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Honeywell Evohome

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

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  • Recommended by TR
Honeywell Evohome

Summary

Our Score:

9

Honeywell Evohome – Setup

honeywell evohome 3While most smart thermostats are sold with the option of self or professional install, the greater complexity of the Evohome system means Honeywell strongly recommends you use a professional.

The belligerent can ignore this, but having seen the install – which takes about an hour – I can’t argue with Honeywell’s logic.

The good news for those building their own systems is that fitting a TRV simply involves unscrewing an existing radiator thermostat, screwing in the TRV, and syncing is simply a matter of a button press. As a result, expanding the system can be done easily and will allow users to spread the cost over time.

In addition to the TRVs, the Evohome also requires a wireless relay to turn your boiler on and off. You'll need a second relay if you want to operate a secondary hot water heating system.

Honeywell Evohome – Performance

So how does it all come together? As you might expect, at first the going is slow – but the experience improves rapidly thereafter.

The reason for this is down to the user. Quite simply, it's hard work trying to break down your heating schedule. What do you need on a Saturday at 11am versus 3pm? Can you turn the heating down from 7pm until 9pm on Tuesdays while you’re on a course, or is that only every second Tuesday? The combinations are endless.

Consequently, I found that you'll adjust your basic schedule regularly before settling on one that works for you and your household. Since you tend to then leave the system alone, it's also easy to forget to set quick actions such as "Heating Off" when you go away, or to turn it back on when you return. The Tado and Nest systems do this better, although Honeywell's IFTTT channel at least means that you can ape these features.

Honeywell EvoHome scheduling

That said, the Evohome is a far more powerful system than any of its rivals because of its sheer level of control. There's great satisfaction sitting in the living room in the evening at the ideal temperature, while seeing that the rest of house is off but knowing each room will be the right temperature when you need it. Then, when it's time for bed, the bedroom is perfect and the rest of the house will cool.

Manual control is extremely advanced, too. You can set a temperature from the controller or app, with a choice of whether you want the change to be permanent or to last until a set time – the default time is the next switch point. Changing the temperature from the TRV defaults to the mode set by the app or controller.

Honeywell EvoHome temperature control

Evohome's TRVs are also the most intelligent I've reviewed, with a built-in window mode. Open a window, and the TRVs measure the temperature drop automatically, and then switch off the heating. It works really well and means that you're not wasting resources trying to heat the outside as well.

With time this makes other systems and their heating on/off approach feel crude by comparison. Zoning is quite simply more efficient, and it was clear the boiler was switching on less often and for less time when it did.

The mobile apps are also smart, stable and well designed. Honeywell has clearly arranged the app so that it's clear to see, at a glance, your entire home's status. In comparison, Tado's app makes multiple zones rather more clumsy to control.

Grumbles? I do have some.The controller’s colour touchscreen is a resistive rather than capacitive panel in the way of modern smartphones, so it's occasionally slow to react. It also doesn’t offer great battery life, lasting about an hour unplugged before low battery beeps begin – and the battery indicator doesn’t always reflect this.

By contrast, the TRVs last 2.5 years on their batteries, which are then easily swapped. However, they do need to adjust their valves once per day to keep them loose, and this fairly quiet and short noise – a few seconds – can catch you off guard. Following a few weeks, I tuned the noise out.

TRVs can occasionally report the wrong room temperature, particularly if they're installed in an enclosed space or behind furniture. There are a few ways round this problem.You can use the offset feature of the TRV to change the reported temperature (+/-3C). Or you can instead use the controller or a separate Honeywell wireless thermostat to measure temperature in a room.

I had few problems with my installation and only had to use the controller as a sensor in the living room, due to the TRV being behind a sofa.

Honeywell Evohome group shot

Honeywell Evohome – IFTTT

Honeywell was one of the first manufacturers to add IFTTT support, letting the Evohome interact with other smart home devices. Currently, the system has no Triggers and only Actions: turn hot water on or off, enable or disable a Quick Action, or set a Zone temperature. Still, it means that you can turn your heating on and off automatically, by using IFTTT's location service. For houses with more than one occupant, you'll need to use a third-party IFTTT tracking service, such as Life360.

