Competing in Connectivity

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By John MacKenna

Honeywell’s Lyric thermostat helps contractors meet rising expectations.

Providers who want to ride the cutting-edge of intelligent home comfort will appreciate Honeywell’s new Lyric™ thermostat, which they can use to satisfy rising expectations for customer engagement and control.

As Honeywell’s newest entry in the intelligent controls segment, the Lyric offers a unique approach to home comfort automation that incorporates GPS and a location-based technology known as geofencing, according to Michael Bruce, Product Manager. (See related article “Automatic Setback Without the Programming” for details on how Lyric works.)

Honeywell designed the Lyric to be easy to use and provide lots of value to people with busy lifestyles who like to use their smartphones as an interaction point for different activities, according to Bruce. The homeowner uses the Lyric’s companion app to program one or more smartphones into each Lyric thermostat installed in the home.

Honeywell uses geofencing technology to determine when each registered smartphones crosses the Geofence perimeter. Once all those phones have moved to outside a designated geofenced area – the home – the movement is detected and the Lyric thermostat switches into Away mode, which sets back the heating or cooling to the energy saving mode. The thermostat returns to Home mode and restores the home or zone to full comfort when a registered smartphone approaches the geofenced area.

“As we started to do research, we found that a large number of programmable thermostats are in hold mode because they are too hard to use and program,” Bruce explained. “We wanted something easy that keeps you comfortable when you’re at home and knows when you are gone.”

‘Minimum to Compete’

Contractors who provide smartphone-enabled convenience products such as the Lyric have a considerable advantage in the marketplace, according to the product manager. “The ability to control a thermostat in the home from anywhere with a touch of the fingertip is almost a minimum to compete these days,” he said. “Customers have come to expect that. We are trying to enlighten contractors that customers are asking for this, even if they are not asking them.”

“Consumers are becoming more savvy,” he added. “We are in a digital age, and customers really want these features. They are looking not only for simple solutions that add value but also the data that goes along with that. They want to see how their system is running and to understand their environment and control their comfort. They want to have the peace of mind that they will know when things aren’t working. Honeywell is developing a monthly reports feature for the Lyric, he said.

“This is something that contractors need to embrace and build their business model around. They need to be in the forefront of what customers are asking for. You see a lot of the more well established and forward thinking contractors offering these solutions.”

It can be a challenge for contractors who are not accustomed to providing services in the electronics space, but the technological barriers are less formidable than some might imagine, according to Bruce. The Lyric thermostat is designed to be easy to install, configure and register, and contractors who want help during a setup can turn to Honeywell. “We’ll hold hands with the installer from start to finish to make sure it is easy to install the Lyric in the customer’s home.”

Beyond Temperature Control

With its rich history in heating and cooling, Honeywell has designed the Lyric to handle all types of equipment and configurations, including systems fueled by heating oil and propane as well as heat pumps, with or without fossil fuel backup. It also can operate a radiant heat system.

“There is no hiding the fact that we have been in home comfort for more than 100 years,” Bruce said. “We have a great understanding of system associations, and we know how to provide the highest level of comfort. That is certainly knowledge we are leveraging every day.”

Honeywell believes that home comfort control via smartphones is here to stay. “If we look at the number of smartphones sold daily, it can’t possibly be a fad. This is where technology is driving us, to use it with new products controlled by the smartphone. It’s not a fad; it’s really the future, right in front of our eyes.”

The Lyric is the Honeywell’s newest connected device, joining an entire line of Total Connect Comfort products and services spanning comfort, security, lighting and more. “This is something we see as a growing space,” Bruce said, “Customers are going to continue to ask for more. We are in a great position to provide more in the home that really ties together their comfort and safety and peace of mind.

 

Protecting the Account

These days, consumers are getting pitches for connected thermostats from electric utilities and television cable providers who have no track record in home comfort, but Honeywell remains committed to contractors. “We still have the trade channel as a large channel for us,” Bruce said. “We have thousands of contractor partners, and we will continue to support them and offer solutions.”

With the information that Lyric provides the homeowner, such as prompts to change the air filter and high- and low-temperature alerts, it is a great product for keeping customers engaged with their contractors, according to Bruce. Honeywell also intends to develop sophisticated system performance reports in the months ahead, he noted.

Honeywell will support contractors through its local sales teams and contractor specialists. There are marketing materials for Lyric available from Honeywell, and the company intends to lead the industry in supporting for both contractors and customers through sale and post-sale, Bruce said.

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