Moderator - HVAC Thermostat Specialist
Honeywell WiFi thermostat Vs. Nest - a notable review
This is a review I found on Amazon that I think is notable.
This review is a comparison between the Honeywell RTH8580WF thermostat and Nest 2nd Gen thermostat, which I've spent considerable time with over the last two months.
With limited options on the market for a 7-day programmable thermostat with an intuitive user interface, a straightforward attractive minimal physical design, WiFI capabilities, and a reliable brand name, the Honeywell RTH8580WF thermostat has proven to be somewhat of a lifesaver, and in my opinion, the best bang for the buck in these categories.
The story begins in Christmas 2012 when I asked for a Nest 2nd Gen. It was beautiful, easy to use, and seemingly the clear choice for all homeowners looking to upgrade to a home thermostat "of the future." Nest is also highly attractive to homeowners such as myself who own an Apple device or two and appreciate the ability to view and edit schedules from an iPhone/iPad/computer remotely. Unfortunately, my love for Nest diminished very quickly. A call to Nest support within the first few days of ownership confirmed that the "set temp" is merely considered "a desirable ambient temperature." This means that unlike Honeywell thermostats, THE NEST HAS A 3 DEGREE +/- SWING (sometimes more like 4 degrees)!! This proved to cause many problems with scheduling over the coming weeks with Nest kicking ON the heat when it was too cold (as it should), but then STOPPING the flow of heat through my central heating system 2 or 3 degrees BEFORE reaching my set temp! This major flaw proved to be the downfall of the Nest. Nearly all aspects of interacting and looking at Nest are pleasurable with a really fantastic web/iPhone interface, in addition to use of very high quality glass and metal components, which create an iconic design/interface that separates itself from the competition. However, with its 3 degree +/- temperature swing from the set temp put in place by engineers to "help conserve energy and decrease annual heating/cooling costs" and no way to edit this rangy deviation from the set temp, well, then, I was forced to look elsewhere for a thermostat that is actually functional when it comes to heating/cooling my house to an accurate temperature.
After a few pleasant and helpful phone calls with Nest customer support (not a long wait to talk to someone) who ultimately could not resolve my issue at hand, I ended up returning my Nest 2nd Gen to Amazon and beginning my search for a replacement unit.
Finding a suitable unit after owning a Nest proved to be a very difficult task. At first, nothing seemed to compare! It took a couple of days to rule out thermostats by Ecobee and Venstar because the prices were high, the design was only okay, the name brands and reliability were unknown to me, and what ultimately swayed my decision was the worry of incompatibility with my basic heating/cooling system and possibly requiring a "guy" to come in and do the install for me. After my troubles with Nest, complicating things further with a messy, expensive install didn't sound appealing. I also considered the Honeywell Prestige HD but decided to keep searching for similar reasons as to those described above.
I finally landed on the Honeywell RTH8580WF. For $149 on Amazon and at The Home Depot, I was able to get all of the usability of the Nest with only a slightly compromised physical design. The readout is very large, clear, and easy to read/understand/use. Heck, similar to the Nest, I'd have to call it attractive. The touch screen works very well despite it seeming just a bit outdated compared to 21st century devices like the iPhone, but I really like that by default the unit continually glows a dim green color that can be read during the night or day and brightens up when you touch the screen to make an adjustment. This setting can be switched off so that the display is dark all the time unless the screen is touched, but who would want that?
The web interface for the Honeywell is VERY GOOD. I had very low expectations in this department, probably in view of the brand name "Honeywell," which doesn't exactly conjure up thoughts of a front runner company in the realm of Internet computing technology. For whatever reason though, it's VERY easy to use, pleasant to work with, and so far is quite reliable. The set up process to get the Honeywell thermostat on my WiFi network was a cinch.. very easy. After getting the thermostat on the wall and hooked up, it didn't take long at all to get the unit registered on Honeywell's website and start scheduling out my week from my computer.
The only problem I had was tracking down a C wire for my basic gas heating system using central forced heat/air. My old thermostat used four wires: Red, White, Yellow, and Green (R, W, Y, G). Even the Nest only required four wires to power up and run. However, it says all over the labeling of the Honeywell that a "C wire" is REQUIRED to power the unit. The first attempt at getting this thing to work with four wires was halfway successful. I jumped the green wire, (G), which runs the fan, to the C terminal on the unit to provide power. This powered the unit intermittently, but the screen would cut out and go completely black, return to green again, and then cut out again, etc. I FINALLY figured out that the blue wire wrapped around the bundle of main wires that wasn't being used is called the C wire! However, I had to go down to my heating unit in the basement and physically connect up the blue wire to the heater for it to work. It was just dangling there! So, after connecting the blue C wire to the heating unit, I connected it to the C terminal on the Honeywell thermostat and the unit has been working like a charm ever since.
My only gripe about the Honeywell is that the 7-day schedule for the week cannot be altered from the iPhone app. This is a minor inconvenience to me, as the Nest schedule can be altered from the iPhone app, but it's a minor complaint overall. The current temp can still be adjusted from the Honeywell app, etc. just fine, and the app itself has a nice interface and is quite basic to use. It even shows the current outside temp for my zip code along with the five day forecast! Nest didn't have this built into THEIR app.
All in all, I'd highly recommend the Honeywell RTH8580WF thermostat to any homeowner looking to upgrade to a WiFi unit. Even if you don't want or need the WiFi accessibility, the unit itself is very pleasing to look at on the wall and interact with. Honeywell customer support was very prompt, polite, and helpful when I called, matching the same great service I received with Nest.
If you can live with a loosey-goosey 3 degree +/- swing from the set temp of your thermostat and want an incredibly beautiful piece of art/functionality on your wall, go for the Nest. However, if you're like me and want to be comfortable without constantly manually turning the heat on/off, go with a Honeywell unit that keeps your house within 1 degree +/- of the set temp LIKE ALL THERMOSTATS SHOULD FUNCTION. I'd like to address some people's concerns that I've read in some reviews about certain thermostats constantly turning on/off too often to maintain a set temp and this being bad for the central heating unit. I have NOT noticed this to be a problem in my house. The Honeywell unit does not turn my heat on too often that I would be concerned anything is wrong. It just heats when the temp drops too low and cools when it's too high.. like a thermostat should.
Hope this helped someone out there searching for the end-all-be-all upgrade to a "smart" thermostat of the future.
HVAC Thermostat Specialist
I saw this also, thought it was interesting...