The 10 Best Thermostats: Modern Features And Ease Of Use

Published by 
AllThingsHVAC
Last updated: 
January 5, 2022

Digital Thermostat

Thermostats have come a long way from simple manual HVAC controls. This article explores the two main categories today, programmable and smart, and recommends the best thermostat in each.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why buy a new thermostat?

Why limit yourself to simply raising or lowering the temperature when you feel uncomfortable? The best thermostat allows you to enter complex heating and cooling schedules that anticipate your presence, access your thermostat remotely or by voice, integrate it with the rest of your living environment’s control systems, and track efficient energy use. It can even learn your temperature preferences automatically.

What is a programmable thermostat?

A basic thermostat that allows you to manually enter a simple schedule of days, times and desired temperatures throughout the week. These devices often support less complex HVAC systems and have few extra features. They are quite economical compared to smart thermostats.

What is a smart thermostat?

A smart thermostat provides remote wireless access to your HVAC system, integration with other smart devices and assistants, intelligent energy data collection and display, creation of more complex schedules that automatically adjust if you’re not at home, and generally enable the most efficient use of your HVAC system. A smart learning thermostat goes one step further by observing how you manually adjust the system over time and anticipating your needs automatically.

Where can you buy one?

All the thermostats in this article can be purchased on Amazon. Many are also available from local hardware stores or large retailers, such as Home Depot, Best Buy or Walmart.

How much does it cost?

The best thermostat price depends on many factors, including the brand. The programmable thermostats in this article are priced under $70.00 while most of the smart thermostats are under $200.00.

Modern Programming Thermostat

Modern Programming Thermostat on a orange wall

How The Thermostats Were Reviewed

These thermostats were carefully reviewed for ease of use, range of HVAC equipment and smart assistants supported, remote access, geofencing capabilities, use of remote temperature sensors, recording and dispensing of historical energy use data, and price for the features provided. Customer reviews and the maker's brand were also considered, resulting in a one to five star rating for each unit.

Overall Price Range

All the thermostats reviewed are priced from $35.00 - $250. Both list and Amazon prices are shown when available.

Top 10 Best Thermostats

The Nest Thermostat E is not only a smart thermostat, but a learning thermostat. It monitors the changes you make to your cooling and heating settings over time, then does what it thinks you prefer. It starts this process from a common schedule rather than a blank slate, which reduces the learning time required.

This smart yet simple thermostat can utilize remote sensors to keep the temperature in different rooms as balanced as possible. It also provides a 10-day energy use history and lets you know when you choose a temperature that saves you money. When it determines that you’re away from home (through a combination of smartphone and presence sensor based geofencing), it can interrupt its schedule so you’re not heating or cooling an empty house. Voice interaction, wi-fi and other smart assistant features work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The Nest Thermostat E is rated by Energy Star, and it doesn’t require a “C” wire to operate in most cases. It’s also smaller, lighter and less expensive than the slightly more advanced Nest Learning Thermostat.

Thermostat Type:

Smart, Learning

Remote Temp Sensors:

Yes

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

Yes/Alexa, Google Assistant

Voice Commands:

Yes

Requires “C” Wire:

N in most cases

Geofencing:

Phone + Presence

Energy reports:

Yes

This Nest device is also a smart, learning thermostat like the Nest Thermostat E. It has a higher resolution (480x480) color screen that you can see across the room. You can choose between temperature, weather and clock faces for the default display. When it begins to learn your preferences, it starts with a blank slate rather than a common preset schedule.

This third-generation thermostat supports more complex HVAC systems, including those with humidifiers, three-stage heating and similar equipment. The thermostat case is also available in four different colors. In all other respects, it’s identical to the Thermostat E.

Thermostat Type:

Smart, Learning

Remote Temp Sensors:

Yes

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

Yes/Alexa, Google Assistant

Voice Commands:

Yes

Requires “C” Wire:

N in most cases

Geofencing:

Phone + Presence

Energy reports:

Yes

Honeywell’s Lyric T5 smart thermostat is also Energy Star rated. It uses geofencing to determine when you’re away, though it relies only on your phone being out of range (no presence sensors). Alternatively, you can program times and temperatures for four periods: Sleep, Away, Home and Wake Up. These can be set to occur every day, on weekdays only or on weekends only.

The T5 integrates well with Apple’s HomeKit, as well as Google Assistant and Alexa. It does require a “C” wire for power.

Thermostat Type:

Smart

Remote Temp Sensors:

No

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

Y/Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri (w/HomeKit)

Voice Commands:

Yes

Requires “C” Wire:

Yes

Geofencing:

Phone Only

Energy reports:

No

Like most of the other smart thermostats reviewed here, the Lux Kono works with Alexa, HomeKit and Google Assistant. It includes geofencing based on the proximity of your smartphone to tell if you’re at home. It also helps you save money by telling you how much your energy costs will go up or down each time you change the temperature setting.

The Lux Kono does not require a “C” wire, instead using a power bridge that connects to your HVAC system. Like the others reviewed here, it can control multiple heating and cooling devices. Be sure to purchase an authentic device as Amazon also lists an “unauthorized” less-expensive Lux Kono that does not work with smart assistants.

