Nest vs Lyric Review – A Programmable Thermostat Comparison

As technology becomes more and more user friendly, the HVAC industry is finally catching up by introducing the newest generation of programmable thermostats – the smart thermostat.  We have had a lot of questions lately about the Nest vs Lyric series of thermostats, both of which are leading the charge in the smart thermostat industry.  So, which is better, the Google Nest or Honeywell Lyric?  This will be our long-promised Nest vs Lyric review.  It is important for me to point out at this time that All Systems Mechanical is neither a Nest, nor a Lyric distributor; we install both, depending on customer preference.  Simply put, we have no particular loyalty to either brand.  Those of you who have read our articles know that we are a small, U.S. Veteran-Owned heating and air conditioning in Southern California, and have built our reputation on giving honest, straight answers.  We have noticed some pros and cons of the Nest vs Lyric debate, and today we will take a look at each.  This will be an objective consumer review of the Nest vs Lyric series of smart thermostats.  Today, we will address the Nest and Lyric thermostats individually, starting with their features, and then tackling the Nest vs Lyric review of three different aspects: functionality, cost and ease of installation.

Nest vs Lyric Review – First, What is a Smart Thermostat?

A programmable thermostat is a thermostat that allows you to program a schedule into it, for instance programming it to raise the temperature of your house by 8 degrees on Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm to save energy.  But the Nest and Lyric are not just programmable thermostats…what about if you are home sick, or if you work at home sometimes, as is becoming more and more common these days?  What if you go home for lunch?  Before we tackle the Nest vs Lyric review, we first need to know a little bit about what they are and what they are designed to do.

Whether you choose the Nest or Lyric, the smart thermostat is the next generation of programmable thermostat, and learns your habit patterns by tracking your movement in and out of the house.  Whereas a programmable thermostat can tell you where you think you’ll be on Monday through Friday, a smart thermostat can tell you where you are at 10am on a Saturday.  How is this possible?  We will discuss that in a later section but I will tell you right now that if you are not a big fan of Orwell’s 1984, then a smart thermostat is not for you – Big Brother is here, and he want’s to know how warm you like your house.

Over half of the energy expended each month in your household is spent on your air conditioning system and is controllable by your thermostat.  That’s a big hunk of cash.  If you forget everything else addressed in this review, then remember this: even if you don’t buy a smart thermostat, buy a programmable thermostat and you will save hundreds of dollars a year on your electric bill.  For more information on what temperatures are most efficient for your current thermostat, take a look at: What temperature should I set my thermostat to?

Nest vs Lyric Review – Features of the Google Nest Smart Thermostat

Before we can get into the Google Nest vs Honeywell Lyric review, let’s first take a look at each of them individually, starting with the Nest.  The Nest is a smart thermostat that was also the first of it’s kind.  Nest Labs, the designer and manufacturer of the Nest thermostat is a small company that was acquired by Google in January, 2014.  They specialize in energy efficient products and only have a few designs, including the Nest smart thermostat and a carbon monoxide detector.

The Nest is designed to learn your habits throughout the day and continues to fine-tune itself over time.  After installation and initial set-up, it starts a 1-week ‘learning period’ where it learns your habit patterns an sets it’s schedule.  It has a motion sensor that detects your movement throughout the house and also takes input from you, the homeowner, requiring you to set desired temperatures throughout the day to help jump-start it’s algorithm.  In our experience these algorithms are pretty accurate and will even continue to adjust themselves as your schedule changes over time.  Additional features of the Nest include:

  • Auto-Away – the Google Nest senses when you’ve left the house and automatically adjusts the temperature for energy efficiency.
  • Sunblock – the Nest has a feature where it detects direct sunlight that is shining on it and adapts it’s input accordingly.  Simply put, it doesn’t bite-off on a bit of sunlight.  Some thermostats that get direct sunlight will kick your air conditioner on because it heats up and thinks it’s hotter than it actually is – the Nest, however, will not.
  • The Nest ‘Leaf’ – the leaf symbol appears when the Nest senses that the desired temperature setting that you have is an ‘energy efficient temperature’ based on your systems requirements to maintain it.
  • Time-to-Temperature – the Nest displays the estimated time that your system will take to reach your desired temperature.
  • Airwave – one of my favorite features, many people don’t realize that your ideal temperature depends on the humidity level as well as temperature because high humidity makes you feel hotter than you actually are.  The Nest features a system that adjusts your temperature accordingly based on humidity levels.  This might not matter much in Santa Clarita, but it matters a whole lot if your live in Miami, Florida.
  • Cool-to-Dry – another useful feature if you live in a humid area, this Nest feature cools your house as necessary if humidity levels get too high (your air conditioner decreases humidity naturally as it runs).

