Lennox icomfort Thermostat: Reliable WiFi is #1 Issue After 12 Months

My family and I have used the Lennox icomfort thermostat ($350) with our Lennox XC21 air conditioner for the past 12 months, both installed new. We love the system. Here are my observations:

  • One-touch Away – This is the most-used feature of the thermostat. We use it daily, touching the button before leaving on errands (set to 80 degrees). And we don’t always turn-off One-touch Away after returning home. The house feels cool and comfortable because dehumidification works so well.

    iComfort Thermostat-One Touch Away Mode
    iComfort One-Touch Away Mode
  • Humidity level shown on home screen – This is a feature that can be configured on-screen by the homeowner. I keep a daily eye on humidity and turned this on from initial start up. During cooling season, with a delta T of 5-10 degrees, We get 42-55% humidity levels. And that is in a leaky 1926 house over an unencapsulated crawlspace (Bad. Very bad). Never before has our house had such low humidity levels, which is not due to the thermostat. But the thermostat makes it easy to see humidity levels at a glance. Our previous Carrier air conditioner system lowered humidity to 60-70%. The Lennox XC 21 is easily the best air conditioner that we have ever owned. I will share my thoughts on the XC 21 in another post.
  • icomfort iPhone app is used occasionally – When we first installed the new air conditioner system, I used the icomfort iPhone app daily. It provided a new-found sense of control over our air conditioner. Never before had I been able to control our air conditioner remotely. Over time, I used the iPhone app less frequently. It was simply easier to cancel Away mode after returning home. But I do find myself occasionally hot, sitting on the sofa or lying in bed. I pull out my iPhone (or an iPad on the coffee table) and change the temperature. Also, after a multi-day trip, I cancel Away mode during my cab ride home. The last thing I want after a long trip is to return to a hot home.
  • WiFi connection is (was) unreliable – My icomfort thermostat is connected to an Apple Airport Extreme wireless access point (5th generation). When I apply the Airport Extreme firmware updates, I frequently have problems holding a stable WiFi connection. I’m not sure why this is. I reboot the Airport Extreme. I disable and then re-enable WiFi access on the thermostat. This usually establishes a connection. But as Apple has taught us, “things should just work”. More frustrating, the thermostat loses WiFi access intermittently. A stealth firmware update on the thermostat? I have no idea. Even after rebooting Airport Extreme then disabling and re-enabling WiFi on the thermostat, I am still unable to establish a WiFi connection. At this point, I wait a few hours–or 1-2 days–and the WiFi connection is re-established. Go figure. Lennox really needs to fix this, whether it is an icomfort thermostat hardware/software issue or I need to change my network configuration with setup information provided by Lennox. With that said, since the May 22, 2013 “connection outage resolved” notice from Lennox, I have had a rock-solid WiFi connection. I hope the stable WiFi connection continues. An inconsistent WiFi connection is the achilles heel to an otherwise excellent thermostat.

    icomfort Thermostat-WiFi Outage Resolved
    May 22, 2013 Connection Outage Resolved Notice
  • Thermostat screen blackout – Once over the past 12 months, the thermostat screen blacked out. Touching anywhere would not activate the screen. I confirmed that the thermostat was not placed in cleaning mode. On the verge of placing a service call to my HVAC contractor, I decided to tilt the thermostat forward of the wall mounting plate, unplugging it from its power source. After this hard reboot, the thermostat re-started normally. In the days prior, there was no power outage. Perhaps an unknown voltage spike occurred.
  • Firmware auto-update is transparent – Smart thermostats are wall-mounted computers. Software updates, bug fixes, and security updates will be frequent. At the same time, updates should be seamless to consumers. Lennox does this very well. I am running icomfort 2.1, announced on May 16, 2013, which was transparently installed for me on or around that time. I also considered a Trane XL20i air conditioner system and the Comfort Link II smart thermostat. The Trane Comfort Link II requires an $8.95 monthly fee for remote access and the use of an SD card to transfer updates from a computer to the thermostat. That’s hardly easy.

    WiFi Thermostat-Trane ComfortLink II Brochure
    Trane ComfortLink II Brochure – Software Update Process

Summary

The Lennox iComfort WiFi thermostat is an outstanding smart thermostat. Its operation has Apple-like simplicity. Software updates are painless and transparent. Remote access functionality is free. And with the WiFi issues seemingly resolved, my enjoyment of the thermostat is only sure to increase.  I will never again use a non-digital thermostat. The Lennox icomfort thermostat is a winner (about $350, excluding installation).