Best Wifi Smart Thermostats of 2017

The Nest took home the top award as the best wifi smart thermostat.
Searching for the best WiFi smart thermostat around? We bought the top 7 products on the market today and put them through a series of head-to-head challenges. In total, we spent over 160 hours analyzing and evaluating these products, testing them in a handful of different locations, as well as on a custom testing board to directly compare their accuracy side-by-side. We compared how difficult the installation of each model is, their ease of use, and the quality of their remote access, so you don't have to. With the myriad of smart home products available today, it can be exceedingly difficult to find the perfect product. Check out the complete review below to see which thermostat came out on top, and which model is the best value.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 7 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product
Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest Learning Thermostat
Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart
Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart
The Sensi Color Touch.
Sensi Touch Wi-Fi
Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable
Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable
Honeywell Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable
Honeywell Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable
Awards  Editors' Choice Award        Best Buy Award 
Price $249 List
$249 at Amazon
$230 List
$179.99 at Amazon
$200 List
$161.98 at Amazon
$160 List
$129.00 at Amazon
$120 List
$89.78 at Amazon
Overall Score 
100
0
70
100
0
63
100
0
62
100
0
58
100
0
58
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Sleek, easy to install, accurateEasy to use, good remote accessFantastic mobile app, a breeze to installEasy to install, great mobile app, only thermostat that has a battery powered optionInexpensive, accurate, good level of remote access
Cons Expensive, support just refers you to a Nest ProExpensive, inaccurate, voice control through the app is sillyStill not the easiest to useHard to use without the appNot the most stylish, average install
Ratings by Category Nest Learning Thermostat Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable Honeywell Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable
Ease Of Use - 40%
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
4
10
0
5
Install & Support - 30%
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
5
Remote Access - 20%
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Accuracy - 10%
10
0
9
10
0
2
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
Specs Nest Learning Thermostat Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable Honeywell Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable
Colors Stainless Steel, Copper, White, Black Silver Black White White
Battery Backup Built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion battery No No AA Batteries No
Learning/ Adaptive Controls Yes - "Nest Sense" Yes - "Smart Response Technology" No No No

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Wednesday
August 2, 2017

Share:
Updated August 2017
Throughout the summer, we have been constantly monitoring the field of smart thermostats for any potential award winners. We found a new model, the Sensi Touch Wi-Fi, to add, but while this model is an improvement on the previous Sensi model, it still didn't outperform the Nest Learning Thermostat and is a little too pricey to be a better value pick than the Honeywell 7-Day. We'll keep a lookout for anything else that looks like it can take the heat, but for now, the following models are the best you will find and our top recommendations.

Best Overall Thermostat


Nest Learning Thermostat


Nest Learning Thermostat Editors' Choice Award

$249.00
at Amazon
See It

Earning the title of Best Overall Thermostat, the Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation is unmatched in terms of performance, leading the market as the best smart thermostat that you can get today. This sleek, circular thermostat is for those that want the very best. It's exceptionally easy to use, excessively accurate, possesses a high-quality display and is compatible with a wide variety of trim plates to make it an attractive addition to any home or workplace. This product can integrate with the rest of your smart home ecosystem, allowing you to fulfill your dream of controlling your A/C unit or heater by voice commands. This model features an occupancy sensor that combines with geofencing your mobile device to turn down the temperature when you leave and turn it up when you are home, saving you some cash on your energy bill and reducing your carbon footprint. All in all, the Nest is your best bet if you want the most top of the line, fully-featured smart wifi thermostat on the market today.

Read full review: Nest Learning Thermostat

Best Bang for the Buck


Honeywell Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable


Honeywell Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable Best Buy Award

$89.78
at Amazon
See It

Looking for a simple, bare-bones smart thermostat that won't break the bank? Then the Honeywell 7-Day Programmable is a great option. While this model does have a much more limited set of features — no fancy learning or occupancy sensors — it's easy to use, has a decent level of remote access, and is accurate. Even better, this model costs less than half of our Editors' Choice award winner — something to consider when looking for a location that will require multiple thermostats, as the savings difference will really start to add up. This product, in all honesty, is a standard, run-of-the-mill programmable thermostat with the ability to be remotely adjusted — nothing more, nothing less. The appearance and setup process isn't quite as polished as some of the other models but it gets the job done and is a fantastic value.

