A home thermostat might not seem like an exciting tech gadget, but with the revolution brought forth by the Internet of Things (IoT) seemingly everything is jumping on the network and promising to revolutionize our daily lives. Some applications seem gratuitous--internet-connected toasters come to mind--but wifi enabled thermostats are a type of device that promises real utility and convenience. These highly customizable devices can be adjusted from a distance through an app and have the potential for huge heating and cooling cost savings.
Programmable vs. Smart vs. WiFi Thermostats: What's the Difference?
But first, a bit of terminology is in order. You've likely heard of programmable, smart, and wifi thermostats, so what exactly do these distinctions mean? "Programmable" might sound like an impressive, techy word, but these thermostats are nothing new or particularly special. All it means is that instead of being completely manual, you can preschedule particular temperatures. But in some cases you have to maintain the same schedule every day, which doesn't give you nearly enough flexibility.
"Smart" thermostats, on the other hand, have many additional benefits, including being able to customize your energy settings at a much more advanced level. Some of these models "learn" by adjusting settings and adapting based on your preferences without you having to program anything in manually. Others don't adapt to your behavior automatically, but still give you the ability to fine tune your temperatures through your wireless netowrk. This means that the thermostat can be controlled remotely using your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. (The self-adapting models also have Wifi connectivity.)
Think about a hot day when your plans change and you unexpectedly have to head home. With a wifi thermostat you can turn on the AC just beforehand, so you don't come home to an oven but don't need to leave the air on all day or guess what time you'll return when programming an inflexible daily temperature schedule.
So which are the best options for a wireless enabled thermostat? Some companies offering them are relative upstarts, while another top wifi thermostat brand is owned by Google's IoT division. Let's now turn our focus to some specific models.
Top Rated Smart Wifi Thermostat Reviews
This is probably the name you'll hear most during discussions about leading smart thermostats. Nest was an early darling in the IoT space, much of the reason being that its founders were Tony Fadell and Matt Rodgers, both Apple alumni. They lived up to the hype by producing an incredibly intuitive and well-designed smart thermostat. It was acquired by Google (Alphabet) in 2014 and has grown rapidly since, solidifying its status as one of the biggest names in the market. The Nest thermostat relies on machine learning: for the first couple of weeks you self-regulate, and from that data the thermostat will take over after learning your patterns and preferences. Nest can also auto-detect when no one is at home and automatically adjust the temperature accordingly. Look out for the "Nest Leaf," an icon that appears once you have achieved a heating and cooling setting that is sufficiently energy-saving.
Honeywell is another extremely popular smart thermostat that allows for customized programming and delivers big energy savings. In contrast to the Nest, however, the Honeywell RTH9589WF is not fully adaptive and will not automatically switch its defaults due to your manual adjustments. This makes it ideal for those who want to set custom settings and have greater control over how their thermostat adjusts. Amazon reviewers (just shy of 2,000 of them and counting) have been overwhelmingly positive in their reactions to the Honeywell. The touchscreen display can be customized by color, to either blend in with your home's decor or to advertise your favorite sports team.
This Sensi model comes at a lower price point than both the Nest and Honeywell, and as you might expect that results in a slightly more basic thermostat without as many flashy features. But it certainly gets the job done, as the overwhelmingly positive reviewers can attest to. Installation is a breeze and a major benefit: it boasts compatibility with more heating and cooling systems than any other thermostat equipped with wireless and is designed to be installed in 15 minutes or less, even if you aren't experienced with electrical installation. The device offers a 7-day customizable heating and cooling schedule to cut down on waste. Finally, the Sensi thermostat is configured to work with Alexa voice commands.
The Echobee Smarter Thermostat gives the Nest a run for its money with highly-advanced adaptability using varied data points including your own home's energy profile, and the outside weather and much more. It's designed to work with room sensors to determine which areas of your home are occupied and which are empty, and automatically adjust the temperatures accordingly. The device is Home-Kit enabled, which allows you to control it using Siri on your iPhone or iPad. But it's not just for Apple users, as it also works with Amazon Echo to allow for hands free control. It claims compatibility with 95% of homes and a 23% average annual savings on heating and cooling.
All in all, a Wifi thermostat is a great addition to any smart home and a relatively small investment up front can lead to significant savings in the long run on your energy bills. You do have a few options to choose from, of course, and the major distinction centers around how adaptable you want your device to be. Would you rather program in your daily schedule and adjust accordingly from your phone? Or have the thermostat automatically learn what you like as it goes along? No matter which way you go, you can say goodbye to the days of coming home to a frozen or sweltering house all just to save a few bucks.
Product Images Sourced from Amazon.com