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 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.
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!