Best Programmable WiFi Thermostat – Guide & Reviews
Imagine this – you’ve been on field assignment for much of the day, with temperatures outside reaching more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can’t wait to go home and relax. Before driving, you pull out your smartphone, go to an app, and set the thermostat at home to 70 degrees temperature.
After 15 minutes or so, you’re at a cold bedroom and ready to doze off. During the winter, the last thing you want is to arrive at a frigid home. But with a programmable thermostat that you can control through a smartphone app, you can set the temperature in your room to warmer levels an hour or so before you get home.
Yes, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and programmable WiFi thermostat, you can adjust the temperature at home even if you are away from it. Now you can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient, which can have a huge impact on your finances in the long run.
What’s more enticing is that there are now a lot of programmable WiFi thermostats available, so you have no shortage of options. You can choose a programmable thermostat (also called a smart thermostat) depending on your needs and budget.
Top Five Best Programmable WiFi Thermostats
We’ll make shopping easier for you as we list down five of the best programmable WiFi thermostats today:
It is easy to see why the Sensi Wi-Fi programmable thermostat is a best-seller on Amazon.com.
It is compatible with cooling and heating systems.
Now they can set, alter, or schedule home temperatures no matter where they are.Setting schedules is a breeze with this programmable WiFi thermostat. You can change temperature levels up to 10x a day if you desire. You can also set a different schedule for every day of the week.
If you’re always out during weekends, then you can also set your desired temperature or have the heating or cooling systems turned off. You can also set up custom schedules, which would fit your ‘work from home’ schedule.You don’t need to be a techie in order to understand how the app works.
Emerson provides a simple, step-by-step guide on how to use the said app and connect to the thermostat remotely. There are also video tutorials that you can refer to. The thermostat itself is slim and sticks to the wall. It has a white plastic body which won’t win an award for attractiveness.
This programmable thermostat will work with most heating and cooling systems in the US and Canada because it doesn’t require a C-wire. There are two AA batteries that would provide it with backup power in case of power interruptions, and could last for months before requiring replacement.
While the app is very easy to use, a common complaint among those who use this smart thermostat is that the app takes a lot of time to connect. Also, this unit won’t provide you usage data.
Nearly all of the best programmable WiFi thermostat reviews for 2016 mention the Ecobee 3. And that’s reasonable given the many great features of the Ecobee 3.
In fact, a lot of observers say that this is the best smart thermostat today. It’s very hard to dispute that claim.
The Ecobee 3 has been around since 2014 yet it continues to generate a lot of buzz. To their credit, the company behind it has consistently introduced updates to the smart thermostat. For example, the thermostat is now compatible with Amazon Echo.
You can now give commands to Echo like “Alexa, set the living room temperature to 70” and Echo will do it for you.The thermostat itself has rounded corners and a capacitive touch screen. Its interface is attractive and functional.
It is very responsive, like you are using a smartphone. The screen shows the current temperature by default, and you simply slide the screen down to access the main menu. From there, you can adjust the thermostat settings the same way you would through a smartphone app.
There’s one unit of sensor included in the package, although you can add more than 30 more in the various parts of your house like the kitchen, children’s bedroom, and living room. There are different ways to install the sensors—wall mounted through a sticky pad or screw, or prop them up on the plastic stand included on the package.
These sensors run on batteries and not wires. That means you can put them anywhere you like although you shouldn’t place them in direct sunlight.The web dashboard of the WiFi thermostat is also easy to navigate.
It helps that it has the same design and language as the on-unit interface as well as the app. Thus you won’t have any problems controlling the thermostat, whether at home, via the smartphone app, or online through the web dashboard.
And unlike the Emerson Sensi, the Ecobee 3 gives you usage data and analytics.There’s also a pre-programmed schedule that works for most people. If you’re confused at first and still learning how to adjust the settings of the thermostat, simply follow the pre-programmed schedule.
In case you realize the built-in schedule doesn’t work for you, then changing it is relatively easy.The Ecobee 3 still has some flaws. Many say that the Android app isn’t the most intuitive. The thermostat also tends to lose connection with the remote sensor every now and then.
Launched in 2011, this is the model that is credited for making smart thermostats very much in vogue in many households in the US.
Almost overnight, it made the otherwise boring thermostat into a little smart device.
With the Nest Learning thermostat, homeowners no longer had to program a thermostat, worry about leaving the AC on, or learning how to adjust the programming of the thermostat.
