Honeywell WiFi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control – Operation and Conclusions

Honeywell 9000 WiFi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control:  Menus, Software, Conclusions

Smart WiFi Thermostat Menus

The easiest way to demonstrate the range of capabilities of this Honeywell Thermostat is to walk you through most of the menus.  To accomplish that, I took about 4 minutes of additional video that you can play here.

It runs through many different menus, including some interesting ones, such as setting schedules, adjusting the sensitivity of the voice control, learning how long your heating system takes to “get to temperature” so that it starts in advance of the time settings, and more mundane things such as the color scheme of the thermostat display and the volume of the thermostat’s voice when responding.

In addition, below are some screen shots from using my browser to remotely control the thermostat, and also from using the iPhone/iPad app.  Sorry, I don’t own an android, but I’d expect similar capabilities from Honeywell’s Android app.

Screen Images of Browser and App Menus

Before your installation is 100% complete, the thermostat has to be registered.  And doing so will also get rid of the rectangular box on the display telling you to register.  It is necessary to register to be able to control the thermostat from browser or App.

To register, simply to Honeywell’s website for their home automation.  It’s a doozy of a URL:

mytotalconnectcomfort.com   almost as  long as our future website:  smarterhomeautomation.com where we’ll be moving all our home automation reviews and articles to once we have a larger critical mass of readers.

As with the thermostat itself, everything was easy.  You’ll need to put in your email, a password, and answer a few questions to get up and running, but nothing that should stump anyone, except for identifying your computer and device, and the documentation tells you how to do that.  The screenshots shown here look at most of the menus as seen on my Macbook Pro, using the Safari browser. (They look basically the same on Chrome.)

Summary and Conclusions

All considered, this Honeywell thermostat really was a snap to install and set up.  There were no challenges getting it fully configured, that the onboard Help button, or the provided User Guide didn’t answer easily.  It configured to and recognized my house’s Wifi in seconds, with the toughest challenge of getting it talking to the Wifi, was typing in the password.

The really “smart” features are:  WiFi, which means the Honeywell can be controlled from a remote computer, using a browser, or from their published Apps for this device.  Both work rather well.  Of course if you are at the airport and can’t remember if you adjusted the thermostat down as you fly away on a vacation, you can quickly check and adjust the thermostat.  Coming home early from work, house empty, temp at 60 degrees, you can quickly use the App or software to raise the temperature.

 

There’s a lot of hype around about Smart Thermostats.  Much of it comes from the first one to gain wide buzz, which is the NEST. Nest was purchased by Google in the past year.

Now we hope to bring one of those in, but that’s a different beast all-together, in that it’s a learning thermostat – it is supposed to learn your patterns around the house, and adjust HVAC to match, thus saving money.  If it knows there’s no one in the house, it will adjust accordingly.   I have yet to work with one, but expect I will.

My initial effort to work with Nest, for obtaining one for review, went nowhere.  The Nest folks at the time seemed completely disinterested, despite well more than 1 million unique visitors a year, and many of you are really interested in this type of tech.  After all, many would agree – home automation began in the home theater.  Well, regardless, now that Nest is Google owned, I expect my chances of getting one for review are better.  If that works out we’ll install that in the downstairs system and see if it can figure us out, and save money.

But, that said, I favored starting with a thermostat like this Honeywell, simply because, unlike many – most, households we really do not run on anything resembling regular schedules.  My wife’s “other” job, is part time with Bank of America, and rarely does she have the same schedule two days in a row.  One week she works 4 days, maybe goes in at 8:00 AM once, twice at noon, and once at 10:45.  The next week it might be five days, with 3 days at 8:30, once at 11:00 and once at 2pm.  Every week is different.  So much for predicting when she gets up.  Then I get up later most days, unless I have a scheduled phone call.   My wife goes to bed at different hours depending on her next day’s start time or if she’s off.   And so it goes.  If a Nest type thermostat can get a good handle on our schedule, I’ll be really, really surprised and impressed.  With the Honeywell, like with most not so smart thermostats, it allows 4 different time based temperatures over the course of each day.  And, each day of the week can be programmed differently, or weekdays can be programmed together, as can weekend days.  And, of course it has Vacation settings as well.

