Eager to update your home's thermostat? We researched over 35 different models, then purchased the 13 best thermostats available. We then tested them side-by-side to see which products could take the heat. We have been testing, rating, and scoring models since 2017, comparing their installation processes, overall ease of operation, accuracy, and smart features and functions. Keep reading to find out which thermostat we determined is the best, which is the best bargain option, and which one is compatible with the widest variety of smart homes.
Colors: Gray frame with white accents | Battery Backup: No
REASONS TO BUY
Easy remote access
REASONS TO AVOID
Screen shows fingerprints
The Honeywell WiFi Smart Color earned top marks in this review. It is a sleek and stylish thermostat that is chalked full of features and functions that are extremely precise. This device is supremely programmable, allowing one to control its schedule and events settings on the device itself or through the accompanying app. We found the device easy to set up, program, and operate. The Honeywell has a large touch interface that is clearly legible at a distance and at night. The app follows suit as it is easy to navigate. The programming has few restrictions, allowing users to make settings on individual days or blocks of days. It also allows the user to set a "vacation mode" for improved economy, change the display color, monitor the weather, make temporary changes to the schedule, and access security features.
While we have very few complaints about the Honeywell WiFi Smart Color, we will say that it is a sophisticated and thus more complex device. As such, it may be more involved to program than some may prefer. Additionally, we noticed that the screen readily shows the finger smudged of the user, which can be easily cleaned. Finally, the Honeywell is surprisingly expensive despite its full specs list. That said, this device and its accompanying app are the best for customizing your HVAC system, whether at home or away.
The Orbit Clear Comfort is a top-performing device that is not WiFi enabled. This unit has all the features and customization options — however, they must be performed in person on the unit as opposed to an app. The elimination of this one feature results in tons of savings, making this highly programmable device relatively inexpensive. Aside from the savings, this unit has a nice-looking interface that sports bold, easy-to-read lettering and a nightlight. The interface makes programming the time and date, schedules, and events simple. Moreover, the 'copy' feature allows one to quickly transfer programming details to different days or blocks of days.
The obvious limitation of the Orbit Clear Comfort is that it does not have WiFi connectivity. The issues that this creates are not limited to having to make adjustments in the actual device; more consequently, you cannot monitor your home's climate while you are away. A feature we took issue with, albeit a minor one, was that the device's nightlight button is not illuminated, so you have to frisk around for it in the dark to find it if you want to make a change. That said, at least the Orbit has a nightlight — many units can't make such a claim. All told, our complaints are minimal, while our praise for the Clear Comfort is voluminous.
The Amazon Smart Thermostat fully embraces the smart device design, relying almost entirely on its WiFi connection and app for setting up the device, programming, and monitoring. If this type of operation appeals to you, then this will be a great device for your home. The app fully guides the user through the set-up process and offers a host of scheduling features, event settings such as vacation and sleep modes, and monitoring options. We also found that the screen was easy to read from across the room as it had big, bold characters. Finally, the thermostat is designed to integrate easily with Alexa if you use that platform to run your smart home.
While we are impressed with the Amazon Smart Thermostat's features and, for the most part, the app, we do have reservations about a device that limits access to its features on the device itself. It is not hard to imagine that more than one person will want access to the HVAC controls and that having to sign in to an app or ask someone else to make changes would be irksome. Additionally, the device is white with white back-lit lettering — a difficult-to-read combination in bright or direct light. Finally, the Amazon Smart Thermostat provides no human customer support. So, if you prefer that kind of help when troubleshooting problems, this might not be your device. That said, the help modules on the app and website are quite well-executed, addressing every conceivable issue with videos, animation, and text.
The Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Gen, is designed to integrate seamlessly with the Google Nest smart home ecosystem; however, it plays well with others, too. The thermostat has a phenomenal display that comes in a handful of colors to better match your home's decor. It allows you not only to control your HVAC system whether you are at home or away, but it can also interact with many other smart home devices, which means you can control your heater or turn on your A/C via your smartwatch or voice command. This device has both an occupancy sensor and geofencing, so it can turn down the heat when you leave the house and turn it up when you return.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is one of the most expensive smart thermostats on the market. If your home has multiple thermostats, count on spending quite a bit on upgrading them. Additionally, we experienced mixed results with its learning capabilities — particularly if you keep inconsistent weekly schedules. These are minor drawbacks and shouldn't discourage you from considering the Nest so long as it fits your budget. Undoubtedly, this model is a top-of-the-line, fully-featured smart device worth the money for those invested in the smart home experience.
