How to Choose the Right WiFi Thermostat: 5 Things to Consider

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Last updated: 
April 15, 2024

WiFi Thermostats: The Future of Smart Home Technology

WiFi thermostats are becoming increasingly popular as smart-home technology and automation evolves. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global smart thermostat market size is expected to reach $6.4 billion by 2025 . The current WiFi thermostat models available are the second or third generation from most manufacturers, offering advanced control, convenience, easy setup, and intuitive learning technology.

If you're new to WiFi thermostats, this guide will provide you with the essential information and tips to help you choose the right model for your home.

WiFi Thermostat Buying Tips

With dozens of quality models available, selecting the right WiFi thermostat can be overwhelming. These five tips focus on functionality and brands to help you choose a unit that will control your system to suit your lifestyle.

1. Set a Budget or Pick Your Features

WiFi thermostats start at about $80 for basic models, such as the RTH6580WF Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat with 7-day programming ($88). High-end models with full-color LCD touchscreens, like the Lennox iComfort with 5-day forecast, can cost more than $400 ($440). Most full-function WiFi thermostat models without a touchscreen or forecast cost between $135 and $250, including popular options like Nest (+/-$225) and ecobee ($170-$250) .

2. Ensure Compatibility with Your HVAC System

Most WiFi thermostat models work with the 95 percent of HVAC systems that use low voltage (24 volts). If you have one of the few 110V systems still in use, indicated by wiring nut connections or the back of the thermostat stamped "110V," then the system isn't compatible with a WiFi thermostat .

To check compatibility, you can either buy a WiFi thermostat made by your HVAC brand (if available) or use the compatibility checker on the thermostat manufacturer's website. Simply look at the wiring connections on the back of your current thermostat and select the corresponding letters on the compatibility checker.

3. Check for a Common Wire

A WiFi thermostat requires continuous power to remain connected, which is provided by a common wire or C-wire. If your thermostat doesn't have a C-wire, you have four options:

  • Install a C-wire
  • Replace all the thermostat wiring with new 18/5 5-conductor wire
  • Install a Venstar Add-a-Wire adapter ($25-$35)
  • Choose a WiFi thermostat like the ecobee3 that has a compatible power extender kit (PEK) ($20-$25)

Our research suggests that the cleanest, most future-proof method is to run new 5-conductor wiring, which can be installed by an HVAC technician or electrician for $100 to $200.

4. Choose a Programmable WiFi Thermostat that Fits your Schedule

Programmable WiFi thermostats offer various scheduling functions, such as 7-day, 5-2, and 5-1-1. According to the US Department of Energy, a programmable thermostat can reduce energy use and cost by 10 percent when used properly . WiFi thermostat models with top ratings for easy setup and programming include:

  • Honeywell Lyric
  • Emerson Sensi
  • Carrier Côr
  • Bryant Housewise
  • Nest
  • Ecobee Smart SI
  • LUX Geo

5. Check Compatibility with Your Home Automation System or Amazon Alexa

Many WiFi thermostat models work directly with Alexa or integrate with home automation systems through hubs. Some of the most popular Alexa-compatible WiFi thermostats include:

NestAlexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
Ecobee3Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, SmartThings
Honeywell Lyric T5Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT
Emerson SensiAlexa, Google Assistant, Wink
Carrier CôrAlexa
iDevicesAlexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT

Check the website of the automation equipment manufacturer or the thermostat manufacturer to ensure compatibility and find instructions on setting up the WiFi thermostat on the system.

Buy, Read and Learn

While the ease of use for WiFi thermostats has improved, there is still a learning curve. After purchasing your WiFi thermostat, download the app, read the enclosed literature, and watch demo videos on the manufacturer's site. With a little practice, you'll soon master your new thermostat and enjoy the benefits of smart home technology.

If you have experience with a WiFi thermostat, please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. Your insights can help others make informed decisions when choosing a WiFi thermostat for their home.


  1. Grand View Research. (2019). Smart Thermostat Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product (Standalone, Connected), By Technology (Wired, Wireless), By Application (Residential, Commercial, Industrial), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2019 - 2025.
  2. WiFi Thermostat Prices. (2021).
  3. Compatibility with HVAC Systems. (2021).
  4. US Department of Energy. (n.d.). Thermostats.

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