Read full review: Honeywell 7-Day Programmable

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
70
$249
Editors' Choice Award
The best of the best, may not be appropriate for all homes
63
$230
The largest screen, and the easiest to use by far
62
$200
Building on the success of the prior model, the Sensi Touch Wi-Fi improves on ease of use and has an overall more refined look
58
$160
Best for homes without a "C" wire, the app is more user friendly than the thermostat
58
$120
Best Buy Award
A relatively inexpensive, basic programmable thermostat with wifi
57
$249
The addition of Alexa to the Ecobee4 isn't quite enough to dethrone the Nest.
51
$199
The remote sensors make this great for larger homes or homes with the thermostat in an odd, ineffective location

Analysis and Test Results


There are many reasons to consider purchasing a smart WiFi thermostat: these products can save you energy and money, integrate with existing smart home systems, and simplify your life. We took the top 7 highest-ranked thermostats currently on the market today and put them through a series of side-by-side tests to determine overall scores from 0-100.

The top five thermostats  ready to go on our testing board.
The top five thermostats, ready to go on our testing board.

Ranking them on 4 weighted metrics, we looked at the ease of installation as well as the ease of use, how responsive customer support was, the remote access capabilities, and the temperature accuracy of each model. The following sections give a detailed breakdown of which models did well in certain tests and which ones couldn't handle the heat.

Ease of Use


This is one of the most important metrics when it comes to wifi thermostats, comprising 40% of our total scores. None of these models are remotely useful if they prove to be too difficult to operate for the average consumer. In fact, this is one of the reasons cited by Energy Star for the lack of savings found when using a programmable thermostat: 30% (potentially higher) were "unable, unwilling, afraid, uninterested, or otherwise reluctant" to use the scheduling feature, whether it was the default or custom. This will negatively impact the potential energy savings of the device, and can potentially negate the entire purpose of getting one of these in the first place. You can see how we ranked the thermostats in the chart below.


To test the ease of use, we looked at initial setup, setting the time and date, the ease of setting up a schedule, adjusting the temperature, and the difficulty in utilizing the advanced features. Comparing the thermostats side-by-side, we ranked them on each of the above attributes and determined scores based on their performance.

We found the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart to be the easiest to use out of all the models we tested, earning a solid 8 out of 10, closely followed by the Nest Learning Thermostat with a 7. These models delivered strong performances across the board, in all metrics. Features that really set these two models apart from the competition were the quick and easy prompts that guide you through the setup process, as well as the ease in scheduling. While the Nest wasn't quite as easy as the Honeywell Smart, it still scored above average in this critical metric. We felt that the wheel and single button interface were a little more difficult when compared to a touchscreen, especially the lack of a "Back" button.

The Nest interface is limited to a single button (the entire thermostat) and rotating the outer wheel.
The Nest interface is limited to a single button (the entire thermostat) and rotating the outer wheel.

The Ecobee4 scored above average, earning a 6 out of 10 for this metric. This updated version of the Ecobee3 substantially improves on the initial setup process, with a much better series of prompts to guide you through the process, similar to the Nest.

The setup prompts on the Ecobee4 were a vast improvement to the Ecobee3.
The setup prompts on the Ecobee4 were a vast improvement to the Ecobee3.

The Sensi Touch Wi-Fi is about average in terms of our Ease of Use metric, earning a 5 out of 10. This model is a little more difficult to schedule than some of the other models in the pack, only offering a limited set of scheduling abilities on the device itself, as well as possessing the odd quirk of needing the WiFi turned off. This model at least informs you that this is necessary, compared to being forced to figure that out on your own with the original Sensi. The same goes for setting the time and date.

This thermostat has a decent suite of advanced features and functions that can be adjusted, such as enabling "Safe Mode", where the thermostat will ignore rapid commands — a great option for families with children that are prone to playing with the thermostat.

This model makes it easy enough to adjust the current temperature, using the touch screen instead of buttons. The current temperature is displayed prominently, with the set temperature shown in smaller text off to the side. We did wish that the screen brightness could be adjusted.

The touchscreen interface makes this Sensi easier to use than its predecessor.
The touchscreen interface makes this Sensi easier to use than its predecessor.

We found it substantially more confusing to set up the Sensi WiFi — both with the initial set-up and creating a schedule. It was bad enough that we originally assumed that it was not possible to set up without the app, eventually determining that it is only possible to set the schedule without the app when the device is not connected to WiFi. These struggles were primarily on the device itself, where the setup was actually quite easy if done exclusively on the mobile app. This confusion and discrepancy earned the Sensi the lowest score in this metric, earning a 4 out of 10 on our tests. The Honeywell 7-Day Programmable fell right in the middle, using an interface similar to traditional thermostats to program a schedule, and did require us to dive into the manual to figure it out what we needed to do to set up the WiFi.

