LUX Kono And LUX Geo Smart Thermostat Reviews

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Programmable thermostats have been around for years. However, new smart home thermostats, like the LUX Kono and Geo have changed the face of home comfort. They’re user-friendly and can be controlled with apps. They can even communicate with your other smart home devices. Some learn your habits and routines so that you rarely have to interact with them unless you need to make a change.

ENERGY STAR claims that using a smart thermostat can save you about $50 a year on your energy bills. That doesn’t sound like much until you realize that the appliance can pay for itself within two to four years. You can also play with the controls to optimize your energy savings even more.

Our Verdict

If you are looking for the least expensive smart thermostat with the most important (but basic) features then the LUX products may be great for your home. If you want all of the bells and whistles, we suggest you look at other options.

These thermostats connect to Wi-Fi, have automatic home and away modes (via geofencing), and can be controlled via an app. You can also connect them to Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant for voice control.

The LUX app also lets you track your HVAC usage and has a handy feature that allows you to set optimal adjustments to maximize your savings.

LUX Kono Smart Thermostat (left) and LUX Geo Smart Thermostat (right)

The image above shows the LUX Kono Smart Thermostat at left and the LUX Geo Smart Thermostat at right.

Description

LUX Products sells two variations of Wi-Fi smart thermostats, the square-shaped LUX Kono and the rounded-rectangular LUX Geo. We will discuss the differences between models below, but first we will talk about what is the same.

The LUX smart thermostats work with most standard two-stage heat and one-stage cooling systems. They can also be used with most heat pumps, auxiliary heat and gas, oil and electric furnaces.

As with most other smart thermostats, both LUX models communicate over 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi. They run with full SHA256RSA encryption so that your data is secure.

Both LUX thermostats include a temperature sensor. However, they are missing humidity sensors — while not a critical element, it is still nice to know how humid it is in your home. We think this is a big miss. Neither model includes any motion or near-field sensors for detecting when someone is home.

LUX Kono Smart Thermostat

The LUX Kono Smart Thermostat is the follow-up to the Geo, which we describe below. It’s still fairly basic, and its $150 price point reflects its lack of advanced features.

From an aesthetic standpoint, this thermostat shines. It’s a 4.5-inch square with rounded edges and has a clean, industrial design. It stands out from the wall about 1 inch. The thermostat comes standard in a black stainless finish. If it’s too prominent (or not flashy enough) for your liking, you can swap out the faceplates with other colors. A paintable faceplate is also available if you prefer to match it to your wall exactly. Be sure to check out the various options for Kono Decor Snap Cover faceplates.

The unit has a small display and a dial to control the device. You can access basic functions through the unit itself, but the screen shows only the current and target temperature. If you want to override your programmed temperatures, you can turn the dial on the unit and tap it. Otherwise, you can use the LUX app to program the thermostat and adjust the temperature.

The Kono works seamlessly with a couple of home automation systems. You can connect it to Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and the Google Assistant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t connect to other smart hubs like the Wink or SmartThings. However, LUX has announced the KonoZ, which will include a Zigbee radio that will allow it to connect to other smart hubs — we aren’t sure when this model will be available.

The LUX Kono comes with mounting screws, wiring labels, the LUX Power Bridge (in case you don’t have a C-wire), and an optional trim plate to cover large holes.

LUX Geo Smart Thermostat

The LUX Geo Smart Thermostat is even more basic than the Kono. It offers many of the same features but doesn’t have HomeKit compatibility. With a price point of about $140, the Geo doesn’t save you much money over the Kono. Your purchase decision might come down to aesthetics and compatibility.

The design is a bit less refined than that of the Kono. It’s approximately the size of a cell phone and sits 1 inch away from the wall. The screen and dial are larger than that of the Kono.

You can mount the unit vertically or horizontally, which can help you cover up existing holes in the wall. It also comes in black or white. This is another basic model without a touch screen, but it’s ideal for a first-time smart thermostat user looking for a relatively inexpensive device. What it lacks in features it makes up for in reliability.

The Geo connects to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant if you already have one of those voice assistant devices in your home. Like the Kono, it doesn’t work with other smart home hubs.

Each Geo comes with mounting screws, two AA batteries, and a LUX Power Bridge in case you don’t have a common wire.

Features Comparison

This table provides a comparison of the LUX Kono and LUX Geo smart thermostats. Each feature is discussed in more detail after the table.

