Honeywell UtilityPro Programmable thermostat problem


I had this thermostat installed by my utility company several weeks ago. It's the kind where they can cut back the air conditioner during peak demand. I get money off my utility cost and a free installed thermostat. Let me mention here that I have no ability to install anything electric, so buying one and installing it myself wasn't an option.
I used it on the A/C mode for about a week, and then it became cool enough that it wasn't necessary. Last night I turned it to the heat setting. It ran fine for a while, although I noticed that on several occasions it said "hold" which according to the manual has something to do with protecting the compressor by not restarting it too soon. I have a forced hot air oil furnace. Do they have compressors? I thought those were found on A/Cs. (See - non technical here). Anyhow as I was looking at the display, it suddenly went completely dark. I don't mean the back light dimmed, I mean it was black with no on screen menu. That freaked me because if the thermostat isn't working, how would the furnace know to turn off. I walked to the other end of the house to see if it was still running, and yes at least the fan part was. When I got back, the back light and menu were back on again. I was concerned and took that opportunity to turn the heating system back off.
Any thoughts? I've called the utility company and they can't look at it until Tuesday. I'm afraid to turn it back on in case something is wrong with either the thermostat or wiring.(Local newspaper blog had a comment from someone who claimed the utility had mis-wired her thermostat and it damaged her A/C). The guy who installed it didn't seem to know much about the unit; when I asked how it worked, he handed me the guide and said it's all in here. AFAIK, the furnace itself was functioning properly - the oil company did its annual PM 3-4 weeks ago (actually an hour or so after the thermostat was installed) and it was OK.
Any thoughts on what I should look for or ask? I'm starting to wish I had the original thermostat back.
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Lee B wrote:

Hold means hold the current temp. for certain number if hours or days depending on what you do. Display darkens if there is no activity on the panel. If you touch any button, it'll come on again. Just READ the manual. Even if 'stat goes bad your furnace won't run forever. It has bult-in safety shut off.
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Tony Hwang wrote:

OOps, sorry - the message was *"wait"* Don't know why I typed hold; I knew what that one meant.
Display never darkened while it was in the A/C mode. It would dim but never went completely dark. In fact, that's one of the complaints I've read about this model. And when it went completely dark on me, it didn't respond to my touching it. (Couldn't tell where exactly to touch because there were no button outlines, but I tried several places where I thought the buttons had been and it didn't react. It finally lit back up while I was out of the room). And since I put it back in "system off" mode, the backlight has stayed on.
I did read the manual... even downloaded the pdf file. It says that if the screen is blank to check the circuit breaker, check the furnace door and check that the power. Those weren't the problem because I never did any of that, and it came back to life on its own. And it says the wait message is for the compressor. (Do I have a compressor?)
Thanks for the reassurance though about the built-in shutoff. I started worrying about the daggone thing acting up while was at work and overheat or something.
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wrote:

In the mean time, pull the battery out for a short while. The device should reset to factory defaults. (if some programming got fudged up)
For the "wait", I suspect the T-stat was waiting for the temps to drop going from AC > Heat.
Look in the manual for a link to energystar.gov (?). There they have samples of programming times based around work times, when you are home, etc.
I still use the default setting.
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Lee B wrote:

Does your 'stat have batteries within? Anyhow My Honeywell Vision Pro 8000 is battery operated and has an option to keep the display on or dim when inactive. I think this is to save battery. This panels have different brightness depending on what they use just like laptop LCD display panels. "Wait" means just that 'stat is starting a cycle and until then it displays that. Your's must be programmable with which you can do all kinds of things. Take a careful look at systems option part in the manual. My back is electronics and I often notice auto mechanics, HVAC techs, etc. having poor electronics basics. When I had my a/c installed I wanted a wireless 'stat. The guy did a very good job of installing but had no idea what to do with wireless. I told him not to worry I'll do that part. He looked very relieved. I hang the 'stat downstairs in the winter, upstairs in summer.
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Tony Hwang wrote:

The UtilityPro is apparently based on the VisionPro. It does take batteries (presumably mine is new since it was just installed). It doesn't have the option to turn off the backlight. I know the VP does. I haven't looked, but on another forum someone said that that code is not one of the programming options on the UP. The manual actually says "If thermostat is AC powered, a dim display is normal. The backlight remains ON at a low level, and brightens when a key is pressed." There really isn't any systems part of this manual, since it's designed for the end user, with the utility co installing it. (The installer might have had a manual, although looking back, I'm not sure if he understood it).
I actually just had the same thermostat installed at my old house which is for sale. Seemed like a good idea, because I could set the temp to be a big higher when people might be coming to look. Now I'm worried about going and setting that one into heat mode! (That installer seemed more on top of things, but then he had to install something else on the furnace because it was missing a wire at thermostat location).
(Here's the manual: http://peakrewards.bgesmartenergy.com/media/pr/thermostat-operation-manual.pdf )
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Tony Hwang wrote:

