Lux Products TX9600TS Universal 7-Day Programmable Touch Screen Thermostat
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- Universal compatibility for all system types. Large, lighted easy-to-read touchscreen display. It is compatible with virtually all North American heating and cooling systems apart from systems with electric baseboard heat (120 or 240 volt) and systems with 2-cooling stages
- Biggest size display, Easy-to-use touchscreen menu operation.
- User-selectable periods per day (2 or 4), Programmable touch pad lockout for unauthorized users
- Adjustable heat/cool set temperature limit stops, Energy usage monitor. Refer user manual below
- Programmable air filter life timer, Temporary temperature override, Adjustable temperature differential (swing).
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About the LUX TX9600TS Thermostat, 7 Day Digital Programmable Universal Touch Screen
The LUX TX9600TS Thermostat, 7 Day Digital Programmable Universal Touch Screen is simple and easy to understand making it extremely user friendly. This thermostat provides you with complete and accurate temperature control with just a simple touch of your finger. The LUX TX9600TS features a large digital lighted display that makes the touch screen easy to read and program (7 day programming available).
The LUX TX9600TS Thermostat, 7 Day Digital Programmable Universal Touch Screen is designed for use with most 24 volt heating and A/C systems, two stage heat / one stage cool (gas, oil, electric, or single stage heat pump systems, two wire heat only hydronic systems (hot water baseboard & radiator) and millivolt systems (wall heaters, furnaces & gas fireplaces). The LUX TX9600TS is not designed for use with electric baseboard heat (120\240 volt) and systems with 2-cooling stages.
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|Item Dimensions||1.12 x 5.38 x 3.38 in||5 x 1.5 x 3 in||5.63 x 1.03 x 3.44 in||5.37 x 1.12 x 3.37 in||1.5 x 5.75 x 3.5 in||10 x 12 x 3 in|
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The thermostat can be powered by:
- Batteries alone (2 AA alkaline batteries)
- 24 volts AC alone
- 24 volts AC with battery backup
If your thermostat cable has a 24 volt AC common wire, it can be connected to the thermostat's “C” terminal to provide the power. This can be used alone or in addition to installing batteries as a backup. According to the manufacturer, the thermostat has non-volatile memory for the program, but you will have to reenter the current time and day if the thermostat has no power source for more than one minute. For convenience, the thermostat can be programmed while removed from the wall if batteries are installed.
I tested the Lux TX9600TS with my heat pump over a three week period in heating season and made the following observations.
When powered by batteries alone the thermostat performed well –– accurately displaying and controlling room temperature. In Heat mode with the thermostat’s swing setting at +/-0.25°F the room temperature differential measured by a min/max thermometer 6” from the thermostat was no greater than 0.7°F.
After connecting AC power to the “C” terminal, the temperature displayed by the thermostat suddenly decreased 2°F, then slowly increased 5°F (a net increase of 3°F) as if the temperature sensor was being heated by the power supply. Adjusting the thermostat’s calibration improved the accuracy of the displayed temperature, but the magnitude of the error fluctuated over time.
In Heat mode with AC power, noticeable temperature swings and prolonged cycle durations occurred even though the thermostat’s temperature swing was set at its minimum of +/-0.25°F. The room temperature differential was high as 2.4°F measured by a min/max thermometer 6” from the thermostat.
After disconnecting AC power from the “C” terminal, the temperature displayed by the thermostat suddenly increased 2°F, then slowly decreased 5°F (a net decrease of 3°F) as if the temperature sensor cooled until it reached ambient temperature. At this point the thermostat accurately displayed the ambient temperature at the default calibration of 0°F and provided good temperature control.
The disadvantage of powering the thermostat by batteries alone is that you must remember to replace the batteries when they get weak, and make sure to have fresh batteries on hand.
As a result of the poor performance of the Lux TX9600TS when powered by AC, I purchased a Honeywell RCT8200A (identical to the Honeywell RTH8500D), and began comparison testing.
Although the Honeywell lacks some the features of the Lux, including adjustable swing, adjustable offset and energy usage monitor, it performed very well when powered by AC –– accurately displaying and controlling the ambient temperature. The room temperature differential measured by a min/max thermometer 6” from the thermostat was no greater than 0.7°F, matching the Lux’s battery-powered performance.
Both the Lux TX9600TS and the Honeywell RCT8200A / RTH8500D have an optional recovery feature. With recovery enabled, the thermostat attempts to reach the desired temperature at the scheduled time by changing the temperature setting early.
