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Honeywell Lyric review: This smart thermostat needs to wise up

John Brandon | Dec. 5, 2014
Oh, the irony. Honeywell introduced a round thermostat way back in 1953, but abandoned the shape in favor of rectangles in 1960. Thermostat manufacturers relied on that basic industrial design for the next 40 years, until the geniuses at Nest resurrected the round--and disrupted the industry--in 2011. Now Honeywell has an all-new round thermostat of its own. The Lyric doesn't sing, and it won't learn your daily routine like the Nest will, but it's not entirely dumb.

Oh, the irony. Honeywell introduced a round thermostat way back in 1953, but abandoned the shape in favor of rectangles in 1960. Thermostat manufacturers relied on that basic industrial design for the next 40 years, until the geniuses at Nest resurrected the round — and disrupted the industry — in 2011. Now Honeywell has an all-new round thermostat of its own. The Lyric doesn't sing, and it won't learn your daily routine like the Nest will, but it's not entirely dumb.

I'll discuss the Lyric's capabilities first and relate my installation experience second. That might seem backward, but you won't care about installing it if you decide it doesn't meet your needs and expectations. The Lyric's suggested list price is $280 ($30 more than the Nest Learning Thermostat). Honeywell is running a promotion that brings its price tag down to $229, but it's still not an impulse buy.

The Lyric features an attractive industrial design that's just different enough from the Nest to avoid outright imitation. You move a ring around the exterior of the thermostat to set the desired indoor temperature, which is displayed on the smaller display on top of the Lyric's face. The Nest works that way, too, but the original Honeywell Round also had a ring (although it was on the face, not the outer edge, so who's the copycat?). LEDs cast a ring of cool light on the wall behind the Lyric.

The larger display in the middle shows the current indoor temperature. Press the cloud/sun icon on the left-hand side, and this will change to show a periodic weather forecast. Pushing the home button on the right-hand side informs the Lyric that you'll be leaving the house, so the HVAC system should be idled to save you money. A proximity sensor brightens the display when you approach. 

But the Lyric has more sophisticated ways of knowing when you're home and when you're not, which I'll dive into next. (Honeywell claims the average homeowner will save $130 per year in heating and cooling costs, so that the Lyric will pay for itself in two years. We're not equipped to evaluate that claim, but it's established fact that smart thermostats can reduce your utility bills.)

How it works

Like the Nest, the Lyric knows when you're away and when you're home desirous of indoor climate control. Unlike the Nest, the Lyric doesn't learn your comings and goings so it can develop a schedule based on when you're home and when you're away. And since there isn't a web interface, you can't change the heat/cool mode or set the target temperature remotely. You also can't manually program the thermostat to heat and cool on a schedule.

 

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