Hotel thermostats

With this blog posting I am launching a new article category “travel”.  It’s prompted by a recent Wall Street Journal article that confirmed what I had been suspecting for quite some time.  Yes, many modern hotel thermostats, the kind with a digital display, are rigged.  It turns out that many hotel thermostats lie about the temperature in the room.  Many hotel thermostats permit you to think that you have set the temperature to a particular level but the true “set point” is a different level that saves money for the hotel.

I had caught on some years ago that some hotel thermostats use passive-infrared sensors (basically burglar alarm motion sensors) to shut off the heat or air conditioning if no motion has been detected recently.  With such a thermostat you can wake up in the middle of the night in a too-hot room and by waving your hand around in the air, you can get the air conditioning working again.  You can see the PIR sensor in the lower right corner of the thermostat in the picture.

But the Wall Street Journal article confirms that some hotel thermostats simply lie to you.

It turns out that there are dozens of places on the Internet where you can learn how to override the fakery.  You identify the make and model of your hotel thermostat, do a web search, and likely as not you can find a page where somebody reveals how to get the temperature that you really want.  For the Honeywell Inncom thermostat in the picture, you follow these steps:

  • Press and hold the “display” key
  • Tap the “on/off” button (while still holding “display”)
  • Tap the “up” arrow button (again, while still holding “display”)
  • Release the “display” button

If you are lucky, this puts the thermostat into “VIP mode” and for the next 72 hours, you will get to set the room temperature the way you want, and the motion sensor will be disabled.

Having looked around in some frequent traveler internet discussion groups, I see that that recently Honeywell has released a more recent version of this thermostat that can’t be so easily overridden.

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