Throwback Thursday: Thermostatic innovation

Ahead of their time? Expensive, programmable thermostats struggled in the early 1980s

A thermostat display at Channel Home Center in Union, N.J.

Long before the Nest Learning Thermostat warmed up the high end of the thermostat market, there was the Honeywell T800, carrying the flag of the "$200 electronic digital thermostat" that represented a "'revolutionary' concept in energy conservation."

And according to a Dec. 7, 1981 article in National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, it was a little ahead of its time, perhaps.

The article, "Mfrs. simplify new generation of thermostats," raised the issues of ease-of-use vs. energy savings, and sticker shock vs. lifetime ownership costs --  these issues continue to play out in the thermostat aisle.

At the Honeywell Residental Controls Center, the plan was to move away from the electronic T800 model that retailed for $199.99, toward an easier to use and less expensive CT400.

The T800 was a groundbreaker, But, according to a department manager at a New Jersey Rickel's, "You'd have to be an engineer to handle one."

Similar criticism has been directed toward the Nest product in 2016.

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