The model VIP3000 Talking Digital Thermostat from SmartWay Solutions Incorporated, is a full-featured 5-2 programmable thermostat, that has been designed to offer high accessibility to blind and vision-impaired users, via the addition of its very clear and plenty loud, human-sounding male voice, along with its high-visibility LED-lighted display.
Not only does it speak the most commonly used functions, but it voice prompts for practically all the configuration menus and options as well. The menus and settings can also be viewed on the bright, medium-contrast, backlighted screen, and its buttons are well-located, with the most often-used buttons prominently positioned, and the less used ones, hidden beneath an access hatch door on the bottom front of the unit.
Features, Benefits, Advantages, and Pros
It talks! This programmable talking thermostat speaks (hear it here), enabling easy operation by vision-impaired and blind home dwellers, and comes with an extensive 20-page big-print User’s and Installer’s guide. Operating instructions are also provided on an audio CD along with troubleshooting instructions for commonly encountered issues, and the manuals are available electronically in PDF files. See the references below for links to these.
Low maintenance. However, the voice prompts are so all-inclusive and intuitive, that once initial setup is complete, you rarely need to look at the manuals, if ever. The audio playback can be disabled during programming if desired. The current temperature, set point temperature, and all programmable features can be spoken.
High-contrast, backlit blue LCD display, supporting similarly easy use by sighted operators as well. The visual display also enables sighted assistants to help blind users perform initial setup more quickly, for those that prefer such help.
Well-suite for residential use. Intended primarily for residential application, the VIP3000 can control practically all types of single transformer climate control systems (furnaces and HVAC units), including single stage heat and cool systems, single stage heat and two stage cool, two stage heat and one stage cool, and two stage heat with two stage cool systems. Three stage heat with two stage cooling furnaces are also supported. Gas, oil, or electric furnaces can be controlled, along with heat pumps and multi-fuel units.
Stores contractor information. The name and telephone number of your HVAC contractor can also be stored in this unit, and can be quickly retrieved should you require HVAC repair services.
Dual temperature modes. The temperatures can be set in either Fahrenheit or Celsius scales.
5-2 programming. The five-day, two-day scheduling provides for four schedule periods (Wake, Leave, Return, and Sleep). For each of these periods, the start time and temperatures for both heating and cooling can be set.
Alerts you about upcoming furnace maintenance needs. Contains several time counters that keep track of the amount of time since maintenance was last performed. This thermostat remembers how long it’s been since the filter was last cleaned / replaced, the UV light for air purification was changed, and when the last routine maintenance was performed. The time for each of these can be adjusted between 3 and 24 months, and the user receives an alert (via pressing the REPORT button), when this set time expires. Reminders.
Compressor short-cycle protection. A delay function is implemented, that limits how frequently an HVAC compressor is turned on. This compressor short-cycle protection prevents compressor damage.
Guards against frozen pipes. Plus, regardless of the temperature setting or system state (Heat, Cool, or Off), the VIP 3000 will activate your heat, should the temperature in your home fall below 40 degrees. This prevents pipe freezing, pet discomfort, and other difficulties that endemic to a cold house.
Supports auto heat / cool mode changeover, where the thermostat switches automatically between Heat and Cool, depending on the current temperature. The “dead zone,” that is, the temperature range between the changeover-to-cooling temperature and the changeover-to-heating temperature can be adjusted as well.
Timed fan runs for cleaner air. Sophisticated fan control for forced air climate control systems. Not only can you set the fan to manual or auto mode, but you can also program how many minutes out of each hour the fan runs. This allows energy savings while also providing cleaner and well-circulated air throughout the home.
Emergency heat support. Heat pump owners can switch to “Emergency Heat” mode, in which the heat pump is deactivated, and auxiliary gas or electric heating is turned on. One might do this during extremely cold spells when heat pump operation is inefficient, or when the heat pump requires service.
Manual temperature setting supported. The program can be suspended, and the VIP3000 can function very well in that case as a strictly manual thermostat, allowing continuous adjustment of home temperature. You do not need to set up the daily scheduling features if you so desire not to. Program suspension can be either permanent or temporary, until the next programmed time interval begins.
Supports multiple-stage heating and cooling systems. A “Hi Delay” feature controls the amount of time the thermostat waits after activating first stage heating / cooling, before it actuates the second stage, when second stage heating / cooling is needed. The display shows when multiple stage operation is going on.
Battery operated. The VIP3000 is battery-operated, via four AA alkaline batteries. So, it is fully functional when removed from the wall-mounted base. So, you can take the unit to a brightly-lit table or reading chair to program it, and then, once done with that, snap it back onto the wall base where it resumes its control of your furnace. It cannot however, control your furnace while removed from the wall, since the electrical connections to the furnace are broken. Snapping the computer unit back to the wall reestablishes these connections. An alert is issued, when the batteries should be replaced.
Memory backup. The batteries also provide backup during power failures. The unit does not forget your programs and settings during power outages.
Disable programmable features when needed. You can lock out the programmable features if all you want is a manually controllable thermostat. There’s also a system lockout feature, that prevents unauthorized adjustment of any of the settings by anyone but the primary thermostat user / owner.
A Reset key can return the unit to its factory default settings and programs should erratic thermostat behavior be observed. However, this reset does not restore the physical DIP switch settings inside.
1 year warranty. A limited, one-year guarantee against problems and failures is included.
Disadvantages, Limitations, Problems, and Cons
No remote control. Cannot be controlled or monitored remotely via a smartphone. Has no Internet connectivity features.
Volume control not easily accessed. The volume control for the speech is perhaps the only feature on this programmable that is not easily reached. To adjust it, you must remove the front panel and use a Philips screwdriver. Not sure why they just did not include the volume setting in the firmware. But they didn’t.
No individual day scheduling here. Does not support separate programming of individual days. Being a five-day, two-day model, this thermostat supports one temperature schedule for weekdays (Monday through Friday), and weekend days (Saturday and Sunday).
Not a line-voltage thermostat. Does not control electric baseboard or other “line voltage” heaters without additional auxiliary equipment. This talking thermostat controls 24-volt (or less) furnace systems only.
Noisy relay switching. So, clicking can be heard as controlled heating, cooling, or fan units are activated and shut down.
No Internet time setting. The current day and time can be set, but only manually. Automatic time setting from the Internet is not available in this product.
Screen light-up time too short. The display backlight times out and shuts off too quickly. We’d prefer that the duration of time that the light remains on after pressing a button, would be programmable. And, when the unit itself is attached electrically to the climate control system, that the light be allowed to stay on, untimed. This would allow for easy location of the thermostat in the dark.
As vision impaired users ourselves, we’re delighted with this talking thermostat. SmartWay Solutions has demonstrated great knowledge and careful design of this, the most accessible programmable thermostat that we’ve ever encountered. The price is roughly comparable to other non-talking programmable digital thermostats; only modestly more costly. The audio feedback is easy to understand, American English, and the buttons are big enough for very rapid actuation. The added voice makes the slightly added cost well worth it. We’d rate this unit at 98 out of 100.
Where to buy the VIP3000 Talking Thermostat
We got ours directly from our building’s HVAC contractor. However, the VIP3000 may be ordered directly from the manufacturer, or various online vendors. Its price is roughly $200.
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- 2017-02-08: Revised the tags list. Changed post title to: SmartWay Solutions Talking Thermostat VIP3000 Review.
- 2015-11-03: Added appropriate tags.
- 2014-11-24: Adjusted ad placement and updated content to reflect further experiences with this talking thermostat.
- 2014-10-06: Originally published.