Consumer Technology

Published on November 14th, 2013 | by Joshua S Hill


Honeywell Leads Smart Thermostat Leaderboard

November 14th, 2013 by  

The last few years has seen a veritable explosion of new energy-efficient technologies, and maybe none more popular than the introduction of “smart” thermostats. The web darling, Nest, has captured the hearts and minds of those looking for the ‘newest’ and ‘sleekest’, but Navigant Research has released a new Leaderboard for smart thermostat manufacturers that sees Honeywell at the top, well ahead of Nest.

honeywell-wifi-statIn the press release they sent to us, Navigant Research note that smart thermostat’s “have gained traction in North America and Western Europe, and steady growth for the smart thermostat market – driven by rising energy costs, increased environmental awareness, regulatory pressure to encourage energy efficiency, and more effective marketing programs – is expected through 2020.”

“Smart thermostats appeal to different customer segments, not just homeowners,” says Neil Strother, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Utilities, residential builders, and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system installers can also be key decision makers in the value chain. Given this dynamic, thermostat manufacturers have developed various strategies aimed at attracting the segment – or segments – they view as most critical to their success.”

The Leaderboard is sorted into four categories: Followers, Challengers, Contenders, and Leaders. Sitting out by themselves in front were Honeywell, though by the look of the graph below it looks as if they only just scraped in. Nest, along with four other vendors, filled out the Contenders section — which might serve as a surprise to some of Nest’s die hard fans. However Honeywell has been able to rely on its entrenched position as well as innovating in the face of up and comers like Nest. Navigant noted that “responding to the market entrance of Nest thermostats in late 2011, Honeywell launched its Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat” which combined the company’s Smart Response technology with “a user-friendly interface and simple access through the Total Connect Comfort mobile application.”


Nest, on the other hand, famously founded by former Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, is doing extraordinarily well for a new company coming into a — stereotypically — unsexy consumer technology. Prior to Nest’s arrival on the scene in 2011 it would have been a desperate journalist to label household thermostats as anything other than a necessary and somewhat ubiquitous and forgettable piece of tech. We covered the launch of Nest’s first thermostat back at the beginning of 2012, and I have followed them somewhat religiously ever since, right up until their most recent partnership with Sunrun and the success of their Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings.

Navigant are similarly aware of Nest’s attractions, describing the Nest thermostat as being “hailed as a reinvention of the device because of its bold aesthetic and technological innovations in analytics and learning capabilities.”

Honeywell, in releasing their Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat matched some of Nest’s user-interface and design cues, understanding that to make a product that was going to compete it had to look the part, and ‘belong’ in 21st century homes, as well as hold all the functionality necessary to not only monitor a home’s heating, but provide energy-efficient tools.


Additionally, Honeywell introduced the use of applications for Android and iPhone phones so that the system could alert you if the power goes out or the home internet is down, while also letting you control all of your thermostat functions no matter where you are.

The research — available for purchase at Navigant’s website — entitled “Navigant Research Leaderboard Report Smart Thermostats”, looked at 11 smart thermostat manufacturers and graded them on 12 separate criteria.

Using Navigant Research’s proprietary Leaderboard methodology, vendors are profiled, rated, and ranked with the goal of providing industry participants with an objective assessment of these companies’ relative strengths and weaknesses in the global smart thermostat market.

And while there are obvious benefits to smart thermostats, Navigant Research still warn that the growth will not be as fast and meteoric as might be desired, noting that several “barriers will keep the market from rapid growth. These include the higher cost of smart thermostats (compared to conventional thermostats), inconclusive data on actual savings, cautious utilities uncertain about how to support deployments, and ineffective marketing campaigns.”

The top 10 vendors are as follows;

  1. Honeywell
  2. Nest
  3. Trane
  4. Carrier
  5. ecobee
  6. Energate
  7. Emerson
  8. Computime
  9. Radio Thermostat Company of America
  10. Venstar

Navigant Research conclude that “smart thermostats will compose a growing percentage of total thermostats sold globally going forward, reaching 13% of the total by 2020.” No doubt both Honeywell and Nest will be amongst the leaders well into this future.

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  • mk1313

    Time of use is increasingly common yet programmable thermostats continue to have only 4 programmable periods unless you go with the multi-hundred dollar models. Can these suppliers get off their arses and make something with 5 or more programmable periods please that doesn’t break the bank.

  • Chris_in_Raleigh

    Has anyone found a thermostat that can be set to a “feels like” or humidex temperature, i.e. one that factors humidity into the setting?

    I looked on the box for the Honeywell model recently and it said something like, “displays humidity” – not very useful.

    In the middle of summer, I can comfortably set my AC temp higher because it runs so much that the humidity is low in the house, conversely, in late spring and early fall, I have to set my AC temp lower because it runs less and the humidity is higher in the house.

    Unfortunately, my “smart” thermostat is unaware of this and can only make adjustments based on the time of day.

    • JoanTheSpark

      IMHO.. AC’s are just dumb air_coolers_, not air-conditioners.. if you want to condition air you would need to be able to adjust temperature AND humidity _separately_.

      There is a split unit system from Daikin that can do that.. it’s a bit more complicated as it needs an additional valve in the indoor unit for the coolant and also some water supply (in case you want to increase the humidity in drier climates)..

      • Bob_Wallace

        Aren’t you special.

        You’ve appointed yourself as the definer of terms. Let’s make sure to let all the air conditioner manufacturers and dealers around the world know that Joan has renamed their products “Dump Air Coolers”.

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