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Smart Thermostat Reviews & Buying Guide

If your current thermostat is programmable, it may seem like a waste of money to upgrade to a smart thermostat.

Smart thermostats do much more than conform to a schedule that you’ve programmed for the day or the week.

In this guide you will learn how a smart thermostat can better your life as we review some of the best smart thermostats on the market for your home.

Our Top 3 Picks For The Best Smart Thermostats:

  1. Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Gen)
  2. Ecobee3 Thermostat With Sensor (Editor’s Choice)
  3. Honeywell Lyric Round Wi-Fi Thermostat

But those aren’t the only smart thermostats that we would consider! Read on for more great options.

Smart Thermostat Reviews

Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation

Google Nest Learning Thermostat - Programmable Smart Thermostat for Home - 3rd Generation Nest Thermostat - Works with Alexa - Stainless Steel

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  • Learning tool, rather than programmable.
  • Round Display with manual dial for temporary adjustment.
  • Phone app for Droid or iPhone.

The Nest is a simple tool that learns as it goes. It will, over time, learn your schedule, work with your presence thanks to the motion detector, and respond to voice commands via Alexa.

You can run your Nest Learning Thermostat manually; simply turn the outside of the unit like a dial. Clockwise increases the temperature, counter-clockwise lowers it. When you hit on the ideal temperature for energy efficiency, a leaf will show up on your display.

Google Nest Learning Thermostat - Programmable Smart Thermostat for Home - 3rd Generation Nest Thermostat - Works with Alexa - Stainless Steel

If the Nest is not adjusting the temperature, the screen is black. When it’s warming up the house, it’s orange. When cooling, it turns blue.

If you like a simple display and a thermostat to match pale walls, this unit may not make you happy.

However, if paired with the Nest CO2 detector, it will turn off the furnace if this gas is detected.

Read our full Nest Learning Thermostat Review.

Ecobee3 Thermostat with Sensor

ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat with Remote Sensor, 2nd Generation

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  • Thermostat with multiple sensor additions if needed
  • Broad, black rectangular display
  • Customizable temperature zones for comfort across your home.

The Ecobee has multiple sensors so you can monitor the temperature in different rooms of your home.

If someone in your home, such as a new baby or an elderly guest, needs to remain a bit warmer than the rest of the house to stay safe and comfortable, this is an excellent choice for a smart thermostat.

The Ecobee3 is Wi-Fi enabled and will work with Amazon Alexa. You can run this tool via Droid or iPhone and the app works on tablets as well. Should your Wi-Fi fail you can still run this unit manually.

ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat with Remote Sensor, 2nd Generation

This smart thermostat is larger than the Nest and has a rectangular display screen.

Once you bring up the screen you can change the temperature by running your finger up and down the temperature display. You can also lock this screen or add a PIN to the tool so only those in the know can change the temperature.

Read our full Ecobee3 Review.

First Alert Onelink Thermostat

First Alert THERM-500 Onelink Wi-Fi Touchscreen Smart Thermostat

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  • Variety of display images to suit your decor
  • Easy to use app for programming
  • Large thermostat with white border; looks high tech and homey at once.

The First Alert smart thermostat is a work of art all on its own. The frame is a white rectangle and the display screen is a colorful representation of the season; this collection of photos is yours to customize.

First Alert THERM-500 Onelink Wi-Fi Touchscreen Smart Thermostat

You can run your First Alert smart thermostat with Alexa, your Android or your iPhone. The app is quick to download, intuitive to use and makes finishing up the programming a breeze!

This unit is slightly larger on the wall than the Ecobee3 and includes a gracefully curved rectangular frame. If you like a splash of color with a defined border, this smart thermostat will suit your home well.

Honeywell Smart Thermostat

Honeywell RTH9580WF Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat

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  • Compact silver rectangular display
  • Humidity and exterior temperature display
  • Easy display with customizable colors.

The Honeywell thermostat gives users a lot of data on the screen.

You’ll know the indoor and outdoor temperatures and humidity levels, what status your HVAC system is and whether or not the system is overridden or just following the programmed schedule.

