Which Smart Thermostat Should You Get This Cyber Monday? Here Are My Experiences Trying To Find The Perfect One

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I’m a relatively slow adapter to smart home technologies.

That’s in no small part due to the complexities presented by Shabbos. But it’s also because I don’t understand why exactly my alarm clock should have a built-in camera.

I do have a Ring Pro doorbell and it’s truly amazing, though I had a kill switch installed that allows me to push a button that turns it off before Shabbos.

Smart home thermostats are another product that make sense in theory, but once you need to kill the sensors every Shabbos, they become more of a hassle than it’s worth.

That’s why I originally got Honeywell WiFi thermostats. They look great, the screen has all of the information you could want, and the app is easy to use to control the temperature from anywhere in the world.

It doesn’t have any learning modes, but you can make a schedule on their app, which is all I really wanted.

There’s nothing that you need to do to make the Honeywell Shabbos compatible:

The problem is that I found that my office got too cold or too warm due to its distance from the thermostat and this thermostat is not compatible with any room sensors that would allow something to override the location of the thermostat.

I tried out a Nest thermostat E and a Nest room sensor, but a few things annoyed me.

I turned off the “auto-away” feature and the “screen on upon approach” in order to make it Shabbos compatible. Of course doing that kills most of the smart features on the thermostat.

I put the Nest room sensor in my office and figured that it would essentially override the temperature on the main thermostat so that it would keep the AC and heat going according to the temperature in my office.

However I learned that Nest has the sensor programmed to only relay its temperature every 10 minutes. That meant there were 5 degree temperature swings that made things pretty unconformable. There is no way to override this setting. I found myself manually changing the temperature in the app often, which led to another annoyance. The Nest remembers the time of each adjustment and proceeds to make the same adjustments each day, despite me not wanting those adjustments daily. It also overrode my changes due to the learning schedule.

I also hated that the screen was always off and that there was no setting to leave the screen on. That would be fine if you used it to turn the screen on upon approach, but I had that disabled for Shabbos purposes.

In short, it was pretty dumb for a smart thermostat. It does not allow the end user to customize settings nearly enough as it should allow. The Nest is pretty, but it reminds me of an iPhone versus an Android in terms of how much control its willing to give to the end user 😉

I looked into the ecobee 4, but learned that if you disabled Alexa, it changed the large status bar to red and there was no way to override that. That was besides the fact that I didn’t want Alexa in my thermostat anyway.

And then I finally settled on the ecobee 3. It doesn’t have Alexa or a status bar and it doesn’t protrude from the wall as much as the ecobee 4 does.

The ecobee thermostat also has its Shabbos issues, but I disabled the smart home/away sensor and I disabled the follow me option on the room sensor so that I wouldn’t have to remember to manually do that before every Shabbos.

ecobee makes it easy to hold a temperature without the system overriding the hold, which is nice.

One annoying part is that the standby screen is motion sensitive, so if you walk by it, the screen changes to the active screen, which is a problem on Shabbos. I disabled the standby screen and changed the brightness on the active and standby screens to the same level to avoid having Shabbos issues. However without the standby screen, the thermostat won’t display the outside temperature or the time.

The solution to this is fairly low tech. Tape a small piece of black masking tape and cover the proximity sensor on the top left so that the screen will go into standby mode but won’t respond to any motion. You can touch it to bring it into active mode to change the settings. (Note that other colors of masking tape, including blue, won’t work! I learned this the hard way…)

The tape looks pretty bad in the pictures, but you don’t notice it in person unless you’re looking for it as it blends into the black thermostat.

ecobee 3 in active mode with “Shabbos” tape:

 

ecobee 3 in standby mode is pictured below. If you don’t care about it entering standby mode you don’t need to add the tape to solve the Shabbos problems, but if you want the standby mode you’ll need tape to avoid Shabbos issues:

 

The ecobee room sensors work great and instantly report their temperature back to the main system very frequently. I can set the exact times when I want the office room sensor to override the main thermostat temperature, something that the Nest can’t do.

In short, if you want room sensors to allow different rooms to have priority on setting the temperature over the room with the thermostat, you’ll want an ecobee. It is very customizeable by the end user, though it will take more time to go through all of the options that you have than with a Nest.

