Annual shipments of remote access and control thermostats that allow consumers to adjust temperature in homes via a smartphone or tablet will quadruple by 2017 as consumers aim for increased comfort in their residences, according to a report from IMS Research.

According to the IMS study, approximately 3 percent of the 38 million thermostats shipped globally in 2012 gave consumers the ability to remotely adjust the temperature and other comfort settings in their homes through a smartphone or tablet. The market for remote access and control thermostats was forecast to climb a hefty 46 percent in 2013 to an estimated 1.9 million units, and continue to expand annually over the next several years.

As the demand for tech-savvy thermostats continues to increase, we asked our contractor advisory panel to not only identify their go-to thermostats, but tell us why they’d recommend them to customers. Here’s what they had to say.

Sensi by White Rodgers

Chosen by: Matt Bergstrom, owner, Thornton & Grooms Inc., Farmington Hills, Michigan

About the product: The Wi-Fi-enabled Sensi thermostat connects customers to their home comfort, anytime, anywhere. No C wire is required for most HVAC applications. Commissioning and operation is easy utilizing the Sensi mobile app. The device retains contractor contact information, allowing homeowners to reconnect through one tap.

Bergstrom’s take: “It’s reasonably priced, easy to setup, and only requires four wires. It allows for remote access via the Web or smartphone, and the remote interface is easy to work with. It’s a new player on the block, but it seems to be a great choice for us.”

Nest Learning Thermostat

Chosen by: Hank Bloom, president, Environmental Conditioning Systems, Mentor, Ohio

About the product: The Nest Learning Thermostat programs itself based on a user’s schedule. It tracks the temperature a homeowner sets and guides him or her to a more efficient setting. Auto-Away™ feature uses sensors to detect when a homeowner is home, lowering the temperature and saving energy. It also displays energy history to see how much the unit has helped the homeowner save.

Bloom’s take: “I have the Nest thermostat at some of my properties and have had great success with it. The energy savings, remote monitoring, and intelligent design are a plus, for sure.”

Honeywell RTH9580WF

Chosen by: Greg Crumpton, president, Airtight Mechanical Inc., Charlotte, North Carolina

About the product: The Honeywell RTH9580WF is a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat that features a bright, full-color customizable screen. The unit is compatible with the Wink home automation network.

Crumpton’s take: “We, as a company, do not sell a ton of new equipment, as we are primarily a service, maintenance, and repair firm. But, when given the chance and based on what I use at home, this is it. I like it because it is flexible in its use on many systems and configurations, as well as the Wi-Fi convenience. Honeywell is a strong brand. People feel good about the name and the product does what the company claims. All of that said, it’s a pretty easy choice for me/us.”

Venstar T6800

Chosen by: Russ Donnici, president, Mechanical Air Service, San Jose, California.

About the product: The ColorTouch™ Commercial T6800 is a multifunctional, simple-to-use, richly featured, programmable touchscreen thermostat featuring a built-in 365-day calendar with automatic national holidays and programmable daylight savings mode. It also acts as an advertisement display in the commercial environment, and has the ability to scroll through up to 100 customizable digital advertisements for the retailer. It features a 24-V common wire to thermostat C terminal.

Donnici’s take: “It’s easy to use and install and covers a wide range of equipment. The added bonus is that it’s Wi-Fi capable by putting a card in its slot. These units work well.”

Trane XL824

Chosen by: Scott Merritt, owner, Fire & Ice Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., Columbus, Ohio; and Travis Smith, owner, Sky Heating & Air Conditioning, Portland, Oregon

About the product: The Trane XL824 has a 4.3-inch color touchscreen and offers a full-featured and easy-to-use interface. The built-in Nexia Home Bridge is a hub for the Nexia home intelligence system. Users may create up to six daily heating and cooling schedules. The unit displays indoor relative humidity, offers five-day weather forecast and radar, and features upgradable software.