Honeywell Evohome – Alexa and Siri

An Alexa Skill lets you control Evohome using an Amazon Echo. When the Skill first launched, temperature changes were handled rather randomly, lasting until a seemingly random time later. Fortunately, this has been fixed and now changes made through Alexa either last until the next switch point or permanently if the room has been set like this.

Apple HomeKit support isn't available, and it doesn't appear to be on the horizon, given that the change would require new hardware with a built-in encryption kit.

Should I buy the Honeywell Evohome?

The bigger question probably concerns whether you're prepared to pay the amount required for the Honeywell Evohome? Logic would suggest the larger the home and the more TRVs required, the more likely that person is to be able to afford them – but, obviously, that isn’t always the case. And for those with older central heating systems without temperature controlling valves already installed, the cost and hassle of upgrading is significant.

Personally, we’d like to see either a reduction in their price or a couple of TRVs bundled to get users up and running, as supplying the controller and gateway without any makes the pricing deceptive.

Then again, if you're prepared to invest in the Evohome, it is without doubt the most comprehensive and accurate system I've seen – plus it can be expanded slowly for those who can’t afford everything up-front.

As for the savings, it will require a full calendar year to weigh up all the benefits, but there's no doubt that being able to control your temperature automatically room-by-room, day-by-day and hour-by-hour makes more sense than an everything on/off system.

The bigger the home, the more the up-front outlay, but also the faster you should see a return on your investment. Honeywell claims the Evohome will have paid for itself within 2.5 years and – your individual tariff aside – I see no reason to doubt that.

Verdict

The Honeywell Evohome is the Rolls Royce of smart thermostats, but that metaphor applies to cost as well as performance. Small flats can expect to pay around £500 and bigger homes around £1,000, but if you can stomach the cost then you're buying a far more advanced system than the on/off alternatives from the likes of Nest, Tado and Hive – and it should recover its costs more quickly.

Even when you kit out Tado with Smart Radiator Thermostats, Evohome has the edge, since its app and controller are better designed for multiple zones, and its TRVs are more intelligent. The mass appeal of Nest, in particular, is unlikely to be dented by Honeywell, but Evohome owners will feel rightfully smug.

Related: Nest Protect Review

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Build Quality 8
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 10
  • Usability 9
  • Value 7

David Horn

May 29, 2014, 8:57 am

My inclination would be to avoid the evoHome entirely based on the fact that Honeywell don't really appear to know what they're doing with it. Try finding it on their website, or downloading manuals, and you'll know exactly what I mean.

There's no defined specification; you can't figure out which bits you need if you want the hot water set-up; the website includes multiple geographic options and some creations that never made it to the production line; and if you lose the manuals that come in the box you're well and truly stuffed.

At least Hive and Nest are committed to supporting their products for the near future. IMHO the Honeywell stuff looks great but suffers, unfortunately, from the "Honeywell effect" of a company that's so big the left hand doesn't even know the right hand exists, let alone what it's doing.

Good review, though.

Prem Desai

May 29, 2014, 9:05 am

You raise a valid point. However, Honeywell are not unique in doing this.

How many years ago did you hear about Nest before finally being able to buy their products in the UK?

All these corporations are victims of their different departments not on the same schedule as each other and different countries have different legal/safety requirements adding to the confusion.

My best advice - wait. They will eventually get it sorted.

Also, wait for a newer version of software/firmware - will all things tech - never buy v1.0

Prem Desai

May 29, 2014, 9:09 am

Looks nice.

I am inclined to agree with Honeywell about the presence detection - for me it's because I would hate to walk into a cold room and wait for it to have to warm up.

Also, with open doors (especially during the daytime), an average temperature throughout the house works much better than the on/off switching provided by other systems.

If you switch off one room, it's going to 'steal' heat from the next room giving you higher heating bills in that room but an uneven temperature between the two rooms (I hope I explained that well).

It would be nice to see a picture of the power 'brick' for completeness.

