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For the budget thermostat category, we picked the Honeywell Lyric T5 as our top choice.
Costing less than $150, the price is far lower than that of Ecobee or Nest. But is it worth it or are you better off spending more money on a more expensive smart WiFi thermostat?
One of the most affordable smart thermostats in the market.
Easy to use interface both on the app and the thermostat.
Easy and quick installation with a pro not required in most cases.
The geofencing feature ensures your home is always at the perfect temperature for your comfort.
No energy usage statistics or report.
Lacks humidity sensor and various other sensors.
Cannot work without a C Wire. There is also no recommended workaround if you don’t have a C wire.
Like other thermostats, the Lyric T5 has pros and cons.
On the upside, it has many of the features of pricier smart thermostats. These include geofencing, remote control, smart alerts, smart home integration and intuitive temperature control (Honeywell calls it Adaptive Recovery).
On the downside, it lacks the smarts and intelligence of thermostats such as the Ecobee4 and Nest. For example, it has no smart sensors and no learning ability.
Overall, the Lyric T5 is worth it for those who are seeking a basic smart thermostat that won’t hurt their wallets. It is an affordable introduction to the world of smart thermostats.
In the future, you can upgrade to a more expensive option if the Lyric T5 feels too limiting.
For a more comprehensive understanding of this thermostat and what it has to offer read our full review, below.
HVAC System Compatibility
The Honeywell Lyric T5 smart thermostat is designed for compatibility with most 24-volt home thermostats. These included forced air systems, heat pumps and hot water systems. It also supports 2-stage heating and cooling.
It is not compatible with high-voltage heating and cooling systems. If you open your current thermostat and find it labeled 120V or 240V, it is unfortunately incompatible with the Lyric T5 thermostat. Like most smart thermostats, it will also not work with millivolt systems, which are often used as wall or floor heaters.
If you are unsure whether your system is compatible, there is a handy compatibility checker on Honeywell’s website and in their instruction manual. You just need to check what kind of wires your old thermostat has and match them up to what the Lyric T5 thermostat requires. If you are still unsure even after performing the comparison, contact Honeywell support for more guidance. You can take a picture of your wiring and send it to their support team.
Generally, most home heating and cooling systems should work with the Lyric T5 thermostat. The only issue that may rise concerns the C wire, which we talk about next.
One of our biggest gripes about Honeywell smart thermostats is their insistence on a C Wire without even providing a workaround for systems that lack one. The Lyric T5 will not work without this Common Wire. As we mentioned in our main guide, the C (or common) Wire is used to transmit constant low voltage power to the thermostat.
Many smart thermostats cannot directly source power from existing heating and cooling wires because they tend to fluctuate in the amount of voltage they are carrying. This could damage the thermostat’s circuitry. Ecobee3 provides a power extender kit for systems that lack a C wire. Nest has figured out a way to allow their thermostats to work without a C wire. Only in a few cases is it required.
But with Lyric T5 (and most other Honeywell smart thermostats) the C wire is an absolute must. If you don’t see it in your wiring (usually labeled C), the best option is to call in a professional to install it. This adds extra cost to your installation.
Another important thing to note is that the Lyric T5 thermostat does not work with humidifiers and dehumidifiers. So don’t attempt to connect them during installation.
Unless you don’t have a C wire, it should be pretty easy to carry out the installation yourself. You just need a few tools, an hour or so and the Lyric T5 instruction manual by your side.
Being a smart thermostat, the Lyric T5 relies a lot on being connected to WiFi. During setup, you will be prompted to create a home WiFi connection. Connectivity allows various features of the Lyric T5 to be used.
One of them is geofencing. Through your smartphone, it can detect when you are approaching home and start heating it up to a pre-set level.
It also depends on WiFi for remote control. In other words, you cannot use the Lyric app to remotely access and control the thermostat if it is not connected to WiFi.
What if the WiFi connection drops? Does the thermostat stop working?
No, it doesn’t. The thermostat will still work; the core function of the thermostat does not require any wireless connectivity.
But you will not be able to access certain features such as geofencing and shortcuts. However, you can still view the current temperature and change it on the physical panel. The thermostat will reconnect automatically once WiFi is restored.
Lyric T5 functions in the 2.4GHz zone. This should not be an issue since most routers broadcast in both 5.0GHz and 2.4GHz bands. For security, make sure you only use your home network and not an unknown open network.
Design-wise, the Lyric T5 is basic, without the sleek style of the Nest learning thermostat.
The gray casing looks dated – and that’s even before you power on the monochrome touchscreen.
But the display is bright enough to see even when there is plenty of sunlight getting inside the room. The touchscreen is also nicely responsive.
By default, the screen goes blank after some time in order to save energy and avoid disturbance at night. But you can change it to display something else such as time and room temperature.
When you tap the screen, it changes to the home screen, displaying the time, current temperature and a menu bar at the bottom.
At the top right corner, a WiFi icon shows connectivity status. It will show a strike-through icon if connectivity is lost.
On each side of the temperature reading, there is a plus and minus sign to quickly adjust room temperature.
