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Best smart thermostats in 2020

best smart thermostats
(Image credit: Ecobee)

The best smart thermostats all try to help you do one thing: Save you money. That's because, unlike traditional thermostats, smart thermostats can learn your behavior and comings and goings, and tailor your home's heating and cooling accordingly. That way, you're not using your paycheck — and energy — to keep your house at a comfortable temperature when no one's home.

Another advantage of a smart thermostat is that you can control them from your smartphone, and also link them to other smart home devices. So, for example, you can connect your smart thermostat and smart lights, and have them both turn on when you get home. 

What are the best smart thermostats?

After testing all of the top models, we think the best smart thermostat overall is the Ecobee SmartThermostat ($249). The biggest reason why we like the Ecobee so much is that it comes with a wireless sensor you can place in a remote room in your house—such as one that doesn't heat or cool as fast—and lets you set the Ecobee to keep the system on until that room comes up to the temperature you want. And, because the sensor can also detect a person's presence, it won't heat or cool that room if there's no one there. 

In addition, the Ecobee has Alexa built in, so you can use Amazon's voice assistant. While the speaker in the Ecobee isn't as good as an Echo Dot, it's  functional enough so that you can extend Alexa into another room without needing to buy another smart speaker. And, you can always turn Alexa off if you want some privacy.

We're not enamored with the look of the Ecobee, though. If you want something that looks and feels more high-end, the Nest Learning Thermostat is the way to go. It's just as easy to use and comes in a variety of finishes. Nest also sells remote sensors, but unlike Ecobee's, they don't detect presence.

If you're looking for something less expensive, the best smart thermostat under $100 is the Honeywell RTH6580WF 7-Day Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat. It's more functional than fancy, but it gets the job done. It has a 7-day programming, can be controlled from your smartphone, and works with Alexa and Google Assistant.

New to the market is the $99 Johnson Controls LUX CS1 Smart Thermostat, which works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, and has a separate app and geofencing, so that it can change the temperature automatically when you leave or arrive home.

The best smart thermostats you can buy today

Best smart thermostat: Ecobee SmartThermostat

Ecobee SmartThermostat  (Image credit: Future)

1. Ecobee SmartThermostat

The best smart thermostat overall

Works With: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, Logitech, Wink, IFTTT | Remote Sensors: Yes | Self-Installation: Yes | Motion Activation: Yes | Works Offline: Yes

Better speaker
Full Alexa support
Improved remote sensors
Works with Spotify
Large

The best smart thermostat overall, the Ecobee SmartThermostat looks and acts much like the Ecobee4, but with a few big improvements. It's among the best Alexa compatible devices because it offers all of Alexa's features, including calling, messaging, and Drop-In.  

The new Ecobee also has a much better speaker and Spotify support, so it's now good for playing tunes if you're looking for a device to provide some background music. To be sure, it's still far below even the Echo Dot in terms of quality, but it's an economical way to get Alexa in a room if you don't want to plug in another smart speaker. Most importantly, the new Ecobee has redesigned remote sensors that have much better range and battery life. We're not enamored with the Ecobee's looks, though; its plasticky design hasn't changed much since the original, and unlike the Nest, is beginning to look dated.

Read our full Ecobee SmartThermostat review.

Best smart thermostat design: Nest Learning Thermostat v.3

Nest Learning Thermostat v.3 (Image credit: Nest)

2. Nest Learning Thermostat v.3

Nest's smart thermostat is a cinch to set up and has a classic design.

Works With: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Logitech, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, WeMo, Wink, Xfinity | Remote Sensors: No | Self-Installation: Yes | Motion Activation: Yes | Works Offline: Yes

Large display
Works with multiple smart home systems
Easy to install
Can't monitor temperature in multiple rooms
Doesn't work with Apple HomeKit

The Nest Learning Thermostat was the original smart thermostat, and its classic design still stands out among the competition. The third version of this Google-owned thermostat has a larger and sharper display than its predecessor. Like before, the Nest Learning Thermostat learns your behavior over time, so it can automatically change the temperature when someone comes home. 

While the Nest thermostat has a retro-style circular design, its brushed stainless steel finish and turning mechanism all feel premium. Plus, it comes in a variety of finishes, including Brass, Polished Steel, Copper, and White, so it can more easily fit in with your home decor. This thermostat combines the best of the past with the future, and is one of the best smart thermostats that's Google Home compatible.

Read our full Nest Learning Thermostat review.

Honeywell RTH6580WF (Image credit: Honeywell)

3. Honeywell RTH8580WF Wi-Fi Thermostat

The best smart thermostat for those on a budget.

Works With: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, | Remote Sensors: No | Self-Installation: Yes | Motion Activation: No | Works Offline: Yes

Inexpensive
Works with a lot of smart home devices
Basic design

The Honeywell RTH6580WF Wi-Fi Thermostat is the best smart thermostat for those on a budget, because offers much of the same functionality as higher-end models, but costs less than $100. 

