Smart Thermostat Test
“What is the best smart thermostat?” is a question we hear all the time.
Everywhere we turn nowadays, it seems there’s a new product making the rounds claiming to make our lives easier by using our smart phones, computers, and tablets to control any number of devices from anywhere in the world. The same is true for our home comfort system’s thermostats. New products and new manufacturers are coming to market every day claiming to offer the latest and greatest, must-have features to monitor and adjust the temperature in our homes, keeping them cozy and comfortable in all types of weather.
So…What IS The Best Smart Thermostat?
Let’s look at a little chronology on the product offerings and thoughts on several of them.
The Ecobee Thermostat
One of the earlier manufacturer offerings in this space was the Ecobee thermostat. This original version shares many similarities with their current EMS series of thermostats used in mostly commercial applications. It was a full-featured unit, required some knowledge to set up and program, and also required a rather significant investment. We moved a few out into the market, but to be quite honest, the price point and programming requirements kept it from ever gaining traction with most homeowners and consumers.
The Honeywell Thermostat
Our next experience came in the form of Honeywell products. Honeywell is probably the most recognized name in thermostats and has been that way for many years. The standard response in the industry is…”if anyone can do it, Honeywell can”. With the introduction of RedLINK technology, Honeywell solved nearly every problem related to the use of smart thermostats and we cannot find any fault with their performance. By providing its own gateway to the system, RedLINK technology eliminated nearly all connectivity issues while enabling end users to control their entire system with just a 2-wire thermostat lead, saving much time and energy when retro-fitting systems into older homes.
Their Prestige series of thermostats are sleek and stylish with full-color touch screens. Unfortunately, technology comes at a price and for the RedLINK system this is a price point well above most other systems. When adding in some complicated installation requirements it tends to price the product out of reach for most homeowners. Honeywell recognized this and introduced a direct connect to existing Wi-Fi stat, but our experience with this model has been disappointing due to connectivity issues. Therefore, we do not recommend these direct connect units.
The Nest Thermostat
Around this time, Nest thermostats began to develop a niche for themselves in the market largely due to a massive media campaign. They hit every supply house and home center with big displays and product demos in an attempt to move their product into homes. We sat back on this one, mostly due to concerns over the product offering. There has been talk of both a consumer grade and contractor exclusive product being available, but I honestly never dove into the product enough to be able to separate the two. We are very glad that we took a wait and see approach on this product. We received multiple calls to address and fix problems with these stats for quite a bit of time. On several occasions, the answer from Nest was to change out the thermostat for a provided replacement. To this day, we have never sold and installed a Nest thermostat. However, we have had a few customers hire us to replace their Nest thermostat with one of our product offerings. I’m sure they will sort out the gremlins and may have even done so by now.
The Sensi Thermostat
Sensi is a more recent introduction to the market and we have been impressed thus far. Our experience with ease of use, setup, and programming has been very positive and we’ve been using one here in our office for many months now. If there’s any knock on the Sensi product, it may be that it is just a little too Plain Jane for a lot of people’s tastes. They look like a basic programmable thermostat with easy to use buttons for all features and the smart phone app follows suit with a very similar design. We rather think of them as the Toyota Camry of the thermostat market…they perform flawlessly but you’ll never notice or be inspired by them.
All of this leads us to question of…”What’s in your house, Mr. HVAC guy?” For me, it’s an Ecobee3, and you can watch the video accompanying this blog below to learn more about the product. I installed an Ecobee3 about three months ago and have been thrilled with it since the day I put it in. It’s sharp looking, intuitive, and easy to use. Likewise, so is the app.
Ecobee3 is app and home-enabled, allowing you to control it on the go. I will oftentimes check the weather forecast or adjust the indoor temperature from the comfort of my living room chair. On those dog days of summer, I would monitor the home system from my desk at work to be sure that the system is set appropriately and performing properly.
One of best features of the Ecobee3 is their remote sensor called the ‘Lil Bee. It is a battery operated remote temperature sensor that can be placed on a table or shelf to monitor and control temperature at a location in which we actually spend our time. For me, this is an absolute home run. Most of us don’t hang out next to our thermostats as they are usually installed in a vacant hallway. Ecobee users save an average of 23% on their heating and cooling costs. (https://www.ecobee.com/savings/)
So, there you have it. One man’s opinion of which is the best smart thermostat shared for your consumption and interpretation. Make of it what you will, but also enjoy it for what it is. When all is said and done, you are our customers and we owe it you to be as much of an expert as we can to help you be as comfortable in your home as possible.
If you have any additional questions or comments, or want to install a smart thermostat in your home, call at 745-0401. We’d love to hear from you and exchange any thoughts or ideas you may have about our team, our products, or our services.