Honeywell releases designer smart thermostat

Honeywell is going high end with its new Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat and is tapping its formidable sales and distribution channels to turn up the heat on its competition.

The Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat can be customized with different background colors

The Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat was announced earlier this month and is the first designer thermostat that Honeywell has brought to market in its 100+ year history. At US$249 per unit, it's the priciest and most advanced member of its new line up of Web enabled products.

Features include the ability to self install, what Honeywell says is the most accurate temperature controls available, software that sets the thermostat based upon occupants' lifestyles, and push data on time and weather.

The Honeywell thermostat will ask things like, "when will the first person wake up," "when does the last person go to sleep," and can vary its programming across the week. Every feature is accessible through an iOS app for iPad and iPhone called Total Connect Comfort. The app can control multiple sites and interacts with other Honeywell HVAC systems such as humidifiers and dehumidifiers when available.

Honeywell's big advantage is its capacity for distribution. Homebuilders, service companies, and even HVAC equipment makers can request white-labeled versions of the product. Telecom companies, including AT&T, which uses Honeywell products in its Digital Life home automation service, are among its customers, said director of product marketing Pat Tessier.

The Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat will also be sold directly to consumers through home stores to capture the DIY-er, Tessier explained.

Nest, a start-up founded by the Apple developer who headed the iPod team, created a designer thermostat that senses when you're home and programs itself. Its arrival may have sprung Honeywell into action though it experimented with Web enabled devices in the early 2000's. While those attempts were not commercially successful, Honeywell did accrue a patent portfolio and has  sued both Nest and Best Buy for infringement. Best Buy and other big retailers have special displays for Nest.

I'd still give Nest a leg up on its technology. Nest offers  new services that connect its smart thermostats to cloud servers at utility partners. Nest can help pinpoint energy hogging appliances and enables demand response incentives that provide homeowners with money saving opportunities when utilities hit peak demand.

Rest assured that Honeywell won't be far behind, and in terms or marketshare may already be ahead (Honeywell wouldn't disclose sales, but revenues for automation and controls are up).

(image credit: Honeywell)

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