You can get the ecobee 3 lite smart thermostat from Amazon for $138.49 after $30 Cyber Monday savings.

You can get 2 room sensors for the ecobee from Home Depot for $39.50 from Home Depot after $39.50 in Cyber Monday savings. You can then set the system to average the temperature between 3 locations or decide which room should control the thermostat for it to be most comfortable.

Don’t need room sensors and don’t want any Shabbos issues? I’d definitely go with the Honeywell WiFi thermostat.

A newer version of the Honeywell WiFi thermostat is on sale for $149.99 from B&H after $50 in Cyber Monday savings.

Many states also offer rebates for buying a smart thermostat.

PSE&G Customers In NJ can save big on them here.

Hopefully one day, one of the smart home thermostat manufacturers will add the ability to add a simple Shabbos mode like our fridge and oven have.

Do you have a smart thermostat? Share your experience in the comments!

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94 Comments On "Which Smart Thermostat Should You Get This Cyber Monday? Here Are My Experiences Trying To Find The Perfect One"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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Yitzy

Living in LA we got free Nests from the DWP. Turned off the sensors permanently for Shabbos but you can’t beat free…!

?

With ring cameras you can set days you do not want a motion to set off the camera or turn on the lights

Charlie

I have 4 ecobee3 in my house and they have all had problems. At some point they all read the temperature in the room at over 100 degrees. In the winter this prevents the heat from turning on and the room gets freezing.

Cs

I love the Sensi. Extremely easy to install and don’t have the motion issue.

scott

I have had the Sensi for awhile as well and really like it. I am not aware of room sensor as I have 5 sensi’s in my home..

Sam kohn

they have major screen issues, almost like to qa was ever done on them.

Avi Muchnick

I’m not sure why you couldn’t get Nest to disable the learning feature, but it’s definitely possible to do so….

https://nest.com/support/article/How-do-I-turn-off-Nest-Auto-Schedule-learning-and-use-Nest-as-a-programmable-thermostat

S

So I needed a thermostat for split unit ACs for the office, problem is that people leave the office and forget to shut the system. I found Tado, it learns all the commands from the remote and basically sends commands to the system just like the remote. I set a schedule for the system to go on and off at the end of the day.

Jay

I have the nest and I love it, but why do I have to turn off the auto-away for shabbos?

Yehuda

Black electric tape blends in even better.

GB

I put a piece of tape over the window on all of my ecobee 3 room sensor’s proximity sensors. I also have turned off the home/away & follow me. It is my understanding, although I am not sure, that be really turning off home/away and follow me do not prevent the rooms sensors from reporting back to the thermostat. That is why I put tape on all of the room sensors. If there is anyway you can confirm this information I believe it would be helpful to your readers.

Yosef

Just ordered the Hive you put up earlier and one called the Lux Kono… Trying them both and we’ll see… Honeywell has had a ton of issues with their server and didn’t need Sensors

AJK

“The solution to this is fairly low tech. Tape a small piece of black masking tape and cover the proximity sensor . . .”

You’re welcome.

David

I have the ecobee. I turn my room sensors around before shabbos so they don’t pickup motion and put a piece of paper over the main unit. Annoying. Shabbos mode is badly needed on these and on smartwatches

liveandlaugh

I’ve had ecobee 4 for about two years. I too used tape initially for shabbas. However, I recently purchased the ecobee 3 lite for another zone and was able to get tech support to help.
This is the email I received following our phonecall summarizing my conversation:
“We had spoken about disabling the proximity sensor so that when you walk by the thermostat, it will not wake. You can do this at your thermostat by following these prompts:
Main Menu > Settings > Preferences > active to standby timer to disable

I tried it and it worked on both the 3 and 4, my screen no longer brightens or changes when I walk by.

P.S. tech support didn’t mention this but be sure your device is updated with the most recent software update.

Avi Muchnick

Be aware that the ecobee 3 Lite (which is actually different than the ecobee 3) does not support hvac systems with humidifiers or dehumidifiers built in. The ecobee 4 does.

Joe

Very happy with the Honeywell ones. My kids really love checking the weather forecast and fooling around with changing the color scheme…gives them a sense of power!

