Best Smart Thermostats for a Smarter Home

We researched five of the best smart thermostats on the market to find out which one is the best.
Best overall
Best for voice control
Ecobee SmartThermostat
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Built-in Amazon Alexa
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Remote temperature sensor
Best for rentals

The Google Nest Learning Thermostat* has been at the top of the smart thermostat game for a while now, and our list is no exception. It's stylish, easy to install, and can save you cash on your energy bills by running your HVAC in standby mode when you're not home.

Whether you're using the device on the wall or the Nest app on your phone, adjusting the temperature and thermostat settings is straightforward and intuitive. Nest is more expensive than most other smart thermostats, but we think it's worth the higher price tag.



Compare the best smart thermostats

Best overallBest for voice control Best for rentals Budget pick Design pick
copper nest thermostat with digital display of 70 deg. and green lightGoogle Nest Learning Thermostat
Ecobee SmartThermostat
Honeywell Lyric smart thermostatHoneywell Home T5+
Google Nest Thermostat
ecobee3 lite Smart ThermostatEcobee3 Lite
Price†
Remote temperature sensor
Icon Yes  LightAdd-on
Icon Yes  LightIncluded
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightAdd-on
Occupancy sensor
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Smart home integrationAmazon Alexa,
Google Assistant,
IFTTT
Amazon Alexa,
Apple HomeKit,
Google Assistant,
IFTTT,
Samsung SmartThings
Amazon Alexa,
Apple HomeKit,
Google Assistant,
IFTTT
Amazon Alexa,
Google Assistant,
IFTTT
Amazon Alexa,
Apple HomeKit,
Google Assistant,
IFTTT,
Samsung SmartThings

†Amazon.com list price as of 02/16/2021 at 2:53 p.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

Notepad
Take your time

Remember that even though they're called "smart devices," there's still a learning curve involved. Do your research ahead of time to make sure the smart thermostat you choose is compatible with your HVAC system, and then be patient while the thermostat learns your schedule, as it can take a week or more.

Best smart thermostats

1. Google Nest Learning Thermostat: Best overall

For the first week or two that you own the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, you change the temperature manually based on your comfort level so that the thermostat can get an idea for the temperatures you like at different times of day. After the learning period, it will automatically adjust the temperature for you throughout the day.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Temperature learning
Pro Bullet Energy saving recommendations
Pro Bullet Light and motion sensors
Pro Bullet Selected room preferences
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet High price tag
Con Bullet Glitchy app
Con Bullet Poor customer service

We like that it alerts you when it detects extreme temperatures, but it also has light sensors to compensate for direct sunlight, so you won't have to worry about wonky readings. The Nest also has a built-in "Farsight" motion sensor and will light up the customizable display when it senses someone in the room, even if you're 10 feet away.

And if you get additional temperature sensors, the thermostat will adjust based on temperature readings in rooms that might be far away from the thermostat itself.

It also works well with other Nest products, like Nest Protect and Nest Cam. For example, if a Nest Protect smoke/CO detector senses elevated carbon monoxide levels, the thermostat will shut off the furnace and the Nest cameras will record an emergency clip so you can see what’s happening.

Connecting the programmable thermostat to your phone or security system lets it know when you leave the house so it can save energy while you're gone. But some reviews say the temperature starts to adjust back to a comfortable level only when the Nest detects motion or "sees" your phone at home, so you might have a while to wait before it's on target.

2. Ecobee SmartThermostat: Best for voice control

Best for voice control

If you like your Amazon Alexa, you'll love the Ecobee SmartThermostat. It has an Alexa digital assistant built right into the thermostat, so you can use voice commands to change your temperature settings and more.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Built-in Amazon Alexa
Pro Bullet Remote temperature sensor
Pro Bullet Smart home compatibility
Pro Bullet Easy installation
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Connectivity issues
Con Bullet Low-quality speakers

In fact, you can perform all the same skills with your Ecobee SmartThermostat that you can do with your Alexa, but you might want to leave the tunes to your Echo—the Ecobee SmartThermostat's sound quality isn't great for playing music (it is still a thermostat, after all).

Also, if you don't want to confuse your other Alexa devices within hearing range of your Ecobee, you might want to change its wake name to "Echo" instead. The Ecobee SmartThermostat comes with a remote temperature sensor to help you regulate temperature throughout your home, and it's compatible with a wide variety of HVAC systems.

It's one of the easiest smart thermostats to install and set up, and it even comes with a power extender kit in case your old thermostat doesn't have a C-wire.

The biggest drawback of the Ecobee SmartThermostat is that with everything it has going on, it has a tendency to lose Wi-Fi signal frequently. The Ecobee app gets great reviews for iOS devices, but only mediocre ratings from Android users.

