Which Wi-Fi thermostat is best?

Thermostats are a great way of setting and regulating the temperature at home, but traditional ones don’t always work consistently. If you want something convenient and reliable, a Wi-Fi thermostat is the way to go. You can set the heating or cooling based on a schedule that matches your preference and even control it from your phone. The best device that pairs well with any smart home is the Google Nest 3rd Generation Learning Thermostat.

What to know before you buy a Wi-Fi thermostat

Benefits

All thermostats can adjust the temperature in a home. But with one that runs on Wi-Fi, you also get the following benefits:

  • Remote access: Since they’re connected to the internet, you can remotely access the device and make adjustments to the settings as needed.
  • Home and HVAC monitoring: More advanced models can send alerts to your phone if they detect any changes or errors. They can also adjust the temperature automatically, which is handy if you’re not home a lot or don’t have time.
  • Precision control: Modern thermostats, including those that run on Wi-Fi, usually have more precise temperature control than traditional ones. Some come with sensors you can install in different rooms to monitor the temperature.
  • Cost reduction: Due to the remote access and precision temperature control, these devices can cut down on the electricity bill. If you’re gone longer than planned, you can turn off or adjust the thermostat while out.
  • Virtual assistant connection: Many are compatible with virtual assistants, such as Alexa or the Amazon Echo. With these, you can make changes to the device using your voice or a computer, smartphone or tablet.

Installation

Each thermostat comes with instructions on how to install it. Usually, this requires you to do the following:

  • Check if there’s a C-wire since this is necessary to connect the thermostat to the HVAC system. Most thermostats have five wires, located behind the cover of the device.
  • Turn off the HVAC system using the breaker panel.
  • Remove the cover and backplate of your old thermostat.
  • Connect the new backplate in its stead.
  • Reconnect the wires and attach the new faceplate.
  • Connect the device to your current internet network.

Potential issues

As with any smart home device, Wi-Fi thermostats can have a few problems, such as:

  • Wire incompatibility: Without the right wires, you won’t be able to properly connect the thermostat to the HVAC system.
  • Software glitches: Sometimes, the associated software can glitch or display an error when accessing the device remotely. Also, if there’s a power outage, it can cause the device to stop working temporarily.
  • Installation: Depending on the setup and how many wires it has, it can be tricky to install a Wi-Fi thermostat. When in doubt, hire a professional to do it for you.

Also, if you have a single-zone heating HVAC system, it can be hard to regulate the heating or cooling throughout the house. This can be an issue if certain rooms in the house are often hotter or colder than others. One solution to this is to use a multi-zoned HVAC system instead since these let you regulate individual rooms better.

What to look for in a quality Wi-Fi thermostat

Programming

Modern Wi-Fi thermostats are highly customizable, meaning you can program them to do the following things:

  • Control, monitor and regulate the indoor temperature throughout the home or in specific rooms.
  • Maximize energy efficiency to cut costs.
  • Set an automatic schedule based on when you want the device to be on or off.
  • Connect with virtual assistants or other smart devices.
  • Monitor changes at home when you’re away.

Compatibility

Most Wi-Fi thermostats come with an app, such as the Nest app, which you can use on a smartphone or tablet. With an app, you can access the device remotely and make quick changes to the schedule or temperature without hassle.

Some thermostats are compatible with different smart home devices, which is convenient if you want to use all your devices at once. Others only work within their brands.

Design

Most Wi-Fi thermostats have a minimalistic design. They’re usually round or square and come in white or black, though some come in other colors, such as pink or blue.

These devices also have a digital screen, often a touchscreen, with an LCD display. If you have a larger thermostat, you can program it directly using the screen. For smaller ones, you might need to connect through an app.

How much you can expect to spend on a Wi-Fi thermostat

A standard one costs $50-$150 and has all the essential features, such as programmable buttons and a touchscreen. More advanced ones cost $150-$300 but can connect with virtual assistants, monitor your home and send important notifications directly to your phone or tablet.

Wi-Fi thermostats FAQ

How much can I save with a Wi-Fi thermostat?

A. This depends on the device, the temperature, the environment and your schedule. Using a Nest thermostat, for example, can save you $100-$150 a year in energy costs.

Is there a difference between Wi-Fi and smart thermostats?

A. Both are similar, but smart thermostats don’t always need an internet connection to function. Some smart thermostats are also better at monitoring your schedule and determining when you’re home.

What’s the best Wi-Fi thermostat to buy?

Top Wi-Fi thermostat

Google Nest 3rd Generation Learning Thermostat

Google Nest 3rd Generation Learning Thermostat 

What you need to know: This easy-to-use device is energy-efficient and lets you monitor your HVAC system remotely.

What you’ll love: Compatible with Alexa, this programmable thermostat is easy to install and features auto-scheduling. It can connect to a Nest temperature sensor for further temperature monitoring and control. This remote-controlled device also sends alerts if it detects any issues with your heating and cooling system.

What you should consider: The temperature you set it at can vary slightly.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

Top Wi-Fi thermostat for the money

Google Nest Thermostat

Google Nest Thermostat

What you need to know: With a handy digital display and sleek design, this thermostat is perfect for those who want something simple and functional.

What you’ll love: This programmable device has a Quick Schedule feature that lets you make changes from anywhere using a smart device. It’s Energy Star-certified, so it can help reduce energy costs, too, and it also works without a C-wire in some homes.

What you should consider: It’s not compatible with all HVAC systems.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Honeywell Home Wi-Fi Smart Color Thermostat

Honeywell Home Wi-Fi Smart Color Thermostat

What you need to know: This device is easy to use and has an easy-to-read display that indicates the indoor and outdoor temperature, as well as other things such as the current humidity level.

What you’ll love: It has a touchscreen, making it easy to adjust the settings. It’s energy-efficient, intuitive and works with heat pumps with electric backup, hot water and steam and forced air systems.

What you should consider: It requires a C-wire to function.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

 

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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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