For as long as I can remember Honeywell were the world’s unchallenged leader in thermostats, however all that changed when Nest launched the first generation of their smart thermostat and they have rapidly closed the gap to the point where Nest are now outselling Honeywell’s leading smart thermostat at online stores.
Honeywell sales under pressure from Nest
It was only 15 months ago that Honeywell were rated as the leading thermostat manufacturer by Navigant Research with Nest in 2nd place.
The pace of Nest’s growth has been amazing – this is made even more impressive when you consider Nest only sell a single line of thermostats while Honeywell currently have over 30 models available when you also take older style ‘dumb’ and lower priced programmable only models into account.
I’ve compared what Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot and Best Buy say are their top selling smart thermostats via their websites, and Nest is outselling the Honeywell’s popular RTH9580WF on every one.
Given all this pressure Honeywell was under it was clear they needed to respond in some way…
Lyric – Honeywell’s answer to Nest
It’s pretty clear that Honeywell felt their biggest disadvantage was in aesthetics and the resulting design of the Lyric seems to be as about as close to the Nest as they could get without being sued, although to be fair Honeywell used to make manual thermostats with circular front panels (the Lyric is the one on the right in the picture above).
Nest was designed by Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers who were previously engineers at Apple, and Honeywell also teamed up with Apple to design the Lyric.
Honeywell plan to work with Apple on a range of home products and devices under the Lyric brand which will all be inter-connectable via Apple’s HomeKit home automation platform. There aren’t many HomeKit compatible products available yet, however Belkin, Philips,iHome, Haier, Withings, iDevices, and Kwikset have all announced that they will have products available to the public later this year.
On the other hand the Nest Thermostat can already connect with the Nest Protect combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarm – in the event of a fire Nest Protect can instruct the Nest Thermostat to shut down gas appliances. Nest’s thermostat can also use information from the sensors on the smoke alarm to determine when someone is at home more accurately than it can on its own to regulate temperatures – this is particularly useful in a large home.
Competing on features or price?
The Nest has always been $249 however Honeywell originally listed the Lyric’s price as $279, but the Lyric is now typically selling discounted for $229 with some online retailers selling it for under $209.
It seems that Honeywell have failed to differentiate the Lyric in the public’s mind when it comes to features so a lower price is the path they’ve decided to take to encourage sales.
There are some minor differences in the feature sets (see below), however there is a significant point of difference…
Lyric uses Geofencing to determine when you’re home, or about to arrive home, and then uses this information to adjust heating and cooling accordingly. This requires you to have an app running on your phone – if there are people using your house who don’t have the app set up they’ll have to manually change thermostat modes as they come and go.
Nest doesn’t require you to use an app, instead it learns your patterns of behavior as well as information from sensors to work out when to start changing temperatures – you can also manually override as well.
Direct Comparison Chart – Nest vs Lyric
|Remote Control:||PC, Tablet, Smartphone||Tablet, Smartphone|
|Power Source:||Self recharging battery & 20 to 30 V C, Y1, or W1 wire||Battery and optional 24 V C wire|
|Automated Modes:||Self Learning||Geofencing|
|Size:||3″ Diameter||3.75″ Diameter|
|Extreme Temperature Alerts:||No||Yes|
|Easy Modes:||Away, Sleeping||Away, Sleeping|
|7 Day Programmable:||Yes – but Learning mode can’t run when programmed||Yes|
|Coordinates with other devices:||Nest Protect||Not yet – but has HomeKit compatibility|
|Filter Change Reminders:||Yes||Yes|
|Effective Price:||$199||Under $169|
|Best Deals:||Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot||Amazon|
Has Honeywell’s strategy against Nest succeeded?
Well that depends on your point of view. As I write this Nest is still the number 1 smart thermostat and the older Honeywell RTH9580WF is number 2 on the Amazon best seller list while the Lyric is at 42 (one that has snuck up on that list is the Ecobee3 currently at number 7 – I’ll have more to say about that in a later article).
Despite the Lyric still being behind Nest for sales, it has changed a popular perception in the media that Nest was poised to dominate the smart thermostat market, and Honeywell have shown they have some presentation skills even if they’re perceived as being a little derivative.
If you already have Nest Protect then you may as well get the Nest Thermostat to go with it. On the other hand if you don’t have a C Wire then the Nest can end up having problems with power stealing and disconnect from the internet when the battery runs down.
The difference in price is hard to ignore, so for now I’m going with the Lyric.