3. Honeywell Home T5+: Best for rentals

When compared to some of the other smart thermostats on our list, the Honeywell Home T5+ shines when it comes to price. You won't get a motion (occupancy) sensor or as many set points each day as Ecobee or Nest, but like those two, it does have a touchscreen, extreme temperature alerts, and geofencing.

 

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Geofencing
Pro Bullet Lock screen option
Pro Bullet Temperature learning
Pro Bullet Touchscreen
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Connectivity issues
Con Bullet Tricky installation
Con Bullet Limited set points

The screen lock feature makes this a great thermostat for rentals because it prevents anyone from messing with the thermostat settings without a specified PIN.

Honeywell's biggest flaw is the same as the Ecobee SmartThermostat's: it frequently loses Wi-Fi, and it alerts you on your phone every time it does. Most users say it comes back quickly with an app refresh, but the frequent lost signal alerts can get annoying. 

Installation is also tricky—the system has odd quirks like the air conditioning doesn’t kick in until five minutes after setup and you have to turn off your data while you're connecting your phone to the thermostat.

More smart thermostats we recommend

4. Google Nest Thermostat: Budget pick

While the Google Nest Thermostat has many similar functions to its more striking and expensive counterpart, it's not as universally compatible with HVAC systems. It also doesn't have the "Farsight" motion sensor with different display options like other Nest thermostats.

Fewer features aren't necessarily a bad thing because they make it one of the most affordable smart thermostats you can buy.

We especially like its simple design and easy setup for a reliable schedule. While it doesn't learn your routine automatically, it uses geofencing to know when you're out of the house for similar results. If it's compatible with your system, it might be a good option for you.

5. Ecobee3 Lite: Design pick

Like the Google Nest Thermostat, the Ecobee3 Lite is a simpler than its sibling, the Ecobee SmartThermostat. It doesn't come with a remote sensor and there's no Amazon Alexa inside, but it is compatible with Alexa and other smart home platforms like Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings.

You can buy extra Ecobee sensors if you want your thermostat to use temperatures in other rooms. The Ecobee3 Lite doesn't have as many Wi-Fi network issues as the more complicated Ecobee SmartThermostat, but it's not quite as user friendly as Nest thermostats.

Overall, it's a great alternative to Nest thermostats, though its attractive design seamlessly blends in with any home.

Light Bulb
Smart home compatibility

If your goal is to create a smart home, make sure your thermostat works with other smart devices like smart outlets, smart locks, and video doorbells. Ensuring compatibility helps you take full advantage of smart features on offer—and allows you to create smart home scenes to save time, energy, and money.

Final word

The Google Nest Learning Thermostat keeps up with your preferences so you can spend less time adjusting the temperature and have a smaller utility bill. You can easily tie the Nest to your home security system or phone so it knows when you're away and adjusts the temperature accordingly.

It's not the most affordable of thermostats, but its attractive, minimalist design and advanced features make it all the more worth it. If you're wondering where to go after getting your first smart thermostat, check out our beginner's guide to home automation.

Our approach

To find the best smart thermostats, we searched the web for the most talked-about devices on the market. We dug deeper by studying their specs and reading customer reviews to select our final top picks. Our full methodology explains more about how we review products.

FAQ

Yes, many utility companies offer rebates when you purchase certain items that improve your home’s energy efficiency, like programmable smart thermostats.

Expect to receive up to $100 of the purchase price back in rebates. Check out EnergyStar.gov to find out more about energy savings rebates offered in your area.

Yes and no. There are smart thermostatic valves for radiators that replace your regular thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) and act like mini thermostats for each radiator in your home or apartment.

They work by restricting the flow of hot water to a particular radiator once it reaches the temperature you set. Brands include Nest Energenie, Heat Genius, and Honeywell Evohome.

You can use the smart TRVs alone and operate them from the manufacturer’s app, or you can install a wall thermostat like a Nest to control them all from a central location in your home.

If smart thermostats were cars, Nest would be a luxury car, and Ecobee would be a fully-loaded standard car.

They both do pretty much the same things, but you’ll pay more for Nest’s stylish design, Farsight technology, and tactile adjustment ring.

The Ecobee SmartThermostat makes up for it by giving you more bang for your buck with built-in Alexa voice controls, an included temperature sensor, and a power extender kit—similar features cost extra with Nest.

Hive Active Heating works similarly to a smart thermostat in that it lets you control the temperature in your home remotely from an app.

But it’s only for heat—not air conditioning—and it can control your hot water heater as well as your heat pump.

Related articles


Disclaimers

*Google, Google Nest, Google Assistant and other marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

†Amazon.com list price as of 02/16/2021 at 2:53 p.m. (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Kasey Tross
Written by
Kasey Tross
Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers.

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