5 Best Smart Thermostats for a Smarter Home

From knowing when you'll be home from work to helping you reduce your energy usage, today's best programmable smart thermostats aren't just one-temperature wonders anymore.
Written by | Updated July 26, 2019
Best Overall
Nest Learning ThermostatNest Learning Thermostat
  • Intuitive design
  • Easy installation
  • Intuitive design
  • Easy installation
Best Voice Control
ecobee4 Smart ThermostatEcobee4
  • Built-in Amazon Alexa
  • Extra temperature sensor
  • Built-in Amazon Alexa
  • Extra temperature sensor
Best for Rentals
Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart ThermostatHoneywell Lyric T5
  • Under $100
  • Geofencing

Bottom Line on Smart Thermostats

The 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.

You can easily tie the Nest to your home security system or phone so it knows when you’re away and adjusts the temperature based on your preferences. 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. The Nest is more expensive than the other smart thermostats on our list, but we think it’s worth the higher price tag.

Compare the Best Smart Thermostats

Product
Price
Smart Home Intergration
Extra Temperature Sensors
Motion/Occupancy Sensor
Nest Learning Thermostat ecobee4 Smart Thermostat Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat Nest Thermostat E ecobee3 lite Smart Thermostat
Nest Ecobee4 Honeywell Lyric T5 Nest E Ecobee3 Lite
Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Walmart Check Price on Walmart
Amazon Alexa
Google Home
IFTTT
Amazon Alexa
Apple HomeKit
Google Home
IFTTT
Samsung SmartThings
Amazon Alexa
Apple HomeKit
Google Home
IFTTT
Amazon Alexa
Google Home
IFTTT
Amazon Alexa
Apple HomeKit
Google Home
IFTTT
Samsung SmartThings
Available, but not included 1 included Not available Available, but not included Available, but not included
Yes Yes No Yes Yes

Top Smart Thermostats

Reviews of the Best Smart Thermostats

Nest Learning Thermostat: Best User Interface

For the first week or two that you own the 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.

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. 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.

Pros

  • Temperature learning
  • Energy saving recommendations
  • Light sensors
  • Selected room preferences
  • Extreme temperature alerts
  • Motion sensors

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Glitchy app
  • Poor customer service

Ecobee4: Best Voice Control

If you like your Amazon Alexa, you’ll love the Ecobee4. It has an Alexa digital assistant built right into the thermostat, so you can use voice commands to change your temperature settings and more. In fact, you can perform all the same skills with your Ecobee4 that you can do with your Alexa, but you might want to leave the tunes to your Echo—the Ecobee4’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 Ecobee4 comes with an extra 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 Ecobee4 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.

Pros

  • Built-in Amazon Alexa
  • Separate temperature sensor
  • Compatibility with smart home products
  • Easy installation
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Connectivity issues
  • Low-quality speakers

Honeywell Lyric T5: Best for Rentals

When compared to some of the other smart thermostats on our list, the Honeywell Lyric T5 shines when it comes to price. At just under $100, 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. 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 Ecobee4’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.

Pros

  • Geofencing
  • Lock screen option
  • Low price
  • Temperature learning
  • Touch screen

Cons

  • Connectivity issues
  • Tricky installation
  • Limited set points

More Smart Thermostats That Are Worth a Look

Nest Thermostat E

While the Nest Thermostat E has many similar functions to its more striking and expensive big brother, it’s not as universally compatible with HVAC systems, putting it into our Honorable Mention category. It also doesn’t have the “Farsight” motion sensor with different display options like other Nest thermostats. But it does have an attractive white frosted screen design, it learns your schedule, and it uses geofencing to know when you’re out of the house. If it’s compatible with your system, it might be a good option for you.

Ecobee3 Lite

Like the Nest Thermostat E, the Ecobee3 Lite is a little simpler than its big brother, the Ecobee4. It doesn’t come with an extra sensor and there’s no Amazon Alexa inside, but it is compatible with Alexa and other smart home hubs like Wink Hub, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, 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 Ecobee4, but it’s not quite as user friendly as Nest.

Things to Consider Before You Buy

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.

Speaking of compatibility, if your goal is to create a smart home, make sure your smart thermostat is compatible with your other smart devices, including any smart outlets and your smart doorbell. Ensuring compatibility lets you take full advantage of all the smart features your devices have to offer, and it allows you to create integrated smart home scenarios that will save you time, energy, and money.

FAQs

Do power and gas companies offer any rebates to offset the cost of smart thermostats?

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.

Is Hive Active Heating the same as a smart thermostat?

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.

Are there such things as smart radiator thermostats?

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.

Ecobee vs. Nest: what’s the difference?

If smart thermostats were cars, Nest would be a luxury car, and Ecobee would be a nonluxury car that’s fully loaded. 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 Ecobee4 makes up for it by giving you more bang for your buck with an included temperature sensor and power extender kit, both of which would cost you extra with Nest.

How We Picked the Best Smart Thermostats

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.

 

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Written by Kasey Tross

Kasey Tross is a stay-at-home mom with four energetic kids, and she's married to a security expert, so safety is a top priority in the Tross home. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, hiking, playing the flute, helping out at church, and eating far more chocolate than she should. Learn more

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