It was significantly easy on almost all the models to adjust the current temperatures, through either a wheel or up/down arrow buttons, but there were some discrepancies on the ease of holding the current temperature. The Ecobee3 and Honeywell Smart both offer the most options, allowing you to hold the temperature indefinitely, for a set amount of time, or until the next change in the schedule, while the Honeywell 7-Day limits you to either holding it indefinitely or until the next schedule change.

The Ecobee holding the set temperature.
The Ecobee holding the set temperature.

The Nest will only hold until the next slot in the schedule.

In addition, there were a few other useful features that were scattered around to make them easier to use. For example, the Honeywell Smart will let you deactivate the screen for 30 seconds to clean it, and the Honeywell Smart,Ecobee3, and the Nest allow you to input maintenance reminders for things like changing the air filters.

Install & Support


While Ease of Use was our highest weighted metric, Install & Support was closely behind, making up 30% of the total score. This is an important metric, as it doesn't matter how amazing a wifi thermostat is, they are all totally useless if you are unable to use it, and being able to install it yourself is an important aspect of these products. These all have been designed with a DIY installer in mind and should be relatively straightforward to install, especially for those with the more commonly found HVAC systems. Doing a DIY install can save you anywhere from $100 to $300 dollars and is definitely something worth attempting. In addition to the install, we tested the customer support of each company, putting in a request and evaluating the responses, as well as rating the supplied documentation. You can see how each model scored in the graphic below.


The Nest Learning Thermostat, Sensi Touch Wi-Fi, and the Sensi both tied for the top score in this category, earning a score of 7 out of 10. While these models did not have the most responsive support, they both did an exceedingly good job of providing adequate, step-by-step documentation. The first test that we did was essentially a compatibility check, something you might consider doing before purchasing any of the models that we reviewed. We sent the following email in:

"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, that 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 the following picture attached:

The photo we sent into each customer support service. We asked them to assist us in determining where to go from here if we did not know which wire controlled what.
The photo we sent into each customer support service. We asked them to assist us in determining where to go from here if we did not know which wire controlled what.

We then waited and looked at the promptness and helpfulness of the responses. Ecobee was the first to respond, replying the following morning for the Ecobee3 and the same day for the Ecobee4. The support team opening a dialog in both cases that we felt was super helpful and would guide you through each step to get the thermostat installed. The Ecobee support team instructed us to locate the furnace control panel and check the other side of the wires, and then gave us direction on how to connect it. In contrast, the Nest support team stated that it would not be possible to determine by that picture alone, and recommended that we locate a Nest Pro to complete the install, but did respond almost as quickly as the Ecobee team. The other 3 companies all required a follow-up email after 7 days of no response but then responded within an hour after the follow-up was sent. We felt that the response from the Honeywell team was very helpful, though not as helpful as the Ecobee, while the Sensi response we received was short and curt.

Next, we looked at the actual difficulty associated with installing one of these models, in two separate configurations. We created a custom, testing setup, mimicking a single stage heating, single stage cooling, and auxiliary fan HVAC system, allowing us to easily compare the different products side-by-side.

The reverse side of our thermostat testing board.
The reverse side of our thermostat testing board.

The second was installing each thermostat in our building, with a single stage heating and auxiliary fan system. These are both fairly common systems. We found the Sensi and the Sensi Touch Wi-Fi were the easiest model to install, with the Nest following it closely. Both of these models came with a built-in level on the base plate, something that we found amazingly helpful. The Nest also came with a screwdriver — something that most homes would have — but it was exceedingly convenient that literally, everything you need comes right out of the box (and it should, for a $250 thermostat!)

Installation of these products essentially breaks down into checking if your system is compatible, through the online documentation, or contacting the customer service department of the manufacturers and then completing the actual install. For the majority of people — those with a commonplace HVAC — this should be a relatively painless process. For those with a unique system, special attention must be paid and at the very least, consulting with the manufacturer's prior to making a purchase.

Remote Access


Remote access, while being one of the cornerstones of wifi thermostats, ended up only meriting 20% of our 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. While originally thinking this would be a much more substantial part of the scores, we found that most of the thermostats performed exceptionally well in this category, which you can see in the following chart.


The performance in this category resulted in a 4-way tie for first place, with both Honeywell models and both Sensi models earning a score of 7 out of 10. Both of the models made by Honeywell use the same application, and thus, performed identically in this metric. Based on input from various users and user reviews, we determined that adjusting the schedule remotely was the most important to the most people, and made up close to half of the score for this category.

Setting the schedule on the Sensi app.
Setting the schedule on the Honeywell app.
 

