Ecobee Smart Thermostat in front of a windowSource: Ecobee

Best Alternatives to the Nest Learning Thermostat iMore 2020

Nest's über-popular Learning Thermostat is the go-to solution for lots of folks looking to add smarts to their heating and cooling systems. That said, it's not for everyone — particularly for those who've gone all-in on HomeKit. That's where alternatives like the excellent ecobee SmartThermostat come into play. This thermostat may not be as flashy, but it includes almost all of the smarts, works with HomeKit, and it comes with a handy remote sensor. Here's a look at some of the best options available to you!

Best Overall: ecobee SmartThermostat

ecobee SmartThermostat on a wall in front of person walking down stairsSource: ecobee

Not only is it our pick for the best smart thermostat, the ecobee SmartThermostat also happens to be one of our favorite smart home accessories. This is due in large part to the ever-so-clever remote sensors that independently measure temperature and sense motion. You can use these sensors to give your thermostat a better idea of the temperature in your home (averaged out across the various sensors) as well as whether or not anyone is home and in what rooms they might be located.

The ecobee SmartThermostat comes with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant built-in, thanks to embedded microphones that feature far-field voice recognition. That means, on top of working with Apple's HomeKit, remote RoomSensors, and energy-saving benefits, you can use the ecobee SmartThermostat in the same way you'd use an Echo device. Ask Alexa to set a timer, adjust the lighting, remind you to take out the trash, or play some music — you can do it all right from your smart thermostat.

Pros:

  • Easy installation
  • Remote RoomSensor included
  • Supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Requires internet connection for non-HomeKit use
  • Doesn't learn from usage

Best Overall

ecobee SmartThermostat

Everything you need

ecobee's latest features easy installation, app controls, and voice commands with Alexa. Plus, its room sensor helps to provide a more comfortable home.

Best Value: iDevices Smart Thermostat

iDevices Smart Thermostat installed on a brown wallSource: iDevices

Despite its low price and lack of a touchscreen, the iDevices Smart Thermostat still packs in a compelling list of features. A clean, minimal, thermostat design makes on-device controls simple through capacitive buttons, and a small LCD display puts the temperature front-and-center.

This Wi-Fi thermostat connects to your home network to offer up convenient controls through Alexa, HomeKit, and the Google Assistant, as well as the iDevices app. Custom schedules and scenes can help to reduce energy usage and make management a breeze by never having to forget to turn it off when leaving again.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Small compact design
  • Supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit

Cons:

  • Tiny LCD display
  • Not a touchscreen
  • No learning features

Best Value

iDevices Smart Thermostat

Budget-friendly smarts

The iDevices Thermostat is an affordable option that doesn't skimp on features. It works with most smart voice assistants and an app for remote controls.

Best Design: Emerson Sensi Touch

Emerson Sensi Touch in White in a living room settingSource: Emerson

The Emerson Sensi Touch is a fantastic-looking smart thermostat with a gigantic, color touchscreen display, but it offers more than just good looks. This thermostat has installation-friendly touches such as a backlight, built-in level, and spring-loaded wiring terminals that help to get you up and running in minutes.

Smart features include scheduling, as well as geofencing capabilities that can turn down your heating and cooling when you're away and resume your settings when you're home, saving you money in the long run. It also works with HomeKit, the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Wink, SmartThings, and many, many, more, making it one of the most flexible options around.

Pros:

  • Big, beautiful display
  • Installation-friendly design
  • Supports Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, and more

Cons:

  • No remote sensors
  • Not a learning thermostat
  • Large screen may clash with some decor

Best Design

Emerson Sensi Touch

Big and beautiful

The Sensi Touch and its inviting four-inch display, looks beautiful on the wall. Smart options include geofencing, scheduling, voice control, and more.

Best Compatibility: Honeywell Lyric T5+

Honeywell Lyric T5 ThermostatSource: Honeywell

The Lyric T5+ is an Energy Star certified thermostat that features scheduling controls and location-based temperature settings. That means you'll be able to set a seven-day schedule for your heating and cooling system, and it also lets you control your system with geofences. To add to its smarts, the Lyric T5 also includes a feature called adaptive recovery that keeps track of the time it takes to reach your desired temperature, the more you use it, the better it gets.

The Lyric T5+ is compatible with HomeKit, Alexa, and the Google Assistant, giving you the option to set the temperature using your voice or with a tap. The best part though is that even with its low price, it includes a c-wire power adapter, which allows it to be installed in homes that do not have the elusive wire behind their thermostat.

Pros:

  • Adaptive recovery feature
  • Includes c-wire power adapter
  • Supports Alexa, HomeKit, Google Assistant

Cons:

  • No remote sensors
  • Not a complete learning thermostat
  • Dated looking display

Best Compatibility

Honeywell Lyric T5+

Works with most homes

The T5+ works in homes that lack modern wiring, without extra expenses. A handy recovery feature learns from your system to optimize heating and cooling.

Best Customization: Lux KONO Smart Thermostat

Lux Kono Smart Thermostat in a living room settingSource: LUX Products

The Lux KONO is a unique smart thermostat that has a swappable faceplate design. This allows you to mix things up in a snap with one of nine available colors. Lux even offers a faceplate that you can paint to suit your personality or decor better.

Smart features include staples like scheduling, geofencing, app, and voice controls. The thermostat works with all of the major smart home platforms, and it connects to your home via Wi-Fi. For quick on-device controls, you can adjust the temperature up and down by turning its handy dial, just like a radio, instantly making it familiar to just about everyone.

Pros:

  • Swappable face plates
  • Convenient on-device dial
  • Supports Alexa, HomeKit, Google Assistant

Cons:

  • Small display
  • Lacks learning features
  • Not a touchscreen display

Best Customization

Lux KONO Smart Thermostat

Custom looks

This smart thermostat from LUX has swappable color faceplates, one of which you can paint. Smart features include app controls, schedules, and geofencing.

Best Expandability: ecobee 3 Lite Smart Thermostat

Ecobee 3 Lite in a living room settingSource: ecobee

If you don't care about having Alexa built-in, or have a smaller home where RoomSensors may not be a good fit, you can save some money and still enjoy an awesome experience with the ecobee 3 Lite. This basic package does not include a RoomSensor, but it can always be added later if you decide to expand.

Just about everything else comes with the ecobee 3 Lite, including all of the smart home controls, scheduling, and potential energy savings. The ecobee 3 Lite also still comes with a power adapter to make it accessible to all homes, not just those blessed with a c-wire.

Pros:

  • Less expensive than flagship ecobee
  • Can add RoomSensors if desired
  • Supports Alexa, HomeKit, Google Assistant

Cons:

  • Does not include a RoomSensor
  • Doesn't support HVAC accessories
  • Limited smart features without RoomSensor

Best Expandability

ecobee 3 Lite Smart Thermostat

Room to expand

ecobee's base model doesn't include a RoomSensor, but it still packs in a lot of the same smarts. If you need to expand, you can always add a sensor later.

A-list alternatives

When it comes to smart heating and air, Nest may be the most familiar name around, but it isn't always the best fit. If you are living that sweet HomeKit life, or if you don't want to shell out for the premium design, there are a ton of available alternatives that are just as good, if not better.

The ecobee SmartThermostat is our goto pick thanks to its excellent use of wireless RoomSensors, HomeKit compatibility, and easy installation. It may not have all of the smart learning capabilities, but it does come with Alexa baked right-in, and those RoomSensors can offer levels of comforts that Nest simply cannot match.

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