Smart thermostats do the kind of thinking you often don’t have time to do. The little devices learn your daily routines and create home heating and cooling schedules accordingly. They save you a considerable amount of money in the process.
The market for smart thermostats began a little over a decade ago with companies like Google and Ecobee. It has now expanded into a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Choosing the Best Smart Thermostat for Your Home
Not all smart thermostats are created equal. Some handle simple heating and cooling functions, basic scheduling, and programming options.
Others control more complex systems, taking charge of your home’s heating, cooling, dehumidifier, and ventilation apparatuses.
If you’re shopping for a smart thermostat, we suggest you consider only the best. Below is our take on three of the best smart thermostats in the market right now.
1. The Best of the Best
The new Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control is the company’s fifth-generation model. This new version offers more features than its predecessor, the Ecobee4.
The device comes with labels and a detailed installation guide, both of which make the setup process easy. You can use the labels to mark wires when you connect the thermostat to your home’s HVAC system.
The Smart Thermostat with Voice Control looks just like the Ecobee4. You get a device of the same size, the same glossy black screen over a white enclosure.
The new thermostat is equipped with a glass screen over its 3.5-inch, 480-by-320-pixel color touch display. There are two microphones on either side of the screen, too.
The microphones offer echo cancellation and more advanced audio processing than those of the Ecobee4.
In the rear plate, you’ll find 12 terminals. These allow you to connect the device to your home’s heating and air conditioning, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and other HVAC accessories.
The Ecobee Smart Thermostat comes with a single remote room SmartSensor. This allows the device to keep temperatures uniform throughout your house.
The new sensor offers an extended range and longer battery life than the previous model. You can purchase extra SmartSensors, too, if necessary.
Proximity and occupancy sensors tell the thermostat if you are home or away. The device will consequently switch to a preset target temperature in order to conserve energy.
The thermostat’s Wi-Fi circuitry allows you to connect the thermostat to a 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-Fi radio band.
Just like the Ecobee4, the Smart Thermostat with Voice supports Amazon Alexa voice technology. This means you can use it as you would an Amazon Echo device.
Ecobee has added support for Alexa Calling, Messaging, and Drop-In for this newer model. In addition to Amazon Music, iHeart Radio, and Pandora music streaming, you can now stream Spotify music directly from the thermostat.
You can control the thermostat using the same Android and iOS mobile app as the Ecobee4. You can also use the touch screen, the built-in voice services, or from a PC using a web console.
The thermostat likewise works with Apple’s HomeKit platform, Google Assistant, and Siri voice commands.
The device will communicate with other smart home devices that support IFTTT applets. You can add it to the SmartThings, Vera, and Wink home automation systems.
The app’s home screen shows the current room temperature and has a slider for setting the target temperature.
The thermostat performed well on all fronts during our testing. It responded instantly to temperature change commands. This was true whether we used the mobile app, a PC, or Alexa and Siri voice commands.
The device also followed heating and cooling schedules precisely. As with the Ecobee4, the thermostat worked wonderfully with a HomeKit scene.
Our verdict? We found the new Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control quite impressive. While it does command a rather steep price, we say it’s the best in the market right now. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a thermostat that offers as many features.
Integrates seamlessly with your preferred smart home system. Compatibility: Gas, Oil, Electric, Dual-fuel, Conventional (2H/2C), Heat Pump (4H/2C), Humidifier, Dehumidifier, Ventilator, HRV or ER
2. A Strong Runner-Up
The third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat has all the smarts of its predecessors and adds some new features. This newer model includes a larger display, geofencing support, a furnace monitor, and a few more sensors.
Size-wise, the third-generation Nest is about the same as the last version. The ring of brushed stainless steel is 3.3 inches in diameter and 1.26 inches thick. The device has a wonderful, weighty feel, especially when you rotate the dial.
We encountered no difficulties installing the device in our test home. If you know how to use a screwdriver, you can probably install the Nest yourself in about half an hour.
Not only does Nest provide easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions, but it even includes a screwdriver.
On booting the device, the Nest will walk you through a few on-screen menus to complete the setup process. This includes connecting to your Wi-Fi network, setting your preferred temperatures, and registering an online account.
This smart thermostat requires about a week or so to learn your heating and cooling preferences. Its key features include Auto-schedule, which allows the device to learn the temperatures you like and automatically program itself.
