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Best For Your Buck Product
Best bang for the buck
Emerson
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Best Of The Best Product
Best of the best
Nest
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How We Decided
  • 57 Models Considered
  • 35 Hours Spent
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 234 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Shopping Guide for Best Smart Thermostats

    Smart thermostats promise more convenience, greater control, and lower power bills than the thermostats of yesteryear.

    Technology has progressed from simple manual thermostats to programmable thermostats to today's smart thermostats.

    But what exactly makes them smart? And are some thermostats smarter than others?

    Finding answers to tough buying questions — like which thermostat to purchase for your home — is what we do best at BestReviews.

    To help consumers avoid expensive mistakes, we investigate the market and uncover the facts.

    Instead of accepting free offers from manufacturers, we use our own money to purchase products from the same places you do.

    We run independent tests, gather real owners’ feedback, and publish our results — complete and unbiased.

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    A smart thermostat isn't necessarily more accurate at setting temperature than a programmable one, though smart thermostats do offer much greater control.

    To complete our review on smart thermostats, we also spoke with BestReviews expert Matt, a mechanical engineering expert and CEO/founder of his own company, to get his input on some of the leading smart thermostat brands today.

    The smart thermostats in the matrix above are those that made it through our rigorous selection process and came out on top.

    But if you need to know more before committing to a smart thermostat, just keep reading.

    Matt
    Expert Consultant

    Matt graduated from Columbia University with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, then went on to become the founder and CEO of Computer Repair Doctor, a phone repair, computer repair, and laptop repair company with locations throughout the United States. Matt and his team of tech doctors are experts in consumer electronics of all types – there is no device they can’t fix!


    Matt  |  Consumer Electronics Expert

    What Makes a Thermostat Smart?

    What makes a thermostat smart? There’s no straightforward answer to that question, because each model has different features. But smart thermostats offer several (and sometimes all) of the following cool benefits.

    • Complex temperature scheduling

    • Learning ability: knows when you leave and return, and/or can detect if you are home at an unusual time

    • Humidity sensors

    • Remote control via WiFi

    • Monitoring and control from virtually anywhere via app for laptop, phone, or tablet

    • Touch-screen control

    • Voice recognition (requires additional device)

    • Email alerts

    • Detailed power consumption reports and money-saving suggestions

    • Integration with smart home systems

    Product in Depth

    Product in Depth

    Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation

    Best of the best

    The product that first popularized smart thermostats still stands at the top of its field. Nest Labs introduced the first smart thermostat in 2011. Back then, the boss was Tony Fadell, who had previously been involved in the introduction of the iPod. The 3rd Generation Nest Learning Thermostat offers a compelling combination of DIY friendliness, sophisticated design, easy-to-use features, and automatic energy-saving settings. You do pay something of a premium, but the 3rd Generation Nest is, without question, an incredible product.

    Considerations

    Smart thermostats offer tremendous convenience, particularly with the busy lives we lead today. However, there's more to choosing the best smart thermostat than just brains.

    Considerations

    Compatibility

    There are hundreds of heating and cooling systems, and that number is multiplied by possible combinations. Although smart thermostat makers try to cover all the bases, there's always a chance of incompatibility. It's vital that your chosen model works with your home’s existing equipment.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you install the Nest in a room that sees infrequent use, it can have a hard time creating an accurate schedule.


    Matt  | Consumer Electronics Expert
    Considerations

    Installation

    Every manufacturer claims their device is easy to install, with some offering online videos to help you. Many owners agree, saying that if you can wire a light switch, you have all the skills necessary.

    However, if the power between your furnace and thermostat fluctuates — and there's a good chance it does — you'll probably suffer intermittent WiFi failures. Many systems use a common wire, or “C-wire,” to ensure constant flow. If you don't currently have a C-wire, getting it fitted by an electrician can easily cost $150 or more. It’s important to find out what your current system has and what your smart thermostat needs.

    The instructions may say “easy to install,” but if in doubt, always call a qualified electrician.