LUX Kono Smart Thermostat
LUX Geo Smart Thermostat
Size
4.5″ x 4.5″ x 1″ thick
Size
5.7″ x 3.12″ x 1.32″ thick
Common Wire
Required
or use Power Bridge
Common Wire
Recommended
Required for Voice Control
Learning
No
Learning
No
Voice Control
Yes, with connected voice assistants
Voice Control
Yes, with connected voice assistants
Remote Sensors
No
Remote Sensors
No
Multi-Zone
Yes
Multi-Zone
Yes
Auto Home/Away
Yes, geofencing
Auto Home/Away
Yes, geofencing
ENERGY STAR Certified
Yes
ENERGY STAR Certified
Yes
Color
Black Stainless
Colored covers sold separately
Color
White, Black
MSRP (Nov 2018)
$155
MSRP (Nov 2018)
$145
Buy LUX Kono at Amazon Buy LUX Geo at Amazon

Common Wire Requirements

One of the most important factors to note if you’re installing a thermostat in an older home is whether you have a C-wire. This is an additional wire that provides power to the unit, which is important if it has Wi-Fi capabilities. If the unit doesn’t get power, it can’t connect to the internet or light up when you change the controls.

Fortunately, LUX offers a workaround for people who don’t have a C-wire setup. The Kono comes with a wiring bridge for people without a C-wire, while the Geo can use the C-wire, two AA lithium batteries, the wiring bridge, or a micro USB. The wiring bridge, which is included when you buy either of these thermostats, provides a consistent 24-volt power source if you don’t have a C-wire.

The reason that the Geo can run off of batteries is that its backlit LCD screen is fairly basic. The backlight can turn off after 10 seconds, although you can define a different time frame to avoid wasting batteries if that’s your only backup power option. However, you will need to connect the Geo to a common wire if you want to use a voice assistant.

Works With: Compatible Smart Home Products

You don’t have to get up to change the thermostat because these are compatible with a number of voice assistants. The Kono works with Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. The Geo works with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. This compatibility won’t work on battery power alone, though.

Voice command functionality is limited to turning the thermostat up or down. You can’t turn it on or off, switch modes, or ask for the existing temperature using your voice.

In-Unit Sensors

The LUX thermostats are extremely basic. They don’t have motion sensors to brighten the display as you approach or humidity sensors to take moisture into account as they set the temperature. The temperature sensor is the only in-unit sensor available with these models.

Remote Sensors

Some thermostats have remote sensors that allow you to monitor the temperature in different rooms. These remote sensors communicate with the main unit for more accurate control. The LUX thermostats do not have remote sensors.

Multi-Zone And Multi-Home

You can use the LUX Kono or Geo in multiple areas of the home if you have more than one heating or cooling unit. You can also use them in different homes, such as a vacation home. The app lets you set the location for all of the units and control them separately within the same interface.

Automatic Home/Away

We’ve mentioned that one of the reasons people purchase smart thermostats is to save energy. This is accomplished by adjusting the thermostat so that the heating and cooling system doesn’t run when you’re not home. Of course, you probably want to be comfortable the moment that you walk into the house, and setting the thermostat to bring your home to an optimal temperature before you get home is the way to do this.

The app allows you to pre-program temperatures based on your schedule or even connect with the thermostat while you’re away to change the temperature. However, you can also make adjusting the thermostat effortless with automated home and away settings.

Both LUX thermostats use geofencing to determine when you’re in the area. This uses the location feature on your phone. When you set up the device, you designate a specific radius, which serves as the home/away boundary. When you’re within the radius, the device will switch to the home settings and vice versa.

One of the drawbacks of geofencing is that it won’t set the thermostat to sleep mode automatically if you’re still in the home. You’ll have to create a schedule for that. Geofencing may also drain the battery life of your cell phone and it doesn’t work if location services are turned off on your mobile device.

IFTTT – If This, Then That

IFTTT is a web service that lets you set rules for your smart home devices to communicate with each other. Neither of these LUX smart thermostats supports IFTTT. It is unfortunate since the service would help fill in for some of the missing features in the devices.

Energy Use And Reporting

While many basic smart thermostats don’t offer tracking or reporting of your energy use, the LUX smart thermostats do. When you log into the app, you can view your HVAC usage in an easy-to-read format. This helps you keep tabs on your savings and turn the abstract concept of reducing energy usage into hard-and-fast data.

ENERGY STAR Rating

Both the LUX Geo and Kono are ENERGY STAR certified. This means that they are proven to help you save energy and deliver environmental benefits while giving consumers feedback about the amount of power that they use. Visit the US EPA’s ENERGY STAR website if you are interested in learning more about how thermostats get certified.

Setup And Control

We consider low voltage smart thermostats, like the LUX options, to be DIY installations. The thermostats come with detailed manuals that explain how to do so, and the app walks you through the installation, too. LUX provides some helpful installation videos, but you can always contact your HVAC technician to have your device installed.

CAUTION: While the LUX thermostats use 24-volt low-voltage power, you should still turn off power to your HVAC system before you remove the old thermostat. This will help avoid personal injury or property damage. Please use good electrical safety practices.

