of options for this type of control, the most popular among our customers is by far the combination of the Insteon Thermostat and the Insteon Hub. Setting it up is easier than you might think and can be done in less than an hour. There are two reasons that Smarthome customers choose this route:
Insteon Hub is a simple and straightforward device that connects you to your home from any smartphone or tablet, anywhere in the world.
Swap out your thermostat, connect Insteon Hub to your router, download Insteon for Hub App. Within minutes, you can control the thermostat from your iOS, Android or Windows device, anywhere in the world.
Insteon Comport Kit
The Insteon Comfort Kit is a great way to get started using and enjoying Insteon in your home. With the included Insteon Hub, Thermostat and Lamp Modules, you will have the convenience of wireless access to your home HVAC and lighting from your smartphone or tablet using the Insteon for Hub App.
Other considerations in choosing a Smart Thermostat
When it comes to home automation, few devices can make as big an impact on your energy usage as a new thermostat. Your home's HVAC system is typically the largest energy consumer in a home, often using more than 4kW per hour. By adding greater control of your HVAC system, you can substantially curb your home's energy usage. It's important to understand what types of temperature control, energy management and sensor features to look for. Then match that up with how the overall design, aesthetics and product support is available from a manufacturer. Combining these pieces of the puzzle will allow you to get the right smart thermostat for your home.
First and foremost, your thermostat should excel at controlling the temperature in your home.
- Heating & Cooling Stages - Most homes only have a furnace and an AC unit. Some installations may have a more sophisticated setup that involves multiple heating or cooling stages based on the level of heat needed. Not all thermostats can control 2, 3 or more heating and cooling stages. Check your current thermostat and make sure you purchase one that is compatible with your heating and cooling system.
- Temperature Swing - change in degrees that will turn the HVAC back on, the smaller the number the more frequently it will come on, the larger the number the more energy you will save
- Programmable Fan - if you use a whole house fan to cool your home this will be an important feature to consider
- Keypad Lock - a great feature if you want to prevent others from tampering with your settings
- Auto Changeover - allows the thermostat to automatically determine when to switch back and forth between heating and cooling.
If you're looking to decrease your carbon footprint - or simply your gas and electricity bills - some Wi-Fi thermostats are better than others. Various features help you conserve energy by only running your system when you are home or by learning your habits to automatically create a schedule.
- Scheduling - classification of set points for: 7 (same for each day), 5-2 (Monday-Friday & Saturday/Sunday), 5-1-1 (Monday-Friday & Saturday & Sunday), 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 (different each day)
- Vacation Mode - the ability to quickly turn off all schedules when you are away from home or on vacation
- Automatic - if the thermostat learns and/or adapts to your use and automatically and turns on and off based on your use
- Feedback - ideal for monitoring energy usage and savings, some may even send you a text or email to let you know how you are doing
- Geofencing - will trigger your thermostat to turn your HVAC system on based on your GPS location (using your smartphone
- Target Temperature Time - a number in terms of minutes of how long it will take your system to reach its target temperature
A thermostat in a dark and deserted hallway can only monitor the temperature in that hallway. Some Wi-Fi thermostats can use additional sensors spread throughout your home to more accurately heat or cool your home.
- Zones - relatively new to Wi-FI thermostat, temperature sensors can be placed throughout your home to determine if the system should be on or off
- Weather - because a Wi-Fi thermostat is connected to the Internet, it can use local weather conditions to determine operation automatically
- Humidity - for those wanting to maintain a specific humidity, a built-in or communicating humidity sensor can be used determine if the system should be on or off
- Motion - limits the use of you HVAC system to periods when motion has been detected (ideally to detect when someone is home)
- Status Indicators - a built-in diagnostic tool to let you know if your system is running efficiently; often a new filter can make a big difference
The overall look and feel of the device, ease of use and on the device, and the remote control functionality from smartphone, tablet or PC should also weigh heavily. HVAC systems can be complex - even if their end goal is simple - so you should also consider the support that a manufacturer provides as well in the event that your initial setup doesn't go exactly as planned.
- Looks - this product will sit on a wall, likely in clear view - do you want it to blend in or stand out?
- Installation - can you install it yourself or does the product recommend a professional HVAC technician perform the installation?
- Integration - does the product have a standalone app, does it work with other devices, or is it a part of a total home automation system?
- Local Control - can you control everything you want directly on the thermostat and how easy obvious are the controls?
- Mobile Application - do you want to be able program everything from your app, or simply turn it on or off?
- Support - What is the warranty, are there any online forums, email support, phone support, live chat?