There are plenty of options when it comes to great smart home devices, but few have the potential to impact your overall comfort more than a Wi-Fi thermostat. If you want to remotely control the temperature in your home, save energy with more efficient heating/cooling, or just want to engage in the longstanding thermostat war with your significant other from anywhere in the world, a smart programmable thermostat is for you.
After extensive testing, we can confidently say that the Nest Learning Thermostat(available at Amazon) is the best smart thermostat. Its easy setup, intuitive controls, and voice-controlled personal assistant compatibility make it the best choice, regardless of your experience with smart home products. Looking for something cheaper? The Wyze Smart Thermostat (available at Amazon) is full of features and value.
These are the best smart thermostats we tested, ranked in order:
Nest Learning Thermostat
Wyze Smart Thermostat
Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Thermostat
Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control
Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat
Honeywell Lyric Round Thermostat
Amazon Smart Thermostat
Ecobee3 Lite Thermostat
Honeywell Lyric T5 Smart Thermostat
Honeywell Home T9 Smart Thermostat
Glas Smart Thermostat by Johnson Controls
Lux Kono Smart Thermostat
Nest Learning Thermostat
Google's Nest Learning Thermostat is one of the biggest names in the space, partially because it was one of the first well-designed connected thermostats on the market. But now, nearly 10 years after its introduction, it's still the best smart thermostat for most people, thanks to its sleek, intuitive design and robust set of smart features.
If you've ever used an iPod, the Nest Thermostat will be familiar to you—in fact, it was designed by Tony Fadell, the designer of the original iPod hardware. Changing the temperature is as simple as rotating the thermostat's dial. You can use the app to set a traditional time-of-day schedule—far simpler than most non-smart thermostats—or let the Nest learn your daily habits and adjust the temperature automatically. This feature is great for those who don't want to put in any effort, but might be a bit too confusing for people who like to fine-tune their schedules, so you can turn it off if you wish.
Like many other smart thermostats, the Nest can save you money and energy by adjusting the temperature when you aren't home, as determined by your phone's location and the Nest's built-in motion sensors, and it's also compatible with the energy-saving plans and rebates offered by many utility companies. You can adjust it with your voice using Alexa or Google Assistant and even get reminders when it's time to change your HVAC filter. Nest offers sensors you can put in different rooms to adjust the temperature based on where you are at any given time—but their functionality is limited compared to competitors like Ecobee and Honeywell. Still, overall the Nest is so easy to use that we think it's the best overall.
Our only other gripe with the Nest—besides its heftier price tag (which, again, rebates can help with)—is its setup. The actual process is quite easy, and the Nest app will walk you through it step-by-step if you've never installed a thermostat before. But in an effort to stay simple and compatible with a wide variety of heating and cool systems, the Nest uses a workaround to draw power in homes without a common wire (or C-wire). The thermostat will function normally in most cases, but can cause problems with certain HVAC systems. If your home doesn't have a C-wire, we recommend having an HVAC professional install one, or using a thermostat like the Ecobee Smart Thermostat which uses a slightly more complex (but reliable) conversion kit to power itself.
Wyze, the budget-focused smart home company that's been releasing great products left and right, now has a thermostat to compete with the likes of Nest. For a fraction of the price of other smart thermostats, you get a quality product with a good amount of features, making it an incredible value. The mobile app's step-by-step walkthrough makes setup easy, and it'll even help you create your first schedule and decide how much you favor comfort over energy savings—which affects how quick you want the temperature to be ready when you arrive home, how quickly it responds to temperature changes, and so on.
Like the Nest, it has a motion sensor that turns the screen on when you walk by, so you can see the current temperature of your room. The knob works very similarly to Nest's rotating wheel as well—you just turn it to adjust the temperature. If you're on Auto mode, you turn the wheel to select the Heat or Cool mode, then press inward to select that option and adjust the temperature. The button is a bit hard to press, though, with a bit more resistance than most people would expect, which can be a bit annoying. The knob also feels just a tad on the cheap side, but this isn't much of a complaint—the whole unit still feels much nicer than its price tag would suggest.
