Best Smart Thermostat

With its round, metallic design, the Nest Learning Thermostat made all other thermostats seem old and outmoded in an instant. Three years after the Nest’s debut, there are finally thermostats that can approach it in style and functionality—but the third-generation Nest is still the leader in the category. The Nest hardware continues to offer the best combination of style and substance, its software and apps are solid and elegant, and it’s easy to change the temperature from your phone or computer, so you won’t have to get up from your cozy spot on the couch to mess with the thermostat.

Last Updated: September 24, 2015
Nest has released a new version of its smart thermostat, the Nest 3.0, which is almost identical to the Nest 2.0 save for a few small tweaks. The third-generation model is just slightly thinner by .04 of an inch, and features a larger (480 x 480) and higher-resolution (229 ppi) display, which can show target or current temperatures, or an analog or digital watch face, depending on preference. The Nest 3.0 is also enabled with a new “Heads Up” ability to track your furnace’s automatic shutoffs, to potentially alert you to any problems. This feature will also be added to Nest 1.0 and 2.0 models via a software update later this year. The price remains $249. We're fairly certain the Nest 3.0 will be our new pick, but we're going to bring it in for testing against the Ecobee3 as soon as we can.
Expand Most Recent Updates
September 22, 2015: Quirky, the company behind the Norm smart thermostat, announced that it has declared bankruptcy, and is in the process of selling off different parts of the company. Based on this news and the fact that the Norm is no longer available on the Quirky home page or anywhere else that we can find, we've removed our reference to it in this guide.
September 2, 2015: Nest has just released a new version of its smart thermostat, the Nest 3.0, which is almost identical to the Nest 2.0 save for a few small tweaks. The third-generation model is just slightly thinner by .04 of an inch, and features a larger (480 x 480) and higher-resolution (229 ppi) display, which can show target or current temperatures, or an analog or digital watch face, depending on preference. The Nest 3.0 is also enabled with a new “Heads Up” ability to track your furnace’s automatic shutoffs, to potentially alert you to any problems. This feature will also be added to Nest 1.0 and 2.0 models via a software update later this year. The price remains $249. We're fairly certain the Nest 3.0 will be our new pick, but we're going to bring it in for testing against the Ecobee3 as soon as we can.
July 30, 2015: Updated with the latest version of the Ecobee3, which now supports HomeKit, Apple's framework for controlling other connected devices.
April 7, 2015: Our runner-up choice, the Ecobee3, will have a few new features coming soon in the form of a software update. Those things include the display screen always showing the outside temperature, and more control over the remote sensors--you’ll be able to set individual sensors to Home, Away, or Sleep mode. The company is also introducing the ability to set a maximum difference allowed in each sensor’s readings. If one room is extremely hot or cold compared to the rest of the house, this usually means a sensor has been placed next to a drafty window or a stove. If the maximum difference feature is engaged, Ecobee3 will ignore the outlier sensor so that it doesn’t pump too much hot or cold air to compensate. The Ecobee iOS and Android apps are getting updated too. The thermostat software update will roll out over the course of April to current customers.
February 12, 2015: The second-generation Nest is the best smart thermostat for the second year in a row, which we confirmed by using the top three thermostats for more than a month. It integrates with more smart devices than its competitors and has attractive, well-built software paired with our favorite on-device interface.
January 6, 2015: At CES, several more companies joined the Works with Nest program, including Philips' Hue smart bulbs, August's Smart Lock, LG and Whirlpool connected appliances, Insteon, and others. Once these partnerships come to fruition, we'll check in on how useful they are.
December 16, 2014: You can now use voice commands to adjust your Nest. Using Google Now on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can tell the thermostat to change temperature. In the Chrome browser, you can speak commands or or type your preferred temperature into the search box.
November 12, 2014: Added Quirky's $80 Norm connected thermostat device to the What to Look Forward to section. We'll be interested to see what the first reviews say once the Norm is released in December.
September 16, 2014: Ecobee is back with an updated, more Nest-like version of its smart thermostat now called the Ecobee3 Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat. It's $250, but comes with the option of adding remote sensors ($80 for two) to other rooms that will optimize temperature in whatever rooms are occupied. See the What to Look Forward to section for more detail.

We spent more than a month trying out the top three thermostats in this category, including a dozen-plus hours to actively test the thermostat hardware and perform remote tests using their accompanying mobile apps.

Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation
The Nest Learning Thermostat is still the best smart thermostat, thanks to its ease of use, great design, and learning capabilities. It works with a growing number of smart home devices via the Works With Nest program, but other thermostat makers are catching up to its features and even its smart home capabilities.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is our top pick for the second year in a row. It has a sleek, round look, is easy to install, programs itself, and is the center of Google’s ever-growing Works with Nest smart-home ecosystem. Its software has improved over the past two years, but it’s no longer the only smart thermostat in its class.

Note: We tested the second-generation Nest. The third-generation Nest has a larger screen and a thinner body, and offers a new feature called Farsight that wakes the screen at a greater distance so you can see the temperature or time. The Nest’s core feature set remains the same, so although we are working on testing the third-generation version, the Nest is very likely to remain our pick.

Also Great
ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat
For more sensors in large houses: The Ecobee3 isn't as sleek or intuitive as the Nest but, unlike the Nest, it supports stand-alone remote sensors, so it can register the temperature in different parts of your house—a nice feature for people who need multiple sensor points in a large home. It also supports Apple's HomeKit.

The Ecobee3 doesn’t have the retro cool look of the Nest or even the Honeywell Lyric—its black rounded-rectangle design and slick touchscreen interface make it feel like someone mounted a smartphone app on your wall. But its support for remote sensors makes it appealing if your thermostat isn’t in the best part of your house to measure the temperature. If you have a large, multistory house with a single one-zone HVAC system, there can be big temperature differences between rooms. With Ecobee’s add-on sensors (you get one for free with the unit and can add up to 32 more), the thermostat will use the sensors’ occupancy detectors to match the target temperature in occupied rooms, rather than just wherever the thermostat happens to be installed.

Table of contents

Why a smart thermostat?

If you upgrade to any smart thermostat after years with a basic one, the first and most life-changing difference will be the ability to control it from your phone. Think about it: no more getting up in the middle of the night to turn up the A/C. No dashing back into the house to lower the heat before you go on errands (or vacation). No coming home to a sweltering apartment—you just fire up the A/C when you’re ten minutes away.

Technically, thermostats have been “smart” since the first time a manufacturer realized there could be more to the device than a mercury thermometer and a metal dial. For years, the Home Depots of the world were full of plastic rectangles that owed a lot to a digital clock: They’d let you dial in ideal heating and cooling temperatures and maybe even set different temperatures for different times of the day and days of the week.

The thermostat world changed with the introduction of the Nest in 2011 by Nest Labs, a company led by Tony Fadell, generally credited to be one of the major forces behind Apple’s iPod. This was a stylish metal-and-glass Wi-Fi-enabled device, with a bright color screen and integrated smartphone apps—in other words, a device that combined style and functionality in a way never before seen in the category.

The Nest got a lot of publicity, especially when you consider that it’s a thermostat. Within a few months, Nest Labs was slapped with a patent suit by Honeywell, maker of numerous competing thermostats.

But once the Nest was out there, it was hard to deny that the thermostat world had needed a kick in the pants. And three years later, not only have the traditional plastic beige rectangles gained Wi-Fi features and smartphone apps, but other companies have entered the high-feature, high-design thermostat market, including the upstart Ecobee and the old standard Honeywell.

The fact is, a cheap plastic thermostat with basic time programming—the kind we’ve had for two decades—will do a pretty good job at keeping your house at the right temperature without wasting a lot of money, so long as you put in the effort to program it and remember to shut it off. But that’s the thing—most people don’t.

“The majority of people who have a programmable thermostat don’t program it, or maybe they program it once and never update it when things change,” said Bronson Shavitz, a Chicago-area contractor who’s installed and serviced hundreds of heating and cooling systems over the years.

These new thermostats are smart because they spend time doing the thinking that most of us just don’t do.

These new thermostats are smart because they spend time doing the thinking that most of us just don’t do: turning themselves off when nobody’s home, targeting temperatures only in occupied rooms, and learning your household schedule through observation. Plus, with their sleek chassis and integrated smartphone apps, these thermostats are actually fun to use.

Nest claims that a learning thermostat (well, its learning thermostat) saves enough energy to pay for itself in as little as two years.

Do you need a smart thermostat? Probably not. But they’re fun and attractive, and will do a better job of scheduling the heating and cooling of your house—and therefore saving money—than you will.

