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DIY smart home: Why I chose a smart thermostat under $100 | Tom’s Guide

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DIY smart home

This story is part of an ongoing DIY smart home series. Be sure to check out the latest installments to follow the renovation process from start to finish.

I’ll admit, as someone who reviews many of the best smart home devices, I can be a little pretentious when it comes to picking out products for personal use. Naturally, I want the top pick any given category has to offer, and I’m willing to spend what it takes to get them. 

But when it comes to my ongoing DIY smart home renovation, I’ve had to be more practical. With the expenses incurred for all new cabinetry, updated appliances, and reframing our 1980’s galley kitchen into an open space, I’m bound to a budget. And one of the devices I’m spending less on is a smart thermostat. 

Don’t get me wrong. Smart thermostats are among the most useful IoT products for managing energy consumption, elevating smart home routines and simply creating a  comfortable environment in your home. Some of the best smart thermostats even have voice assistants built-in, and/or support for sensors that read and adjust settings based on the temperatures of different rooms.

Ecobee and Nest are the two most recognizable smart thermostat makers. The top-rated Ecobee SmartThermostat (5th gen) and Nest Learning Thermostat look nothing like traditional, button-filled thermostats. Instead, they feature colorful displays with touchscreen navigation or other haptic controls. They also have $200-plus price tags. 

The recently launched Nest Thermostat costs a softer $130, but there’s a usability factor that removed it from consideration in my own home. While Nest products play nice Alexa (which we chose over Google Assistant) their modernized design can be intimidating. We want an app that controls our thermostat from anywhere without having to fiddle with our aging HVAC system, but we also want classic controls so guests won’t wonder what kind of swipe kicks on the air conditioner in the summer.

Even for my parents, who are still warming up to voice-enabled devices, a thermostat is one of those fixtures that they don’t want to re-learn how to use. I won’t share their age out of respect, but they say they’re getting too old for that. 

In an effort to make everyone happy — me, the smart home whiz and my parents, the reluctant-yet-supportive-of-their-offspring homeowners — we came up with a solution that’ll upgrade our current thermostat setup to one with smart features. The best part? The new thermostat looks identical to our old one.

The $79 Honeywell Thermostat Wi-Fi 7 (RTH6580WF) isn’t the sexiest smart thermostat. In fact, we couldn’t distinguish between it and the existing Honeywell unit in our home. The physical buttons all work the same, but as its name suggests, the Thermostat Wi-Fi 7 offers connected controls, too. 

That way as my parents are walking by, they can adjust the temperature the same way they’ve been doing in the four years we’ve owned the home. Honeywell is also compatible with the Brilliant smart home controller I wrote about last week in my explainer on neutral wires

When they’re away, they can make changes from their phone. This is especially helpful in the dead of winter, when my parents might want to spend time someplace warmer, but want to make sure it’s warm enough that the pipes don’t freeze.

So yes, even though I talk a big smart home game, I too make budget-conscious decisions. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to spend more dough on devices that give you all the features you want. But when a device under $100 offers everything you need, why not get it instead? You can build your smart home for less than you’d expect, as long as you know what to look for.

Be sure to check out my guides to the best smart home devices (and best cheap smart home devices) for more gadget recommendations. Return next week for another DIY smart home installment. Until then, email me at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com or leave a comment below with anything you’d like to see me cover in the connected space.

Today’s best Honeywell RTH8580WF Wi-Fi Thermostat deals

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IoT

Google Nest Hub Max Smart Home Assistant (Chalk, Refurbished, Plain Box) – EXPANSYS Japan

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Best Amazon Prime Day Arlo, Nest, Ring, Blink & Smart Home Deals 2020: Top Security Camera, Video Doorbell, Floodlight, Alarm & Philips Hue Sales Presented by Deal Tomato

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Prime Day smart home & security camera deals for 2020 are finally here, browse all the latest Prime Day Ring Video Doorbell, Nest Protect & Thermostat, Philips Hue smart LED bulb, Arlo Pro & Blink Mini sales listed belowPrime Day home secur…

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Which Smart Home Heating Should You Choose?

