Smart home devices don’t need to be expensive to deliver value. Or a cheap smart thermostat, the Honeywell T5, costs around $ 125. Amazony offers many of the same features as our favorite high-end models that cost almost double. The Meri Momentum smart thermostat, which sells for $ 99 at Wal-Mart, on the other hand, is very cheap.
Meri is round and has a colorful face that reminds her of the Nest Learning Thermostats family that rocked this sleeping industry in 2011. But instead of a rotating stainless steel player, Meri has a fixed plastic collar. Momentum expects your HVAC system to have a C wire for power, which is unusual, and the physical installation process is not much different from other smart thermostats I’ve reviewed for TechHive. So what don’t you like?
For starters, once you have the Meri cable and have configured the most basic settings, it will ask you to download the Momentum app from the relevant app store. Then the thermostat will display a QR code that you can scan from the app to link the thermostat to your account.
But the code scanner in the app doesn’t seem to be able to focus my smartphone camera on the QR code. The phone’s original camera app had no such issues except that the QR code led me to download the Chinese version of the app directly. Finally I did a manual search for the English version of the application (available for Android and iOS) and installed it on my mobile.
Meri has a brilliant touch screen with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels, but the touch screen does not respond very well and the user interface displayed on it is almost incomprehensible. Touching the Wi-Fi password that the thermostat needs to join my home network is a mentally painful experience (also keep in mind that the thermostat can only connect to the 2.4GHz network).
The same is true for configuring any thermostat setting. The home screen shows the current temperature in your home. Slide across the screen and this turns into a clock. To access other settings, you will touch the power button, then you will touch the plus and minus symbols to increase or decrease the target temperature.
That’s pretty simple, but you have to access the “parameters” screen for everything else. This is an increasingly dark list of options starting with the Time / Date and System Type options (pretty simple, right?) But will include settings like “multi-stage hysteresis” (huh?). Momentum doesn’t really provide an explanation for the purpose of many of these functions, and very slow response times make it frustrating to get around.
This won’t be much of a problem if you can access the settings you need using the mobile app, but you can’t find many of them there. The Meri app allows you to complete basic tasks, such as adjusting the current temperature, setting a schedule, and configuring the settings for Home and Eco mode.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, Meri became an unreliable smart housemate. On the first Saturday morning after installing a new thermostat, we woke up to find that the house was cold at 58 degrees Fahrenheit. I never determined what was wrong, and it happened only once. I’d consider it a coincidence, except that the thermostat works differently, too.
After setting the target temperature at 72 degrees, for example, Meri controlled my air conditioning system to maintain that temperature properly. But then the room temperature will rise to 77 without a thermostat that never turns on the air conditioner. There are other times when the thermostat works exactly as it should. Such intermittent anomalies are very difficult to resolve.
If I guess I would say that Meri’s reliability issues can be solved with udpate firmware. But I no I think it will solve the performance of your slow user interface: I guess this smart thermostat doesn’t have enough processor power. If you are working on a tight budget, there are plenty of inexpensive smart thermostats on the market that are better than Meri Momentum.