Smart thermostats can totally change how you work with your home. For example, one might totally automate your temperature, while another gives you more control. We’ve compiled a list of our fave smart thermostats, and why they might be right for you.
What to Look for in a Smart Thermostat
You can’t just buy the best-looking smart thermostat and call it a day. Every smart thermostat has its strengths, and its best to align those with your needs. After all, what’s the point of buying a $200 thermostat if you have to fight with it all the time?
Here are a few features and quirks to consider before you buy a smart thermostat:
- AI and learning: Smart thermostats are bolstered by AI and learning algorithms that can automatically adjust the temperature of your home and save you money. These features are great for hands-on people who want a ton of control. They’re also great for people who want to save money without programming a thermostat.
- Geofencing: Some smart thermostats track your location and automatically adjust the temperature to save you money while you’re out. All of the thermostats in this article include optional geofencing features.
- Remote sensors: Some smart thermostats come with (or work with) remote temperature and motion sensors. When you put these in a bedroom or hallway, they help ensure the temperature in your home stays even. They also detect if people are home and adjust the temperature accordingly.
- Smart-home support: Make sure your smart thermostat plays nicely with your other devices. Most thermostats support Google Assistant and Alexa, but only a few support Apple HomeKit, If this, then that (IFTTT), or SmartThings.
- HVAC support: Most HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems are compatible with smart thermostats, but there are some rare exceptions. Before you buy a smart thermostat, make sure it’s compatible with your HVAC system.
- Your home’s wiring: Smart thermostats are fairly easy to install, as long as you have a low-voltage system. If you have a high-voltage system (or aren’t sure what that means), you might want to hire an electrician or ask a handy friend to help you. The brands in this article, ecobee, Nest, and Honeywell, all have installation and compatibility guides on their websites.
Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for, let’s jump in!
Best for Full Control: ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control
Smart thermostats offer more control and “tweakability” than their standard counterparts. If more control is your first priority, then the ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is likely the best choice for you.
Unlike other smart thermostats, the ecobee is sold with a remote sensor, which makes automatic temperature adjustments and “away” modes more accurate. Plus, everything on the ecobee is adjustable, and the thermostat is compatible with virtually all smart home platforms (Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, HomeKit, and SmartThings). It even has a built-in Alexa speaker so you can control the thermostat (and other smart home equipment) without a smart speaker.
The ecobee SmartThermostat also contains a new eco+ AI, which automates some of the thermostat’s temperature-adjusting and money-saving features. Unlike the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, though (we’ll get to that in a bit), you can tweak the ecobee’s automation features excessively, and it’ll never force you out of the driver’s seat.
If you’re turned off by the ecobee’s price tag, you might want to check out the older models: ecobee3 and ecobee4. They’re missing some of the newer features, like Alexa drop-in and Spotify connect, and they don’t yet have the eco+ AI. However, they’re still packed with enough controls and features to make any control freak happy.
Simplest: Google Nest Learning Thermostat
Not interested in micromanaging a thermostat? The Google Nest Learning Thermostat is built to learn your preferences and handle all the work for you. Its powerful AI automates temperature adjustments, and its scheduling features are fairly easy to manage. The Nest also places a huge emphasis on “away” features, which use the Nest’s motion-sensing and geofencing features to help you save on electricity. You can also buy remote sensors to expand the Nest’s capabilities.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is unprogrammable, but it’s built to learn your preferences and run on autopilot. After you use the Nest for a few weeks just as you would a regular thermostat, you’ll notice it can run your home’s temperature settings (and lower your electric bill) all on its own.
The only serious drawback to the Google Nest Learning Thermostat is its lack of broad smart-home compatibility. It works with Google Assistant, Alexa, and IFTTT, but not with Apple HomeKit or SmartThings.
If the Google Nest Learning Thermostat’s price tag doesn’t fit within your budget, check out the less expensive Google Nest Thermostat E. It isn’t compatible with as many HVAC systems as the Learning Thermostat. Still, it has the same software and automation features.
Best Budget Option: Honeywell Lyric T5
Honeywell is known mostly for standard “dumb” thermostats, but it also sells some of the best budget smart thermostats on the market, like the Honeywell Lyric T5. At about half the price of the Google Nest or ecobee thermostats, the Lyric T5 is packed with scheduling controls, geofencing features, and smart-home compatibility for voice control and automation.
The Lyric T5 doesn’t have the more advanced AI features, though. There’s no auto-learning, auto-adjusting, or motion sensing. This model is a step above your average “dumb” thermostat, which will be perfect for some people, but not enough for others.
Of course, the simplicity (and the price) of the Lyric T5 might appeal to you if you aren’t super-tech-savvy or obsessed with the thermostat. You can still build routines with Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, or SmartThings if you want to expand the T5’s controls.
Or, you can just control the thing from your phone and keep things as simple as possible.