Friday, May 17, 2013

TECH: Hunter Universal Internet Thermostat - Control anywhere anytime using your iPhone or iPad

Guest Blogger Laura Terbrack shows us how technology can be used to control her home with the Hunter Universal Internet Thermostat...

When Jackie from Free Is My Life asked me to review the Hunter Universal Internet Thermostat, I was excited about the idea of being able to control the temperature from my iPhone. As soon as I had a spare moment for another home improvement project, I grabbed my Hubby to help out and we got started.

The first thing you have to do before replacing your existing thermostat is to make sure the power is shut off on your furnace. We've been in this house for 14+ years and I finally discovered where the switch is on the back of the furnace. Turns out there are a few cobwebs back there too, but we'll try to forget about those!

With the power off, I went back upstairs to see that Hubby was already taking the old thermostat off the wall. Glad I got a picture of some of the old thermostat so you can see what we replaced:

I was quick to remind him that the instructions for the Hunter model stressed that we label the wires. Hubby looked at me like I was an alien and reminded me that he had labeled the wires himself when he installed the old unit 10 years ago. Being the person I am, I made sure that I double-checked. Of course, his labels looked fine, but it can never hurt to double-check!

The Hunter model has a level on it, so it was very easy to mount it on the wall. Hubby lined up the holes with the old ones and attached it in about a minute. Next, he took his nicely labeled wires and attached them to the circuits on the Hunter model. Oh - I almost forgot! Before you mount the device, you need to write down the security code that is on the device. The security code is very important when you register on the Hunter website and add the device to your profile.

Once he was happy with the placement of the wires, Hubby snapped the cover on (I'd already put in the 4 AA batteries for him) and we were back in business. I went downstairs to flip the switch on the furnace and ran back upstairs to test it out. The buttons on the device are very intuitive, so it was easy to figure out how to start the fan. We heard it start up immediately, so we knew the new thermostat was communicating with the furnace properly.

Of course, the part I wanted to test most was the interaction with my iPhone. Because we are computer nerds, we wanted to see if we could connect just by looking for the device on our wireless network. No such luck, so we did have to use the gateway device that came with the thermostat. We were out of wired connection ports on our upstairs router, so I had to go back in the basement to plug it into Hubby's huge router with about a gazillion ports for me to choose from. Of course the port I picked first is the one that didn't work because the gateway stayed red. Since I had so many to chose from, I plugged into another one and connection! P.S. Hubby - slot 9 isn't working! :-)

With a solid green connection, back upstairs I went to configure my iPhone. Step 1 was downloading the application from the App Store. It was as simple as searching for Hunter Fan and it's the first app that came up. Once I had the app installed, I registered as a new user and then added the device, where that security code I mentioned above is required. It took the app a little time, but it was able to find our device and was able to control it from my phone. I turned the fan on and off again (success) and checked the battery life of the AA batteries (100%).

Right after we installed the Hunter device, my son had a flag football game, so while I was waiting for the game to start I decided to test out the app again. This time the connection took about another minute, but it did eventually bring up my device. I'm really looking forward to using this feature more once I setup schedules, and Hubby and I start arguing over the temperature of the A/C when it's July in Michigan. In retrospect, it probably wasn't a good idea to send him an invite (available via the app) or give him change privileges for the thermostat!

Bottom Line: Installation was a cinch (and I'm a coward where electricity is concerned), the device looks nice, and I can access it from my iPhone. A Win-Win-Win in my book! If you've been thinking about investing in a new thermostat and want to be able to program it from your phone, the Hunter Universal Internet Thermostat is one to consider.

The Hunter Universal Internet Thermostat retails for $99 and is available at local retailers including Lowes.

Disclosure: Hunter sent a complimentary thermostat to facilitate this review. All opinons are those of the reviewer.
Laura Terbrack is a wife, mother of two and a self-professed tech goddess. In addition to her busy job as an IT professional, Laura is a contributor to FREEISMYLIFE and just started her own blog called "Laura in the Motor City". Follow her on Twitter at @lauramotorcity.
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