Both of the Honeywell models performed extraordinarily well, with it being substantially more user-friendly to set up the schedule, with the 7-Day Programmable model slightly easier to configure than the Smart with WiFi model. The pair of Sensi thermostats also offered an easy setup, 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 where you can see the entire week and all the temperatures you set.

We felt that the Ecobee3, Ecobee4 and the Nest fell somewhat short, with the interface through the application mirroring the interface on the device itself. We found the split between temperature and timing on the Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 the most confusing out of all the models, requiring you to set the schedule with "Comfort Settings", instead of a temperature and then adjusting the temperature of the "Comfort Setting" through a different menu. The Nest did offer an attractive amount of customization, like the Sensi, but the interface still felt substantially less intuitive.

However, when it came to adjusting the current temperature, the Nest was by far the clear winner, allowing you to either drag and drop the desired temperature, or adjust it through a set of up/down arrows.

Setting the Nest to heat on the mobile app.
The mobile app showing the Nest in cooling mode.
 

Something that we found as a critically important feature to look for in a wifi thermostat — at least in places the utilize both a heating and cooling system — is a fully automatic mode, where you simply set the desired temperature and the thermostat will determine whether or not it is necessary to heat or cool your home to reach that temperature. Both the Nest, Sensi, Ecobee3, and the **Ecobee4* all have this feature. However, we did feel that the Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 were our least favorite to use out of all the models when it came to remote testing, earning a score of 4 out of 10, lacking the ability to adjust some of the settings remotely, and just feeling less intuitive when it came to its interface.

We compared each thermostat to a lab-grade thermometer to test the accuracy of each model.
We compared each thermostat to a lab-grade thermometer to test the accuracy of each model.

Accuracy


One thing that we noticed throughout our testing, as we had all thermostats powered up and side by side, was that there was a discrepancy between the ambient temperatures across the thermostats, for the majority of the time. While these differences may be tiny, and a difference of a degree or two may seem like some trivial griping, accuracy is a very important aspect of this product. The most, energy conscious among us will have the temperature set based on the following guidelines , to maximize energy savings. An inaccurate thermostat can be a severe detriment to saving you money, and leave you guessing if your home and away temperatures are set anywhere close to where they should be. While not being the most important rating metric we looked at, this category still earned 10% of the total score. You can see the scores in the chart below.


We checked each thermostat against a lab grade thermometer, multiple times after allowing the temperature to settle, and compared the differences, conducting our measurements in Fahrenheit

The Honeywell 7-day was only off by 0.23 degrees F in one of our tests.
The Nest compared to our lab thermometer  showing a difference of only 0.23 degrees F.
 

Two of the models that we tested, the Nest and the Honeywell 7-Day did exceptionally well, both earning a fantastic score of 9 out of 10 in our tests. The Nest was typically within .5 degrees of our thermometer, with the Nest usually just rounding to the nearest whole degree. The Honeywell 7-day matched the performance of the Nest throughout our accuracy testing, maintaining the same margin of error. Both the Ecobee3 and the Ecobee4, as well as the Sensi models, were about average, usually within a degree. These models did have the option to add a temperature offset to correct this.

The Ecobee4 was usually within a degree of the control thermometer.
The Ecobee4 was usually within a degree of the control thermometer.

By far, the worst performer in our accuracy tests was the Honeywell Smart, earning a dismal 2 out of 10 in our tests.

There was close to a two degree discrepancy between the Honeywell Smart and our control thermometer.
There was close to a two degree discrepancy between the Honeywell Smart and our control thermometer.

This thermostat was consistently up to two degrees off, enough that we were concerned that we had purchased a defective model. Upon contacting customer service, we were informed that it is NORMAL for it to be off from the actual temperature anywhere between 2-4 degrees. The remaining two thermostats were decently consisted, averaging about a degree off of our reference thermometer.

The Nest took home the top award as the best wifi smart thermostat.
The Nest took home the top award as the best wifi smart thermostat.

Conclusion


Selecting the right wifi thermostat for your home can be a difficult one, especially if you have an older home or an unconventional HVAC system. While all of these models should work with most systems in a DIY install, don't hesitate to contact a professional if you feel lost, or if your wiring system is drastically different than what is described in the model's installation guide. Whether you are looking for the newest piece of tech to integrate into your smart home ecosystem, or are simply looking for something to keep an eye on things while you are away, there is a product for you. Hopefully, this has helped narrow down your choices in your own quest to find the best.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

  • Share this article:

Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.
 

Follow Us

Unbiased.

You Might Also Like