The remote ability to make adjustments is of course a plus, and a potential money saver, but it is the convenience of the voice control that really impresses me.  In our Dream Home’s world, the ability to make minor adjustments from across the room, by voice, is  the real beauty of the Honeywell WiFi Smart Thermostat with Voice TH9320 – aka 9000 series.

Now, of course if it didn’t have the usual ability to set schedules, the Voice Control would not be enough to make this a great remote, but the combination works.

On the other hand, this Honeywell seems to be exactly what we needed upstairs.  Because we’re fresh air folks, there are usually windows open in our bedroom.  We don’t use the heat at all, half the year, but it’s off and on the rest.  As a result of those open windows, sometimes in the middle of the night, it might be a bit too warm, or too cool.

That’s where the voice control is perfect!  Oh we both keep our phones by our bed, and could adjust by using one of them, but its much easier to softly speak those magic words:  “Hello Thermostat, and raise or lower the temperature easily.”  Whether one of us using the Voice Control will wake the other, we’ll have to wait until winter to find out!

Few products are near perfect (or perfect).   I have one noteworthy issue with this smart Honeywell thermostat, and that relates to the Voice control sensitivity.   A couple of times over two days, when there were three of four people in the room, and the TV was on, despite no one saying:  “hello thermostat” it activated and started talking, and explained it didn’t understand, try again.  If you keep talking it’s likely to do that for a while.  I told everyone to be quiet for about 15 seconds and it was fine again.

Later I lowered the thermostat’s Voice Control sensitivity to 1, the lowest setting (1-9).  That definitely seemed to mostly solve the problem but, after more than a week, again, with the TV on in the room and a few people talking, the Honeywell started talking again.

In other words, much better, definitely less sensitive than before, but not perfect.

Let me put it this way, based on my experience so far, the Voice Control may not be the ideal solution for a family room or other rooms – kitchen, den, etc. where there are a number of people and maybe a TV going.

Honeywell may be able to further improve things with an even lower sensitivity setting or one of several other ways to tackle the problem of the device thinking it’s been addressed.  Another such way, would be to offer an alternate command, perhaps a more complicated phrase as an option, as simple as:  Hello Smart Thermostat, or just making repeating required:  Hello Thermostat…Hello Thermostat – and if doing something like that it could compare the first phrase it thinks is “Hello Thermostat” with the second one.  If it doesn’t find both to be almost identical, ignore.

Another solution would be interesting – a Voice control to toggle Voice Control on or off. Thus, if there’s a party:  Hello Thermostat – Turn Off Voice Control.  To turn it back on Hellow Thermostat, start Voice Control.  Something like that would allow a quick solution to noisy situations.   Of course you can simply turn off Voice Control, but Voice Control is part of the thermostat’s functionality, and Cool factor.

Of course not everyone will care a lot about the Voice Control.  Don’t forget your other options are the touch control screen, the mobile device Apps and the browser control.

I’m not an expert (yet?) on Smart Home Automation – or “smarter home automation” as we call it, and this is the first thermostat I’ve reviewed.

There are a number of smart thermostats on the market and more coming out every day.  I’d be surprised if there aren’t a couple in the works on crowd funding sites, not to mention all the major manufacturers out there.  So, is this the best?  No way to tell.  Is it a truly superior one?  Again, not until I’ve reviewed a few more would I know.

But, I do know that this Honeywell, is an well designed and thought out, and the implementation is excellent.  It is simple to install, with the only possible complication is getting power to it, which most heaters/air conditioners have ready to go.  The actual setup was a snap.  The documentation is impressive and thorough, which combined with the onboard HELP, allowed me to get everything I could find to setup, all nicely setup, without getting stuck, or having to guess.

Most importantly, the combination of a good scheduling thermostat, with added voice control and Wifi control, seems efficient and practical, and just too easy.

The Honeywell Smart WiFi Thermostat with Voice Control is the first HVAC related product to win one of our Too-Cool Awards, which we will now be giving out to not only smarter home automation products, but also some other gadgets and tech gear that I write about in my new blog Too-Cool Tech: The Latest Gadgets and Gear.

Congratulations to Honeywell, well done.

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