Repairman from the utility company was here today. I gave him a synopsis and told him I was worried about whether something could have been installed/wired incorrectly. He checked it and said the wiring is fine. Thermostat is fine. The only thing he could come up with to explain the display going blank is what Larry mentioned (thanks Larry!) about the limit switch. Said furnace could have reached that temp, or switch could be set too low. I still don't understand if this is a malfunction or a fact of life?!
I asked why the previous thermostat, a digital non-programmable Honeywell, never went blank on me. He said that old model had a battery to run the display because it didn't have a common wire (I think that was the term). He said that the UtilityPro has one small battery to hold the date/time but doesn't have the batteries that other stats do because they had to sacrifice some of the space for the additional electronics used to do the peak usage thing, so the display is driven by that wire.
His explanation for the "wait" message was that there is a "bug" in the 'stat because it wasn't really adapted for an oil furnace, and was reacting like it would with a heat pump that has a compressor.
I'm still not sure I'm quite satisfied. I guess I'll call the furnace people (the service contract is part of my oil contract) and ask about the limit switch. I just have visions of them both blaming each other. I can live with an occasional blank display I guess, as long as I know it's not an indication of something actually being *wrong* (and dangerous) with the furnace.
Thanks to all for your patience with my questions!
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wrote:

program, but is in "temperature hold" mode.
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On some furnaces the limit switch breaks the primary to the transformer. If that happens, you have no 24volts to the stat and it goes dead until the limit closes again and the power to the stat is restored. (First hand experience with mine last winter) The limit switch is there to cut the burners off if the heat exchanger exceeds a certain temperature. The most common cause of that is low air flow over the HE, and the most common cause of low air flow is dirty filters. That would be the first thing to check. There are a number of things that could also cause that, inicluding a faulty limit switch. Of course, this limit switch thing is only a semi edjeecated guess. If your filters are clean, you probably need to have your system checked and serviced by a pro. On mine, the fan portion of the fan/limit switch was bad and would not bring the blower on at all, causing the limit to open after a couple of minutes. Good luck Larry
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Sorry I missed the part about the furnace having been recently serviced in the original post. ( And the oil part tells me that the OP is probably nowhere near me). However, a limit switch opening would still be my first WAG as to the cause of the problem. Larry
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Lp1331 1p1331 wrote:

DIY-er!) but I'll mention it to the installer when they come to check on it. I just have visions now of the electric company blaming the furnace, and the furnace maintenance company saying it's the utility company's problem... Thanks for the info.
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Lee B wrote:

Just checking back in. First the utility company guy came and couldn't find anything wrong with the thermostat. He did confirm it was wired correctly. He couldn't explain the "wait" notation (which is supposedly related to a compressor) other than saying the thermostat probably hadn't been completely modified to handle oil heat. Which makes sense, since I got this from the GAS and electric company. His only explanation for why the entire unit would suddenly go dark was also the limit switch. and then he left with a non-nonchalant "it's safe", and if there is a problem the switch will turn it off.
So I finally got around to calling the furnace people. We'd had some unseasonably warm weather and I'd just left the whole thing turned off. This guy also tested and and confirmed it's wired correctly. He also didn't think the "wait" message was a problem, because in order to disable that, it would disable the wait for the A/C compressor. Hey fine, as long as it's not causing a problem.
Then he made one discovery. Apparently the person from the company who did the PM had put in too large a nozzle, at least according to the specs that he found. He said that could allow the furnace to get too hot. So he installed what should be the right sized one, and so far so good. I don't know if it's had the wrong sized nozzle all along (or when these are changed). So maybe it was a good thing that I got the new thermostat that alerted me to the limit switch going off. Although I may turn the whole thing off during the day until I've had one or two problem free evenings....
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The burner is made to accommodate a range of sizes of nozzle. That changes the rating of the burner so the same setup can be used in different houses with different needs. If the nozzle is larger than what is needed for your house, the burner will heat the firebox faster and it will shut down on the high limit, cycling more than necessary. One particular model of Becket can range from 56,000 to 420,000 Btu depending on the nozzle. It must be mounted on the right fire box though.
The nozzle is usually changed at every service PM. If the service guy happened to be out of the proper size, he may sub a larger one and not tell you. A particular burner/heat exchanger combo may take from .85 to 1.25, but if he puts in a 2.75, that is really overkill and dumb. Want to see what they look like? Go here http://www.delavaninc.com/oilburner.htm
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

problems. No more having the screen on the thermostat go completely dark (which totally freaked me out) and since I've turned it back on, I haven't seen any more of the "wait" message. Or maybe I'm just more comfortable now and not staring at it. Thanks for the explanation and the picture.
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roblmel had written this in response to http://www.thestuccocompany.com/maintenance/Re-Honeywell-UtilityPro-Programmable-thermostat-Follow-u-404587-.htm :
Lee B wrote:

------------------------------------- I had the UtilityPro thermostat installed for my oil furnace last week. I have the same exact symptoms. The thermostat occasionally goes completely blank for about 5 seconds and the blower runs. After the light comes back on the wait indicator displays, and the furnace starts minutes later.
I have a new theory for the cause of this. My oil furnace is a Rheem. The instruction manual states that a special isolation relay must be used with a "power robbing" thermostat. Apparently, if batteries are not used for the thermostat main power, it is "power robbing" by default. Quoting the manual, "Failure to add an isolation relay will result in intermittent furnace operation during the off-cycle as voltage used to power the thermostat may actuate the furnace." A wiring diagram for installation of the relay is included. The part number for the relay is 42-25104-01 for a SPNO Pilot/Power 24 volt relay. I searched for the part number and found it to be provided by multiple sellers for under $30. I plan to call the PeakRewards number which is in my case Baltimore Gas and Electric to see if they can/will install the relay to fix the problem. I will follow up with the results.
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roblmel had written this in response to http://www.thestuccocompany.com/maintenance/Re-Honeywell-UtilityPro-Programmable-thermostat-Follow-u-413903-.htm :
roblmel wrote:

-------------------------------------
Follow up to last post. Called the power co. A Honeywell expert called me back in 15 minutes. My theory was incorrect. Apparently, when the thermostat is installed it is wired so that it is not "power robbing" even though it has no batteries. The Honeywell rep believes that the cause is the same as described in the past post. That high heat is triggering the limit switch.
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In (roblmel) wrote:

And I am your boss: And I do not approve your message. Lies are the mark of an idiot who lacks humor or ...
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