Maybe it was the combination of Google’s purchase of Nest, Apple’s recent announcement of their own Home Automation Protocol, HomeKit, and the sudden proliferation of add-on smart appliances, but home appliance giant Honeywell has read the writing on the wall and has stepped up their game. The newly unveiled wi-fi network connected thermostat, the Honeywell Lyric thermostat, improves upon many of the features which made the Nest thermostat a surprise hit in the increasingly competitive connected smart home market.
There’s little doubt the Honeywell design and engineering team has taken note of the industry disruptive, Nest, as the Lyric thermostat shares more than a passing resemblance, both physically and features-wise, with Google’s newly-acquired smart thermostat. A round dial interface and touch sensitive digital display is used to adjust temperature, display the local 12-hour forecast, and works with an audible clicking rotation interface for temperature adjustment which may remind you of the first iPod scroll wheel.
The most notable evolution in the smart home automation category in recent times has been the emergence of user-adaptive and learning features, progressing beyond static set-and-forget or even schedule-based interfaces between user and appliance. It’s in this realm the Lyric begins to distance itself ahead of other smart thermostats on the market.
Connected to Honeywell’s Lyric iOS or Android app, the thermostat uses GPS geofencing parameters to activate adaptive features. Once set, the system proactively monitors the comings and goings of users to adjust cooling and heating settings according to user preset preferences, turning back on from energy-saving mode automatically when users approach, dialing energy use when nobody is home. Urban and suburban households even get their own optimum “away” distances: 500 feet for city dwellers or 7 miles in the suburbs.
Households where different family members harbor different ideas about an ideal temperature (the shiver vs. sweat syndrome) will enjoy the ability to set user-specific temperature settings via app, with the option to connect multiple Lyric thermostats across the home (though it’s unclear which occupant’s preferred app settings takes precedence when sharing a space). Then there’s the Lyric’s “Fine Tune” feature, which uses internet wi-fi access to adjust interior temperature according to local outdoor temperature, humidity and weather condition reports, a useful temperature comfort and energy-saving innovation where, for example, “dry heat” vs. “humid heat” require different temperature management for optimal comfort and energy use.
The Lyric thermostat is the first of smart home devices Honeywell plans to brand under the Lyric platform, likely extending out to include other smart home monitoring, automated lighting, energy monitoring, and air quality solutions in due time (alongside play nice with Apple’s Home Automation Protocol, HomeKit).
For now the Lyric thermostat is only available via Honeywell’s network of certified contractors for professional installation, but DIYers will soon have the option to buy the thermostat from Lowe’s for $279 in August and install one themselves using step-by-step installation instructions directly from the Lyric App.