There is the Auto-away mode, which turns the temperature down when it senses you’re not home. The Furnace Heads-Up feature alerts you when the device detects irregular shutoff patterns in your furnace.
Unlike the Ecobee SmartThermostat, the Nest covers only one area. You cannot pair it with sensors in other rooms. But if you purchase additional Nest thermostats, they will work in concert with each other.
One of the key selling points of any smart thermostat is its ability to connect with other smart appliances. This Google-owned product is not compatible with Apple’s HomeKit program.
But the Nest will work with Google Assistant, Alexa, as well as Nest’s own Works with Nest program.
The Works with Nest program allows you to connect and control the thermostat with other smart home devices. These include Philips Hue lights, smart locks, and more.
However, Google says it’s phasing out the program. The company is encouraging users to switch their Nest accounts to Google Assistant accounts.
If you currently have a Nest account, we advise against switching over for the moment. Google Assistant lacks most of the functionality found in Works with Nest.
All in all, we say the new Nest Learning Thermostat is an excellent device. It’s easy to install and use, and can connect to a range of other smart home devices.
When compared to the Ecobee, we think the Nest is the more attractive of the two devices. Still, the Ecobee has a slight edge because its secondary sensors let you easily monitor the temperature in other rooms.
But that doesn’t make the Nest any less compelling. This device learns your behavior and automatically adjusts your home’s temperature to suit your needs. That’s as smart as any smart thermostat can get.
- No more programming: With Auto-Schedule, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat learns from you and programs itself.
- Home/Away Assist: don't heat or cool an empty home. Home/Away Assist adjusts the temperature after you leave.
3. The Best Budget-Friendly Option
CNET claims Honeywell designed one of its earlier smart thermostats to compete with the Nest Learning Thermostat. In fact, Honeywell went so far as to file a patent infringement suit against Google in 2012.
Does Honeywell’s newest smart thermostat keep pace with its competitors in the market? We tested the Honeywell RTH9585WF1004 WiFi Smart Color Thermostat for a few weeks to evaluate its performance.
This Honeywell thermostat is a great option for homeowners who want a device that’s easy to use and read.
The experienced DIYer should have no difficulty installing this device. The wiring is the most difficult part of the process. Be sure you have a C wire ready. You should also label the wires correctly based on your old thermostat.
Other than that, you’ll find virtually everything you need to get the unit up and running inside the box. There are the thermostat, which measures 4.5 inches wide and 3.5 inches tall, a wall plate, screws, and anchors.
The device also comes with wire labels, a user guide, and a quick start guide. The only tool you’ll need is a screwdriver.
Once you get the thermostat installed, you just need to connect to your Wi-Fi network. To get the most out of this thermostat, you need a Total Connect Comfort account.
The app is available on Google Play for Android. You can get it from the iTunes store if you use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
When you sign up, you can register your thermostat online and then control it from your smartphone or computer.
The screen is in full color. You have several different themes to choose from, too. The screen color is rich and vibrant, giving the thermostat a sleek, high-tech appearance.
On the app’s home page, you’ll see a list of all of your connected Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostats.
You can customize the names of each to distinguish among them. Then you can select the thermostat you want to adjust and you get a quick rundown of its status. If you tap the Weather option, you can see more information about the day’s weather forecast.
You can have the system remind you to replace your air filter or your humidifier pad. The device will alert you in the event of extremely high or low temperatures, as well. But probably its best feature is the ability to use your energy company’s peak pricing to save you money.
Using the Smart Response Technology, the thermostat will change settings to ensure maximum comfort when you are home. Accordingly, the device will adjust to save you money when you are away.
SAVE ENERGY AND GET REWARDED by checking with your energy provider about available energy savings rebates to save on your purchase (use rebate finder link above). Plus, eligible customers can enroll in ongoing energy savings incentives with their energy provider to keep saving all year long.
Our take? The Honeywell RTH9585 smart thermostat is an excellent option if you’re looking for a mid-range smart thermostat.
True, with this device, you won’t get the bells and whistles and extra functionalities of the Ecobee or Nest. But an Ecobee or Nest Learning thermostat will command a premium price. For its lower price range, the Honeywell RTH9585 is a fantastic value and selection.