Honeywell Programmable Heat Pump Thermostat CT3611R

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Well.. It's a Honey When it Comes to Thermostats

Aug 22, 2004 (Updated Aug 23, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Energy Savings, Sleek Design, SmartResponse Technology, Toll-Free Assistance

Cons:Backlight Function, Initial Programming

The Bottom Line: If you have a heat pump system, get a CT3611 ASAP. You'll save enough energy to pay for it in less than a year.


Why I Purchased This Thermostat

My house is old, originally built in the 1920s of stone, with an addition of 2 bedrooms and a bath sometime in the 1940s, then another on top of that (literally) some 20 years later.

Hence, there are 3 separate heating/cooling systems: one for the main house, another for the first addition, and a third for the second floor addition.

The house is not really that large, but with each addition, I suppose it seemed easier just to also add another heating system rather than connect mazes of ducts and install one large unit.

Today, I am glad it is setup up this way. The upstairs is used mainly for guests, so it is kept very warm in summer and cold in winter unless occupied. The bedroom addition is used only for sleeping, so it makes no sense to heat or cool it during the day. The main house is used constantly and requires a more consistent temperature.

Keeping up with 3 thermostats was almost impossible. Electric bills were flying through the roof. During the summer, back bedrooms were kept at meat locker temperatures by accident while the main house was a sauna. In the winter, it was always the opposite.

So, programmable thermostats to the rescue! When shopping at Hope Depot or Lowes, there are literally dozens of thermostats to choose from. However, each store only carries one model for heat pumps. Lowes had Lux, Home Depot had Honeywell. I had a bad experience with Lux before, so I chose the Honeywell. Both cost the same ($99).


How To Use This Thermostat

All electronic thermostats work basically the same way. You tell it what temperature you want your house to be and at what time. Most, including this one, include features such as daily run time, previous day run time, air filter life, temp override, hold temp (ignore the program and just keep the house at the set temp until told to do otherwise), etc.

The CT3611R has 4 times each day to program. They are named WAKE, LEAVE, RETURN and SLEEP. The times can be different each day of the week if required (as with me), but most people might have Monday thru Friday as one program and Saturday and Sunday as another.

Initial programming, even for the handy-do-it-yourselfer-computer-geek-type like me, requires the owner's guide. Don't fret, as the guide takes you through with baby steps, even recommending time and temperature settings.

A very handy feature with this Honeywell model is the Copy function. If you have a time and temp setting that you want spread to other days, you can copy it to those days with 3 presses of a button, rather than programming each day from scratch.

All of the programming and advanced function buttons are covered by the lower, hidden control panel. Simply flip the cover down to access these. However, the three buttons on the upper, exposed panel are all you will need most of the time. They control raising and lowering the set temp plus an info button for current temp settings, run time and air filter status.


The Problem With Heat Pumps

Everyone, even your local utility company, will tell you the same thing: Keep your heat set at the same temp throughout winter with a heat pump. Why? Because heat pumps have a nasty habit. With a traditional thermostat, if you turn the heat up by 2 degrees or more, the auxiliary heat will kick in. This is plain old strip resistance heat to supplement the heat pump (think of a giant toaster running in your heating system). Basically, this uses so much energy, it could spin your electric meter right off the wall. So, by turning your heat down when you leave, then back up when you get home, usually costs you more then if you left it alone to begin with.

The CT3611R bypasses this dollar-gobbling process with SmartResponse Technology as described below.


Why I Like This Thermostat

SmartResponse does the following: If you want your house to be 70 degrees by 6pm, it will be. Most thermostats will begin to try getting your house to 70 degrees by 6pm. But this model has advanced technology that constantly monitors how long it takes your house to reach indicated temperatures and then constantly adjusts run times to make sure they are reached when you say so.

And it does this without using the backup strip heat. While this is not a concern during summer, it has saved me hundreds of dollars during the winter.

Granted, the main programming controls are confusing at first. But there is a built-in guide on the bottom lid to help you through most functions.

Each part of my house (and if you just have one space to control) is basically set-it-and-forget-it. Installation and user help is provided via a toll-free number. A rarity these days.

No backup batteries are required. In case of a power outage, all programming settings are saved indefinitely.


What I Don't Like

The backlight function. There is one small pea-green LED to light the entire display. It is dim and dismal. Most thermostats, even other Honeywells, have bright displays. Indiglo is popular with other models.

To illuminate the backlight, you have to lightly tap one of the three exposed control buttons. But it is way to easy to press just a little too hard and change the temperature setting or information display.

It might seem minor, but late at night, if you want to see the setting of your thermostat, you shouldn't have to concentrate so hard on how to push a button for fear of changing a setting.

If you ever have to change the main programs, the owner's guide must be consulted. This is a complicated computer and it wants a great deal of info from you. The info screens about run time are anybody's guess (unless you've memorized the owner's guide), however air filter life is labeled.


Installation

For most heat pump systems, the step-by-step instructions should be sufficient. However, if you run into any questions, just reinstall your old thermostat and call your friendly neighborhood repair man (the toll-free number will advise you to do this as well).

2 of my 3 installations ran without a hitch. The third resulted in me guessing which wires to connect. This required a service call to repair the blower fan motor relay that I shorted out. This is not due to the thermostat, just me. If in doubt, call the repair guys out.


Overall

Considering what these thermostats can do, the time spent initially programming the unit is a very small price to pay considering what you will save. Depending on the complexity of your program, you might be done in as little as 5 minutes.

Definitely worth the investment.



Recommend this product? Yes

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