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|Insteon Venstar Thermostat Review - Hot or Not?|
|Written by Peter|
Home Automation is about more than just lighting. Sure, that's where most of us start our obsessions but it quickly becomes apparent that the rest of the house could be tied into the same system and one of the first thoughts is the automation of the home heating & cooling system.
To address this need, Venstar has come out with several thermostats that accept plug-in modules on the bottom which allow them to be controlled by infrared remote (including Logitech Harmony series), telephone or (my favourite) your Insteon network. How well do they work? That depends on which model you get...
There are essentially three core models to the lineup - Let's start with the high-end T1900 which contains all of the features of the other two thermostats, plus a few additional things. The T1900 can control heating, cooling and fan functions, has a 7-day programmable schedule, can monitor a second sensor input (for example, outside temperature) and has a humidity sensor built in. The T1900 is also the only model to work with dual-fuel systems, while all three models will handle heat pumps and traditional heat/cool systems. There are some neat side-features, like showing high and low temps for the second sensor and having programmable outputs, but for most people the thermostat won't be the central controller in their home automation systems so these features are basically ancillary. The owner's manual is available at the link above, or for some fun, there's a T1900 simulator here for you to experiment with.
The Venstar thermostats have been available for a little while now and as such there has been some feedback on the general use and problem spots. There were only a few gotchas mentioned, one of which was the requirement of a power wire to the thermostat location, something that surprised folks with older battery-powered thermostats. Plan to pull a power wire up to the location and all will be well. A few people said the green LED on the insteon module was a bit bright and some covered it up with tape to solve the problem - this is likely more of an issue if the thermostat is somewhere like a bedroom. The final item I came across was that during a power outage, all the programming is preserved but the clock will be reset on longer outages. As with all of the issues, people mentioned Venstar support was helpful and offered suggestions on how to add a battery to overcome this issue. Overall, the comments have been overwhelmingly positive with the thermostats performing at or above expectations.
My Personal Decision:
When looking at the various Venstar models, initially I questioned why the T1800 or T1900 was worth the extra money for a 7-day program when my Insteon network would be controlling the device anyway, however after looking more into the various sensors including outside temperature and humidity sensors, I decided to get the T1800 Insteon package and add the humidity module. This was only about five dollars cheaper than getting the T1900 (with humidity sensor included) and adding the Insteon module, and in retrospect perhaps I would have done that instead, but I'm happy with the setup and the convenience of being able to control the house temperature from my iphone when we're away. The next step is to predictively pull-in weather forecasts and have the house adapt to the coming conditions.
How are you using your Insteon thermostat?