Finally, schedule creation lets you choose presets for Home, Away, and Sleep—though Wyze doesn't allow you to create custom presets beyond those three. Then, you schedule when you want those presets to happen throughout the week. Wyze also offers a number of advanced options, like how often the fan cycles, the minimum run time, and even a temperature correction if you find the thermostat's measurements are off by one or two degrees. For such an affordable device, it has rather fine-grained controls, while still being pretty easy to use, and Wyze is promising even more advanced features, including individual room sensors and a "learning" feature similar to Nest. It doesn't support Siri, but for Alexa and Google users, it's tough to beat for the price—even when compared with more expensive options.
Whitson Gordon, a freelance tech writer charged with testing smart home gadgets (among other things) here at Reviewed, contributed to the testing for this guide. Gordon has been writing about tech professionally for over 10 years, from building computers to setting up smart homes. He served as the editor-in-chief of Lifehacker and How-To Geek before starting a freelance career writing guides for publications like The New York Times and PCMag.
Rachel Murphy, Reviewed's smart home senior staff writer, also contributed to the testing in this guide.
We tested smart thermostats in a real home using a standard HVAC system which includes a C-wire. We also tested some of the thermostats rig built by Reviewed’s Chief Scientist, Dave Ellerby, using a five-wire setup commonly found on most HVAC systems: W for heat, Y for cooling, G for a fan, R for 24V AC, and C for 24 AC common. We have noted their compatibility with non-C-wire-equipped systems where applicable.
For each thermostat, we safely switched off the HVAC circuit breaker, installed the backplate, mounted the front of the thermostat, and configured it with the smartphone app on both an iPhone and Android phone.
Once we had successfully installed and programmed the thermostat, we let it run while we tested out the app, the thermostat's responsiveness, and voice assistant functionality. Using Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, ,we put the thermostats through their paces.
We also tried out the extra features on each thermostat to make sure that they are actually useful. This primarily includes scheduling and geofencing, but can also include other features like room sensors.
What You Should Know About Buying Smart Thermostats
If you're shopping for a smart programmable thermostat, be sure to answer these questions before you buy anything:
What kind of cooling and heating system do you have? Make sure you know your system before you buy a thermostat designed for central air.
Will your current HVAC setup work with a smart thermostat? (You may want to consult a professional before continuing.)
Do you have a C-wire? Most smart thermostats require a C-wire. Some thermostats will work without it or may require a separate conversion kit or adapter.
How much smart functionality do you want? Are geofencing (location-based) or "learning" requirements, or do you just need basic remote access from your phone?
Do you use smart assistants like Amazon Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant? Are they compatible with the smart thermostat you're investigating?
Is the wall behind your current thermostat clean/neat enough to be exposed, if you replace your current model with a smaller thermostat? If not, are you willing to patch and/or paint that area?
Will you want to install the smart thermostat yourself, or will you want a contractor to do it? Keep in mind that contractors may favor smart thermostats not available for resale.
Finally—and perhaps most importantly—who will use this thermostat, and what is their level of tech-savviness? Just because you're comfortable using complex smart devices doesn't mean your spouse, roommate, or kids are, which may impact the thermostat you ultimately choose to buy.
We've addressed these concerns (and more) in our buying guide here, so be sure to read the entries thoroughly if you want to get the best smart thermostat for your family.
There’s always a potential privacy risk involved when you use internet-connected devices at home. To help safeguard your smart home, there are some steps you can take. First, look for devices that offer two-factor authentication, which sends a code to your mobile device to verify it’s really you. That way, if someone tries to hack into your account, you will receive an alert and can quickly take care of the problem. Many devices also allow you to activate email or other push notifications in the settings to alert you if someone has logged on.
Additionally, make sure to use a unique, strong password composed of multiple characters, numbers, and letters for each of your smart home accounts. Data breaches feel like the norm as of late, making it all the more important to use different passwords across multiple websites and apps.
The Nest Thermostat is a more basic version of our No. 1 pick for smart thermostats, the Nest Learning Thermostat. It’s compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and it can be controlled remotely via the Google Home app. Unlike the Nest Learning Thermostat, it does not work with the Nest app and cannot learn your temperature preferences over time.