Itchakadoozie

That’s what I call an abuse of power! The product is supposed to conserve energy, not zap it!

Benji Suss

Dan is it possible for you to do a post on your office set up?

Ari

Hey Dan, this was in the Jewish newspaper in LA this week…Jewish Home LA 11-22-18:
https://issuu.com/jewishhomela/docs/la_jh_11-22-18_lo/16

All about smart homes and Shabbos

sam

Why can’t you put the same Black peace tape on the Nest thermostat?

Jeff

Why not the Honeywell wifi pro 8000 with wireless room sensors?

Itchakadoozie

How much should installation cost to add a c wire for these systems. I’m looking to replace an old thermostat. TIA

danhecan

There were only two wires in the wall for my old thermostat. I picked up 3 wire thermostat wire from Home Depot, used black electrical tape to connect it to the two wire thermostat wire in the basement where my boiler is and then from the first floor where my thermostat is I pulled the 2 wire out until the 3 wire came through. This will not work in every situation. In my case it was a short distance without lots of twists and turns. The tricky part was then figuring out where to connect the C wire to my boiler, but once I figured that out I was able to connect a WiFi thermostat (Sensi, which I had no issues with, but I switched to the ecobee 3 lite when Dan posted the PSEG deal).

Zac

Dan – They have these little stick on sliders that cover the camera om your laptop. You can probably use one of those instead of tape. Bonus is that theoretically you can slide it open during the week or from time to time when you want the motion sensor. Of course then you have to worry about remembering to slide it closed before shabbos or yom tov…. but ultimately it is a bit more stylish and flexible.

Tuli

Dan
The way to go would be a Honeywell vision pro 8000 with red link which allows you to add up to 6 WIRELESS remote sensors and allows you to add a red link gateway (which can wirelessly connect up to 4 stats to the internet/ app ) plus you can also add wireless outdoor sensors etc…(you can also add an equipment control module at your hvac unit which allows the thermostat to control the unit wirelessly too)
In other words many options and no shabbos issues

SDee

I tried this set up… It’s nice to have the red link system. Costs more. If something doesn’t work, you would have to many things to look at & to find what’s not working properly. Vs the ecobee it’s a all in one system. I also find the ecobee to be very helpful in allowing unlimited temp changes throughout the day vs a typical thermostat giving you only 4 settings or rarely 6 settings.

The one downside I have with the ecobee, the sensor is wireless ONLY if it’s out of range I’m out of luck. If only they would have an option of a wired sensor or some repeater to pick up the signal.

Qsman

BGE just replaced my Honeywell Peak Rewards thermostats (bill credits in the summer to cycle A/C compressor on peak use days) with 2 ecobee 3 lites. Thanks for the black tape idea

Mayer

Dan,
How does the Rung doorbell kill switch work? Is it something that is a DIY project? Any link to further info on this would be greatly appreciated. (Just ordered the ecobee3 lite after reading this. It has no built in proximity sensor.)

Rediplus

Does the heating system matter-steam, water, radiators, type of furnace, gas , electric etc..

Aaron

Little off topic but what do u do with the wireless ring security cameras from this weeks HD deal?
How does that work with shabbos , even if you shut sensor off to detect motion…..

sam

Have you tried to set an IFTTT recipe shutting down the system every Shabbos with the Nest?
That would probably be the best solution.

Chilly.

Ok. Thanks for this info Dan! You may be a life saver…

I have an 80 year old single zone steam system in my house that somehow never gets the furthest room in the line warm enough. Ive been considering moving the hardwired thermostat to that room but it sounds like this ecobee could be what I need. But how does it work… Does the main thermostat I have now just get replaced and then add these room sensor(s) to the last room? Or does something need to be installed at the main boiler?

Chilly.

Doing some reading. Since I only have a two-wire system (R&W), I do need something installed at the boiler. Argh..

Vana

Hey, just wanted to thank you for your advice on thermostats, especially the Shabbos issue. I never would have thought of those issues. Motion sensors?? My thermostat is from the stone age so…wait, what does that make me?