Dcol

May 29, 2014, 12:34 pm

I like the look of this system, but I have major reservations about using
heating controls on the 868MHz frequency. I have a Worcester Bosch boiler
with a wireless thermostat but I've had to site the thermostat within 2m of the
boiler to keep a connection. The thermostat is now in my kitchen which is not
really the right place for a whole house stat. If I move it to a more
suitable room, the connection is lost, I get no heat and wake up to a cold
house :(

I'd like to see a bit more detail on testing the range of these controls, for
this and other systems, similar to what TR do with wireless routers. TRVs are
likely the most difficult because they are fitted to a large RF blocking lump
of metal and powered by batteries. TRVs that loose connection could be a major
headache . I'd hope at the price this extremely important detail would be
bullet proof, but then I'd expect that from a top-of-the-range boiler
too?!

lw

May 29, 2014, 1:18 pm

It certainly looks the best system out there, but I wonder how realistic the predicted cost savings really are and how long it would truly take to see a ROI.
I imagine Honeywell's claims that it will have paid for itself within 2.5 years take a worst case scenario. But what if you are already judicious with your energy usage? What if you already use things like TRVs as I do?
I have 14 radiators - that is over £800 in TRVs alone. If the true savings were only 10% in my case - that could take me 10 years to see a ROI.

Prem Desai

May 29, 2014, 6:31 pm

I think the marketing men are focussing people (wrongly) towards cost savings.

These systems are more for convenience. Their total costs negates any real cost saving.

If cost saving is your priority, then you also need to look at insulation around your house, glazing, doors, boiler, etc.

lw

May 29, 2014, 8:45 pm

But that is my point. If you have done all that - insulation, double glazing, efficient boiler, TRV, etc, etc - are they suggesting you will still get a ROI in 2.5 years?

Prem Desai

May 30, 2014, 7:01 am

I am agreeing with you.

I'm saying that ROI may not even happen and that one shouldn't buy these type of controls with ROI as the focus.

lw

May 30, 2014, 7:12 am

It would be good to see these types of systems increasingly used in new builds, where the incremental cost would be negligible.

andrewstock

May 30, 2014, 12:46 pm

The evohome system builder on their site makes it fairly straightforward to workout what components you need. I used that, and read the manuals from Plumb Arena's product pages (they're who I bought through) to work out the fine details.

As a DIYer, I found it easy to fit and it's made a noticeable difference to the house. Most of the rooms are unheated most of the time now and the system is able to get rooms up to a comfortable temperature much more quickly now it's not having to heat everywhere. I haven't had it long enough, in cold enough weather, to come to conclusions on percentage savings.

In my opinion, there's no comparison with Nest and Hive - they're just a slight improvement on what's out there - zoning the entire house makes a huge amount of sense and is obviously more efficient that heating unused rooms all the time.

andrewstock

May 30, 2014, 12:49 pm

I've not had anything less than really good signals on the RF tests on my installation. As we have an old house in some cases this includes going through some fairly solid walls (although only 1 is more than 3 feet thick!).

I have the controller fairly central in the house, but chose that as my preferred location rather than to optimise RF performance. Haven't had a single problem with the TRVs getting a good signal.

I believe (although I haven't tested) that if the TRVs do lose signal, they fail open so you should at least not have a cold house.

Dcol

May 30, 2014, 1:25 pm

Thanks Andrew, it's good to know that you've found thesystem reliable. I would expect 868MHz to have pretty good building penetration.

I think the problem with my thermostat is related to interference.....the
communication from the stat is one way (it only transmits) and there's no channel selection so when my neighbour had a new boiler fitted the usable range of my thermostat dropped significantly. I believe wireless burglar alarms also use the same band so there's further potential for problems there.

For my money I'd like to see all these home automation systems use a properwireless standard rather than having every manufacturer roll their own. The more proprietary radio stuff we have in this band the more likely it will be that we have problems. Something like Zigbee would do the trick, it’s designed to run on very low power and it's been around for years to so it should be easy to source chips or hard macros for new chips. A proper standard would almost
certainly have far superior security built in too.

andrewstock

May 30, 2014, 3:12 pm

I see your point on the wireless standards, but when I was looking at evohome I had a look at some of the more home-automation based systems that could theoretically do the same thing (albeit you had to do all the setup and programming). There seemed to loads of posts there with people having trouble with interference - at least the 868MHz avoids wifi / microwave / tv senders etc which are quite common. It also seemed that zigbee (or could have been z-wave) nodes had a common failure mechanism where it just kept transmitting basically breaking the entire system - not terribly helpful.