However, the new Nest Thermostat includes comparable features to the Nest Learning Thermostat like Eco Mode, Home/Away Assist, and scheduling features to help you save on energy costs, offering good value for the money. We found these settings easy to adjust within the Google Home app and enjoyed reviewing the energy reports, which offer helpful insights into when your unit is running and for how long.
The first HVAC system we tried to test the thermostat on didn’t have a C-wire, and we experienced some unpredictable behavior that Nest attributed to the lack of a C-wire. With the second system, we had a few hiccups during the setup process, but Nest customer service sent us a new thermostat right away, and once connected, the thermostat performed well at heating and cooling. Everything you need to get started is in the box, except the trim kit, which can be purchased separately.
The Emerson Sensi Touch, our previous Best Value pick, isn't a household name in the smart thermostat space (even among tech nerds like us), but it occupies a good niche: it's the most similar to a traditional thermostat in terms of ease of use. Setup is a piece of cake (as long as you have a C-wire, which is required), and the app walks you through everything you need to know. We were able to get it set up in a few minutes.
The thermostat's touch screen doesn't include too many buttons or fancy gestures, just an up and down arrow that lets you adjust the temperature. It doesn't have a motion sensor that wakes the screen up like other thermostats, but you can wake it up with a tap of your finger and tweak its sleep settings so it isn't lighting up the room at night. In our tests, the Sensi was very responsive, kicking in as soon as we adjusted the temperature, and we didn't have any problems maintaining connectivity, either over Wi-Fi or via cellular data.
Within the app, you get some useful adjustments (like minimum and maximum temperatures), basic geofencing, and voice assistant support. The app can be a bit clunky to use at times—schedules, for example, required some unintuitive gestures to set up—but it's not frustrating to use by any means. If the Nest is intuitive for those familiar with ubiquitous technology like the iPod, the Sensi Touch is ideal for less tech-savvy folks who are used to the way traditional thermostats work—but want the ability to adjust it from afar.
While the Nest aims to be easy and hassle-free, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is more about creating an incredibly feature-rich system. It uses a touch screen with a drag-to-adjust slider for changing the temperature, alongside a plethora of settings to tweak. In my experience, the touch slider is a bit under-sensitive, making it a tad annoying to adjust the temperature from the thermostat itself, but this is a small gripe—especially when you consider the Ecobee has Amazon Alexa microphones built-in, so you can adjust the temperature with your voice instead. Its included conversion kit is also great for systems that don't have a C-wire, though it does add some complexity to the setup process.
Ecobee's scheduling may seem confusing at first blush, but it's nice once you get the hang of it: instead of merely setting temperatures based on time of day, you set your desired "comfort settings" for different instances: like setting the AC to 76 when you're at home, 80 when away, 74 when sleeping, and so on. Then you schedule those comfort settings for certain times of day, or assign them to Ecobee's external room sensors. For example: we have the Ecobee switch to the "sleep" temperatures when our toddlers are napping in the afternoon, and it uses the sensors in their room to determine the temperature rather than the thermostat's sensor in the living room.
Options like this make the Ecobee extremely powerful, alongside its geofencing features, community rebates, and other eco-monitoring options. Personally, I'd rather use an Echo or Echo Dot than the microphones in the thermostat—Amazon cripples a few too many features in third-party Alexa devices—but even if those weren't included, this is the most powerful thermostat for tinkerers who want everything just so.
Sensi's standard Wi-Fi thermostat has nearly identical functionality to its touch-screen sibling, but with a more traditional form factor. In fact, not only does it look like a traditional thermostat (which may be a pro or a con depending on your preferences), but its wiring is more old-school as well, requiring a screwdriver for each contact. It also allows for batteries to power the thermostat interface, and with some HVAC configurations, you might be able to use this in place of a C-wire—but we'd recommend contacting a professional before doing so.
Despite the interface having actual buttons rather than a touch screen, the usability is nearly identical to that of the Sensi Touch thermostat, though it does not have the ability to set up temperature and humidity notifications. In the Sensi Wi-Fi thermostat, the only HVAC settings are heat, cool, and off—which may be enough to dissuade some users from buying it, given that auto is such a useful feature in those in-between seasons like spring and fall.