The Nest Learning thermostat is now on its third generation. And while it has faced a lot of competition particularly from Ecobee, it remains one of the most popular smart thermostats in the US.
The third generation Nest Learning now has a larger screen with higher resolution. Owners of previous Nest thermostats weren’t really happy with the displays of their thermostats, so they should be happy with the screen upgrade.
The new Nest Learning thermostat also has motion detectors that can detect human activity from up to 10 feet, instead of the previous three feet. This is brought about by the integration of a new hardware named Farsight. The Nest Learning 3 also is thinner than the previous reincarnations of the thermostat, and surprisingly, has the same price tag as the Nest 2.
Apart from those upgrades, the Nest Learning 3 basically does the same thing as its predecessor. Nest Learning thermostat is known for being user-friendly, and the Nest 3 is no exception. Its user interface is very intuitive, especially if you are used to Apple devices.
The screen of the thermostat itself, for one, remains powered off until it detects a user standing nearby. This is possible with the motion sensor located at the bottom of the front panel.You will also get monthly usage reports. The thermostat can also tell you how long you’ll have to wait until your bedroom temperature reaches your desired levels.
You don’t need to worry about other people adjusting your settings as the thermostat is lockable with a PIN.The major beef homeowners have with the Nest Learning thermostat is its price. It is one of the most expensive smart thermostats today.
The Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat isn’t as expensive as Nest Learning but it is pretty capable as its more fancied rival. Honeywell isn’t exactly a new player in this market.
In fact, it is one of the early rivals of Nest Learning.The Honeywell RTH9580WF has a sleek design, with a beautiful and responsive touch screen.
The thermostat itself sticks out by just a shade under one inch from the wall. In comparison, the Nest Learning thermostat protrudes 1.26 inches.Installation should be easy as Honeywell offers an eight-minute long YouTube video tutorial.
Once installed, you will enjoy the convenience of controlling your home temperature with a smartphone app. The app, compatible with both iOS and Android devices, is quick to load and very easy to use.
You’ll get alerts in case of disruptions or deviations from the schedule, like when the temperature is higher or lower for a certain number of hours, or when the connection of the thermostat with the Honeywell server is cut. You’ll also be notified when conditions return to normal.
But unlike the other smart WiFi thermostats in this list, Honeywell won’t give you detailed energy reports. If you aren’t the type of person who appreciates data like monthly energy consumption, then that may not be an issue at all. But if you are, Ecobee3 and Nest Learning 3 are more suited for you.
If you’re not exactly bent on spending a lot of money on a programmable thermostat, then you can try out the PRO1 IAQ T701i WIFI Thermostat. It's about the same size as a WiFi router and it’s a lot cheaper than Nest Learning and Ecobee3, and has very pedestrian features to say the least.
The large display also makes it easy to read in dim light. You can also control this thermostat through a built-in app, although many of those who have used it say that it is slow to load. You can also see the settings of the thermostat through a web portal.
You can set the schedules through the mobile app or the web portal.Sure, it doesn’t have the advanced features such as motion detector and monthly usage reports. But for its price, the lack of advanced functions is very much understandable. If you’re looking for a very basic smart thermostat, then this is it.
There are many benefits you can get from having a programmable WiFi thermostat at home or in your office, such as:
With energy costs consistently on the rise, many homeowners are on the lookout for a way to reduce their electricity consumption. Perhaps the best way to do so is to have a programmable thermostat at home.In the United Kingdom, a £200 smart thermostat seems to be a very practical investment considering that the average household there spends more than £1,200 for heating expenses.
In the United States, a $200 smart thermostat may appear too much to spend on because the average electricity bill there is only $110. But consider the energy savings you can get for many years using a smart thermostat, and you can concluded that parting with 200 bucks isn’t a bad idea at all.
Various makers have different estimates on the energy savings an average household can get with the use of a smart thermostat. For example, Canadian firm Ecobeesays that customers in the United States were able to save an average of 23 cents on their heating and cooling costs.
Another manufacturer, Nest, says that a 500 to 1,000 square foot home in Ontario with air conditioning and gas heating can generate savings of up to $94 a year if it has a programmable WiFi thermostat.While the numbers may vary, one thing is for sure—you will get more savings in your heating and cooling costs if you have a programmable WiFi thermostat at home.
Adjustments can be made, depending on weather conditions
Smart thermostats can monitor weather forecasts, so that it can adjust activity accordingly. Whether there’s a hurricane on the horizon, or heat wave is about to occur a week from now, a programmable WiFi thermostat can adjust temperature levels to save money.