Who’s this for?

Get a smart thermostat if you’re interested in saving more energy and exerting more control over your home environment. If you like the prospect of turning on your heater when you’re on your way home from work, or having your home’s temperature adjust intelligently without having to spend time programming a schedule, these devices will do the job. And if your thermostat was placed in a prominent place in your home, well, these devices just look cooler than those beige plastic rectangles of old.

If you already have a smart thermostat, like a first- or second-generation Nest, you don’t need to upgrade just yet. And if you have a big, complex home-automation system that includes a Z-Wave thermostat already, you may prefer the interoperability of your current setup to the intelligence and elegance of a Nest or similar thermostat.

If you don’t care much about slick design and attractive user interfaces, there are cheaper thermostats that offer Wi-Fi connectivity and some degree of scheduling flexibility. Their hardware is dull and their interfaces are pedestrian, but they’ll do the job and save you a few bucks.

The devices we looked at are designed to be attached to existing heating and cooling systems. In fact, in some cases they work better with older HVAC systems than new ones. If you’re installing a new heating and cooling system in your home, HVAC contractor Shavitz strongly recommends that you ask your installer about the smart thermostat offered by the company that manufactures that system. Most manufacturers now offer Wi-Fi thermostats of their own, and while they’re generally not as stylish as the models we looked at, they have the advantage of being designed specifically for that manufacturer’s equipment. That has some serious benefits, including access to special features and a deep understanding of how specific equipment behaves that a more general thermostat can’t have.

How we picked and tested

As we researched this category, we decided to limit ourselves to smart thermostats that combined interesting design with smartphone access and intelligent scheduling. There is a much larger category of thermostats that look old-fashioned and feel very much like the technology of the past with some new features stuck onto them, rather than a true rethink of the thermostat. We decided to focus on high-tech, smart devices, the category almost defined by the introduction of the Nest. As Megan Wollerton of CNET put it, the “utilitarian design doesn’t appeal to the same category of consumer as the Nest.”

CNET has covered this category well, with reviews of the major players and continual updates. Consumer Reports has also chimed in, but we question their priorities. In our last review of this category, we referred to CR’s take as “very wrong.” That may be a bit harsh, but their list of top remote-access thermostats seems to massively undervalue the designs and interfaces of the Lyric, Nest, and Ecobee3, preferring more conventional models from Honeywell, American Standard, and Trane. Many of those high-ranking models are also much more expensive than the three models we tested and designed to work with specific HVAC systems.

By eliminating expensive, proprietary, and non-learning smart thermostats, we ended up with three finalists: the second-generation Nest, Ecobee’s Ecobee3, and Honeywell’s Lyric. We installed each ourselves and ran them for more than a week each in routine operation. Testing was done in the fall in a Northern California home with a single forced-air furnace, so we didn’t test air conditioning, dehumidification, or multiple zones. Where rewiring was needed, although we did consult with a contractor, we ended up going to our local hardware store, buying a roll of thermostat wire, and re-wiring the heater ourselves. Our testing considered ease of use in adjusting the temperature, setting a schedule, and using smartphone app features.

Our pick: The Nest Learning Thermostat

Note: We tested the second-generation Nest. In early September, Nest Labs launched the third-generation device, which has a larger screen, a slimmer profile, and the ability to show the temperature from across the room. Since its core features are as good as those of the previous version and the price hasn’t gone up, we now recommend the third-generation Nest, though if you can find the second-generation Nest for cheap it’s still a good buy.

The $250 Nest Learning Thermostat is the leader of this category for a reason. Its learning mode automatically programs the thermostat based on your home and usage, its industrial design is the best, and it works with many other smart-home devices. The Nest offers the best combination of style and substance, its software and apps are solid and elegant, and it integrates with more smart devices than any of its competitors—for now.

The industrial design of the device is strong: a metallic ring with a black front and a circular LCD screen in the middle. The on-device interface is elegant—my favorite of the three we tested—with every setting controlled by either a push on the face or a spin of the ring. The display shows red when heating, blue when cooling.