The recovery feature isn’t just for comfort. A thermostat with a good recovery algorithm can save energy with systems that have a second heating stage that’s more expensive to operate than the first stage (for example, a heat pump with electric resistance auxiliary heat). During recovery, the thermostat gradually increases the temperature, maximizing use of the more efficient first heating stage, and minimizing use of the second stage. If you have such a system, you can save money by using the recovery feature even if you don’t need it for comfort.
The recovery performance of the Lux and Honeywell models I tested is somewhat limited because they are not capable of monitoring the outside temperature and adjusting the recovery accordingly. That capability isn’t expected at this price level. These thermostats estimate the recovery time based on previous performance.
I don’t have the capability of measuring the energy use of my heating system while controlled by each thermostat under identical conditions, but I did observe the recovery durations. I allowed each thermostat to “learn” how long it took my system (a heat pump with electric resistance auxiliary heat) to reach the programmed temperature setting for several nights. The Lux TX9600TS began recovery no more than one hour early. The Honeywell RCT8200A / RTH8500D began recovery as long as three hours early in order to minimize use of expensive auxiliary heat.
Comparing the displays of the two thermostat, the Lux has larger characters, but the Honeywell’s light green backlight appears brighter and provides better contrast than the Lux’s blue backlight. Both thermostats turn off their backlights seconds after touching the screen. This annoying behavior is understandable if the thermostat is operating on batteries, but I’d prefer the backlight stay on at least one minute when powered by 24 Volts AC.
If you want a thermostat with adjustable swing temperature and adjustable temperature offset between the first and second heat stages, the Lux TX9600TS is worth considering, but only if you are willing to power it with batteries alone.
I would rate the Lux TX9600TS as follows, contingent upon its power source:
4 out of 5 stars if powered by batteries alone.
1 out of 5 stars if powered by 24 Volts AC.
Got all the wires labeled. (Stickers Provided) Took off the old mounting bracket. Installed the new one. (Sheetrock anchors provided too.) Got the tiny tiny wires and the tiny tiny screws (apparently they are all that way) in the right slots. Put in the batteries, programmed it (simple) snapped it on the mounting bracket. Turned on the power and PRAISE THE LORD it works!!! Girls ROCK!!! I was so jazzed. It really was pretty easy to install, I just was so outside my comfort zone. So ladies this is the one for you!!
This is more than a review and experiences with the Lux Products TX9600TS. It includes what was important to me when looking for a new thermostat, the short list of the others I researched, and why I chose this model. The reason for replacing my previous thermostat, a Honeywell T87 style mercury type thermostat, was because it would run for a short period of time, stop, then restart again. The T87 worked fine with the forced air furnace we had several years ago, but ever since we upgraded to a 93% condensing furnace, it cycled so frequently that register air didn't have time to warm up adequately. We have a standing joke around here. "We have a furnace that heats with cold air."
So why do people have rapid, short cycling problems like this after upgrading from say forced air to high-efficiency condensing furnaces in cold climates? My theory is it might stem from the differences in their their sequence of operation.
A. Forced Air furnaces, i.e. 80% and less.
1 Thermostat calls for heat.
2. Burner starts.
3. Circulation fan starts after the air from the heat exchanger reaches 120-140 degrees.
4. Heats house.
5. Thermostat stops giving the call for heat.
6. Burner shuts off.
7. Circulation blower continues to circulate air until the air coming out of the heat exchange cools to 85 to 100 degrees so there is never any cold air exiting the register.
B. High Efficiency Condensing Furnaces, i.e. 90% plus.
1. Call for heat.
2. Draft motor starts and pulls in cold air from outside.
3. As soon as furnace detects draft, it starts the hot surface igniter.
4. At the 30 second point, the gas valve opens. Flame detector must see flame within 2-3 seconds.
5. Circulation blower turns on, no matter what temperature the heat exchanger is.
6. Heats house.
7. Call for heat from thermostat ceases.
8. Gas valve is turned off.
9. The draft motor continues to pull in wicked cold air through the heat exchanger for the next 30 seconds, while the circulation blower blows air across the now wicked cold heat exchanger.
10. Thermostat senses the cold air, and starts a new cycle with a call for heat 25 seconds after the circulation fan stops from the previous cycle.