There is a project out on the web somewhere where someone connected a CC1010 or similar module to an arduino to allow them to capture some of the transmissions from evohome

Dcol

May 30, 2014, 4:56 pm

The
868MHz band is definitely preferable to running in 2.4GHz band....it should have better building penetration and doen't have to contend with all the neighbours WiFi setups or all the other random unlicensed stuff that you mentioned. Zigbee can run in the 868MHz band, I believe it's part of the standard.

The arduino project sounds really interesting, I guess if they an get it working it would be possible to get a system running with just an arduino and some Evahome TRVs?!

I do like the look of the evahome system, it's a nice package and they've obviously put some work into integrating all the parts together well. The TRVs are the bit that appeals to me most as it gives quite an elegant flexible solution to controlling the heating.

I've never quite seen the point of the NEST and HIVE systems. At the moment they don't really offer me anything compelling over a bog-standard thermostat and a timer switch. It'll be interesting to see how Google integrate their services into future NEST software and hardware though.

Lisa

October 6, 2014, 12:43 pm

We recently had evohome installed by our electrician who was also installing the product in his own home. We were left to 'expand' the system by adding the trvs and binding them. We have done this, and set up the zones and schedule, but all our radiators come on despite room temperatures and settings. The main controller knows the temperature of each zone and the temperature specified in the schedule but the radiators are hot regardless. At the weekend one room reach 24 degrees with the schedule set to 16 before I switched the heating off!!! We have tried rebinding and changing the stroke value to 1 but we still have no control over the different zones. Honeywell are not being very helpful. I am very disappointed after spending hundreds of pounds on this product :(
Can anyone help - please???

Rachel Wallis

October 12, 2014, 3:07 pm

Hi Lisa,

We recently had this installed by our plumber, and would recommend getting a professional installer in. He had issues with getting it to bind correctly and spent a couple of hours just doing so, so definitely worth looking into!

Rachel Wallis

October 12, 2014, 3:10 pm

I recently had this installed as part of a bigger system upgrade (new boiler + replumbing). I paid a day's labour to get these installed and configured for us. We can already see the benefits in not just convenience, but the ability to control both time and temperature together. TRVs give you only temperature control. I expect the cost of Evohome to be offset over more like 10 years than 2.5 years. But with rising energy prices, the savings are likely to be seen faster, so therefore expect ROI a bit faster.

Peter Thornton

December 3, 2014, 11:24 pm

Hi Lisa
You've probably not seated your TRV adapters properly (assuming you are using the collar adaptors) they need to be pushed right to the bottom of the valve body and the collar needs to be sprung open with a screwdriver. Leave the securing nut and bolt of when you fit them and add it later. I recommend purchasing from the Evohome Shop who are always ready to advise their customers.

Moncers

May 13, 2015, 8:12 am

We did not want to go to the expense of all the zones but wanted to future proof ourselves during a new heating/hot water installation. So we bought the Evohome controller, router and wireless controls for the hot water valve and heating vale immediately down from the boiler. We have been able to control the hot water but just cannot stop the heating from coming on in the morning - neither with the controller (which doubles as a room thermostat) or with the app. Is there no control that actually turns off the boiler or does it keep running while the thermostats turn on and off in the zones? Help!

Mike Michael Arthur Johnson

October 14, 2015, 7:28 pm

I agree and it has been my experience that locating DETAILED information has been quite difficult.

Be careful, not all android devices for Android 5.1 are not supported.

I also finding many "glitches" that are frustrating to overcome.

I have main console plus quantity 8 of the HR92 radiator actuators and the Internet interface module. BIG COST OUTLAY

I do not expect a blg ROI, but perhaps improved convenience.

NO, I would NOT but it again !!!!!

Alberto

November 2, 2015, 12:20 am

Does Honeywell Evohome require constant power connection? It uses batteries but Is is said that it only lasts two hours, so I understand that constant power connection is required. Is it correct? Thanks

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