You can adjust your Honeywell smart thermostat with Amazon Alexa, your smartphone or tablet, or manually at the display screen.

This unit is quite modern in appearance. The exterior frame is a brushed metal and the center display features white text on the background of your choice.

Before purchasing, note that this smart thermostat is smaller than other rectangular units such as the Sensi Smart.

If you prefer to monitor or adjust your thermostat at the screen, please note that this screen is only a 4.5 x 3.5 inch rectangle and is less than an inch thick.

It’s physically unobtrusive, but the screen may be hard to see if you’re programming it on the wall rather than by phone app.

Sensi Smart Thermostat

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  • Display is similar to programmable thermostat
  • Geo-fencing available
  • Easy programming process.

The Sensi Smart has the look of a traditional programmable thermostat and a great phone app that makes programming extremely simple. It’s also compatible with Wink Hub.

This smart thermostat works well with both Android and iPhone smartphones and is easy to access from Alexa from Amazon.

This tool also features geo-fencing which will help you omit certain portions of your home from monitoring by the Sensi Smart thermostat.

For example, if you like a warm living room on a cold winter night but need a cool bedroom to sleep well, simply omit the bedroom from monitoring.

The Sensi Smart doesn’t look as high tech as many units. However, each unit listed in this review has its own look and style.

If you’ve got white walls and don’t want a bright patch of color on your thermostat screen or the strong contrast of a black display, the Sensi Smart by Emerson might be your best choice.

Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Thermostat

Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Touchscreen Color Display, Works with Alexa, Energy Star Certified, C-wire Required, ST75

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  • Easy DIY installation for most with a basic knowledge of wiring
  • Programming is very intuitive but it will take some time
  • Wide display with strong colors; easy to read from across the room.

The Emerson ST75 is listed by JD Powers as one of the easiest smart thermostats for DIY installation. However, if you know nothing of wiring, starting with this thermostat is not a good plan for first time DIYers.

If things don’t work out, you may not be able to get the old thermostat re-installed and may have to suffer in the heat or cold until you can bring in a professional.

The Sensi mobile app is extremely helpful both in the installation and the programming. You will need to dedicate some time to this installation and programming process; don’t cancel out or quit the app until the install is done.

The Sensi smart thermostat is quite colorful and almost six inches wide. If it’s cooling, it’s bright blue. When it’s running the heater, it’s orange. If it’s at rest, it’s black.

If you don’t mind a large display screen, this might be a great unit for a first time smart thermostat purchase. However, be prepared for color.

Honeywell Lyric Round Wi-Fi Thermostat

Lyric Round Wi-Fi Thermostat - Second Generation (RCH9310WF)

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  • Detailed installation video to review prior to purchase
  • Round display with silver finish offers fans of modern styling an ideal tool
  • Daily weather forecast display!

The Lyric Round 2.0 Wi-Fi Smart Programmable Thermostat from Honeywell is easy to program and fairly simple to install.

This unit works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alex, the Samsung Hub and IFTTT (If this, then that) and the Honeywell app is easy to program and simple to use.

Lyric Round Wi-Fi Thermostat - Second Generation (RCH9310WF)

Honeywell is a name that has been associated with HVAC controls for many years.

Their installation video offers great tips on installing this critical tool, and their willingness to warn buyers away is a great indication of their dedication to safety and simplicity.

Smart Thermostat Comparison

Thermostat Brands & ModelsMotion SensorMulti-ZoneDisplay
Nest Learning (3rd Gen)YesNoDigital
Ecobee3Yes* YesTouchscreen
First Alert OnelinkNoNoTouchscreen
Honeywell RTH9580WFNoNoTouchscreen
Emerson Sensi SmartGeofencingNoDigital
Emerson Sensi TouchGeofencingNoTouchscreen
Honeywell Lyric Round 2.0GeofencingNoDigital/Touch

* Currently there isn’t a thermostat that controls multi-zones with a single unit, the Ecobee has external sensors that can be placed in multiple rooms.