Like the Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats, you can control the Honeywell RTH6580WF from your smartphone, and connect it to Alexa and Google Assistant, which not only lets you change the temperature with your voice, but link it with other smart home products. In addition, the Honeywell Home ecosystem includes a wide range of partners, including Arlo, Apple HomeKit, SmartThings, Lutron, Kwikset Kevo, and more.

What you don't get with the Honeywell RTH6580WF are the stylish looks of the Nest, nor the remote sensor capabilities found with the Ecobee. But, if all you're looking for is a smart thermostat that delivers on the basics, this is a great model to consider. 

Read our full Honeywell RTH6580WF review.

Ecobee3 Lite

Ecobee3 Lite (Image credit: Ecobee)

4. Ecobee3 Lite

A simple smart thermostat that lets you use remote sensors.

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, Logitech, Wink, IFTTT | Remote Sensors: Yes | Self-Installation: Yes | Motion Activation: Yes | Works Offline: Yes

Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit
Attractive interface
Easy installation
works with remote sensors
Lacks geofencing

Like the 5th-generation Ecobee thermostat, but don't care for Alexa, and are looking for something less expensive? The Ecobee 3 Lite has many of the same features as Ecobee's top-end model, but costs $80 less.

The Ecobee 3 Lite has a color touchscreen, intuitive interface and deep smart home integration. Plus, Ecobee also updated the Lite model to work with remote sensors so you can set it to keep the heat on until a room in a far corner of your house reaches a certain temperature. However, you have to purchase those sensors separately.

The Ecobee 3 Lite works with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and Alexa, but unlike the Ecobee 5th gen, Amazon's voice assistant isn't built into the thermostat. It also doesn't support HVAC accessories, so you can't use it if, say, you have two-stage heating and cooling. It also lacks eco+, which learns your schedule and recommends changes to help save you money. 

Read our full Ecobee3 Lite review.

Best smart thermostats: Sensibo Sky

Sensibo Sky (Image credit: Sensibo)

5. Sensibo Sky

An inexpensive way to make your window AC units smart

Works With: Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT | Remote Sensors: No | Self-Installation: Yes | Motion Activation: No | Works Offline: No

Easy to set up
Has robust scheduling, geofencing
Works with Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT
No controls or display on device

Most smart thermostats are designed for homes that have central heating and cooling systems, but what if you live in an older house or apartment, and rely on window air conditioners to keep things cool? There are a few companies that make smart thermostats for this purpose, and of them we think the Sensibo Sky is the best smart thermostat for those with in-wall or window air conditioners that have IR remotes. 

The Sensibo Sky is inexpensive, costing around $100, and was easy to set up, pairing with our window A/C unit in a flash. While the Sensibo Sky doesn't have any display to show the temperature, we liked its small, inconspicuous design. We also liked that it can be controlled remotely, and lets you create schedules for when they should turn on and off. It even has geofencing, so it can turn your AC on as you get home. Now that's cool.

Read our full Sensibo Sky review.

Nest Thermostat E

Nest Thermostat E (Image credit: Nest)

6. Nest Thermostat E

A lower-priced Nest smart thermostat

Works With: Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT | Remote Sensors: Optional | Self-Installation: Yes | Motion Activation: No | Works Offline: Yes

Cheaper than original Nest
Simple installation
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
Does not support two-stage heating/cooling
White display can be hard to read

The Nest Thermostat E is another excellent smart thermostat for less than $200. It's easier to set up than the pricier Nest Learning Thermostat, but still has many of the same features. However, the Nest Thermostat E doesn't support as many HVAC systems, nor does it support such features as two-stage heating and cooling. For the majority of homeowners, this shouldn't be an issue. 

The Nest Thermostat E has the same shape as the Nest Learning Thermostat, but instead of metal, it's made from plastic. Additionally, the Nest Thermostat E only comes in white, rather than the multitude of finishes for the pricier Nest Learning Thermostat. Lastly, the Nest Thermostat E's all-white display can be hard to read from a distance. But, if you're looking for something a bit less expensive than Nest's premium thermostat, the Nest E is one to consider.

Read our full Nest Thermostat E review.

Honeywell Home T9 Smart Thermostat

Honeywell Home T9 Smart Thermostat (Image credit: Honeywell)

7. Honeywell Home T9 Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat with useful remote sensors

Works With: Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT | Remote Sensors: Optional | Self-Installation: Yes | Motion Activation: No | Works Offline: Yes

Responsive sensors
Easy to set up
Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
App could be more intuitive
No Apple HomeKit integration at launch

The Honeywell T9 incorporates what we think is one of the best features for smart thermostats: Remote sensors that can measure the temperature and see if there's a person present, so that the thermostat can better adjust your HVAC system to make sure all rooms are comfortable. You can purchase it with a remote sensor for around $199, or without a sensor for around $169.

