Best Smart Thermostat iMore 2020
Amongst all of the choices for a smart thermostat, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat is the best you can buy today. Not only does it work with up to 32 room sensors, but it supports Apple's HomeKit home automation system and comes with Amazon Alexa built-in. The Ecobee 3 Lite is also a powerful, low-cost alternative. If Ecobee isn't for you, there are also excellent smart thermostat solutions from Google's Nest and Honeywell too, check out our guide to the best smart thermostats on the market.
- Best Overall: Ecobee Smart Thermostat
- Best for Small Locations: Ecobee 3 Lite
- Best Alternative: Nest Learning Thermostat
- Best Value: Honeywell Lyric T5
- Best No-Hassle: Nest Thermostat E
- Best Screen: Emerson Sensi Touch
Best Overall: Ecobee Smart Thermostat
The Ecobee Smart Thermostat is for anyone who wants to control their home environment using a voice assistant. With the Alexa-enabled Ecobee Smart Thermostat, you get all the magic of the HomeKit plus built-in Alexa voice control. Even better, thanks to the built-in speaker and microphone setup, Alexa is just as powerful on the Ecobee Smart Thermostat as it is on Amazon's Echo products.
Ask Alexa to set a timer, adjust the lighting, give you the steps to a recipe, play some jazz. You can do it all right from your smart thermostat. You can also, of course, use Alexa to adjust the temperature in your home, but that's just one tiny detail. It comes with embedded microphones that feature far-field voice recognition (the same technology that makes the Amazon Echo hear you from across the room) and a speaker that makes Alexa sound loud and clear, despite coming from a thermostat fastened to your wall.
With HomeKit compatibility, you get full support for Siri control, including the ability to change temperature with your voice and trigger more complex actions with scenes, using your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. This device also supports IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, Alexa, Google Assistant, and many more integrations.
- Built-in Alexa control
- Full Siri and HomeKit control
- Remote sensor compatibility
- No local app control
- Not for the privacy-minded
The Ecobee Smart Thermostat includes remote sensors that allow you to know the temperatures all around your home and not just where the device resides.
Best for Small Locations: Ecobee 3 Lite
The Ecobee 3 Lite is more or less an Ecobee Smart Thermostat without the room sensors. It has all the same great features, including HomeKit compatibility and Siri control; it's just constrained to the area where you install the main unit out of the box. However, you can buy remote sensors separately to see the temperature in other areas of your home if you choose to expand later.
The main differences between it and the Ecobee 4 are the lack of an integrated Amazon Alexa speaker, room sensor, and occupancy detection. The Ecobee 3 Lite is also slightly smaller than the newer model but isn't compatible with as many heating/cooling systems.
- Low cost
- Easy installation
- Room sensors not included
- Incompatible with certain equipment
- No occupancy detection
Best for Small Locations
Smaller, but capable
If you have a small apartment, condo, or home, or simply don't feel the need for extra sensors in other rooms, go with the Ecobee 3 Lite.
Best Alternative: Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat remains a popular choice even though it's not one of the newest smart thermostats on the block. With a HAL-like dial that still looks futuristic, the Nest device is largely simple to use and works great with the Nest app for iOS. It also supports the Works with Nest program, which provides integrations with dozens of other smart home products, including home security systems, cameras, locks, and more.
By definition, the Nest Learning Thermostat takes the temperatures that you like, then builds a schedule that it believes will suit you. In doing so, you'll be more comfortable in your home while also saving on heating and cooling bills. As part of its learning, the thermostat also adapts to the changing seasons in your area.
- Compatible with 95% of HVAC systems
- Multiple color options
- High-quality materials
- Learning features may not work for all
- Limited integrations
The Nest Learning Thermostat is a great alternative if you don't need HomeKit compatibility and have other "Works with Nest" products in your house.
Best Value: Honeywell Lyric T5
You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a high-quality smart thermostat. The Honeywell Lyric T5 provides most of the features of the more expensive options but for less money. The main drawback of this lower cost: a design that looks a little bit dated, even though it features all of the smart goodies. Beyond this, you still get to experience voice control, scheduling, smart alerts, and more through integrations with HomeKit and Alexa.
- Smart alerts
- Price (look for discounts)
- Flexible scheduling options
- No humidity and motion sensors
- Requires C-Wire
- Somewhat dated design
Despite its dated design, the Honeywell Lyric T5 offers flexible scheduling and location-based temperature control. HomeKit and Alexa offer voice control.
Best No-Hassle: Nest Thermostat E
The Nest Thermostat E, like its more expensive sibling, learns as you use it, creating an automatic schedule for heating and cooling. It also works with voice assistants and features most of the same sensors as the Nest Learning Thermostat. Of course, it is missing the metal casing and color options, that Nest is famous for. However, the real downside is that it doesn't work with quite as many HVAC systems as the Learning Thermostat, sporting 85% compatibility.
- Cheaper than the Learning Thermostat
- Works with "most" heating and cooling setups
- Fully featured
- No color options
- Basic design
- Learning functions may not fit all
Almost as good for less
The Nest Thermostat E is similar to the Learning Thermostat but comes in at a lower cost. A basic design does not mean that you have to settle for less.
Best Screen: Emerson Sensi Touch
Emerson's Sensi Touch thermostat features a large widescreen touch display making it easy to make adjustments on the device itself. Speaking of changes, the Sensi Touch has quick access shortcuts to standard features such as turning on just house fan, directly from the home screen.
This thermostat also includes a backlight option that lights the area around it at night, preventing it from lighting up your room with a huge display. This backlight is also handy for the installation process, as it lights up the wiring terminals, giving you a better look at where your wires are going.
- Huge screen
- Two-color options
- Room sensors not included
- Incompatible with certain equipment
- No occupancy detection
Emerson's Sensi Touch has a big, beautiful touchscreen and two color options. This thermostat includes a handy backlight for locating it at night.
Having a smart thermostat in your home offers convenience and control, all while saving you a little money in the process. For some, the thermostat is not always in the most accessible location; this is where app voice control comes in. Changing the temperature in your home from the comforts of your couch or bed is more than worth the cost of admission, and scheduling features are the icing on the cake.
For most people, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat is the best around. This thermostat is fully featured and caters to folks who are all-in on Apple or those who prefer Alexa control. Over time, expand your Ecobee Smart Thermostat's footprint by adding additional room sensors. Ultimately, your decision should come down to how much you want to control the temperature in your home and where.
The team that worked on this guide
Mikah Sargent is Senior Editor at Mobile Nations. When he's not bothering his chihuahuas, Mikah spends entirely too much time and money on HomeKit products. You can follow him on Twitter at @mikahsargent if you're so inclined.
Derek Kessler is Managing Editor for Mobile Nations, where he covers tech across the spectrum. He got his start a decade ago writing about Palm and hasn't stopped since. In his desk drawer, you will find way too many phones. Derek also does a fair bit of technical work (including this fancy page); he's @derekakessler on Twitter if you dare.
Rene Ritchie has been covering the personal technology industry for a decade. An outspoken analyst and critic, he writes at iMore.com/vector, podcasts at applepodcasts.com/vector, and you can find his show at youtube.com/vector. Follow him @reneritchie on Twitter and Instagram.
Bryan M Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. A Penn State graduate, Bryan is also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe
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