The second-generation Nest has a single metal ring with a black glass face. The third-gen device, not shown, is thinner and equipped with a larger screen. Photo: Jason Snell

The second-generation Nest has a single metal ring with a black glass face. The third-gen device, not shown, is thinner and equipped with a larger screen. Photo: Jason Snell

The Nest’s onboard software is pretty smart, too. It learns the thermal dynamics of your space and estimates how long it will take to reach a target temperature, and displays that. Its heating and cooling schedules can be set to hit a specific temperature at a specific time, rather than just turn on and off at that time. (For example, I set the Nest to get my house to 70 degrees at 6:45 a.m. On a very cold night it would turn on extra early just to make sure I didn’t get cold toes when I got out of bed.)

The Nest’s learning mode puts it above its competitors. It’s constantly aware of the temperature adjustments you make on the devices—the point is to reduce the need to manually program the thermostat by learning what you like on its own. Coupled with an occupancy sensor that can tell when nobody’s around (in theory), the Nest can learn from your patterns and create its own schedule without any work from you.

I found that the Nest’s learning system worked fairly well, but creating manual schedules is also a breeze. The excellent Nest app (for iOS or Android) lets you program specific times and temperatures with a few taps. And as HVAC contractor Shavitz told me, you can’t discount the psychological power of Nest’s green leaf icon, which motivates you to forgo a little comfort and dial the temperature down just a little bit more in order to save energy.

Installing the Nest was easy. After removing my previous thermostat, I screwed on the the Nest baseplate and was able to follow the included instruction pamphlet to slide the correct wires into the labeled terminals. The Nest can charge its built-in battery via your existing thermostat wiring, and I never had a problem with it running out of battery power during normal use, though if you have a power-providing common wire among your thermostat wires, that will provide extra insurance. Nest also offers an online compatibility checker and phone support for installation help.

Nest’s iOS app lets you edit your schedule, adjust the current temperature setting, and control every aspect of the device.

Nest’s iOS app lets you edit your schedule, adjust the current temperature setting, and control every aspect of the device.

Nest’s mobile app is easy to use and lets you set the target temperature as well as program an entire day-by-day, hour-by-hour schedule, if you’re so inclined. There’s also a website that lets you do all the same stuff, so if you’re at your computer you don’t need to get your phone in order to change the temperature.

Nest Labs, which is now owned by Google, keeps expanding its Works with Nest program, which promises interoperability with other smart appliances and services, from lightbulbs, Nest Cams, and smart locks to universal remotes, washing machines, fitness bands, and Google Now. The Works with Nest program has the potential to make the Nest the best choice for people who want their thermostat to interact with other home-automation products. So far, a lot of the integrations are pretty gimmicky, but that may not be the case for long.

Who else likes it

CNET’s Megan Wollerton gave the third-generation Nest four and a half stars out of five, saying, “Nest is still our choice for best overall smart thermostat, but it isn’t massively different from the second-gen model and the gap is narrowing as other brands introduce solid competitors.” Wollerton pointed out that the Nest system still lacks remote temperature sensors, unlike the Ecobee3. (In 2012, CNET gave the second-generation Nest five stars out of five.)

PC Magazine also loved the Nest, giving it 4.5 out of five. Wirecutter editor in chief Jacqui Cheng, writing for Ars Technica in 2012, gave the first-generation Nest a high endorsement: She said she’d be sure to take her Nest with her the next time she moved. Engadget gave the Nest 95 out of 100 in a similar rave.

Because the second-gen Nest came out in 2012 and the third-gen version arrived in September 2015, very few reviews of the Nest compare it directly with its newest competition though almost all reviews of other smart thermostats mention the Nest.

In 2014, CNET reviewed both the Ecobee3 and the Honeywell Lyric, and while the reviews were generally positive toward both products—feelings we wholeheartedly share—they indicated that the Nest was still tops in the category. The Lyric “can compete on features, but doesn’t match the Nest’s intuitive design,” while the Ecobee3 is depicted as still “clos[ing] in on Honeywell and Nest.”

Some minor drawbacks

Nest probably shouldn’t punt the important job of measuring temperatures and occupancy throughout a house to a third party.

The Nest’s greatest weakness is its lack of external sensors. It can connect with the Nest Protect smoke alarm in order to act as an additional occupancy sensor, but you can’t feed the Nest temperature or occupancy data from other locations without buying expensive third-party hardware. This can be a problem if your Nest is in an infrequently used hallway, or on a different floor from the one you most often use. You can get around this by buying the $300 WallyHome Sensor Kit, which gives the Nest access to temperature data from six different locations in your house, and other Works with Nest devices can feed the Nest occupancy data. But Nest probably shouldn’t punt the important job of measuring temperatures and occupancy throughout a house to a third party.