Establishing my requirements:
As our climate changes and we edge closer to the next ice age, winters have been getting colder, and things were getting a little out of hand this winter, so I decided it was time to get a thermostat with some control. There was no requirement for a programmable thermostat, but my requirements were:
1. One I can control the temperature between the cut in and cut out time. That means I have to be able to understand HOW it decides to turn on and off so the I can determine if it meets that requirement.
2. Doesn't require a degree in computer mysteries to use.
3. Doesn't rely on batteries.
4. Sensible price, which to me means less than $100. I had some fun looking at the NEST, Ecobee, and Prestige, but they were never contenders..
The Short List:
My first problem was to determine which products within the price range didn't require a battery for operation. That eliminated all of the digital, non-programmables. I came up with the following list:
Honeywell RTH7500D Conventional 7-Day Programmable Thermostat $59.95
Honeywell RTH7600D Touchscreen 7-Day Programmable Thermostat (Touch screen version) $79.95
Lux Products TX500U Smart Temp Programmable Thermostat 5-2 Programming $37.97
Lux Products TX1500U Smart Temp Programmable Thermostat 5-1-1 Programming $39.97
Lux Products TX9600TS Touch Screen 7 Day Programmable 7-Day Programming Thermostat $63.67
Researching and Reading the Documentation:
I studied the manuals, and called and e-mailed both Honeywell and Lux Products. Both were very responsive, English was their first language, and they were knowledgeable.
I sent LUX an E-Mail one night with several questions about the 3 different models I was looking at. The following morning I received a call. It was a very good conversation. During the conversation I mentioned how I like the ability to adjust the sensitivity on with what they term as swing. He was quick to point out that the TX500U and TX1500U current versions had removed swing. They have an a and b suffix.on them when you open the package, E.G.TX500Ua, TX1500Ua, and a different manual, even though the packaging and marketing still shows TX500U, TX1500U. He said they decided to retain swing on the TX9600TSa. The TX500Ua and TX1500Ua have something called Duration. If you enter 12 minutes, it will not turn on more than 5 times and hour. It heats up to the recommended temperature and stops, and won't start again until after the 12 minutes expires, and only then when heat is required. The temperature span between start and stop temperatures is fixed. Revision "a' was 1.8 degrees, and the "b" revision was further refined to 1.4 degrees. That would mean the true temperature variation could be more than that between cycles if the furnace was prevented from starting. On LUX models with swing, you put in a number between 1 an 9. Each number is 0.25 degrees F, for a maximum of 2.25 degrees, which I thought wasn't much of a range, until I learned swing doesn't work like I thought. Swing works on both sides of the set point so if you you enter a 2, it does turn on when the temperature dips below 0.5 degrees below the set point, but it also doesn't shut off until the temperature reaches .5 degrees above the set point. Thus to 2.25 maximum swing equates to a 4.5 degree spread between start and stop, which should be enough.
Honeywell doesn't have swing except in the Prestige line which is only available through contractors. The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) models have only Cycles Per Hour, however they generally discourage it. I called Honeywell, and after they explained how it worked, I can understand why they discouraged it. For instance, for a high efficiency condensing furnace the recommend setting to 3 cycles per hour. What that setting does is divide an hour into 20 minute periods, and further divide those in half, with a 10 minute window where the system can be on, followed by a 10 minute window when the system cannot be on. Because of my disbelief, I made multiple calls to confirm this. That is actually quite different from the LUX. The LUX could run the entire hour if it had to, to get to the cut off temperature, and then not allowed to start again until the period expires. The Honeywell CPH sounds more like a unintelligent 50% duty cycle enforcer. I can understand now why so many reviews on the Honeywells mention frequent cycling as a problem, and why they encouraged me to go with the $300-$500 Prestige line to get swing. I also mentioned to Honeywell how they didn't have any temperature calibration ability. I was assured that they are set accurately at the factory, and there would be no problem with the temperature being off. However, the only thermometer that I know of that you can trust over time are the mercury and alcohol ones.