The flexible scheduling and geofencing found in the Sensi Touch thermostat are also present in the Sensi Wi-Fi thermostat, and we were able to successfully change the temperature with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Remote access with mobile data worked beautifully as well, though we did experience connectivity issues when we tested this thermostat last year, where the device would be unavailable from the smartphone app despite the internet working.
Honeywell's Lyric thermostat sports a round shape similar to the Nest, though it has two touch buttons on its face as well as a rotating dial. Setup was straightforward, and the Honeywell Lyric app is initially easy to understand and to use. We liked the dial-turning method of changing the temperature, and how the motion detector on the thermostat sensed when we were nearby and lit up the display.
We weren't as keen on the scheduling part of the app, which defaults to the geofencing feature. For setting more specific weekly temperature schedules, we had to dig further into the app, and that's when it got a bit clunky and hard to operate. Overall it worked fine—changing the temperature was straightforward, and notifications for high/low temperature and humidity offer nice peace of mind. But overall it's not as well-designed as the other thermostats we tested.
The Amazon Smart Thermostat is a simple, smart, and stylish smart thermostat that fits in flawlessly with Amazon Echo ecosystem. The device offers location-based learning features (Alexa Hunches) that can intuitively help you save on your monthly energy bill—a feature you'll usually find on more expensive smart thermostats.
The thermostat works well with Alexa voice control, as you might imagine, and is easy to manage in the Alexa app, where you can also view detailed insights about the device’s energy usage. With Hunches, Alexa can learn your habits and temperature preferences, automatically making adjustments to your HVAC system when you're at home and away. Alternatively, you can automate your thermostat by scheduling temperature changes up to four times a day, seven days a week in the app.
The thermostat looks more expensive than it is. We like the minimalist design with rounded edges that lends itself to any style of home. When it comes to usability, we found the thermostat straightforward to navigate and use. We especially like the large digital numbers that make it easy to see the temperature from across the room or in the dark.
As for downsides, it doesn't work with Google Home or Apple HomeKit smart home ecosystems, and there are no remote temperature sensors, which can be helpful for regulating the climate for larger houses. You'll also need a C-wire in order to use the thermostat. If you don't have one, Amazon sells a version of the thermostat with a C-wire adapter that's still a bargain.
Bottom line: If you need a value-packed smart thermostat that works beautifully with Alexa and the Amazon Echo ecosystem, you’ve got to go with the Amazon Smart Thermostat.
Ecobee's lower-cost "Lite" thermostat is very similar to its more expensive sibling: it has the same touch screen interface, the same app, and most of the same features. It's a bit slimmer, so it looks better against your wall, but doesn't come with the built-in Amazon Alexa microphones, nor does it come bundled with a room sensor. It does, however, still come with the power extender to accommodate those without a C-wire.
Whether it's worth the discount depends on your usage. Since it doesn't come with a room sensor—which is part of what makes Ecobee's thermostats great—you'll probably have to buy a 2-pack separately, which will bring you up to the same cost as the Ecobee SmartThermostat (though you'll have two sensors instead of one). If you don't plan on using the Amazon Alexa mics and prefer the slimmer profile, the Ecobee3 Lite is a great alternative.
The Honeywell Lyric T5 thermostat is the more basic cousin of the Honeywell Lyric Round thermostat. The full touchscreen on the T5 makes it easy to change the temperature and check the settings. The Lyric T5 lacks the motion sensor of the Lyric Round thermostat, but other than that, the experience with changing the temperature, geofencing, scheduling, and vocal assistant integration is identical.
The Lyric T5 looks a bit more industrial than the Lyric Round, with a square black profile with a slightly smaller footprint than those of standard thermostats. A new version of this thermostat is now available, but we haven't tested it. The new model, the Honeywell Home T5+, is available on Amazon.
The iDevices thermostat is probably the closest a smart thermostat can get to looking and feeling like an analog thermostat. Instead of a touch screen, the iDevices Thermostat has four physical buttons for temperature changes in addition to the app. The temperature display is small and the rectangular white body is slim, making for an unobtrusive profile. It's also one of the least expensive thermostats we tested, coming in under $100.