The menu bar allows you to access more settings including mode (heating, cooling or off), the main menu (settings) and fan (on, circulate or auto). All in all, it is pretty easy to figure out even if this is your first time using a smart thermostat.
If you don’t feel like tapping and swiping on the thermostat’s touchscreen, the Lyric Smartphone app provides similar functionality and a few bonus features.
You will download the app (available for both iOS and Android) when configuring the thermostat for the first time.
There is also an Apple Watch app that allows you to control and monitor your thermostat from your wrist.
Once you have set up an account and connected your thermostat, you are good to go.
The home screen shows you quick settings and information. You can see current temperature and either increase or decrease it using the wheel feature at the bottom.
A row of three icons allows you to view the weather forecast, change mode to heat, cool or off and set the away mode. At the top you can access the main menu and view shortcuts to your favorite and common settings.
Other actions you can take with the app include scheduling, control the geofencing feature, set up multiple users and receive smart alerts regarding your system.
Once you set everything up, you do not need to use the thermostat screen. Everything can be done from the app. A lot of users loved the app, noting its simplicity and ease of use.
This is one area where the Lyric T5 really drops the ball.
Unlike the Nest and Ecobee thermostats, the Lyric T5 does not provide energy usage statistics. We understand it is a budget thermostat and some features will be missing, but energy usage data seems like a basic feature that should be in every smart thermostat.
At the very least, they could provide a monthly report showing how much energy the system consumed. This way, you can compare your current usage to past figures and determine whether you are actually saving energy, as the Lyric T5 claims to do.
Considering that this is a feature that would be hugely beneficial and insightful to homeowners, it is dumbfounding why they would leave it out.
So if you are looking for a smart thermostat that keeps you updated on your energy usage, the T5 Lyric is not the one.
One advantage of smart thermostats is that they can be improved in functionality without having to buy a new gadget. So maybe they might add an energy usage and reporting feature in the future.
Scheduling And Automation
The Honeywell Lyric T5 thermostat does well on the scheduling part though it is a bit behind when it comes to automation.
You have 4 scheduling options: geofencing-based scheduling, time-based scheduling, a combination of the two or no scheduling at all.
In the first option, the thermostat uses your location to set the temperature. It can detect when you come home and when you go away using your phone’s location settings.
In the second option, you set the schedule yourself based on your personal schedule (e.g. when you wake up, when you go to work, when you come home etc.).
You can also use both locational and time-based scheduling in what Honeywell calls smart scheduling. Finally, you can leave the thermostat as it is without any scheduling at all. In this case, you need to keep changing the temperature manually either on the thermostat or through the app. This could prove tedious and inconvenient especially if you have a busy lifestyle. It could also deprive you of precious energy savings brought about by scheduling.
Where you set a schedule, the interface gives you an option to set up shortcuts for unique situations that may arise out of the normal schedule. You can access these easily in the app.
Considering the cost of the Lyric T5, it is not surprising that it is deeply lacking when it comes to sensors.
Aside from basic temperature sensors, the thermostat does not have any other sensors. This is unlike other pricier smart thermostats that come with activity and motion sensors.
Another basic one that’s lacking is a humidity sensor, which we see even in other similar price range smart thermostats. You will not get indoor humidity readings at all from this thermostat.
The lack of sensors robs the thermostat of automation features you see in other smart thermostats.
As a consolation, the geofencing feature, which many users praise, takes the place of activity sensors.
Overall, the lack of many sensors does not make a huge difference to warrant looking for another thermostat. But we would have liked to see a humidity sensor included. It is a basic feature, not a fancy add-on.
Smart Home Integration
The Lyric T5 fits right into modern smart homes thanks to its compatibility with a wide variety of home automation devices.
At the top of the compatibility list sits Amazon’s Alexa (through Echo) and Apple’s HomeKit. This means it can connect to other HomeKit-compatible smart devices such as lights.
If you want more integration, the Lyric T5 is IFTTT compatible. IFTTT is a home automation language used by numerous smart devices and systems.
The only major name lacking on this list is Google Home. But don’t despair if you use Google Home, they may add support for it in the future.
Despite its price, Lyric T5 has the same level of smart home integration as with other more expensive thermostats.
- One of the most affordable smart thermostats in the market.
- Easy to use interface both on the app and the thermostat.
- Easy and quick installation with a pro not required in most cases.
- The geofencing feature ensures your home is always at the perfect temperature for your comfort.
- No energy usage statistics or report.
- Lacks humidity sensor and various other sensors.
- Cannot work without a C Wire. There is also no recommended workaround if you don’t have a C wire.
- Back-lit touchscreen display.
- Dimensions are 4.0625 inches wide x 4.0625 inches high x 1.0625 inches thick.
- Requires C Wire to work.
- Requires WiFi (2.4GHz) for full functionality.
The Honeywell Lyric T5 is our top pick for best budget thermostat.
The low price point lets homeowners who are unsure about smart thermostats to experiment without taking a big financial leap.
The best part is that you still get plenty of ‘smart’ features, even with its budget price.