I leaned toward the Honeywell. I thought it looked nicer. The Honeywell also has daylight savings time built in, but not the LUX, in fact the Lux only uses day of week and time, not the date, which made me think, Micky Mouse. The other thing I liked was that the Honeywells have the option to auto switch between heating and cooling or manual. The feature doesn't matter to me, but it does indicate well thought out. I tried to rationalize that the Honeywell has been making thermostats for well over 100 years, as has Lux, so I shouldn't have to worry about them having a cycling problem like I had then. However, I had trouble coming to terms with that position when one of the major reoccurring complaints about the Honeywell on the web from people in cold climates, is rapid cycling, which is also why I was shopping for a thermostat in the first place. What I needed was something that stays on long enough to heat the house, which means the only cure was is a broader temperature span between on and off. There is only so much you can do to reconfigure the furnace, and I'd already proven furnace tweaking wasn't enough to fix the problem. The sad truth was the Honeywells didn't have a usable work-around for a frequent cycling problem. That left me with the 3 Lux Product's thermostats on my shortlist. There is only $2 difference between the TX500Ua and the TX1500Ua, so I dropped the TX500Ua from the list. The only difference that mattered to me between the TX1500Ua and TX9600TSa was the TX1500Ua uses Duration technology while the TX9600TSa uses Swing. They both have their advantages. With Duration, the temperature span would be 1.8 degrees for the "a" and 1.4 degrees for the "b". Thus, it is a fixed span, unless it has to wait out a Duration period, at which point the temperature range would drop until the appropriate amount of time has passed, and the thermostat would send a call for heat. However, as with the Honeywell, it would make the problem worse. Instead of doing very short cycles back to back, it would short cycle followed by a long wait. With the TX9600TSa, I set the Swing/Temperature Sensitivity, and it would cycle based on temperature, but there would never have to wait for a wait period to expire. Swing was the only method that can fix a problem like this. I didn't like paying an extra $30 for a touch screen that I didn't want, but the others didn't have the capabilities necessary to cure the problem. The Lux TX9600TS also advertises Battery Free Memory storage.
Purchasing the thermostat
I paid more money and bought locally because the furnace was cycling constantly and I wanted to fix it now. The TX9600TS packaging had no hint of whether it was a TX9600TS or a TX9600TSa. It did have a little -004 in small print after the model on the bottom of the packaging. Once it cut open the packaging, the instructions clearly stated TX9600TSa. The first thing I did was make sure the instructions said it had had Swing, like the Lux representative said, and they did. Then I was curious what the differences were between the TX9600TS and TX9600TSa. After going down their manuals side by side, the ONLY differences I could found were they made the TX9600TSa much easier for people to unsnap from its base, which is a complaint in the reviews. The only other changes a saw were slight differences in explaining the same features. The manual has the same number of pages, with the same items on each page.
Initial setup of the thermostat:
I read the instructions carefully. I didn't want to mess with the current thermostat during such cold weather, 10 degrees, until I had a plan. You need two AA batteries if you are going to do "arm chair" programming, so I got a couple of their recommended AA batteries. At first, I thought less of the Lux because of its use of dip switches instead of the soft setup the Honeywell uses. However, with the Honeywell setup, you need to deal with codes from the manual. E.G. You enter 0180 for the Heating Fan Control, and enter a 0 for gas or oil heat, or 1 for electric heat. Another nice feature of the Lux is that you can change a dip switch setting that can turn off all of the schedules, and use it like a regular thermostat, which I fully intended to do, but decided to leave it the default and change it later. The TX9600TS also advertises Battery Free Memory storage. Many give you so many seconds to change the battery, which indicates that you need batteries to maintain your settings during a power failure.
The next thing was to check if I had the wiring necessary, and how things were currently wired. It was quicker to shut off the furnace, pull the cover, and check out the thermostat wiring from there than to disturb and have to re-level the current thermostat. I learned that the house had 4-conductor thermostat wire, which meant I was one wire short to be able to run the thermostat off furnace power, instead of the battery power. Fortunately, it didn't appear the wires were secured inside the wall, and unsecured is standard standard I hear. That meant I could use the old cable to pull a new one. I bought 22 feet of 8-conductor thermostat cable locally, and while there, picked up a 97 cent thermometer that read the same most of the others in the rack. I shut off the furnace switch as well as the furnace and air conditioning breakers. I took pictures of the furnace and thermostat wiring connections. It indeed turned out that pulling a new thermostat wire was far simpler than I had feared. Soon I had the new wire connected to the furnace and thermostat base and rechecked. I read where some people were upset because the touch thermostat would slide on the wall, so I put some thin 3M foam double-sided tape on the back of the base, away from the raised mounting areas, positioned the base with a level to make it look good, slid over to the right so the wiring came through on the left end of the thermostat base opening, and pressed the base against the wall. Having it to one side allowed me to mount a little nylon wire holder to the wall so the wire could never fall into the wall by accident, and the thin double-sided tape held the base in position while I drilled the new mounting holes in the wall. Then I pushed some insulation in around the where the wire where it comes through the hole in the wall, and put tape over the hole around the wire to prevent a draft from between floors from influencing the thermostat. Next I snapped the thermostat to the base, turned on both breakers, turned on the furnace, turned the thermostat to heat, and the furnace started. When you touch the display, it lights for 10 seconds, and you can faintly hear an oscillator while it is on. It surprised me that the display was not as bright as I thought it would be. That is probably good since most people probably just run off the batteries, and at night you wouldn't want it very bright. However, I was expecting the cool factor like I saw in the advertising, but what I received was what was practical.