This may be useful for averaging temperatures across multiple rooms. It’s important to note that extra sensors will need to be purchased.

Other brands and models will require one thermostat per room that you wish to monitor and control. This will depend on your homes configuration and you may not be able to use multiple devices.

SEE ALSO: Ecobee3 vs Nest 3

Why Buy A Smart Thermostat?

Smart thermostats are ideal for people that are gone all day; just program your phone, and your thermostat will bring your home into a comfortable range when you get close to your door.

However, they’re also ideal for stay at home parents because you can program your smart thermostat and lock it with a code to keep curious children from messing up the settings.

Smart thermostats can save you money on utilities by activating the heat or a/c when you’re present and by returning your home to a baseline temperature when you’re gone.

You can adjust your thermostat via voice commands with Alexa or on your phone.

Some smart thermostats can even alert you about dangerous carbon monoxide gas when paired with a smart detector.

If you’re on a tropical vacation and notice your snowbound house is getting dangerously cold, you can get the furnace repaired and running before you’re dealing with expensive plumbing repairs and messy water damage.

Features To Consider

Shared features of nearly all smart thermostats include:

1) Compatible Devices

This provides voice controls and commands to avoid touching the screen, messing up the finish or accidentally changing the programming.

Thermostat Brands & ModelsAmazon AlexaApple HomeKitSamsung SmartThingsWinkIFTTT
Nest Learning (3rd Gen)YesNoNoYesYes
First Alert OnelinkYesYesNoNoNo
Honeywell RTH9580WFYesNoYesYesYes
Emerson Sensi SmartYesNoNoYesNo
Emerson Sensi Touch




Honeywell Lyric Round 2.0YesYesYesNoYes

Important Notes:

  1. Compatible devices are a separate purchase from the compatible thermostat.
  2. Some devices may be supported unofficially, but not recommended and are “use at your own risk”.

2) Motion Sensors – Internal

These are common, but not universal. Units with motion sensors will light up as you walk by, display the current and goal temperatures, and transmit data to your HVAC system.

3) Digital Display And Easy Programming

If you’re used to pressing and holding the error to change your display, you’re going to enjoy the digital display.

Many units allow you to temporarily change the temperature by rolling the round frame or simply sliding your finger down the screen.

4) Smartphone Apps

As previously stated, if you’re only going to be away for 9 hours, the smartphone monitoring is handy, but if you’re gone for two weeks, it can save you a lot of mess and money.

While smart thermostats aren’t a great substitute for a security system, should you notice your thermostat is activated when you’re not home, you’ve got time to contact the authorities.

5) Wi-Fi Enabled

Each smart thermostat listed below will still work if the Wi-Fi goes down, but you’ll lose the smartphone programming capability.

6) Room Sensors – External

Some smart thermostats offer multiple motion sensors to place around your house.

If you have a nursery, this is an ideal tool to keep all sleeping and play places comfortable. However, if there are rooms you like to keep cool, don’t place a sensor there.

How Well Do They Work?

If you’re working from home, many smart thermostats will note movement as you walk by and their programming will kick in to make your home comfortable.

The voice control feature rapidly becomes irreplaceable. These are a bit like automatic car door openers; you don’t know how difficult life was before you got one.

Settling down to dinner and notice the house has really warmed up while you were cooking? Talk to Alexa and get that temperature down!

Smart thermostats are simple to use. Some smart thermostat screens are completely dark until they detect motion; others only show the temperature until you activate the programming feature. These screens respond to voice and touch.

Are you home caring for sick children, or home with a fever yourself? You can easily override the programming and get comfortable while you get healthy again.

Final Thoughts

Smart thermostats let you monitor the temperature inside your home whether you’re there or not. This can be convenient and it can be critical, but once you have it, you’ll find ways to use it.

These thermostats are also much easier to program than previous digital units, thanks to intuitive smartphone apps.

Finally, smart thermostat technology lets you reduce your utility expenses and cut down on the amount of energy you use.

If we had to choose just one smart thermostat it would be the Ecobee3 for overall compatibility and ease of use.