The best smart thermostat – CNET

Sure, a smart thermostat It manages your home’s heating and cooling system, but it does much more than that. A smart thermostat is an app-enabled device loaded with tons of features that you can control from your phone, whether you’re on vacation and want to check on your home or sitting on the couch and just don’t want to get up to change the settings. And because it’s a “smart” device, many of the leading smart thermostats can be controlled with Alexa, google assistant either Siri voice commands through a compatible Intelligent Screen either spokesman.

Some smart thermostats also use occupancy sensors to determine if you’re home or away to automatically change the temperature for you. Other thermostats automatically switch between home mode and away mode based on the location of your phone. Some even employ remote temperature and proximity sensors to extend your thermostat’s sensing range to other parts of your home.

To go along with these modern features, many connected thermostats offer innovative designs. Starting from a Round shape to a responsive touch screen, smart thermostats look very different than traditional models. They can also send you smart alerts, sync with the rest of your smart home devices, and provide details about your HVAC system’s energy use over time.

Without further ado, let’s explore the best smart thermostats.

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The Amazon Smart Thermostat is the least expensive smart thermostat I’ve ever tried. It works through the Alexa app and with Alexa voice commands. You need an Alexa-enabled smart speaker or display to use voice commands, but you don’t have to enable an Alexa skill as this is an Amazon-branded product.

This thermostat is Energy Star certified and saves an average of $50 on an annual energy bill. It has a simple, modern design and an optional wall plate if you need to cover up old paint or holes. The touchscreen interface is minimal, but it makes it easy to adjust the thermostat and switch between heating, cooling, and other basic settings.

Amazon’s Smart Thermostat doesn’t support Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit, and there’s no remote temperature sensor accessory. You also need a C-wire or you have to purchase and install the C-wire adapter.

This is a solid product overall, but ultimately its incredible value is what sets it apart and makes it our current favorite. Read our Amazon Smart Thermostat review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Listing at $250, the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is pricey, but it has the performance and features to back it up, especially if you want to talk to Alexa. without having to buy an Amazon Echo. This model also works with Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, in addition to Spotify. If you want a connected thermostat, the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control is the smartest.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The Honeywell Home T9 is a $200 Wi-Fi thermostat with a touch screen and a smart room sensor. The T9 works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit and offers reliable performance and a robust app. The device also comes with remote humidity, proximity, and temperature sensors, making it the smartest sensor accessory out there. The Nest sensor only provides ambient temperature readings, while the Ecobee sensor only has temperature and proximity sensing capabilities.

Read our review of the Resideo Honeywell Home T9 Smart Thermostat.

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Smart Thermostat FAQ

What is the most reliable smart thermostat?

Since thermostat performance can vary based on different HVAC systems, electrical wiring, and other factors, I can’t say definitively that one particular model is more reliable than another.

I can say that the four smart thermostats I previously recommended (the Amazon Smart Thermostat, the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control, the Resideo Honeywell Home T9, and the Nest Learning Thermostat) performed reliably during my tests.

By that I mean that each of those smart thermostats consistently adjusted the temperature, settings, and mode as expected over the days that I tested them. Always consult a professional electrician if you have any questions about your HVAC system’s compatibility with a particular thermostat before installing it.

Are smart thermostats really worth it?

Whether or not a smart thermostat is worth it depends on how you use it, and what exactly you mean by “worth it.”

Smart thermostats make it easy to use less energy and save money because of their advanced features, but you have to take advantage of those features to see a benefit.

Options like automatic home/away modes based on your phone’s location, or proximity-sensing sensors on your thermostat and remote fixtures, can go a long way toward lowering your monthly bill. Plus, by taking the time to review the energy usage reports provided by smart thermostat companies, you’ll be able to spot patterns and potentially save even more money.

But smart thermostats are also more expensive than standard non-smart models. Therefore, you need to think long term when it comes to savings. It could take a year or more to start saving more than you spent on a smart thermostat, especially a $250 model like the Nest Learning Thermostat or the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control.

How do I install a smart thermostat?

How to install a smart thermostat can vary widely depending on your HVAC system. Hire a professional electrician to handle the installation or answer any questions before attempting the installation yourself.

That said, all of the smart thermostats I’ve tested follow a fairly consistent step-by-step process. If you’re comfortable with basic electrical work and know if your system is compatible with the specific model you want to buy, it’s a simple DIY process.

Check out my article on how to install your Nest Thermostat for a basic overview of the steps, but remember that it can vary depending on the system you have in your home.

testing a thermostat

Let’s talk about the tests. Smart thermostats start with installation. Installations can vary greatly from thermostat to thermostat and between HVAC systems, but some basic steps are required to install these devices. As always, consult a professional installer if you have any questions about the installation process. These are the general steps:

  • Turn off the power to your thermostat at the circuit breaker
  • Remove the old thermostat
  • Install the thermostat base plate with the included screws.
  • Connect the wires to the wire terminals.
  • snap on faceplate
  • Turn on the power at the circuit breaker

Was it especially difficult to install the thermostat settings? If so, why? Certain models require a C-wire, for example, which can complicate installation if you don’t have one. Not sure what a C wire is? Start here.

From there, I move on to the application. Every smart thermostat has one. I download the app and create an account if I don’t already have one. Then I configure the thermostat following the steps in the app. This usually means connecting to your local Wi-Fi network, giving your thermostat a name like “Hallway” or “Bedroom,” and then you can start using your thermostat.

How well does the app work? Is it easy to navigate to the thermostat settings you need? Is it easy to create a schedule or enable geofencing? This influences the thermostat’s usability score, along with how simple it is to manually control the thermostat’s hardware.

I also test smart home integration, especially voice-enabled systems that you can access through voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. Most connected thermostats have compatibility with at least one voice assistant, and some work with all three. Do the voice commands flow naturally, as they would in a real conversation? Did the thermostat actually adjust the temperature (heating and cooling) according to your commands?

All of these things determine a smart thermostat’s overall score and how likely I am to recommend it. Here is an updated list of the models we have tested lately:

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