Nest vs Lyric Review – Honeywell Lyric Smart Thermostat Features

Again, before we tackle the Nest vs Lyric consumer review, we should take a look at some of the features of the Honeywell Lyric.  Now it is interesting to note that although the Nest is the first smart thermostat of it’s kind, the round design that is so commonly attributed to it is not.  Honeywell has been manufacturing round thermostat designs since the 1950’s.

The Honeywell Lyric is one of the newest smart thermostats on the market, and is obviously meant as a direct competitor to the Nest.  It takes on a different approach to the smart thermostat, however, instead relying on your smart phone to track your location instead of motion sensors.  If you don’t have a smart phone, then I’d stop reading this review and go with the Nest.  If you do, then read on because the Honeywell Lyric has some interesting features:

  • Geofencing – the Honeywell Lyric uses an app on your smart phone and a sophisticated algorithm instead of your motion throughout the house to determine when you are close to home or at work, the supermarket etc.  Based on this information, it will adjust your temperature to the appropriate setting for maximum energy efficiency, and it does this from day-one.  You can also set the temperature of your home from anywhere in the world directly on your smart phone.  Headed home early with the flu?  Set your thermostat to a warm and cozy 78 degrees before you even get there.
  • Fine Tune – the Honeywell Lyric also adjusts your comfortable temperature based on humidity levels.
  • Smart Cues – one feature I love about the Honeywell Lyric is that it will send you cues on your phone, reminding you when to replace your air filter and how your system is running, increasing it’s longevity.  More on how important it is to change your filter can be found here: Air Conditioning Filter Change.

The Functionality Review of the Nest vs Lyric

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the features of the Nest vs Lyric, let’s start our comparative review starting with their functionality.  I have to admit, the Nest just seems to be better built – it’s heavy in your hand and well made.  Think of it as being kind of like an Apple product.  Funny enough, that’s not far off because many of the members of the Nest Labs design team are former Apple designers.

As far as functionality is concerned, however, I have to say that I like the Honeywell Lyric better.  Although the Nest works great for people with regular 9 to 5 schedules, one of it’s downsides is that it can be wrong if you work odd hours.  As an HVAC contractor, sometimes I’m home at 2pm and sometimes I’m not home until 9pm, and my wife is a nurse with an even more unpredictable schedule.  I often found myself coming home to an 85 degree house with the Nest, but the nice thing about the Honeywell Lyric is that it bases it’s set temperature on your actual location, not your predicted location.  If you head home early, it senses that you are within the programed range of your house (customizable – I used 2 miles), it kicks on your air conditioner and starts cooling or heating your house for when you get home.  You can change this range anywhere from 500 feet up to several miles.

The other thing that I did not like about the Google Nest was that it’s motion sensor works great if the air conditioning contractor who installed the original unit in your home picked a good location for your thermostat.  But in my experience, unfortunately, many of the people in the HVAC industry aren’t the brightest (I would say that we at All Systems Mechanical are the exception, but my wife will likely disagree).  If your thermostat is in a centralized location in your home that you pass often or that you pass on your way out the front door, then your Nest will work great!  But if it is in the middle of a hallway that you never use like it is in my parents’ house, then it won’t work as well.

As you might imagine, the Honeywell Lyric doesn’t have this problem because it relies on the location of your smart phone.  This, however, raises the biggest problem with the Honeywell Lyric – do you own a smart phone?  It’s hard to imagine that you don’t, but there are many senior citizens out there that do not, my parents included.  If you don’t have a smart phone, don’t buy a Honeywell Lyric.

Conclusion?  It comes down to your needs.  If you are a senior, or if you have predictable schedule or don’t have a smart phone, I’d go with the Nest.  However, if you work a random schedule (medical, firefighters, military, cops, contractors, etc.), I would definitely recommend you go with the Honeywell Lyric for it’s Geofencing technology.

