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Smart Thermostats: Best for Home


Although heating and cooling systems can be very different, the majority of US homes use heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) to maintain indoor temperatures.


The thermostat is the main access point for this system. It allows you to control when and how much air is circulated. Today's thermostats look very different from the models that were sold in retail stores ten years ago.


This buying guide will help you decide which thermostat is right for your home.

Basic thermostats


Smart thermostats


Three main types of smart thermostat tech have been identified in all models that we've tested: learning algorithms and geofencing.


The algorithmic-based learning technology is used in the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, and the Nest Learning Thermostat. These thermostats allow you to input basic parameters and can adapt to changing patterns automatically.


Nest, for example, has an Auto-Away function. If you don’t move within the range of its 150-degree light and motion sensors for a while, it will assume your absence and switch to the more eco-efficient Away mode. Your Nest will "notice" if you're absent from your Nest for a while and it will change its schedule accordingly.

This isn't always possible. You might be homesick and not have walked to the thermostat in the past 24 hours because you are resting in bed. You might need to adjust the thermostat or the app manually to let the thermostat know you are home.



The Honeywell Lyric and Lyric T5 are different from the Nest Learning Thermostat. They rely on the geofencing feature of your smartphone to determine if you're at home or away. The range can be set to 500 feet or 7 miles so that your thermostat will automatically switch to Away mode if you go beyond that 500-foot or 7 mile range. It will also return to Home mode if it crosses that threshold again. This makes it nice and cozy upon your arrival.


It's a smart idea, provided you don't forget your phone at all. However, it is not always practical. Imagine multiple family members using Lyric and geofencing - this could cause a lot of headaches. You might accidentally trigger Home mode if you are working near your home.

Remote sensor

The Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is a similar thermostat to the Honeywell Lyric. It relies on proximity and motion sensors. The thermostat's proximity sensors will sense when you are near it and switch to home mode. It will switch to away mode if it detects you have been away for a while. It relied on a remote sensor to do this. The remote sensor can be placed in an area that is most used to ensure its accuracy.


This tech depends on you actually walking around and activating the sensors. The Ecobee3 will assume that you are out if you don't cross the sensor range.



The process for installing a 4- or 5-wire thermostat should be similar if you have done it before. Keep in mind that not all thermostats require a C-wire. If in doubt, consult a qualified friend or professional for assistance. It shouldn't take long for these smart thermostats to be connected to your HVAC wiring.


The Honeywell Wi-Fi smart thermostat, Honeywell Wi-Fi smart thermostat with voice control, Honeywell Ecobee3 and Ecobee3Lite require the C wire. Also known as the "common" or "common" cable, the C wire is necessary. This wire supplies a steady flow of power (24 VAC), so that fancy features like LED displays can function properly.


The Honeywell Lyric and the Nest Learning Thermostat are compatible with four wire setups in certain cases.


Four-wire compatibility has one major benefit. You don't need to rewire your HVAC with C wires to have smart thermostat functionality. However, it is somewhat of a workaround that could possibly harm some systems.

App talk


The configuration of each product will differ, but every smart thermostat will ask you many questions such as which type of system you have and what fuel source you use. It will also ask whether you have single- or dual-stage heating and cooling.


Here you can also set your preferred minimum and maximum temperatures, as well as the type of alerts you would like to receive. You can now remotely control your thermostat. This is a great feature that you can use for times when it's not possible to reach you at home.



Tony Fadell, a former Apple employee, and Matt Rogers made a significant design change with the Nest Learning Thermostat. The majority of thermostats found in stores look quite utilitarian. The standard white plastic finish is there for a reason. It's meant to blend in with any environment.


Fadell and Rogers created a thermostat that you would actually like to see. With designs that are more modern than the traditional ones, the Honeywell Lyric T5, Lyric T5, Ecobee3 Lite, and Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat also followed their lead. These models are the best alternative if you want advanced functionality and a neat look.

Is it worth the effort to be smart?

Smart thermostats are becoming an increasingly important part of the smart home ecosystem. Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect can be integrated with various third-party products through the "Works with Nest” initiative.


This includes Whirlpool, Lutron, and Nest Protect. Honeywell, Ecobee, and Nest each have their own IFTTT channels to allow for advanced home automation rules.


All three brands are compatible with Alexa. That you can control your thermostat by simply speaking: "Set my thermostat at 68," or "What's my thermostat's temperature?"

So on.


Honeywell Lyric and Ecobee3 thermostats work with HomeKit so iPhone users can adjust their thermostats with Siri. The nest thermostat works with the Google Home to allow custom commands such as "OK Google, raise temperature to 72".

Beyond thermostats

You can save even more energy with DIY smart vents like the Ecovent. It is possible to replace all the vents in your house with smart ones. All of them use ambient sensors to determine the temperature in each room and make adjustments.


They can be used to limit your heating or cooling to the area you are currently in. Although this sounds great, we haven't been able to test them.

Are smart thermostats right for you?

Your connected home plays an important role in heating and cooling. Heating and cooling keep you comfortable, but it also helps to save money. The traditional thermostats are capable of doing the job but the new generation of cooling and heating devices is designed to give you more control over your environment.


It all comes down to what you think makes sense. Consider your needs, then choose the smart thermostat that is right for you.

Programmable thermostats have become very common. You simply need to enter a schedule that is consistent with your home and away times to set them up.


This smart thermostat is best for home is great for those who work traditional 9-to-5 jobs. You can set the thermostat to a lower energy-efficient temperature while at work, and then program it to turn on when you get home. This way you can have one setting for weekdays and another for weekends. You can also make adjust your thermostat as required.


Although programmable thermostats are a form of automation, they don't necessarily have the same intelligence as smart ones.


This is because they can't automatically adjust to your changing schedule. You will still need to make adjustments manually if necessary.


Smart thermostat models, such as the Google Nest Learning Thermostat and the Honeywell Home Wi-Fi Smart Color Thermostat, offer greater control over your heating/cooling environment. They integrate Wi-Fi, mobile apps, and sensors that can detect if you are home.


You can build all of the models above yourself. This means you don't need to contact a dealer unless it is necessary. These models can be found in major retailers alongside more traditional manual or programmable options. This makes it easy to upgrade to these smart models.

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