Best Smart Thermostats

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

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

57 Models Considered
35 Hours Researched
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.

Buying guide for best smart thermostats

Last Updated November 2019

Sometimes, you wake up feeling a little chilly, so you turn the heat up a few degrees to make your morning routine a little more comfortable. Ten hours later, you return to a house that is stiflingly hot. That's money you literally burned away. With a smart thermostat, that would never happen again. But how do you know which one is right for you?

The best smart thermostats are not only capable of complex programing, they know when you are home at an uncharacteristic time and can adapt. A smart thermostat with an app that provides you with detailed power usage reports along with money-saving tips is highly desirable. You will need one that is compatible with your current heating and cooling system, is reliable, and fits in with your home decor.

If you're ready to save money on your energy bill, you can purchase one of our favorite options. However, if you want to make the most informed choice possible, read on.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

  • 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.

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.

The team that worked on this review
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    Alvina
    Photographer
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    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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