Thermostat Type:

Smart

Remote Temp Sensors:

No

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

Y/Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri (w/HomeKit)

Voice Commands:

Yes

Requires “C” Wire:

N, comes w/power bridge

Geofencing:

Phone Only

Energy reports:

Yes

The Ecobee4 is a smart thermostat loaded with features. Its remote temperature sensors include motion detectors so the Ecobee4 can adjust the temperature as you move through the house. In addition to Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit, it also supports other smart assistants, including SmartThings. The HomeKit integration provides easy thermostat control from an iPhone or Siri.

An Alexa smart speaker/mic is built into the thermostat in case you don’t have an Echo or Echo Dot speaker already in the same room with your thermostat. You can ask Alexa what the temperature is at remote sensors, program your schedule and find out which HVAC equipment is running.

With the Ecobee4, you can use geofencing in place of a fixed cooling and heating schedule. When you’re away (determined by presence sensors and the proximity of your smartphone), geofencing will change its schedule to something more appropriate for an empty home. Like many smart thermostats, the Ecobee4 is Energy Star rated. It provides detailed energy reports after accumulating usage data for the first month. It does require a “C” wire, but if you don’t have one, it includes a power extender kit that you can connect to your HVAC system instead.

Thermostat Type:

Smart

Remote Temp Sensors:

Yes

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

Y/Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri (w/HomeKit)

Voice Commands:

Yes

Requires “C” Wire:

Y, includes power-extender kit

Geofencing:

Phone + Presence

Energy reports:

Yes

The Emerson Sensi Touch is a smart thermostat with basic features. Those include phone-based geofencing that lowers your temperature setting by three degrees if it thinks you’re away from home. The Sensi Touch integrates with Alexa, HomeKit and Google Assistant.

It does require a “C” wire for operating power, and like the others reviewed here, it can control multiple heating and cooling devices.

Thermostat Type:

Smart

Remote Temp Sensors:

No

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

Y/Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri (w/HomeKit)

Voice Commands:

Yes

Requires “C” Wire:

Yes

Geofencing:

Phone only

Energy reports:

No

The Honeywell RTH6450D1009/E1 is a conventional programmable thermostat. Using the physical up/down arrow keys and buttons, you can program a heating/cooling schedule. Three different schedules can be entered: one for all weekdays, one for Saturdays and one for Sundays. It automatically pre-heats or pre-cools your home to the temperature you set at exactly the desired time. It doesn’t require a “C” wire, but NiMh batteries are needed.

Thermostat Type:

Programmable

Remote Temp Sensors:

No

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

No

Voice Commands:

No

Requires “C” Wire:

No

Geofencing:

No

Energy reports:

No

The Lux TX9600TS is a simple touchscreen programmable thermostat. Each of seven days can be programmed individually, with two or four periods per day. You can set temperature limits, monitor energy and air filter usage, temporarily override the current temperature, and set a four-digit code to lock out unauthorized users.

This thermostat can control up to two stages of heating (no electric baseboard heaters) and one stage of cooling. No “C” wire is required, but batteries are.

Thermostat Type:

Programmable

Remote Temp Sensors:

No

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

No

Voice Commands:

No

Requires “C” Wire:

No

Geofencing:

No

Energy reports:

No

The Honeywell RTH8500D is a programmable touchscreen thermostat with a seven individual day schedule. It automatically pre-heats/pre-cools your home to the desired temperature. You can also monitor air filter usage time and set up a vacation hold to pause your schedule until you return.

This thermostat can control up to two stages of heating (no electric baseboard heaters) and two stages of cooling. The RTH8500D does require a “C” wire for its operating power.

Thermostat Type:

Programmable

Remote Temp Sensors:

No

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

No

Voice Commands:

No

Requires “C” Wire:

No

Geofencing:

No

Energy reports:

No

The Lux TX500U is a conventional programmable thermostat with physical buttons instead of a touchscreen. You can program a weekday and a weekend schedule for your HVAC system, with two or four periods per day. It automatically pre-heats or pre-cools your home. You can set a vacation hold for up to 30 days, track the air filter usage and set a code to prevent unauthorized use.

This thermostat can control up to two stages of heating and one stage of cooling (no electric baseboard heaters). It doesn’t need a “C” wire, but does use AA batteries.

Thermostat Type:

Programmable

Remote Temp Sensors:

No

Smart Assistant/Wireless:

No

Voice Commands:

No

Requires “C” Wire:

No

Geofencing:

No

Energy reports:

No

Comparison Table

Product

Type

Sensors

Assistant

Buy Now

Smart, Learning

Smart, Learning

Smart

Smart

Smart

Smart

Programmable

Programmable

Programmable

Programmable

Recommendation

Among the six smart thermostats reviewed here, our recommendation for best thermostat is the Nest Thermostat E. It provides the best combination of modern features and ease of use for the price. The other five smart thermostats are also good, and one may be a better fit for you, depending upon your specific needs.

Of the four simple programmable thermostats reviewed, the Honeywell RTH8500D has the most features, but all get the job done for an economical price.

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