Setup for these units is fairly straightforward and similar to the setup for most smart thermostats. You need to be aware of the existing wires that you have and know whether you have a C-wire. One way to do this is to snap a photo once you remove the old thermostat. Detailed wiring instructions are beyond the scope of this review, but they are included in the instruction manuals that come with the thermostats.

After you have connected the wires and turned the HVAC power back on, the thermostat should power up. At this point, the app will ask you to choose your system type from the following:

  • F – Furnace or boiler
  • HP – Heat pump
  • Fan type – Gas, electric or boiler

Next, install the LUX Products app for iOS or Android, which will search for the physical thermostat. Once it discovers it, you’ll need to enter the information for your Wi-Fi system and wait a few seconds for the thermostat to access the internet. Name the thermostat, and your setup will be complete.

The LUX Products App

The Kono and the Geo use the same Android or iOS LUX Products app, which you can download using the links above. You can also control the device from a web-based control panel. Use the app to schedule up to four temperature intervals throughout the day, or set up home and away shortcuts and then rely on the geofencing to switch modes.

LUX Products App - Locations, Thermostat Control, Schedules, Geofencing Setup

You can connect more than one thermostat to one app and share thermostats between users for the utmost control.

The dashboard shows your home’s name and all of the thermostats that are connected to the app. Tap on a thermostat to see the current indoor temperature, target temperature and outdoor temperature.

The Set Away button at the top right allows you to quickly put a thermostat into Away mode whether you’re home or not. The Radius button lets you set the geofence boundary. This will toggle the thermostat to Away mode automatically when you leave the “fence” and revert to Home mode when you enter the “fence.”

One of the most notable features of the app is its utility cost estimator. Below the current and target temperature display, the app shows you how much your heating costs will increase or decrease when you adjust the temperature. This might provide great incentive to save energy.

At the bottom are buttons for Fan, Mode, and Hold. Press the Hold button to keep the current temperature and circumvent the scheduling.

Below those buttons are icons for Schedule, Runtime, and Settings. Tap Schedule to establish a set schedule for every day of the week. You can also customize the schedule for individual days. Set your preference, and then move the sliders to toggle the heat on and off.

Tap the Runtime button to view a rudimentary report of your HVAC usage. Finally, you can set the temperature for Away mode, duplicate a schedule or change the thermostat’s name from the Settings area.

Pros And Cons

We really don’t have many complaints about the LUX smart thermostats. They do what they’re supposed to do, and they’re accurate and reliable. We could criticize the lack of advanced features, but you get what you pay for, and these devices don’t claim to do anything that they don’t do.

That said, we’ve compiled a list of the things that we like and don’t like about these appliances.

  Lux Thermostat Pros
  • Geofencing allows device to automatically toggle between Home and Away modes
  • Compatible with Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant for voice commands
  • The Kono works with Apple HomeKit
  • You can use one app to control multiple thermostats/zones
  • Multiple power options for the LUX Geo don’t require C-wire
  • Works with a variety of HVAC systems
  • Less expensive than other smart thermostats

Nothing is perfect, though, and here are a few characteristics that make the LUX thermostats less than ideal.

  Lux Thermostat Flaws
  • You have to use the C-wire or power bridge (not batteries) to use Alexa or the Google Assistant
  • Small display doesn’t have touchscreen capability
  • Thermostat doesn’t learn your routines
  • No motion or humidity sensors

Rebates

Because smart thermostats are so useful for conserving energy, many power companies offer rebates when you install them. You can search for available rebates on LUX’s rebates page or via the app once you download it to your mobile device. You can also contact your utility company directly to ask about rebates, which can make the energy savings for a smart thermostat even greater.

Security And Privacy

Smart thermostats connect to the cloud to maintain accuracy and reliability and deliver the benefits that they offer. There is some concern with home automation devices, in general, about their ability to keep your personal information safe. For example, will hackers know when you’re away from home if you use the geofencing feature?

LUX uses SHA256RSA encryption to prevent this from happening and we aren’t aware of any security breeches that have impacted the company. However, it is important that you properly secure your home Wi-Fi network to prevent unauthorized access.

About The Manufacturer

Lux Minute Minder Timer

LUX Products has been around since 1914, initially as the Lux Clock Manufacturing Company. It started as a manufacturer of clocks and timing products, including the iconic Minute Minder timers and is now known for its innovative smart thermostats.

The company’s mission is to provide reliable products that meet the evolving needs of the modern consumer. Its customer service is based out of the U.S., which is a benefit to U.S. consumers. Its products are also eco-friendly and designed to make your life more convenient and comfortable. LUX Products is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

According to this press release, Johnson Controls acquired LUX Products Corporation in October 2018.

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