Emerson 1F78-151 review: This programmable thermostat is a little light on features

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The Good The Emerson 1F78-151 thermostat reliably automates your weekday and weekend temperature presets.

The Bad It feels cheap, has a particularly bland design and doesn't come with a backlight for making manual adjustments in low-light conditions.

The Bottom Line Emerson's 1F78-151 programmable thermostat is fine, but its competitors offer more in terms of features and design.

6.0 Overall
  • Performance 7
  • Usability 6
  • Features 5
  • Design 5

Of the five affordable programmable thermostats I've reviewed to date, Emerson's $43 1F78-151 -- sold on Amazon for $26 -- is the least interesting. Sure, it will dutifully adjust the temperature for you four times a day, but it really doesn't have much else going for it, and that makes it hard to recommend for purchase over most of its competitors.

To begin, the 1F78-151 doesn't come with a backlight like the Lux TX500U, the Hunter 44157, the White-Rodgers P200 and the Honeywell RTHL2310B. Of course, not having a "nightlight" feature isn't exactly a deal-breaker at this price range, but it would definitely make the small display easier to read -- especially in low-light situations.

This thermostat also feels cheaply made from its white plastic casing to its buttons and its display. I know, all of these thermostats cost at or under $30, so what should I expect? But some of these competitors really do stand out by comparison, especially the streamlined, backlit Lux TX500U.

To appear more minimal, many manufacturers attach a plastic covering to their thermostats. That way, you can flip open the covering when you need to access certain buttons and can otherwise keep them covered. Instead, Emerson's 1F78-151 displays everything up front in a way that looks cluttered.

Its default is also to flash the time and the current ambient temperature reading, something I find slightly annoying. I would much rather the thermostat display stay fixed and not alternate between different types of information. The Emerson 1F78-151 is decent, but I would consider the Lux TX500U or the Honeywell RTHL2310B instead.

Note: This thermostat is compatible with basic heating and cooling systems; click here for more details. If you have questions about installation, consult a professional.

Comparing thermostats

Honeywell RTHL2310B Hunter 44157 Emerson 1F78-151 White-Rodgers P200 Lux TX500U
Price MSRP: $25 Lowe's: $24.98 MSRP: $25 Amazon: $20.59 MSRP: $43 Amazon: $26 MSRP: $50 Amazon: $23.77 MSRP: $30 Amazon/Home Depot: $30
Color finish White White White White White
Batteries Yes, two AAA Yes, two AA Yes, two AAA Yes, two AA Yes, two AA
Backlight Yes, green Yes, blue No Yes, green Yes, blue
Dimensions (WxHxD) 4.75 x 3.4 x 1 inches 8 x 6 x 1.6 inches 6.2 x 4.2 x 1.8 inches 6.5 x 4.5 x 1.5 inches 5.4 x 3.4 x 1.1 inches
Display Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital
Programmable Yes, 5-2 Yes, 5-2 Yes, 5-2 Yes, 5-1-1 Yes, 5-2