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

Emerson's 1F78-151 programmable thermostat will get the job done, but nothing more.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton covers renewable energy, climate change and other environmental topics for CNET. Before starting at CNET in 2013, she wrote for NBC Universal's DVICE (now SYFY). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

Expertise Science, Home Credentials Society of Professional Journalists 2022 Louisville Metro Journalism Award for Feature Writing, Society of Professional Journalists 2022 Ohio Journalism Award for Science Writing
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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.

emerson-17f8-151-thermostat-product-photos-1.jpg
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Emerson 1F78-151

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.

5 programmable thermostats you can find for $30 or less

See all photos

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 RTHL2310BHunter 44157Emerson 1F78-151White-Rodgers P200Lux TX500U
Price MSRP: $25 Lowe's: $24.98MSRP: $25 Amazon: $20.59MSRP: $43 Amazon: $26MSRP: $50 Amazon: $23.77MSRP: $30 Amazon/Home Depot: $30
Color finish WhiteWhiteWhiteWhiteWhite
Batteries Yes, two AAAYes, two AAYes, two AAAYes, two AAYes, two AA
Backlight Yes, greenYes, blueNoYes, greenYes, blue
Dimensions (WxHxD) 4.75 x 3.4 x 1 inches8 x 6 x 1.6 inches6.2 x 4.2 x 1.8 inches6.5 x 4.5 x 1.5 inches5.4 x 3.4 x 1.1 inches
Display DigitalDigitalDigitalDigitalDigital
Programmable Yes, 5-2Yes, 5-2Yes, 5-2Yes, 5-1-1Yes, 5-2
emerson-17f8-151-thermostat-product-photos-1.jpg
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Emerson 1F78-151

Score Breakdown

Performance 7Usability 6Features 5Design 5
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