Members of The NEWS’ contractor panel share their favorite products
With so many thermostat options available, it seems there is a product tailored for nearly everyone — from the individual who wants to be able to walk up to the wall and simply adjust the temperature to the tech-savvy homeowner who expects connectivity, remote control, and diagnostic capabilities.
But what homeowners think they want in a thermostat isn’t necessarily what HVAC contractors are looking for. Below, several members of The NEWS’ contractor advisory panel unveil their favorite thermostats and share what they like most about the products.
BRYANT EVOLUTION CONNEX CONTROL
Contractor: Butch Welsch, president and owner, Welsch Heating and Cooling Co., St. Louis
Welsch’s Take: My preferred thermostat is the Bryant Evolution Connex Control. It is very user-friendly and compact, and users can change the fan speed from the thermostat. It has Wi-Fi connectivity and an easy-to-use app, and it communicates with the equipment that sets up blower speed. It is easy to install and setup, and it communicates changes and alerts. The only thing I would change is adding a few color options.
Contractor: Josh Mitchell, Pleune Service Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan
Mitchell’s Take: The ecobee3 is a great product for residential and small commercial, single-zone applications. It’s very easy to install, can be installed with many applications, and is very user-friendly while maneuvering through the settings screens and end-user performance. The installation is the best feature for the technician, I believe. Once powered up, it walks you through the installation process step by step. It asks easy-to-understand questions, which allows even a novice HVAC tech to properly set the device up. Even connecting the wireless network is a snap for the “not so technical” people out there. Everywhere I have installed this product, the customers and I have been very impressed with the performance of the device. It’s a great product, and I would recommend it to anyone.
Contractor: Dave Dombrowski, general manager, Rapid Repair Experts, Raleigh, North Carolina
Dombrowski’s Take: I believe that the purpose of any type of HVAC control is to provide comfort, accuracy, and dependability to the homeowner. In addition, it should reflect the technological benefits available to today’s thermostats and not simply be physically attractive. The product I recommend is the Honeywell Prestige (model YTHX9421R5150), which is the complete kit consisting of a high-definition color touchscreen thermostat. The equipment interface module utilizes only two wires at the thermostat, two duct-mounted sensors for the supply and return plenum, and a wireless outdoor sensor. Combine this with the RedLINK gateway, which offers a highly secure Wi-Fi connection for up to 4 thermostats, and you have a great combination of all of the desired smartphone features and updates as well as range of data for the technician, including delta T, humidity control, run time, and much more. There are many accessories that can attach to the extra contacts for full control. It may not change colors when you walk up to it, but it’s a solid system for controlling comfort.
HONEYWELL WI-FI VISION PRO 8000
Contractors: Greg Crumpton, president and founder, AirTight FaciliTech, Charlotte, North Carolina; Steve Moon, owner, Moon Air Inc., Elkton, Maryland; and Bob Keingstein, president of Boss Facility Services in Ronkonkoma, New York
Crumpton’s Take: I like its ease of use and looks, and the backlighting is strong. I have used iterations of this for many years and have never had a failure or warranty call, which is huge for any contractor. End users like its ease of use, looks, and strong backlighting. The Wi-Fi capabilities are excellent for remote monitoring and adjustment. It is extra cool for second homes, because you can monitor and set for your comfort upon arrival.
Moon’s Take: It’s very easy to install and works with most routers. We are living in a very sophisticated world, and many clients just love the idea they can control their equipment remotely. Most of them only use it for a short period of time and then move on to another gadget. I like the add-on features, like the remote temperature sensor. I use that in my home every day. This product gives our client added protection, and many of our clients have their thermostats send alerts straight to our office. It works great for vacation homes that are not occupied regularly.
Keingstein’s Take: I like this RedLINK Wi-Fi thermostat. I personally installed this in my home when I recently replaced my HVAC system. It is fairly priced and allows remote access to the temperature control from anywhere Wi-Fi is available. I have been able to adjust temperatures and monitor space temps as well as turn systems on and off remotely, which I find very convenient. Commercially, I believe the ability to monitor and adjust space temps and check on the settings prior to sending a tech out will become very popular.
NEST LEARNING THERMOSTAT
Contractor: Matt Bergstrom, president, Thornton & Grooms, Farmington Hills, Michigan
Bergstrom’s Take: It is top of mind for our customers, and its popularity continues to grow. It really seems to connect with consumers’ desires and needs. I like that the professional model has a five-year warranty on the retail model. The most beneficial feature is the ability to enter our pro ID, which stores our information. It also has the ability to add carbon monoxide and smoke alarms to it that will disable the furnace if it senses carbon monoxide. It is just a great-looking control that functions well.