Merritt’s take: “It has built-in Nexia Home Intelligence that allows a user to remotely control or schedule the thermostat and add up to 200 additional Z-wave products around the home or business. You can access this through any smartphone, tablet or computer that is Internet-enabled. My favorite part, which I use every morning, is the five-day weather forecast and live weather radar. The thermostat is upgradable in the future, and it communicates filter and humidifier reminders. It can also share indoor/outdoor temperature and humidity. It will work on any 24-V furnace or a/c. It is touchscreen, of course, and customers love it. It is super easy to understand, and it really has become a customer favorite around here.”

Smith’s take: “The XL824 has the ability to be a bridge and starter kit for a home automation system that can control lighting, electric outlets, garage doors, window and door sensors, and indoor and outdoor cameras to help a homeowner know what is going on within his or her home and property 24/7 via a smartphone. The display itself is a color touchscreen thermostat that looks wonderful and is very easy to use and program. The thermostat can also work on virtually any conventional HVAC system since it is a 24-V thermostat, and there is no charge for a homeowner to be able to control the thermostat from his or her phone. This device is so worthwhile because it fits on 95 percent of systems we have installed. It is a four-stage heating and two-stage cooling thermostat, so, unless it’s a communicating system, it has the control needed for even newer high-efficiency dual-stage and dual-fuel systems. Internet connectivity is asked for by many homeowners, so being able to change the temperature remotely without paying anything to do it is a great benefit to the consumer.”

Honeywell VisionPRO 8000 Wi-Fi

Chosen by: Steve Moon, owner, Moon Air Inc., Elkton, Maryland

About the product: The Honeywell VisionPRO 8000 Wi-Fi is a seven-day programmable unit with dual-powered battery or hard-wired setup. It features a micro SD port for quick installation; controls humidification, dehumidification, or ventilation; and works with RedLINK accessories.

Moon’s take: “I like it very much because it’s very dependable, gives our clients all the benefits of a programmable, and offers Wi-Fi connection for a budget price.”

Honeywell FocusPRO 5000

Chosen by: Butch Welsch, owner, Welsch Heating & Cooling Co., St. Louis

About the product: The Honeywell FocusPRO 5000 features a large, clear, backlit digital display and is available in large or standard screen sizes. An easy-access flip-out door allows for simple battery replacement without removing or disassembling the thermostat.

Welsch’s take: “On replacement jobs, our sales personnel go for a thermostat with a large readable screen that’s as basic as possible. They recommend against a standard programmable-type thermostat because they have found that our customers very seldom have set schedules. Additionally, over the years, they have found very few homeowners with programmable thermostats actually program them. As far as the brand is concerned, most equipment manufacturers require that you use the thermostat with their name on it in order to take advantage of the rebates they make available. If the installation is such that the manufacturer’s brand of thermostat is not required, then we typically recommend this model.”

Honeywell TH3110/TH4110

Chosen by: Butch Welsch

About the product: The Honeywell TH3110 is a nonprogrammable digital heat/cool digital thermostat. It features dual-power capabilities (batteries or hardwired connection), and 1 heat/1 cool configuration. The TH4110 is a programmable standard-display thermostat that features 5-2 programming. A backlit digital display provides easy-to-read lighting conditions and adaptive intelligent recovery ensures programmed temperature is reached on time.

Welsch’s take: “In new construction, we utilize a Honeywell TH3110 nonprogrammable thermostat in most cases. Because of our experience with homeowners’ issues with setting the programmable thermostats, we do not recommend them unless the customer insists on it. In that case, we use the programmable Honeywell TH4110. With the homeowners’ difficulty in properly programming the thermostats, we found we were making many needless service calls just because the thermostat was improperly programmed. We believe it is important to provide a homeowner with the simplest and easiest-to-use wall unit that provides the desired features. In other words, in our experience, the simpler, the better.”

Publication date: 9/22/2014

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