Preventive maintenance is easier
With a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can receive alerts regarding preventive maintenance works like changing dirty filters. The latter is very important for heating and cooling systems because it can improve efficiency.
Most of the time, you may not be aware of the last time you checked on air filters, more so the last time you changed them.But with a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can get alerts on when to change the air filters based on the amount of time that the cooling or heating system has been in use.
No need to worry about leaving the home with the cooling/heating system turned on
If you are the forgetful type of person, chances are you have had at least one incident when you forgot to turn off the AC. Those episodes would be a thing of the past if you have a WiFi thermostat at home. Most of the WiFi thermostats today have motion detection, the same feature used in security systems. This alerts thermostats that no one is home, and the cooling or heating system is immediately cut off.
Review Energy Usage
Some models can show your heating or cooling usage for a particular period like per week or per month. This lets you review your energy usage and make necessary adjustments, in case you want to lower your bills.
WiFi Thermostat Vs. Programmable Thermostat
But you may wonder – isn’t the old programmable thermostat good enough to solve those energy problems? So why should you shift to a programmable, WiFi thermostat?Smart thermostats are a level higher than the old programmable thermostats. They’re just a lot better than their older counterparts.
For one, programmable WiFi thermostats can adapt easily to schedule changes. If you’re the type of person who’s always on the go, you will be able to appreciate smart thermostat’s ability to be adjusted on the fly. The device can also adapt to your shifting schedule, so that you no longer have to pound on the remote until it gets to the temperature level you desire.With smart thermostats, adjusting to daylight savings time would be a breeze.
These modern devices can keep up with adjustments in schedule. Plus, these modern thermostats have bigger, brighter screens. Hence you no longer need to squint at a tiny LCD. And with companion apps, you can check and program your thermostat as if you were checking your Facebook account.
Things to Look for in a Programmable WiFi Thermostat
Now that you’re convinced that you need to replace your old thermostat, what are the things that you should be looking for in a smart thermostat? The following are some of the more important features of a programmable WiFi thermostat:
The best programmable WiFi thermostat reviews would tell you that you should find a unit that excels at temperature control. Find a unit that supports programmable fans so that the thermostat can run the fan for a short period after the compressor turns off. Auto changeover lets the thermostat shift between cooling and heating when needed, while a keypad lock prevents unwarranted changes to the home temperature.
The digital thermostat you should get is one that has scheduling and away features, letting you decide on heating and cooling patterns depending on your schedule. You can override the thermostat’s preset settings with the away feature, letting you save on energy bills when you are on vacation.
Moreover, the best WiFi thermostats would alert you on how long it would take for your home to reach a desired temperature level. For example, when you remotely set the thermostat at 71 degrees, the app will tell you how many minutes it would need for the home to get to that temperature.
More and more homes have automation systems. If you have one, then check first if the thermostat you are eyeing will work with your smart home system.
A programmable WiFi thermostat would let you connect to your smartphone or tablet remotely so you can make adjustments while on a vacation.A good smart thermostat has simple controls thus you won’t be confused in using it. The mobile app should also mimic the physical controls.
This would spare you from the hassle of learning more than one control scheme. Although you can always call for professional help, you would probably think of installing the smart thermostat by yourself. That’s not a crazy idea as some of the best thermostats are easy to install even by non-pros.
Help and support
When things go awry and you can’t find a solution to a particular WiFi thermostat problem, you would want excellent customer service from the thermostat maker. The best smart thermostats have a lot of customer service options.
You can reach them through live chat, phone, and email. There are even manufacturers that have online forums where you can look for ways on how to address common thermostat problems.
You’ll have more peace of mind if the product you bought has a long warranty. As much as possible, you should buy a smart thermostat with a five year warranty. Most smart thermostats have more than two years of warranty.
Technology has been progressing very quickly that the old programmable thermostats are on their way out. Smart thermostats are now the “in” thing and you would know why just by looking at the features of the five thermostats mentioned in this article.
With a programmable WiFi thermostat, you can control your thermostat settings at home even if you are in another continent. Smart thermostats will also learn to adapt to your schedule, essentially sparing you from the hassle of adjusting thermostat schedules every now and then.
And perhaps more importantly, you will get substantial savings in the long run if you have a smart thermostat at home or in your office. It is, indeed, a very smart investment for your living space.