(Some third-party smartphone apps, like the $5 Skylark for iOS and the free Coming Home for Android, add smartphone geofencing capability to the Nest, but first-party support would be better.)

One of the major drawbacks of the Nest, like other smart thermostats, is that it’s essentially a small computer that requires power to operate. If your heating and cooling system is equipped with an energy-bearing “common wire” (also called a C-wire), you won’t have any concerns about power. The problem is, common wires are not very common—Shavitz said that he finds it “fairly prevalent” that no common wire is available. Both the Nest and its competitor the Honeywell Lyric can manage to charge themselves by stealing power from other wires, but that can cause some serious side effects, according to HVAC contractor Shavitz. He said that old-school furnaces generally are resilient enough to provide power for devices like the Nest and the Lyric, but high-tech circuit boards on newer models can be more prone to failure when they’re stressed out by the tricks the Nest and Lyric use to charge themselves without a common wire.

Bottom line: You may be able to run the Nest without a common wire, but it’s probably safer to get a contractor to install one if you don’t have one already, especially if you have a newer furnace—this typically costs about $100 to $150 depending on your location. (The Ecobee3 doesn’t even try to use this trick—it requires a common wire and comes with an entire wiring kit to add one if you don’t have it.)

Long-term test notes

Several Sweethome and Wirecutter editors have used first- and second-generation Nest thermostats, in some cases for years, in areas with hot summers and cold winters (Philadelphia, Chicago, and Houston). Everyone loves their Nests, but two editors noted some issues with newer HVAC equipment until they installed a common wire. And almost everyone wishes it came with remote sensors. Most work from home and have the Nest in a hallway that doesn’t see much foot traffic, so it keeps thinking nobody’s home. Still, every editor we talked to would buy the Nest again.

The next best thing (for larger homes)

Also Great
ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat
For more sensors in large houses: The Ecobee3 isn't as sleek or intuitive as the Nest but, unlike the Nest, it supports stand-alone remote sensors, so it can register the temperature in different parts of your house—a nice feature for people who need multiple sensor points in a large home. It also supports Apple's HomeKit.

If you have a large home with a single HVAC system, or you want to be able to measure the temperature in rooms other than wherever your thermostat happens to be, consider the Ecobee3.

The $250 Ecobee3 is not a friendly round widget like the Nest and the Honeywell Lyric. It’s a black slab, a touchscreen that you interact with as if you were using a smartphone app. If your sense of style is more high-tech than homey, you might even prefer it. Because it’s driven by a touchscreen, interacting with the Ecobee3 is much less tactile than turning a ring on the Nest or the Lyric. There are some advantages, though—entering my Wi-Fi password was much easier on the Ecobee3, which can display an on-screen keyboard when it needs to.

Ecobee’s newest version, introduced in late July 2015, has built-in hardware to support Apple’s HomeKit, which allows for Siri-voice control and coordinated actions with other HomeKit enabled devices. We haven’t tested the HomeKit-enabled version yet, but think turning down your heat and turning off your smart lights at the same time. HomeKit is a new universal framework for smart gadgets and there aren’t a huge number products that support it yet, but if you’re interested in HomeKit-enabled devices, Ecobee3 is one to consider.

The Ecobee3 is like a smartphone app that sits on your wall.

The Ecobee3 is like a smartphone app that sits on your wall.

Beyond its touchscreen interface, the Ecobee3’s biggest strength is its remote sensors. It comes with one battery-operated sensor that you can place elsewhere in your house. The sensor monitors both temperature and occupancy, so the Ecobee3 can better detect who’s in your house and what the temperature is throughout—not just where your thermostat is. If you’re downstairs and it’s cold, a thermostat installed at the top of a staircase might think nobody’s home and it’s plenty warm. With a remote sensor downstairs, the Ecobee3 can realize that it’s not warm enough down where the people are, and adjust accordingly. You can purchase additional sensors for the Ecobee3—up to 32 of them—in packs of two for $80.