Barry

I have the Ecobee 3 lite and I have a couple of questions:

1) How do you “turn off smart home/away”?
2) Can you please repeat as to what that accomplishes?
3) I have humidifier/dehumidifier, I thought it was working, am I incorrect?
4) I have a one zone system, if I get room sensors and place them in the 2 rooms that are generally much colder, how will that effect the rest of the houses temperature?
Thanks

Yisroel

This might help some people. Many forced air systems have dampers at the base of the ducting where it comes off the main line that can easily be adjusted to even out the temperature in you house. You can search on YouTube and watch how to do it. Solved my house issue

Tzadik

Costco has the ecobee 3 with 2 sensors for $139.99

Chilly.

I ordered it from Costco. Better price because it includes the 2 sensors and they have no hassle return if it doesn’t work out for me.

Appreciate the recommendation Dan.

Based on my research today and talking to ecobee, it will work with my two wire steam radiator system (R & W wires only) as long as I get an external C wire adapter which Amazon carries for around $20 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075PN6NCV/ .

Extra “C” wire will look ugly on the outside of the wall, but I’ll do my best to hide it especially if it gets me the results I need.

Thanks again Dan!

username

Thank You!

akiva

the reason you can’t leave the screen on with the nest is because of it doesn’t require a power cord run to it. it gets its power from the very low current that is in the signal wires. if the screen stays on too long the battery dies. this is also why there is a very long start up the first time.

Binyomin Greenberger

I found my bell transformer that powers my 2 Ring doorbells. I disconnected the transformer from the electric circuit, added a standard plug, and plugged it into a 7 day time clock that ‘knows’ when Friday & Shabbos sunset are. No muss no fuss, just automatic Shabbos off and on. (Add 1/2 hour margin for the Ring built in battery to drain.)
For Yomtov, I don’t bother to reprogram the time clock, I just pull the plug.
Of course, if you are not comfortable working on 110V lines, hire an electrician or handyman to set this up for you.

Jake

Costco has it now for 139 including 2 sensors!!

Maveric

Can someone please tell me what is shabbos ?

Anti Maverick

The Jewish day of rest. Friday sundown through nightfall Saturday in most of the world. Friday or Sunday in some far flung places straddling the dateline in the Pacific that Dan may go to…

ag12

Shabbos (Saturday) is the Jewish day of rest. One of the rules of Shabbos is that one may not use or electronics, or in any way cause electronics to work (such as walking by a thermostat with a screen sensor that will cause it to turn on). Therefore, a lot of people are concerned when purchasing smart home devices that they will not be able to turn off sensors or monitoring capabilities since they can not have these running in there house on Shabbos.

Chilly.

@dan

You ‘set the brightness of the standby and active screens the same.’ What’s the Shabbos issue with this if your intent was never to see the standby screen on Shabbos anyway? Why did the brightness matter?

Avi

Great article Dan! I personally have the Honeywell older model works great, no problems.
Costs $69 currently on amazon and PSEGLI gives you $85 check per wifi thermostat.
Honeywell app is fair, could use improvements, currently only allows 4 settings per day.

https://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-Programmable-Thermostat-RTH6580WF-Requires/dp/B00Y6M2OUC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1543420585&sr=8-3&keywords=honeywell+thermostat+wifi

Qsman

I got my ecobees from BGE, but I I did buy 2 room sensors. Thanks for the info on the unit sensors and smart learning.

BTW if you want to improve the aesthetics of the black tape patch, use a flashlight or your cell phone light to locate the small red dot in that upper left corner of your ecobee. You will see that all you really need is a tiny square cut just big enough to cover that opening. Looks much better, I dont have a way of posting a photo here.

Al

Dan, I saw online that the room sensors have motion sensors as well. Is that true? Do you do the tape to fix that problem as well?
Thanks

username

” I disabled the smart home/away sensor and I disabled the follow me option on the room sensor “

Emes

The follow me function is dependent on the motion sensors in the remote sensor. Disabling the follow me gets around your motion controlling the heat , however your movement is still tracked by the system . If you don’t want the system to register a room as occupied or unoccupied you would also need to cover the motion sensor on the room sensors. You can use white electrical tape so it blends in, you do not need black masking tape.

As a side note Dan says he used masking tape not electrical tape. There a difference in the properties of the two kinds of tape in that light passes through masking tape but not electrical tape.

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