Review: Honeywell Lyric Smart Thermostat
Last update: 2/6/2015
Our Honeywell Lyric Quick Rating:
Honeywell Lyric at a Glance
The Lyric had a rocky start and half a year later things aren’t looking much better. What few Amazon reviews exist for the Honeywell Lyric are not kind. Various early users on tech forums and Amazon.com complain that the Honeywell Lyric was “beta at best” at launch and reported problems with geofencing not working (especially on the “small” setting of 500 yards), event scheduling, app crashes, and problems with setup instructions.
Honeywell fixed some of these problems and pushed updates to the app, making the thermostat significantly better in December 2014 (a few months after its launch), but at this point we’re just wondering – why bother? The ecobee3 and the Nest are much better choices, and the Honeywell WiFi Smart Thermostat is still a well-reviewed champ (and its price keeps dropping!).
So what’s our beef?
Basically, we think Nest is doing “simple” better and ecobee is doing “features” better. Even Honeywell’s older offering, the rectangular Honeywell WiFi Smart Thermostat, is beating the pants of the Lyric in terms of customer ratings. There’s a lot missing on the Lyric (see CONS section) and we’re just not that impressed.
- Home temperature is well-regulated by the Lyric with a smaller swing range (1 degree vs. Nest’s 3)
- Uses geofencing to know if someone’s home instead of motion detection like Nest
- Nuanced control over your HVAC system (more than Nest)
- Aesthetically pleasing, slick and modern design
- Helpful customer service (low waits, they speak English, and they’ve been responsive during the product launch debacles)
- Open API for developers means third-party apps can hook into the Lyric, potentially offering more/better features
- App can’t tell you what components of your home’s HVAC are currently running
- You can’t really “program” it in the traditional sense (for easy, straightforward day-by-day scheduling, check out the ecobee3)
- No data tracking! (Seriously!)
- Needs a AAA Lithium battery in systems lacking C-wire, and the battery doesn’t last long (about 2 months according to user reports)
- You absolutely must have a tablet/phone with access to the app to set up the Lyric
- No Kindle app support
- No day/time at a glance
- No control lock
- Highest-priced smart thermostat on the market today with an MSRP of $279
- No web portal
- Doesn’t show indoor humidity
- No alerts/alarms for too-high, too-low temps
- The geofence distance options have just four choices: 1/4 mile, 2 miles, 4 miles, 7 miles (why not let users enter a custom fence radius?)
- Some users report problems with Lyric not snapping tightly to the wall mount
- No instructions included in box
- Many complaints of difficult installation process on Amazon.com
Honeywell Lyric Review
Honeywell is basically playing catch-up. Nest beat Honeywell at its own game when it rolled out the Nest, and Honeywell’s been trying to reclaim its stronghold in the market. This may explain why the Lyric was launched in August in such an untested state…
Overall, we like the Lyric, the ideas behind it, and we want to see it succeed. We see Honeywell scrambling to fix what’s wrong with it (which fills us with hope), and it’s a promising device.
Lyric offers more fine-tuned control over HVAC systems than the Nest does (though not nearly as much as the ecobee3). Even the most critical reviews seem to agree that the Lyric does a good job of managing a home’s temperature.
The Lyric has numerous “bells and whistles” over the Nest, too, such as the ability to disable “Eco Mode” for tighter control over the temperature swing range. (Nest forces you to live with its +/- 3 degree swing range.)
Our criticisms are lobbed mostly at what separates the Lyric from the competition: its companion app and its geofencing feature.
You don’t have to read too many reviews of the Lyric before you find complaints about installation problems. Even technically inclined people are complaining, and that scares us.
That said, some users and reviews have pointed out that the Lyric becomes a WiFi hotspot in and of itself during installation. You connect directly to it via your smartphone, which lets you then set up security through your smartphone’s keyboard instead of the wall unit itself like you do with Nest.
Needs a C-wire
Like many homeowners, we don’t have a C-wire in la casa de SmartThermostatGuide, so we’re bummed that this thermostat requires a C-wire or an endless stream of batteries. Reports vary on battery life, looks to be about 2 months or so. That’s just too many battery changes for us.
Many early adopters also report that the lithium battery the Lyric ships with is dead on arrival.
We think that’s bad design. If Lyric needs so much power that it drains its own batteries in transit, then it should just require the C-wire or provide some kind of power kit/adapter.
The app feels unfinished.
There is no web portal, no data tracking (how you did this month compared to others in your zipcode, furnace runtime, etc), the geofence options are 500 feet or 7 miles (those are your only options!), and the app doesn’t tell you whether you’re inside the fence or not. You even have to log into the app every time you use it – blergh.
Yes, it’s still a thermostat you can operate remotely, but these annoyances pile up.
The open API has us hopeful that another developer will outdo Honeywell and make a better app. There’s no Kindle app, and while that’s true of other smart thermostats as well, it’s still an irritation to a number of customers who use Kindle tablets at home.
A LOT of users have reported problems with geofencing, either not working at all or frustrations with the limited set of options for the range. Lyric rolled out an update in the late fall that updated the geofencing options from two (500 ft and 7 miles) to four (1/4 mile, 2 miles, 4 miles, 7 miles). You can read more about setting up Geofencing with Lyric here.
Still, I wonder: why can’t we just enter our own customized distances? This is a bizarre limitation, especially when you consider that geofencing is the Lyric’s flagship feature.