I was initially confused during the setup only because I had difficulty accepting that it was that simple. I was thinking I must be missing something. Not so. You press the Menu button and press the on-screen scroll button to scroll though the settings. Then it's just the Next, OK, and Exit on-screen buttons. If you don't want to use the programs, but have them available, it's still easy. Simply press the on-screen Hold button. After that it behaves like a manual thermostat, but you still have all of the features such as Filter Monitoring, time, day-of-the-week, etc. that according to the manual you wouldn't have if you change the dip switch to have it act like a manual thermostat. It also does not lose the Hold setting when you change the temperature. If you want it to run the schedule, pressing Hold again releases it to run the schedule, and the display changes from Hold to Program Mode. When I touch the current temperature on screen, and nothing happens other than the screen lights up. If I touch the set temperature on screen, up and down arrows appear to adjust the temperature. The Fan On-Off fan switch is simple mechanical switch and the the Heat-Off-Cool switch are simple mechanical switches on the right side, just like a manual thermostat. This is what I like because in Spring and Fall, everything is turned off. In the summer after it gets hot, we simply switch it to cool and have the thermostat control the temperature, and turn it off when we don't want it to cycle anymore. Likewise in the late fall after things get quite cold, we turn it to heat for the season. However, for people that live in moderate climates where it might be cold at night, and hot during the day, they would prefer the Honeywell, which can be optionally enabled to automatically switch between Heat and Cool. The Honeywell doesn't not seem to have the problem of short cycling in moderate climates. When I spoke to the Lux representative, who is also from Michigan, I talked about how I planned to set the Swing to 8, so I would have 2 degrees up and 2 degrees down. He said he has the same thermostat, and said 4 turned out to be enough, so I set it to 4, and set the temperature at 62. This means it would kick in if it dipped below 61, and shut off as soon as the temperature exceeded 63.
1. It worked as expected right away.
2. No more short cycling issues, but I was also in for some surprises. Even in 20 degree weather, it takes well over an hour to lose 1 degree of house temperature. That means with even the 2 degree span, the heat would be off for more than 2 1/2 hours. I didn't know how slowly the house lost heat until now. The way it was cycling before, it acted like the windows were open. It also makes sense to me now why Lux tightened the temperature hard-wired 1.8 degree temperature span on the TX500Ua and TX1500Ua to 1.4 degrees on the TX500Ub and TX1500Ub. However, it also makes me very glad that I picked the TX9600TS where I can adjust the span anything I need, down to .5 degrees. (A setting of 1 will cause a call for heat at .25 degrees below the set temperature, and cancel the call for heat .25 degrees above the set temperature.)
3. My concern about others in the household being able to understand the thermostat if I left it configured for optional program mode turned out to be unfounded. It was a 1 minute class, and not even the least technical had a problem understand what to do.
4. Nobody wanted to run a schedule because they wanted to do it manually. Two days later they were talking about a running schedule.
5. On the Honeywells, people complain about the loud click when things happen. I found no complaints about the Lux in that regard, so I didn't know one way or the other. I can report that the sound of the click of the internal relays inside the Lux are very faint. You need to be close by to even hear them.
6. Both Lux and Honeywell state they are temperature calibrated at the factory, and you should never have to change anything. However, at least the Lux does has a way to do it if necessary as things change over time, instead of replacing the thermostat. The old thermostat and the thermometer I picked up at the store agreed on the temperature. The Lux read between 4 and 5 degrees high. I simply set the calibration to -5.
For me, I don't believe I could have done better than the TX9600TS. I discovered how useful Swing is. If I lived in a moderate climate, I would have no doubt gone with one of the Honeywells. Might one of the two Honeywells worked for me? I can't know that, but from the complaints around the web, reading the documentation, and talking with Honeywell, they don't have anything you can configure to cure the short cycling problem if you encounter it.
"Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it."