The best smart thermostats to buy this year

Smart thermostats You can manage more than just heating and cooling your home. This app capable Smart home devices You can set your thermostat from your phone whether you're on the couch, at the grocery store, or on vacation – anywhere your phone or mobile device is connected to a WiFi or cellular network. Many smart thermostats also work with Alexa, Google assistant and Siri Now you also have another option to adjust your settings by remotely accessing your smart home systems.

Some smart thermostat systems also use smart features like a motion sensor to determine if you're home or away and to automatically change the temperature – both heating and cooling – for you without fiddling with your HVAC system. Others rely on a geofencing radius: as soon as you are a certain distance from your home, they automatically switch to Away mode and back to Home mode when you return. Add to this features like remote sensors, a power extender kit, and thermostats that work with existing infrastructures (in other words, compatible with them) Apple HomeKit) and of course thermostats that measure your energy consumption to make your home more energy efficient. A smart home thermostat is an energy efficient smart device that is good for both the environment and your wallet.

Even better, these options go far beyond a programmable thermostat – you want a learning thermostat that allows you to better regulate the temperature to your liking.

To accompany these modern functions, many connected heating and cooling systems have an innovative design. Of a rounded shape Smart thermostats look very different than traditional thermostats on a responsive touchscreen. They can also send you Smart Alerts, synchronize them with the rest of the Smart Home devices and some even respond to voice commands.

Let's examine the options available, model by model. We'll highlight what sets each model apart from the others and ultimately pick an overall winner of the best smart thermostat from the package. Here is a list of smart thermostats we recently tested:

Chris Monroe / CNET

The Ecobee Smart Thermostat is my favorite pick for the best Smart Thermostat available today. Yes, it's expensive at $ 249, but it has the power and features to secure it – especially if you want to talk to Alexa without need to buy an Amazon Echo. If you don't need or don't want an Amazon Alexa speaker, the $ 169 Ecobee3 Lite Wi-Fi thermostat is also a great option.

Read our test report on the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control.

Look at that:

Ecobee's new thermostat is part of the Alexa speaker


Chris Monroe / CNET

The Honeywell Lyric T5 costs less than $ 150, making it our pick for the best smart thermostat for the budget conscious consumer. I know this is not accurate affordable. But it's a solid price for a Wi-Fi thermostat. Many models, including the Nest Learning Thermostat and Ecobee4, cost $ 249. This makes the T5 a great "budget" option that works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri (via Apple's HomeKit).

Read our test report on the Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat.

Chris Monroe / CNET

The Honeywell Home T9 is a $ 200 smart thermostat from Resideo. The T9 works with Alexa and Google Assistant, delivering reliable performance and a solid app. The device is also equipped with remote humidity, proximity and temperature sensors, making it the smartest sensor accessory around. The Nest sensor only provides measured values ​​for the ambient temperature, while the Ecobee sensor only has functions for temperature and proximity detection.

Read our Resideo Honeywell Home T9 Smart Thermostat Review.

Chris Monroe / CNET

The Ecobee Smart Thermostat is equipped with the integrated Alexa from Amazon. Ask the speaker about the temperature and the current weather forecast to tell you a joke – and to adjust the air conditioning on your smart thermostat without the need for a separate Alexa speaker. This programmable Wi-Fi thermostat also offers mobile app integration with Google Assistant and Siri. So if you have a Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker or HomePod, you can control it with the Google Assistant and Siri commands.

Read our test report on the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control.

Chris Monroe / CNET

The setup of the Ecobee Mobile App is straightforward and easy to install and navigate. That sounds simple enough, but so many apps make it difficult to find the setting or function you want. Not so with the Ecobee smartphone app. This is important because the mobile app is one of the most important ways to interact with your Wi-Fi thermostat when you're not in front of it (aside from using a voice command).

Read our test report on the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control.

Test the thermostat

Let's talk about testing. Smart thermostats start with the installation. Installation can vary widely from thermostat to thermostat and between HVAC systems. However, there are some basic steps involved in installing these devices. As always, reach out to a professional installer with any questions about the setup process. Here are the general steps:

  • Turn off your thermostat at the circuit breaker
  • Remove the old thermostat
  • Install the base plate of the thermostat using the screws provided
  • Attach the wires to the wire clips
  • Snap the front panel into place
  • Turn on the circuit breaker

Was it particularly difficult to install the thermostat? If yes why? For example, certain models require a C-wire, which can make installation difficult if you don't have one. Not sure what a C-wire is? Start here.

From there I go to the app. Every smart thermostat has one. I'll download the app and create an account if I don't already have one. Then I configure the thermostat according to the steps in the app. This usually means connecting to the local Wi-Fi network and giving your thermostat a name such as "Hallway" or "Bedroom". You can then use your thermostat.

How well does the app work? Is it easy to navigate to the thermostat settings you want? Is it easy to schedule or enable geofencing? This influences the usability score of the thermostat as well as the simple manual control of the thermostat hardware.

I'm also testing smart home integration, especially voice-controlled systems that you can access via voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. Most connected thermostats are compatible with at least one voice assistant and some like that Ecobee3 Lite and Ecobee Smart Thermostatwork with all three. Do the voice commands flow naturally like in an actual conversation? Did the thermostat actually adjust the temperature – heating and cooling – according to your commands?

All of these things determine the total score of a smart thermostat and how likely it is that I will recommend it.

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