Something Honeywell did get right in regards to geofencing is that the geofence range can be customized per user account. (Note that every “authorized user” of your thermostat must have their own log in credentials.) If you work closer to home than your partner, you can each set up your own geofence ranges.
Still, I think this geofence feature is cumbersome and requires a too much trial and error on the part of the users. I do most of my commuting, shopping, and errands within a 7 mile radius, even if I’m gone for hours. I’d hate for the thing to think I was home or coming home all that time, that’s just silly. It’s a neat idea, but it’s not for me, and it seems to be frustrating others as well.
Honeywell’s “clever” innovation with the Lyric is its reliance on a feature known as geofencing. Depending on the default you choose (1/4 mile, 2 miles, 4 miles, 7 miles) the Lyric will automatically switch to “Away mode” when you leave the “fenced” area (assuming you don’t forget your phone at home). Returning home, once you cross the fence, the Lyric will begin heating or cooling your home as per your configured “Home mode” settings.
Sounds great, but even in December 2014 (4+ months after launch) reviewers are still complaining about geofence issues.
The app isn’t much help here, either – it doesn’t tell you whether you’re in the fence or outside it, which makes it tough to tell if it’s actually working or not. At launch, many users reported problems with the small fence distance (just not working at all – ie: the Lyric would think you weren’t home when you were, etc).
We’re hoping Honeywell updates the app to let users enter a geofence distance of their own choosing.
Look & Feel
We got our hands on a Honeywell Lyric and we were surprised by how light and almost flimsy it felt compared to the Nest’s heft. Nest has a metal ring, Lyric’s is plastic. The thermostat is thinner and lighter than the Nest.
While at least one Amazon reviewer complains that they are able to knock the Lyric out of its base, we didn’t have that problem.
As of December 2014, these important features (available on Nest and ecobee competitor models) are still missing from the Lyric.
Web portal. There’s no way to access Lyric settings from anything except a smart phone.
Runtime reports. Wondering how you did this month compared to last? Too bad. There are no usage reports like Nest and ecobee generate.
Home humidity level. Older thermostats could do this, why not this new one? Feels like a step back in features.
Set a basic schedule. Many users wish they could just program the darn thing like the thermostats of yore.
Honeywell Lyric Technical Specs
Size / Weight
The Honeywell Lyric is shallower than the Nest but slightly larger in diameter. It is also considerably lighter in weight.
Screen / Front Panel
The Lyric has a small LCD screen in the center, but the entire face is a touch panel. On either side of the LCD screen are two touch-sensitive buttons. On the left, a cloud/sun icon can be touched to access current weather information. On the right, the home/clock icon can be touched to tell the thermostat you’re going away for a while.
We would like this small screen better if it displayed the time/date or just more info in general. Competitor product ecobee3 shows a bigger selection of information on its touch screen (see our ecobee3 review here).
Behind the Lyric is an illuminated ring of color which is temporarily cast on the wall behind the device as it switches modes.
- Orange indicates heating
- Blue indicates cooling
- Green indicates away/energy savings
The Lyricis compatible with the following security standards:
These are common standards and your router is almost certainly compatible.
The Lyric app is only available for iOS and Android platforms. (This excludes Microsoft phones/tablets and Blackberry phones/tablets.)
Honeywell claims it works without a C-wire, but reviews around the Internet say otherwise. The included battery is an AAA size Lithium battery, but if yours arrives drained (like many do) you’ll need to replace it. And keep replacing it, if your home lacks a C-wire. For best results, we recommend installing a C-wire or a C-wire adapter.
The Honeywell Lyric comes with a 2 year warranty.
Honeywell Lyric FAQs
Will you need a C-wire?
Supposedly, the Lyric is designed to work in systems without a C-wire, but many early Lyric adopters have complained that the battery drains quickly without a C-wire. (Read reviews on Amazon.com)
What happens to the Lyric thermostat the Internet or Wi-Fi goes down?
The thermostat will continue to operate without a Wi-Fi connection.
What happens if the power goes out?
The Lyric saves its program schedule and customizations in permanent memory. When the power comes back on, the thermostat will resume its schedule automatically.
More Honeywell Lyric Information
- Honeywell Lyric support page answers many FAQs and offers users the opportunity to suggest improvements
- CNET’s 2 page review of the Lyric goes through the setup steps and explores some of the problems encountered along the way
- Amazon.com reviews for the Honeywell Lyric
Great Honeywell-made video demonstrating many Lyric features:
The Bottom Line
The Lyric is brand new and it went through a rocky start. Things are better now (the thermostat and its app have stabilized quite a bit). If you want a butt simple smart thermostat, you might be better off going with a Nest. If you want data, more control, and more features, you’ll probably be happier with an ecobee3.
Personally, geofencing isn’t for us, but if you’re looking for “Nest with better control” then Lyric’s stricter control over the home’s HVAC system might be for you. The big complaint with Nest is its wide swing range (temp can drop 3 degrees below your set point before heat even kicks on, and you can’t change that range), and Lyric doesn’t suffer that problem.
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Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Enabled Thermostat
Companion App7.0 /10
Slick Design10.0 /10
- Geofencing user tracking feature
- Shortcuts for easy scheduling
- Tight control over HVAC systems
- Beautiful design, slim form factor
- App missing some features
- Requires a C-wire
- No web portal
- Bugs and problems at launch still being ironed out