Gold WinnerThe FocusPRO 5000 nonprogrammable thermostat from Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) was recognized by one judge as, "A very useful product, easy to read and operate." The winner is a nonprogrammable, digital thermostat designed to provide ultimate ease of use for contractors and homeowners. It also provides precise comfort control (Â±1 degree F).
The FocusPro 5000 features a large, backlit display that prominently shows both room temperature and set temperature.
Pam Enstad, Honeywell director of marketing communications said, "FocusPRO is an ideal solution for customers that want the easiest home comfort solution on the market.
"For some customers, a programmable thermostat would only make life more difficult. The FocusPRO's soft-touch buttons makes home comfort control very convenient."
The judges also liked the versatility of the product. "I like the fact that it's made for a wide range of heating and cooling applications: forced warm air, heat pumps, hot water, or steam and gravity systems. I'd much rather be stocking one simple thermostat."
Another popular feature is the flip-out door on the side of the thermostat, eliminating the need to remove the FocusPRO from the wall when replacing batteries.
Silver WinnerThe Nordic Electronics Ltd. (www.fast-stat.com) Fast-Stat (Model 5000) allows for the installation of a two-stage furnace and an air conditioner without having to repull the thermostat wires. It provides six-wire control over a two-wire cable or eight-wire control over a four-wire cable. It can also be used for heat pump conversions.
Ken Wiklund, president of Nordic Electronics Ltd., Residential Controls, said, "You can't be in the HVAC business for long before you come across the dreaded, next-to-impossible-to-repull thermostat cable. When this happens, the estimated labor costs for the job goes over budget, the crew gets behind schedule, and the customer's house may have a few extra holes in it that they aren't too happy about."
The Fast-Stat receiver is installed at the furnace or fan coil and the wires are connected to the thermostat and the thermostat cable. Once all the other equipment is ready, the system is then started up. The control wiring takes one technician about 10 to 15 minutes to complete as opposed to as much as an hour for some repull jobs, according to Wiklund.
"This product is very innovative and looks like it would save a tremendous amount of time on some jobs," commented one contractor judge.
The Fast-Stat comes with industry standard color-coded lead wires that are 10 inches long for easy connections. The receiver comes with adhesive tape for fast mounting and also has screw-mounting tabs if the installer prefers this method. There are no batteries to install or replace, and the 5000 and 7000 Models provide 24-volt power for programmable thermostats.
Bronze WinnerHoneywell Environmental & Combustion Division (www.honeywell.com) not only garnered enough votes to take the first place award in this category, but also picked up third place honors. The VisionPRO 8000 programmable thermostat features a touch screen that is as easy for contractors to install as it is for homeowners to use. One feature the judges commented on was the fact the thermostat walks homeowners through the programming process without the aid of an instruction manual. Therefore, homeowners are less likely to call their contractors for assistance.
Enstad noted, "Most homeowners complain about the complexity of programming their thermostat, but the VisionPRO was designed to remedy that problem." Before the product was created, Honeywell did extensive research into programmable thermostat use and found that consumers weren't using them because they were too hard to program.
Judges found the VisionPRO 8000 to be very practical. "I like that it can be adjusted to the homeowners' demands. I don't have to carry as many items on our trucks." The thermostat can be set to be non-programmable, one day, five/two-, five/one/one-, or seven-day programmable. It can be configured for up to three-stage heating and two-stage cooling.
"The touch screen is great," commented a judge. "Customers can even take it off the wall and program it anywhere they want."
Honorable MentionThree products received honorable mention from the judges in this category: The Retro Damperâ„¢ (Models: RD-05, -06, -07, -08, -09, -10) from Jackson Systems LLC (www.jacksonsystems.com); the DiagnosTECHâ„¢ Connected (Model 12DT-1) from Texas Instruments (www.ti-electronics.com); and the New Construction Thermostat (Model 1E78) from White-Rodgers, Emerson Climate Technologies (www.white-rodgers.com).
Publication date: 07/18/2005