The need for one of the best smart thermostats has never been greater. Now that many are going to be working from home for the foreseeable future, a smart thermostat is an essential piece of equipment for making sure your house remains at a comfortable temperature both day and night.
Some thermostats can even potentially save you money in the long run; as their sensors learn your behavior, they'll tailor your home's heating and air conditioning to your patterns, and adjust based on the weather conditions.
Another advantage of a smart thermostat is that you can control it from your smartphone, and also link it 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.
Do you rely on window AC units to keep your home or apartment cool? Be sure to check out our picks for the best smart air conditioners.
The best smart thermostats you can buy today
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sensibo has a newer version, the Sensibo Air ($179), which also includes a motion sensor; this can be configured so that the Sensibo Air will turn off your air conditioner when no one is no longer present, and turn back on when someone enters the room.
Read our full Sensibo Sky review.
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.
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.