    Staff
    BestReviews
    Considerations

    Integration

    Smart thermostats are an ideal addition to a smart home, giving you the ability to control an ever-expanding range of in-house appliances from almost anywhere. Wink Hub, Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa/Echo, Vera, IFTTT, and SmartThings are just a few of an increasing number of such integrated networks.

    If you're building a smart home, you'll want to investigate which smart thermostats are compatible with your network.

    Product in Depth

    Product in Depth

    Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat 1F86U-42WF for Smart Home

    Compatibility

    Compatibility is an important component of any new smart thermostat; it must work with your current system in order for it to be worth your money. The surprise in the “compatibility” category is the low-cost Emerson Sensi. It can be controlled by Wi-Fi or app or, with the right extras, even voice. It's compatible with more systems than some models twice its price, and installation is easy. A winner of J.D. Power’s top customer satisfaction award, we rate the Emerson Sensi just as highly.

    Considerations

    Reliability

    Modern electronics tend to be extremely reliable. We've looked at feedback from thousands of users and found few problems. There are complaints about WiFi stability and a few about confusing instructions, but there are hardly any complaints about actual functionality.

    Considerations

    Aesthetics

    Some people like a smart thermostat with a colorful touchscreens. Others prefer a less obtrusive look. Fortunately, the market offers a host of aesthetically pleasing options.

    EXPERT TIP

    With both the lowest price and the longest warranty, the ecobee3 Smarter Thermostat is hard to beat.


    Matt  | Consumer Electronics Expert
    Considerations

    Price

    Do smart thermostats save you money? Yes. If you use the technology to its fullest, you will save money on your energy bills. Some manufacturers claim that amount can be over 20%. But there are a few provisos.

    • There's a learning curve for getting the best from your smart thermostat. It's all too easy to simply ensure your home is at the temperature you want and not take it any further.

    • To really make an impact, you need to look at the feedback the thermostat generates and be proactive.

    Understanding what your smart thermostat tells you, like your usage patterns, is key to saving money.

    Staff
    BestReviews
    • It may be a while until your initial investment is returned. Many homes have more than one thermostat, and in most cases, they will need to be individually replaced. If you've got three thermostats now, you'll need three smart thermostats.

    • Though there are thermostats that provide multiple sensors, there are still initial costs involved.

    The best smart thermostats on today’s market range from $120 to $250.

    Product in Depth

    Product in Depth

    Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation

    Smart features

    If you're building a new home or undertaking a big remodeling project, an extensive feature set not only gives you greater flexibility, it likely includes a high degree of future-proofing. Of the products we looked at, the 3rd Generation Nest is one of the “smartest.” Nest offers a very useful online compatibility checker for their device.

    Is Buying a Smart Thermostat a Smart Idea?

    If you're happy with your current “non-smart” system, do you still need to upgrade? Here are a few things to consider:

    • A smart thermostat will save you money over time.

    • Smart thermostats allow you to make your home comfortable any time of year. You can match your heating and cooling needs to your lifestyle with remarkable precision.

    • Depending on the system, you can change the settings from your armchair or from the other side of the world.

    • Less energy consumption is better for the environment.

    The EPA says both programmable and smart thermostats save money. But with the smart version, you don’t have to remember to turn it on or off.

    Tips

    • As with traditional thermostats, smart versions should be installed away from drafts or hot spots that can give false readings.

    • WiFi controls your smart thermostat when you're at home. If you want to control your thermostat from across town or across the world, you need a mobile app.

    • Though manufactures may say it isn't necessary, a C-wire is the most reliable solution.

    • Voice-compatible smart thermostats still need another device, like Amazon Echo, for example.

    • If you're concerned about younger family members adjusting settings on your smart thermostat, look for a model with password or lock-out options.

    • Low-cost smart thermostats offer plenty of options if you're on a budget. But if you're creating a fully integrated home, look to the higher end.

    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Digital Content Strategist
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
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