In addition to controlled side-by-side testing, we installed these products in various homes and offices and have used them for extended periods with different HVAC systems. This review has been updated with considerable new information and opinions collected from long-term real-world use. We considered the ease of installation and ease of use, how responsive customer support was, remote access capabilities, each model's temperature accuracy, and price to performance and feature ratio to determine value.
We bought all of the smart WiFi thermostats in this review at standard prices — we won't ever accept any free or discounted evaluation models. Our testing and review team of Austin Palmer , David Wise , and Nick Miley have extensive experience comparing and rating smart home devices. They have reviewed hundreds of different tech gadgets and home devices, including dozens of smart home-specific products. David also brings his background in heat transfer and thermal fluids engineering as a former mechanical engineer to the design of our tests.
When picking a thermostat that offers good value — that is, a device with a relatively low price point and a relatively high performance — you must ask yourself: What kind of a device am I after? Do you want, say, a WiFi/app-enabled thermostat, a programmable model, or a good ol' fashioned push-button device? When it comes to a remotely accessible smart thermostat, the Amazon Smart Thermostat offers consumers a whole lot for their dollar. Similarly, the Orbit Clear Comfort provides users with a great deal of programming flexibility but with significantly less reliance on its app for functionality. This product is remarkably low cost for what it offers. Finally, the Emerson NP110 offers simplicity and a rock-bottom price tag. All three of these devices offer consumers good values in their respective categories.
Ease of Use
Ease of use comprises 40% of each model's total score. It is one of the most important metrics when it comes to WiFi thermostats. Ease of use is one of the reasons cited by Energy Star to explain why people do not see the savings they would otherwise expect from an HVAC system controlled by a programmable thermostat. According to Energy Star, more than 30% of customers were "unable, unwilling, afraid, uninterested, or otherwise reluctant" to use the scheduling feature, whether it was the default or custom. The reluctance to adjust a smart thermostat negatively impacts any potential energy savings from the device. Therefore, a programmable thermostat that is too difficult to program isn't any better than a standard single-temperature model.
To test the ease of use, we went through the initial device set-up, setting the time and date, ease of setting up a schedule, temperature adjustment, and the difficulty of utilizing the advanced features. Comparing the devices side-by-side, we ranked each on the above attributes and assigned scores based on their performance.
The Honeywell WiFi Smart Color and the Orbit Clear Comfort outperformed the competition in this set of tests. The set-up program on these devices guides you through the entire process with prompts and questions. We found this process to be hassle-free mainly due to the streamlined nature of the automated setup. For example, the Orbit Clear Comfort provides a 'copy' feature that allows one to paste settings to different days, thus saving time and effort.
The Nest Learning follows Honeywell WiFi Smart Color and the Orbit Clear Comfort in our ease of use metric. The setup process on the Ecobee SmartThermostat is almost as easy as the Nest Learning Thermostat, again utilizing a series of guided prompts and questions to walk you through the various setup tasks.
It also is very easy to scroll through the different menus and set things like the date and time. However, we aren't huge fans of the scheduling system on the Ecobee SmartThermostat. You set different comfort zones for each block of time and then separately set the temperature for each comfort zone, which doesn't seem as user-friendly and is more restrictive than directly setting a temperature for each period. We don't think this model's display conveys information quite as clearly as other models, and the touchscreen slider that adjusts the current temperature isn't our favorite interface.
We did have to reference the instruction manual to begin the set-up process on the Wyze Thermostat since it lacks guided prompts when you first plug it in, but after that, the initial configuration was quite easy. You'll need to use the app to set the schedule, but other settings are easy to access on the thermostat. The date and time are set automatically, and you can even set maintenance reminders that not only alert you when it's time to change HVAC filters but also allows you to record the usage and size, as well as % usage and expected lifespan.
Information is clear and easy to read on the display of the Wyze Thermostat, and the mechanical dial makes it easy to adjust the temperature if you want to manually deviate from the current set schedule.
The Sensi Touch WiFi is a little more difficult to schedule than some of the other models we tested. It only offers a limited set of scheduling abilities on the device itself, and one of its odd quirks is that the WiFi needs to be turned off to do it. This version at least informs you that this is necessary. We were forced to figure that out independently with the original Sensi model. Setting the time and date are also no different.
This device has a decent suite of advanced features and functions that can be adjusted, including "Safe Mode", where the thermostat will ignore rapid commands. This makes it a great option for families with children that are prone to touching everything, including the thermostat.
