Review: Vine Smart WiFi thermostat (TJ-610)
Our Vine Smart WiFi thermostat rating:
Vine at a Glance
A new challenger approaches! Vine Smart WiFi Thermostat from Xing Connected Corporation launched just a few months ago (summer 2016) at a reasonable price point with a robust feature set.
Their motto: “Smart, yet simple”
The affordable alternatives to the most expensive smart thermostats are getting better all the time. Vine is yet another entry in the “around $100 or so” smart thermostat bracket, and unlike its direct competition, it has a full color screen and a twist dial. It’s more like a smartphone embedded in the front of the thermostat. The knob on the right is a twist dial, so you don’t have to worry too much about your accuracy on a touch screen for simple things like raising and lowering the temperature.
Vine is new on the market, but I had an opportunity this month to email with its team about Vine’s features and share the details here.
- Budget-friendly price – check current Vine price on Amazon.com
- Usage reports recently added
- Modern physical design with both a color touch screen and a twist-dial
- Easy to program from unit itself, the mobile app, or the web interface
- Compatible with most 24 volt (low voltage) HVAC systems
- Physical twist-dial on thermostat itself makes it easy to adjust the temp
- 7-day programming
- Modern design in the on-unit touch screen menus
- 8 adjustment periods per day
- Nightlight along the bottom!
- Weather forecast on the unit itself
It’s worth pointing out that most of these “pros” are present on competitor thermostats as well.
- You’re gonna need a C-wire (a con if you don’t have one)
- Resistive touch screen – this means you have to press it a bit
- No home automation integration (no Alexa, HomeKit, etc.)
If you’re looking at the Vine thermostat on Amazon, you’ll notice that many of its reviews state that they were given the opportunity to purchase the Vine thermostat at a discount “in exchange for an unbiased review”. This is common for a new product – Vine is reaching out to reviewers (this site included) to drum up interest in their product.
Vine Smart WiFi Thermostat Review
Vine’s got the basics covered, with more getting added regularly (usage reports and geofencing are recent additions).
You can schedule up to 8 periods a day – many thermostats just offer 4 (that’s 8 separate times at which your programmed schedule can raise/lower the temp as you like). The touch screen gives you control over the unit from the device itself, and the physical dial appeals to users who want a simple “twist to adjust” experience. A mobile app is available for both iOS and Android, and a web portal. The nightlight along the unit’s bottom edge is a unique feature among smart thermostats, and you can even schedule it.
In this price range, the Vine’s primary competitors are the Emerson Sensi and the Lux Geo. Vine’s advantage here vs. these other two thermostats is its fully-featured color touch screen. However, Vine does not offer a solution to 2016’s most vexing smart thermostat problem: what to do for systems lacking a C-wire.
You’ll need a C-wire (or you can re-purpose your fan’s wire)
Alas, the Vine smart thermostat more or less requires a C-wire.
We point this out because the vast majority of of Smart Thermostat Guide’s traffic arrives via search queries for help with a missing C-wire and info about thermostats that don’t require a C-wire.
It’s a little confusing to know if you actually need a C-wire or not to use a Vine looking at their site, when the FAQ tells you that you do:
… but the compatibility chart has a workaround where you re-purpose the fan wire (if you have one) to act as a C-wire would. Doing this means you lose independent control over the fan – instead, the fan just runs whenever your AC or heat does. (If you never run your fan independently, maybe you won’t miss this functionality, but I’d hate to give up a feature of my HVAC system just because a particular thermostat made me do it.)
To check your wiring against Vine’s requirements, the Vine website has an easy-to-use wiring compatibility tool.
Vine TJ-610’s Best Features
Control your heating/cooling from anywhere via an app
Like all “smart thermostats”, Vine offers an iOS version and Android version of its app for controlling the thermostat from anywhere in the world. You can also set up schedules, override the current schedule, and do general maintenance tasks on your thermostat (like setting up service reminders).
We love seeing a regularly updated app, and both the iOS and Android versions have a recent update at the time of this writing (September 30, 2016).
Up-to-date weather report on-unit
You can also view hourly or 5-day forecasts, and there’s a humidity report included.
Easy scheduling with up to 8 adjustment periods
Most thermostats (programmable and smart) limit you to just 4 adjustment periods per day. Presumably, 4 periods per day is intended for a family or person who wakes in the morning, goes off to work/school, and returns in the evening: raise the heat in the early morning, turn it off in the late morning, raise the heat again in the early evening, lower the heat in the late evening.
With 8 adjustment periods per day, the Vine thermostat is better equipped for a “non traditional” schedule. If you regularly come home for lunch, for instance, you might like being able to program an increase in temperature for your mid-day return.
Vine is the only smart thermostat on the market with a built-in nightlight in the bottom of the unit. You can schedule it and it has 4 levels of brightness. Depending on where your thermostat is located in your home (and how often you walk by it in the middle of the night) the nightlight could be a useful way to add illumination to a hallway or area that is otherwise dark at night.
Vine can be programmed to remind you when to change filters and when to service your furnace and/or air conditioning unit.
Vine can track your location and kick off a scheduled behavior as you approach or leave your home.
Vine HVAC Compatibility
Vine is compatible with traditional 24 V furnace
Vine works with
- 1-Heat and 1-Cool
- Heat Pump A/C with emergency heating
Vine doesn’t work with
- Multi-stage cooling and heating systems
Vine tech specs
- 5.0″ wide x 3.5″ tall x 1.0″ thick
- 24VAC (C-wire required)
- Vine thermostat
- Mounting screws
- User guide
- Installation manual
- Wire label stickers
More Vine resources
Installation video gives you an idea of what the touch screen looks like and some help with getting it on your WiFi network:
Wait, what’s this other Vine thermostat?
The TJ-919 is an upcoming Vine product. It’s on their website, but it’s not actually for sale yet.
The bottom line
An earlier version of this Vine thermostat review contained more questions than answers. The company reached out to me and set the record straight on a number of features and compatibility questions I wasn’t able to find answers to on my own. It’s great that the company is trying to get the Vine into consumers’ and bloggers’ hands, because the major tech sites haven’t picked it up yet and it’s just getting started collecting reviews on Amazon. You can learn more about the Vine at the company’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The market is getting saturated at all price points from under-$100 to upwards of $250.
Vine’s catching up with recently added usage reports and geofencing, and the touch screen is a nice extra not normally found at this price point. Unlike some WiFi thermostats in its price range, Vine requires a C-wire, so keep your wiring in mind when choosing a thermostat.
(If you’re on a budget, don’t have a C-wire, and don’t care about having a touch screen check out the Emerson Sensi and the Lux Geo instead – both are great WiFi-enabled smart thermostats priced similarly, if not lower, with their own sets of appealing features.)
Overall, Vine is a solid entry into the “budget smart thermostat” category.
See Amazon’s current price and stock for the Vine
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If you have a Vine and you love it, please let us know in the comments!
Vine WiFi Smart Thermostat
Ease of use10.0/10
Feature set vs. price8.0/10
- Color touch screen + twist dial
- Nightlight on bottom edge
- 8 adjustment periods per day
- Schedule through app or website
- Needs a C-wire, while many competitors don't
- Manufacturer website buggy, hard to navigate
- Pricier than other