Setup was easy on our iOS device, though the Android process was slightly more involved. While the app itself is pretty basic (and does not offer geofencing), we found the “Override” setting and the scheduling module to be set up nicely. The “Override” setting allowed us to manually set the temperature and then set the exact time duration we wanted for that manual override before it reverted to the preset schedule. When creating a schedule, it’s easy to precisely dial in any temperature at any time of day. The iDevices thermostat responded well to commands from both Amazon Alexa and from Siri, as well as remotely with mobile data, and we didn't experience any connectivity issues.
Honeywell has been in the heating and cooling system business for over 100 years, but their smart thermostats haven't quite gained the recognition that other companies have. The Honeywell T9 deserves a bit more love than it gets, thanks to its balance between features and ease of use, though it does have a few small drawbacks that keep it from being best in class.
While other thermostat apps help you check your configuration and adjust the instructions accordingly, the Honeywell app doesn't walk you through the process at all, leaving you to fend for yourself with the paper instructions. Then, connecting it to the app is a slight hassle involving Airplane Mode, but once you're in, the app is great—it'll help you set up your schedules and geofencing right off the bat, and even prompt you to look for rebates. It's easy to use, and room sensors ensure you can keep a consistent temperature in whatever room you're currently using.
Unfortunately, there is a bit of a delay when you give the thermostat a command. In my testing, adjusting the temperature on my phone or through a voice assistant seemed to register on the thermostat's screen instantly—but the actual A/C wouldn't click on for a minute or so. This didn't happen with the Nest, Sensi, or Ecobee smart thermostats, and it's likely to drive some users a little batty. It's a good thermostat, it just doesn't quite overtake the others we tested.
Arguably the snazziest looking thermostat we tested, the Glas Smart Thermostat is undeniably futuristic, with its transparent OLED touch screen and built-in voice assistant. Unfortunately, that voice assistant is Microsoft's Cortana, which means you're either buying in fully to Microsoft's system (unlikely) or settling for something other than what your other smart speakers use. It's easy to ignore Cortana and just use your existing Amazon Echos or Google Homes, but it's a bummer that you're paying for functionality you might not even use.
Still, Glas is pretty neat, with a well-designed app that makes adjusting temperatures and setting schedules fairly easy. Unfortunately, that's where most of the big benefits end—setup was difficult thanks to some frustrating wire terminals, and there's no geofencing feature like the other thermostats we tested had. It wasn't very responsive to temperature changes from the app, either, often taking a minute or two to shut itself off when asked to. Given its steep price over its competitors, it's hard to fully recommend the Glas, unless you're willing to pay for aesthetics alone (and sacrifice features in the process).
The Lux Kono is a futuristic-looking thermostat, and it offers removable faceplates in multiple colors to match your decor. But in terms of usability, it was a distant finisher among the thermostats we tested. Setup was needlessly complicated compared to its competitors, with no in-app instructions until after you get Wi-Fi set up—which is difficult using only the thermostat's tiny LED screen and knob (as opposed to the high-res screen other thermostats provide).
The app was no better, with an absolute mess of an interface, overloaded with information and difficult to use, whether you're adjusting the current temperature or creating a schedule (which only allows you 2 or 4 "changes" per day—no more, no less—and splits heating and cooling schedules into two separate sections, even if you use Auto mode). The app looks like it used to be better, but apparently went through a redesign that was undoubtedly a step backward. Like the Honeywell and Glas thermostats, it often took minutes to respond to commands from the app (though Alexa and Google Assistant were strangely faster). Geofencing worked fine in our tests, but overall, there's little reason to use the Lux Kono over other, better-designed thermostats.
Rachel Murphy covers smart home for Reviewed. She lives in an actual smart home home full of smart plugs, smart lights, and smart speakers equipped with voice assistants Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Murphy holds a journalism degree from the University of Central Florida and has over a decade of experience reporting and writing. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Business Insider, Mashable, Elite Daily, and other major publications. Prior to her work in online journalism, Murphy worked as an associate editorial producer for ABC News' Good Morning America in New York City.
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