Nest vs Lyric Review – Cost of the Google Nest vs Honeywell Lyric

I have found that people get hung up on cost a lot in the HVAC industry, and understandably so.  It’s your hard earned money and who wants to spend more than they have to?  But there is a fine line between being frugal and understanding that you get what you pay for.  I am a Porsche fan, and enjoy the Le Mans series of endurance racing.  A Honda Civic is a great car!  But it isn’t a Porsche…sometimes you get what you pay for, and in this example you get generations of racing technology included into your car.  Likewise, You get what you pay for in the HVAC industry as well.  I will tell you that both the Honeywell Lyric and the Nest are in the same ballpark as far as price, but will you get what you pay for?

The Nest is well build and once you pick it up, you get the impression that you could play three periods of hockey with it and it would still regulate your temperature.  It is heavy, rugged and made with quality materials.  Conversely, the Honeywell Lyric is made of plastic and I’m fairly certain that I would break it if I dropped it.  For what it’s worth, the Nest is meant to last, in my opinion.

Average Price of Google Nest vs Honeywell Lyric

Prices range depending on your distributor, but you can expect the following prices:

The Google Nest usually runs around $249.

The Honeywell Lyric Runs around $279.

What does this extra $30 buy you?  I don’t know for certain and am speculating, but I’d suspect that this is marketing strategy – it must be better because it costs a little extra, right?  Again, I don’t know, but I suspect that you are paying for the Honeywell name.

You also get what you pay for when it comes to the brand of air conditioner that you buy.  If you are doing research on the topic, here are a couple of good spots to start:

Top 10 Air Conditioning Brands

Carrier Infinity vs Performance Air Conditioner Review

Amana vs Goodman

Ease of Installation – Nest vs Lyric Review

If you are having your air conditioning contractor install a new thermostat, then this section doesn’t matter to you so much.  But I’d tell you (as a contractor) that with either of these units, it isn’t worth paying an HVAC contractor to install either of these.  You can figure it out just fine by yourself unless you are completely technically challenged.  If you absolutely want to have a contractor install your thermostat for you, make sure you use a reputable one and read: How to choose a contractor.

I have found that the Nest is able to handle a wide variety of wiring systems and has an overall more user-friendly interface when installing it.  If you have no experience with installing thermostats then the Nest will likely come more naturally for you.

However, the Honeywell Lyric is capable of handling a wider variety of HVAC systems, and although the Nest brags a 30-minute installation, if you have ever even looked at the wiring of a conventional thermostat, you will feel right at home installing your new Honeywell Lyric.  This is where decades of experience designing and producing thermostats pays off.

Your thermostat isn’t everything when it comes to energy efficiency, ensuring that your HVAC system is properly sized is also important.  You should also take a look at: What size central air conditioner do I need?

You also might be interested in our Ecobee 3 Thermostat Review.

For more information on how to install your new Google Nest Smart Thermostat, try this video:

For information on installing a Honeywell Lyric Smart Thermostat, take a look at this video:

Final Thoughts on ASM’s Nest vs Lyric Review

The Nest vs Lyric debate is a tough one, and choosing the right thermostat is a decision that can affect the amount of money you spend each year on energy.  Overall, if you forget everything about this post, then just remember this: whether you choose to buy a smart thermostat, or not, spend the money to at least buy a programmable thermostat.  It will save you hundreds of dollars a year on energy.  When it comes to deciding between the Nest vs Lyric, I’d have to say that it honestly depends on your lifestyle.  Overall the Nest is a better product and better made.  If you have a relatively predictable schedule, or if you don’t have a smart phone, I’d definitely recommend you go with the Nest.  However, the one exception I’d make is if you have an irregular schedule.  If you are a firefighter, in the military, a cop, or have any type of odd-hour schedule, then I think the Geofencing feature of the Honeywell Lyric is a must-have.  In the end, you can’t go wrong with either – they are both fully capably of saving you hundreds on your energy bill each year.  For more information on related topics, visit the ASM Air Conditioning Blog.  If you live in the San Diego, Santa Clarita or Greater Los Angeles area, feel free to give us a call with any questions that you might have. 

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