The Sensi makes it easy to adjust the current temperature using the touch screen instead of buttons. The current temperature is displayed prominently, and the set temperature is shown in smaller text off to the side. One minor drawback is that you cannot adjust the screen brightness.
The Honeywell 7-Day Programmable uses an interface similar to traditional thermostats. Programming requires a deep dive into the manual to figure out how to configure the WiFi. It is very easy to adjust and hold the current temperature using the arrow keys, but accessing the menus for advanced settings can be difficult. It takes a combination of button presses — think classic video game cheat codes — to get to these menus, which is a handy way of preventing unauthorized access. However, we had to consult the manual to look up the appropriate code whenever we needed to adjust something.
The Google Nest Thermostat is just about as clear and easy to read as the Nest Learning Thermostat. The background changes color depending on what your HVAC system is doing and shows the estimated time to reach the target temperature. It also offers a ton of versatility when it comes to deviating from the set schedule, allowing you to set the time when the hold will end, or you can quickly change to one of your preset temperature zones, like "Sleep" or "Eco".
The touch interface located on the side is decent, although we preferred the tactile feel of the mechanical options. Additionally, the set-up of the initial schedule requires a smartphone.
Install & Support
Install & Support comprises 30% of the total score for each thermostat. Although all of these products are designed with a DIY installer in mind, the installation process can become more complicated if you have an older home or a particularly unique HVAC system. If that's the case, you may need a professional to install your new thermostat. In addition to the installation, we tested each company's customer support, putting in a request and evaluating the responses, and rating the supplied documentation.
To rate the quality of the customer support, we sent the following email anonymously to each manufacturer, then awarded points based on the timeliness and quality of the response we received:
"Hi there. I am trying to install my new [thermostat model]. I just moved into a new home, and the previous owners took out their thermostat and left these wires hanging out (blue, yellow, red, green). I have no clue as to which wire goes where. I only have a heating system, which seems to be electric. It gets very cold at night and I would love to be toasty warm. Thanks in advance for the help!"
With this picture attached:
To compare the ease of installation, we hooked each thermostat up to our custom testing board and also installed them in our office. We created our testing set-up, mimicking a single-stage heating, single-stage cooling, and auxiliary fan HVAC system, which allowed us to easily compare the different products side by side. Our office has a single-stage heating and auxiliary fan system (a fairly typical configuration).
The Honeywell WiFi Smart Color, Orbit Clear Comfort, Amazon Smart Thermostat, Emerson NP110 , and Ecobee SmartThermostat all earned high marks in this category.
The Orbit Clear Comfort and Amazon Smart Thermostat customer support aren't exceptionally helpful because there is no way to actually make contact and get guidance walking us through the steps to resolve our issue. However, Amazon does an exceedingly good job of providing adequate, step-by-step documentation and helpful videos online. We think it is one of the few products where the help page is actually helpful when solving more complicated problems. We particularly liked that there are modules designed for specific HVAC systems. On the other hand, the Emerson NP110 had the best email response we have seen, responding within an hour of our initial email with helpful tips.
Our experience with the support team from Ecobee was also quite good. They walked us through every step of the process in a series of emails, instructing us on which wire went where. The Ecobee Lite and Ecobee SmartThermostat also come with extensive documentation in the written guide and a companion app that will help you through the physical installation. Additional instructional videos are available online if you get lost. Both feature an integrated level in the trim plate to ensure the device gets hung up straight.
Following these top thermostats are the Google Nest, Google Nest Learning, Sensi Touch WiFi, and Honeywell Home CT87N1001, which come next in our ranking of ease of installation. We found that the Sensi was one of the easiest models to install. It has a built-in base plate level, which was amazingly helpful. The company also provides extensive documentation if you find yourself stuck.
The Google thermostats don't offer much in the way of human support; however, their help page is quite useful and rendered our email unnecessary. As for the installation process, the app guides you through the necessary steps, with the documentation thorough and easy to understand. Moreover, the units' built-in level makes the process all the more straightforward.
Lacking a built-in level, the Honeywell Home CT87N1001 is a little more difficult to install. It also requires the use of a screwdriver in a small working area which may be a bit challenging to some. However, the supporting documentation is good, providing clear instructions about the wire insertion process.
Installation of these products essentially breaks down into checking if your system is compatible through online documentation or contacting the manufacturer's customer service department and then completing the actual installation. This should be a relatively hassle-free process for most people with fairly standard HVAC systems in their homes. For those with a unique system, special attention must be paid, and at the very least, you should consult with the manufacturers before purchasing to ensure compatibility.
