Residential Controls Designed For Easy Use

July 15, 2004
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Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions (Golden Valley, Minn.) calls its Digital Round™ thermostat an updated version of the company's "icon," The Round® thermostat. Based on the votes and comments from The News' contractor-judges, Honeywell's new product is a winner.

The Digital Round was the hands-down gold medal winner in the Residential Controls, including Zoning Products category in The News' first-ever Dealer Design Awards.

Pam Enstad, marketing communications director, Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions, pointed out that "The Digital Round has been designed to install easily; packaging the sub-base and thermostat together simplifies contractor inventory handling and management. It uses the same wiring access and mounting holes as The Round thermostat and covers the same wall space, making replacements even easier."

Finishing second and third, respectively, in the category were Invensys Climate Controls Americas (Carol Stream, Ill.) with its Robertshaw I-Series thermostats, and the EWC Controls (Englishtown, N.J.) Ultra-Zone Model BMPlus 3000, which is used in zoning HVAC equipment for up to seven zones.

Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions’ Digital Round™ thermostat.

Gold Winner

The Digital Round features a manual temperature control with a modern digital display. The new model adds a backlit, large-number readout to the recognizable shape and twist-to-set temperature accuracy, said the manufacturer. Honeywell said the product features digital temperature control to ±1 degree F.

It "looks great" commented one contractor-judge; "easy to read, too."

What the contractor-judges liked most was the way the product was designed and manufactured to assist the contractor in the installation, maintenance, and service. The Digital Round was designed in two versions - heat-only and heat/cool with fan output - for compatibility with 24-V gas/oil and electric heat and cool, single-stage heat pumps, hydronic heating, and electric heating systems.

"Both versions are designed to allow temperature settings to be retained in the thermostat's memory in the event of a power outage, and there are no batteries to charge," said Enstad.

As one contractor-judge pointed out, the thermostat's easy-to-read interface for the homeowner can help reduce contractor callbacks. Another plus noted by the judges was the fact that the Digital Round can be installed in place of The Round thermostat.

For more information, visit www.honeywell.com.

According to Invensys Climate Controls Americas, its Robertshaw I-Series thermostats address ease of use.

Silver Winner

According to Invensys Climate Controls Americas, Robertshaw I-Series thermostats incorporate several features to benefit the contractor, mainly by saving time at installation. In the eyes of the manufacturer, installation is a snap because all units incorporate a two-piece design.

There are "no complicated sub-bases to stock or install. All products incorporate quick-wire terminal blocks rather than wrap-around screws for faster, more secure connections," stated Debra Reaves, industry manager, Heating, Invensys Climate Controls Americas. "The 9800i and 9900i series serve the purpose of two controls. The 9900i eliminates the need for installation of a separate control for fresh air. Installing one control instead of two saves time and money at installation."

One contractor-judge simply remarked, "Nice stat. I love the menu-driven programming."

Given the wide use of mobile phones and the general acceptance of menu-driven programming for these devices, Invensys said it makes sense to place a menu-driven programming scheme in its I-Series.

"The menu-driven design allows the contractor to access installer menus and set up the thermostat and programming without the need for a manual or complicated set-up codes," said Reaves.

In the eyes of the contractor-judges, the product has plenty of selling points. For instance, automatic service reminders have been incorporated into the thermostat. Installers can program their company's name and phone number right into the thermostat. The service reminder can also be set in calendar days or run time. When that time frame is reached, a pop-up screen on the thermostat tells the homeowner to call the contractor for service.

For more information, visit www.robertshaw.com.

The Ultra-Zone BMPlus 3000 zoning system with the “failsafe interlock circuit” (patent pending) is designed to prevent a faulty thermostat from controlling the equipment.

Bronze Winner

The Ultra-Zone BMPlus 3000 is designed to help contractors up-grade an inefficient, residential single-zone system into a "multi-zone, energy-saving, comfort-producing structure," said Mike Reilly, vice president, marketing and sales, EWC Controls.

The manufacturer states that combining the product's design, setup options, and easy-to-understand wiring with EWC dampers and any off-the-shelf heat/cool thermostats, "makes the BMPlus 3000 the contractor's dream."

The News' contractor-judges were excited about its possibilities. "Looks great to me," said one. "It's limited to seven zones. And, it has many features that sound good."

According to Reilly, the BMPlus 3000 was designed by engineers who have extensive field experience, "so it was designed for the installer/serviceman." In his estimation, wiring the control to the HVAC system "is just like wiring the thermostat to the equipment."

The dampers are controlled via three wires. The installer matches the terminals on the dampers to the terminals on the board, number to number. The thermostats have those four familiar red, white, yellow, and green wires.

"Service of the system is also simple," said Reilly. "The panel is designed to ... outlast the HVAC equipment it controls. To help troubleshoot the equipment when it does fail, there are on-board diagnostic LEDs that indicate system status, zones calling, and mode of operation."

For more information, visit www.ewccontrols.com.

Honorable Mention

Two products received honorable mention from the judges in this category: the ModuPassâ„¢ modulating bypass system from Arzel Zoning (Cleveland); and the Vision PRO 8000 programmable thermostat (Model VisionPRO 8000) from Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions (Golden Valley, Minn.).

Publication date: 07/19/2004

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