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Not all smart heating control systems are suited for every lifestyle and home, with some more and less beneficial than others. SMART stands for ‘Self-Monitoring Analysis & Reporting Technology’, and differs from standard heating controls by allowing you to control every aspect of your heating schedule from either a phone or tablet. Although room thermostats and timers allow you to control each room instead of your whole home, as long as you have internet access, smart home heating devices let you control your heating from your phone, no matter where you are in the world.

Today, we’re running through 7 of the best smart heating thermostats and systems, comparing features, benefits and what type of home they’re most suitable for.

– 7 day, & 5/2 day scheduling with a pre-configured schedule included
– Choice of up to 4 time periods a day
– Minimum On-Time & Cycle Rate settings ensuring compatibility with many boilers
– Table stand for ease of positioning
– Alert messages to assist fault-finding with a fail-safe mode
– Wireless technology makes upgrading easier and the installation time shorter with less wiring involved

Best for:

– Homes that require high levels of automatic control that provide significant energy efficiency for a wide range of boilers and systems.

– Single Heating Zone Control
– 7 Day, 5/2 Day, or 24 Hour Control
– Programmable Room Thermostat
– Easily Programmed With The Associated App

Best for:

– Homes that are just starting to take the first steps into using smart home heating
– Homes that need a single heating zone control
– Homes that have either combination or standard boiler systems

– Touch-screen interface simplifies scheduling, changing and overriding temperature
– Location-based programming (geo-fencing) adds an automated layer of control, adjusting the customer’s home heating based on their location
– Scheduling features include 7 and 5/2 day bespoke scheduling with up to 6 time periods a day
– Simple flip-up wiring bar for easy access and an easy-to-install boiler or zone valve interface
– Direct wall mounting or wall-box mounting
– Optimisation features include optimum start and stop & delayed start boiler control. Allows the thermostat and boiler to work more efficiently together

Best for:

– Homes with any boiler and almost every heating system
– Homes with 230V on/off OpenTherm appliances (gas boilers, combi boilers and heat pumps)

– Ability to control water temperature and heating
– Self-learning functions to make every experience a unique one, helping it to understand your home’s needs
– Using a smart weather compensation feature and weather data, the vSMART can tell your boiler how hard it has to work to get your home to your required temperature
– You can connect multiple vSMART controllers to one app

Best for:

– Homes with Valliant ecoTEC system/open vented boilers
– Households that want to be able to control water temperature from anywhere too

– A 7-day full programmer that gives great flexibility offering up to three on/off switchings per day
– LoT display, providing text feedback that gives help and programming hints
– Automatic Summer/Winter 1 hour time change
– Choice of 3 different built-in programmes
– ‘Holiday’ button

Best for:

– Homes with heating and stored hot water in complete systems
– Homes with older gravity circulation stored hot water systems, where there’s no interlocking control valve
– Households with different heating needs from day-to-day

– One channel thermostat system with two radiator thermostats to start zoning your system
– Smart heating & hot water control
– Quick & simple to install using an industry-standard backplate
– Easy Zoning with the addition of extra Wiser Radiator Thermostats

Best for:

– Homes with combination boilers
– Households that want to start a zoned system to control individual zones within the home

– Automatic time and temperature control of domestic heating premises
– Optimum Start, Optimum Stop and Delayed Start
– No installer links or switches on the back of the unit means no adjustment is required for combi boilers and most central heating systems
– Scheduled maintenance alert
– Automatic Summer/Winter time change
– Up to four independent time & temperature settings
– Auto, manual, holiday, override and off (frost) modes

Best for:

– Domestic premises
– Most central heating systems and combi boilers

For more smart home heating controls, check out our full range today at MonsterPlumb. If you’re not interested in smart technology when it comes to controlling the heating and water temperature in your home, take a look at our selection of heating controls and valves.

This content was originally published here.

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