Way beyond a programmable thermostat

Save money on your heating and cooling bill

I've had a Honeywell Z-Wave Enabled Programmable Thermostat for about 2 years now. I originally purchased it because being a Z-Wave thermostat, it went well with my Homeseer automation system. I'm also quite a techie geek, so the large touch screen weighed in pretty high on my decision as well. Within the last 2 years, the thermostat lost Z-Wave communication a few times, but not enough to drive me crazy...until a few weeks ago. It started losing Z-Wave communication every day. My method of fixing this was to turn off the circuit breaker for the furnace, which also powers the thermostat, then turn it back on about a minute later. That usually fixed the issue, but when I watched it more closely I noticed that within 30 to 60 minutes it was back to losing Z-Wave communication yet again.

The longer this went on, the crazier it made me. My automated heating and cooling rules have kept me comfortable for two years, performing tasks such as:

    Making sure the house is at a comfortable temperature when I wake up in the morning, caught by a motion sensor "seeing me" come down the stairs
    Setting the thermostat to a much lower heat setpoint and a much higher cooling set point when I physically leave the house, made possible by a tracking device installed in my car that knows when I get so many miles away from home and tells my system that I have left the house
    Cooling the house down in the summer or warming it up in the winter when my system knows that I'm heading home, so I don't ever have to walk into a really cold or really hot house
    Making sure my bedroom is cooled down when I go to sleep, since I'm one of those people that absolutely can't sleep when it's hot

Those and many other similar tasks have been performed almost flawlessly for 2 years, until a few weeks ago. Now, it's almost as if someone just downshifted me from high-speed internet back to the old days of dial-up. You get used to it when it happens every day, then when it's yanked out from underneath you, you almost don't know what hit you.

So I immediately began searching the internet for Z-Wave compatible thermostats once again. I liked the one I had until it stopped working for me, and when I checked Amazon to see when I purchased it I realized I had only had it for about 2 years. Not a real good case to make me want to get another one of these things. So I started looking at other Z-Wave compatible thermostats, and noticed there isn't a very big selection. Part of me was just going to get a bare-bones basic model with a few physical buttons and no touch screen, figuring I automate everything anyway, so who needs a touch screen, right?

However, it wasn't long before the geek in me kicked in and I ended up looking at some fancier thermostats. What I landed on was the last one I thought I would ever get since it wasn't even Z-Wave compatible. It did look pretty cool and seemed to have a lot of flexible functionality to it. When I checked, I did see a Homeseer plugin that was able to read and control this thermostat even though it has absolutely no Z-Wave compatibility to it. So I decided to order the Honeywell RTH9580WF Smart Wi-Fi 7 Day Programmable Color Touch Thermostat.

This thing packs a lot of power in a tiny footprint. Of course you can program up to four different scheduled temperature ranges per day, either one schedule for all days of the week, different schedules for each individual day of the week, or in groups such as weekdays and weekends. That's pretty basic for most programmable thermostats these days even without compatibility with Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, or any other connected technology. But let's say you have a vacation coming up next month, and maybe you are working from home this Friday. With most thermostats, you would have to remember to manually override it to accommodate for these things. If not, you'll end up being too hot or too cold and having to manually adjust the thermostat and wait for the temperature in your house to adjust. Or in the case of a vacation, you could end up wasting a lot of money heating or cooling an unoccupied house. With this thermostat, that's a concern of the past. You can schedule these things and many others in advance so the thermostat automatically overrides your normal schedule for the days you told it about. Pretty impressive, if you ask me!

A downside of my previous thermostat was that the screen backlight would go off a short amount of time after you last touched it, and then it was pretty difficult to read from across the room or even a few feet away without touching it again. However, with this Z-Wave WiFi Thermostat, the screen stays on and as bright as you set it without going off, so it's very easy to read from across the room. You can even change the display colors to a number of presets included with the device, or if you don't like any of those, you can customize things like the text color, background color, shade, and brightness. That's something you certainly don't see everyday in programmable thermostats.

If you aren't currently using a central home automation platform such as Homeseer, you can still control this thermostat over Wi-Fi, or even from outside your home if you choose to set this feature up. It's very easy to register an account on Honeywell's website and control your thermostat from anywhere. Say for example you're leaving the office two hours early on a Friday and you really don't want to go home to a cold house. Just pull the website up on your mobile phone, set the temperature to whatever you'd like, and by the time you get home your house should be warmed up at least enough to take the shock away that you would've walked into.

This is what the Honeywell Total Connect Comfort portal looks like, when controlling your thermostat remotely from a web browser:

This high-tech thermostat has way too many features to describe in detail here, so how about a photo slideshow? The slideshow doesn't inclue ALL available screens, but I tried to include the most important, commonly used screens for you. Even so, I'm sure you'll agree that this device can be configured to operate as anything from a manually adjustable thermostat, to a programmable thermostat, controlled remotely or restricted to local control, and even a device controlled by your central home automation system. The cost is a bit high compared to basic programmable thermostats. But let's face it, you're getting a lot more here than any basic device can offer.

More photos of this thermostat can be viewed in the slideshow below.