Honeywell's T9 smart thermostat has a rectangular shape, which gives it a more modern appearance than, say the Nest. We also like its large, bright display that boldly shows the current temperature. 

The Honeywell T9 works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, and it has a geofencing feature, so that the thermostat knows when you're nearing home, and will adjust the temperature accordingly. However, the Honeywell app could be easier to use, and this smart thermostat doesn't support Apple HomeKit.

Read our full Honeywell T9 review.

How to choose the best smart thermostat for you

When shopping for a smart thermostat, there are a few factors you need to consider. The first, of course, is how much do you want to spend?  

  • $200 and up: These are the premium models from Ecobee and Nest that include all the trimmings, and generally look the nicest. If you have two-stage heating or cooling, these are the models you'll want to look at, as less expensive ones lack the capability to support more complex HVAC systems.
  • $100-$200: The vast majority of smart thermostats lie in this price range, and should be sufficient for most consumers. However, you'll lose such features as two-stage heating and built-in voice assistants.
  • Below $100: These budget models have all the basics, such as smartphone control, but they're not as attractive to look at.

You'll also want to think about the size of your house, and if you have any rooms that don't get as hot or cold as you'd like. If that's the case, you should consider a smart thermostat that comes with, or supports, remote sensors. 

Other things to consider when looking for a smart thermostat are such features as geofencing — so that you can program it to turn the temperature lower when you leave, and back up when you return — as well as if it works with Alexa and Google Assistant.

How we test smart thermostats

There's no better way to see how well a smart thermostat performs than to put it in a house and live with it for a while. That way, we can first see how easy or difficult it is to install and set up. While all of the smart thermostats we review are designed to be installed by homeowners (rather than needing to call a professional), some can be more complicated than others.

During the testing period, we put the smart thermostat through its paces. How well does it respond to changes in temperature? Can you easily create a schedule? What features does it have? We also take a look at the accompanying app and web portal, if available. And, if the thermostat works with other smart home devices or Web-connected services (such as Alexa or Google Assistant), we test that functionality as well.

How to install a smart thermostat

For the most part, installing a thermostat, smart or not, is a fairly easy process, usually involving nothing more than a screwdriver and about half an hour of your time. Here's our guide to how to install a Nest thermostat; however, the procedure is similar for almost any thermostat.

  • seoguy
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomsguide.com/forum/id-2611611/smart-thermostats-2015.html
    Reply
  • wolf39
    Sorry - it's simply not true that Ecobee can support multiple zones. IT definitely CAN'T! It supports multiple thermostats, however it is not able to control multiple zones, which makes multiple thermostats kind of obsolete and nonsensical (unless you want to raise room temperature everywhere if you for example your bedroom is too cold). If you need multiple zone control support you need to get evohome or tado.
    Reply
  • Carl_12
    Can we install a thermostat ourselves ??
    Reply
  • bukzin
    Yes, these are meant to be installed by homeowners.
    Reply
  • Nguyen_13
    thank for you sharing!
    Reply
  • SteveReeves
    I think the room sensors that allow for temp control in the room that you're in is great!

    I've seen some smart vents that close themselves off too.

    Wonder if Nest is doing anything to counter this in upcoming releases.
    Reply
  • gardavis
    The Ecobee3 Lite now can support the sensors. In fact, they have a promotion at the vendor's site that includes 2 sensors and the Lite for $169. Also, I don't think the display is color as you say.
    Reply
  • chumgrinder
    Our home has two independent HVAC units. Our power company just introduced demand pricing that makes it very desirable for us to ensure that only one unit operates at a time. I suspect there must be a thermostat product that allows two thermostats to coordinate such that they take turns. Can anyone recommend one?
    Reply
  • ctn.gooners
    Nest does not make a thermostat that controls the maintenance band and does not allow users to modify and adjust the band that is stuck at +/-1°F. If you have an old cast iron heater system, DO NOT BUY a Nest. It will force your system to start up Everytime it drops a degree, and initial start ups will use more natural gas, therefore Nest does not save money. Nor does do they offer any help to remedy or fix the problem.
    Reply
  • reidg99
    Mike, I see very little information about notifications due to a power outage. I’m considering a Honeywell smart thermostat because it’s monitored by an outside server. From what I was told by Honeywell support, if I have a power outage their server will notify me that the thermostat is offline. That’s important to avoid frozen pipes at second homes, in my case a ski camp, or a primary home should it be left during vacation or otherwise in the winter. This service/feature is not considered in any of the top rated or recommended thermostat articles I’ve read...but should be. With that said, are there other smart thermostats that meet the above requirements that I should consider.
    Reply