Remote access is one of the cornerstones of WiFi thermostats and merits 20% of each model's total score. This rating metric was split into three major components: adjusting the temperature through the smartphone app, setting and editing the schedule remotely, and the ease of adjusting other more advanced settings through the remote interface. Although we originally thought this would be a much more substantial part of the scores, most thermostats performed exceptionally well in this category.
We think the Wyze Thermostat and Honeywell WiFi Smart Color take a slight lead when it comes to remote access abilities, just narrowly edging out the competition for the top spots. These units make use of smartphone apps that are straightforward to utilize. There are a few more settings than what you have access to on the device itself but not many, making it much more intuitive to use than most other brands.
The scheduling is very simple, with a preset one that you can change at any time. Our only complaint is the touch dial can be a little finicky — at least on our test phone — making it easy to overshoot your target temperature. It also has a fully automatic mode, where you just set the target temperature, and it will decide if it's necessary to run heating or cooling to achieve it.
The Honeywell 7-Day Programmable, Google Nest Thermostat, Sensi Touch, Sensi Programmable, and Amazon Smart Thermostat all followed with their excellent remote access capabilities. The Honeywell 7-Day Programmable performed extraordinarily well, as it was substantially more user-friendly than other products when it came to setting up a schedule remotely. The pair of Sensi thermostats also offered an easy set-up and an incredible amount of customization — allowing you to set the temperature in as little as 15-minute increments! There is also a calendar view that shows the entire week and all the temperatures you have set.
While the name might suggest that the Google Nest Thermostat and the Nest Learning Thermostat use the same app, they actually use different applications. The Google Nest Thermostat is controlled through the Google Home app while the Nest Learning Thermostat can be controlled by both. We found it considerably easier to set the schedule with the preset options in the Google Home app than in the Nest app, and as a whole, we found that app more intuitive and easy to use.
The Nest Learning Thermostat and Ecobee SmartThermostat both came next with their above-average remote interfaces.
Like the Sensi, the Nest app provides an attractive amount of customization, but the interface felt substantially less intuitive. However, when it came to setting the schedule, we found the Nest app to be a bit more labor-intensive and convoluted than we would have liked.
The Ecobee apps essentially mirror the display on the actual thermostat, which means that it is substantially less user-friendly to set a schedule or adjust the temperature than many other models. However, we usually prefer to use the app to set the schedule or change the temperature because the adjustment slider has a larger range per screen on your phone than the thermostat itself.
Unfortunately, you are locked out of adjusting any of the advanced settings remotely with the Ecobee.
We immediately noticed discrepancies in the measured ambient temperatures when testing multiple models side-by-side, with some even showing a discrepancy as large as two degrees. While these differences may be tiny, accuracy is an important aspect of these products. The most energy-conscious among us may choose the temperature setting based on the Government EnergySaver guidelines to maximize energy savings. A faulty thermostat can severely damage your wallet and leave you guessing if your home and away temperatures are set anywhere close to where they should be. Overall, our accuracy tests account for 10% of each product's score.
To test this, we compared each device to a lab-grade thermometer multiple times after allowing the temperature to settle. All of our measurements were taken in Fahrenheit.
The Nest Learning Thermostat, Google Nest Thermostat, and the Honeywell 7-Day all thoroughly impressed us in this regard, earning excellent marks. Both the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Google Nest Thermostat were typically within 0.5 degrees of our control thermometer, rounding their measurement to the nearest whole degree. The Honeywell 7-day matched this performance, maintaining approximately the same margin of error.
The Honeywell WiFi Smart Color, Orbit Clear Comfort, Amazon Smart Thermostat, Emerson NP110, and Honeywell Home CT87N1001 were all contenders with the top products but usually showed a slightly larger discrepancy than the Honeywell 7-Day and the Nest models. However, we are splitting hairs here because they were all within a degree of the control thermometer.
Both Sensi models usually differed from our control by roughly a degree or a little more. The Wyze Thermostat had just a bit larger of a margin of error in our tests, but we appreciate that it gives you the option to calibrate the temperature if you want.
Finding the perfect thermostat that matches not only your needs and budget but also your current heating and cooling system requirements can be a difficult task. We hope our side-by-side comparison and analysis have been helpful in your search for a new thermostat, regardless of whether you're looking for a top-tier model with all the smart features and functions imaginable or a simple budget option. Finally, we want to remind you that you shouldn't hesitate to enlist a professional installer for these products if you aren't comfortable with a DIY installation, as there are some risks, and you could inadvertently damage the thermostat or other components of your HVAC system — particularly with older homes or uncommon heating and cooling systems.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.