The best Smart Wifi Thermostats
2017 was a busy year for home automation – the battle has been so intense that it’s changed the overall best wifi smart thermostat, in my opinion. You have familiar names like Nest, adding to their assortment of Smart Thermostats to Honeywell offering some interesting options. You also (finally) have some Apple HomeKit Compatible thermostats.
How I picked the best smart wifi thermostat of 2018
This was tough. I’m reviewing a ton of smart home products all of the time. The main requirements for the best smart wifi thermostat of 2018 are pretty straightforward:
- The best smart thermostat has to be easy to use. There’s no reason to suffer from a “dumb” thermostat anymore.
- The best smart wifi thermostat needs to be easy to install. You shouldn’t need a PhD to install a thermostat. The best smart thermostat needs to work on many different setups and be easy to install.
- The best smart wifi thermostat needs to save you money. These smart thermostats aren’t cheap. They range from $100 and up. The Best Smart Wifi thermostat needs to save you money while keeping you comfortable.
Not only did I test the smart thermostats, I depend upon customer reviews of the product to validate or question my thoughts about the best smart thermostat of 2018.
The Best Smart Thermostats of 2018
Of course, there couldn’t be just one “best” – your needs will vary. I’ve broken it down into three winners of the best smart thermostats:
This will provide you with several options for the best smart thermostat of 2018. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the top smart thermostats.
Best Smart Wifi Thermostat: Overall – ecobee4
Why is ecobee4 the pick for the Best Smart Wifi Thermostat? It’s pretty simple: the ecobee3 was a much lesser-known thermostat than the Nest. The ecobee3 was a fan favorite. It got rave reviews. The ecobee4 builds on the ecobee3 by adding a KILLER feature: Amazon Alexa into the thermostat. That’s right: the thermostat has Amazon Alexa built into the Smart Thermostat.
Why is ecobee4 the best? Multi-room sensors
On top of the functionality of an Amazon Echo into the thermostat, it has features not available on the big dog in the market, Nest. The biggest is Multi-room sensors. This is a big pet peeve of mine with the design of most HVAC Systems: Usually, the thermostat is in an odd location – one bedroom, by the front door, etc. My thermostat is right by the front door, about 50 feet away from the living room. Sometimes the difference in temperature can be 5 degrees. We have a fireplace in the living room and it’s usually warm enough in the living room, but the thermostat is reporting the temperature. That means that the heater is running when it doesn’t need it.
The ecobee4 comes with a room sensor to heat or cool the room based on where the sensors are – not where the thermostat is. This is a killer feature for oddly-placed thermostats, but also if you want to make sure something like your kid’s room/nursery is the right temperature.
ecobee 4 has Amazon Alexa built in
The other killer feature is Amazon Alexa built right into the device. That’s right, you can ask your ecobee4 Smart Wifi Thermostat anything you can ask you Amazon Echo. Crazy! Imagine you’re having a dinner party and need to set a timer, you simply can say “Alexa, start a timer for 10 minutes.” The ecobee4 has a built-in far-field microphone and a speaker to respond.
Another thing that makes the ecobee4 the best smart, wifi thermostat is that it integrates with Apple HomeKit (see more Apple HomeKit Compatible Products). The ecobee4 also integrates with Wink, SmartThings and Amazon Alexa. It can be controlled via IFTTT (and use Google Home to do it). It can not be directly controlled by Google Home.
I just installed a whole-home humidifier, which is helpful in the Colorado Winter. The ecobee4 can be used to control a home humidifier, if you have one. Nest can’t do that.
As of publishing, Amazon had $40 off the ecobee4 here.
That brings me up to a capable, cheaper runner-up.
Second Best Smart Wifi Thermostat: Runner Up
This is almost a tie. The Nest Thermostat E is a great device. Some even say that it’s better than the top-of-line Nest thermostat. Usually, the cheaper version is the less superior version. However, the Nest E takes the best from the Nest Thermostat and improves on the design.
Nest – the original smart thermostat
A Nest thermostat was the first Smart Home Product I ever owned. When I lived in Texas, the ability to pre-cool my house before I got home from work was like black magic. I loved it. I’ve had several versions of the Nest Thermostat, but not much has changed over the years (larger, brighter and thinner screen and minimal new features). The Nest Thermostat E is a full-powered smart Wifi Thermostat, just like the original Nest Thermostat. You can control the Nest with your smartphone and Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Nest uses your smartphone location and motion sensors to determine when you’re home, when you’re not. You can even add multiple people to the account – so even if I’m not home, but my wife is – the app is smart enough to recognize it.
Nest is the original smart thermostat and it’s still one of the best.
What the difference between the Nest Thermostats?
Frankly, there’s no need for the full-color display on the regular ol’ Nest. Here’s what is different between the Nest Thermostat E and the full Nest Thermostat:
- The Nest Thermostat has a full-color display. The Nest E is a simple two-color display – a nice blue when air conditioning is being used and a warm amber when heat is being used. The Original Nest also has a feature called Farsight that will show you the time, weather, or temperature from across the room.
- The Nest Thermostat works with 95 percent of homes. The Nest Thermostat E works with 85 percent of homes. Nest has a great tool to see what product will work in your home.
- The Nest Thermostat has a metal ring and comes in multiple colors (Black, White, Silver, and Bronze). The Nest Thermostat E has a plastic ring and only comes in white.
The Nest E feels a little cheaper than the Original Nest. But, for something you barely use (it’s on your wall and I mostly control this with my phone – or automatically), you won’t notice the cheaper finish.
None of the Nest thermostats are HomeKit Compatible. Nest is owned by Google. Apple makes HomeKit. That’s why you won’t see support anytime soon.
Both Nest Thermostats work with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Independent studies show that Nest can save money on your heating (about 10-12%) and cooling (15%). Based on average energy costs, this equals $131 – $145/year. This makes the Nest Thermostat E almost a wash in the first year alone.
Here’s where I’ve found the best deal on the Nest Thermostat E.
Best Budget Smart WiFi Thermostat
This is the cheapest Nest thermostat alternative. But at $75, I’m not sure that I can recommend it with the new Nest Thermostat E being only $175 (and many utility companies giving a rebate to purchase).
Sure, this Honeywell thermostat has Wifi, but it doesn’t have the smart scheduling and home/away of the Nest Thermostats or the Ecobee Thermostats.
I think, in the long run (heck, even the shorter run), you’ll be better off purchasing the Nest Thermostat E.
The Don’t Buy List
The Honeywell Lyric T5 is a strong no-buy on my list for a very odd reason: the screen never turns off. I tried this device in the middle of summer in my upstairs bedroom. Little did I know, you can’t turn off the screen. So, I was blinded by the light of the device. So, I put a blanket over the thermostat. Guess what? That made the thermostat think it was 100 Degrees. so, the A/C blasted all night long. I loved it, but my wife hates being cold.
Best Wifi Thermostat: Round-up
If you want the best overall thermostat, with the most integrations, you can’t go wrong with ecobee4. If you want something a little less complicated (and a lot cheaper), take a look at the Nest Thermostat E. You can’t go wrong, frankly, with either one.
What do you think? Do you agree/disagree?