Ecobee3’s large touchscreen gives it an advantage over other smart thermostats, and it definitely attempts to use the space. Tap the cloud icon and you’ll get a local weather forecast, for instance. I like how it displays the current temperature in very large type, with the target temperature in a smaller circle off to the right. It also displays the outside temperature on the idle screen along with the current indoor temperature. There’s probably more Ecobee could do to take advantage of the space, but I like the flexibility.

The Ecobee3 requires either a common wire or the installation of its included power-extender wiring kit (which cleverly saps power from your heater and sends it over your existing thermostat wiring, so you don’t need to run new wire). Depending on your home’s wiring, this might be no big deal, or it might be a showstopper. In my case, I ended up having to rewire my heater in order to install the Ecobee3. It took me only a couple of hours, but the Ecobee3’s power-consumption needs make it more finicky than its competitors if you don’t have a common wire.

Reviews for the earlier Ecobee3 (without HomeKit) are pretty strong. CNET’s Megan Wollerton gave it 3.5 out of five. She liked the performance of the thermostat but found the apps glitchy. Adam Miarka at Zatz Not Funny also liked it, especially the remote sensors, and Steve Jenkins’s review and follow-up both say it’s better than the Nest or the Lyric—though he’s a longtime user of previous Ecobee products.

Unfortunately, I encountered numerous quirks with Ecobee3’s smartphone app and its website. The app quit repeatedly, and when it did work, it didn’t feel especially responsive. It did a good job of emulating the same interface I saw on the Ecobee3 screen, though. I also ran into a problem where the Ecobee3 thought I was living on Eastern Time, despite it knowing I was in California, and turned on my heater three hours too early. (Blogger Steve Jenkins seems to have run into it too; Ecobee says it’s changing the way time zones are set to avoid this problem.) I also found that the Ecobee3 screen was sometimes hard to read, either because it seemed too dim in bright light or because of glare off its shiny surface. I also couldn’t get used to the fact that the Ecobee3 often seemed to be displaying the wrong temperature, though when I looked closer it turned out that the main thermostat was displaying an average temperature based on its own location and the room containing its remote sensor.

Because its remote sensors are so useful and easy to add, the Ecobee3 is a compelling choice for people with large, multistory houses that don’t have multiple zones or HVAC systems, since your thermostat isn’t always in the best spot to measure the temperature of the rooms you use more often. The Nest is still better for most people, but the Ecobee3 is the closest competition.

The competition (is much better than it used to be)

Without any hardware releases from Nest in the past two years, the competition has picked up the slack a bit. In addition to the Ecobee3, there’s another stylish, intelligent device that threatens to upset the Nest’s ownership of this category. Neither has quite toppled the leader yet, but Nest doesn’t have much more time to keep resting on its laurels.

Like the Nest, Honeywell’s Lyric is round, with a spinning ring for setting the temperature. The Lyric covers more wall than the Nest, but it also doesn’t stick out as far.

The Honeywell Lyric is round like a Nest, but its display is quite different.

The Honeywell Lyric is round like a Nest, but its display is quite different.

The Lyric was the easiest of the three devices to install, though I found it easier to attach wires on the Nest and the Ecobee3. The smartphone app walks you through all aspects of installation, with clearly written (and well-illustrated) instructions. Once you’ve wired it up, Lyric broadcasts its own Wi-Fi network, which you connect to with your smartphone. Then you use the Lyric app to enter in your local Wi-Fi network’s name and password, saving you from having to laboriously “type” it via clunky thermostat hardware, à la the Nest.

On the front of the Lyric there are two touch-sensitive buttons and two display areas: The large circle at the center displays the current temperature (though if you tap the weather-forecast button, it shows you a local forecast). The smaller one at the top shows the target temperature and indicates if you’re in heating or cooling mode. These displays are always on, which I liked. The Nest turns its screen off to save power unless you’re in close proximity; it was nice to be able to glance across the room and see the temperature right on the Lyric’s display.

While the Nest’s control ring glides effortlessly, I found the Lyric’s unpleasant to turn—it was harder to grip and offered much more resistance. I also prefer the Nest’s all-black front to the Lyric’s white front with black display circles, but that’s a matter of taste. Displaying the current temperature more prominently than the target temperature was a good choice—after having used both the Lyric and the Ecobee3, I find it preferable to Nest’s heavy emphasis on the target temperature.

The Lyric’s major selling point is that “it doesn’t need to learn a routine,” according to the Lyric website—making it a bit of an anti-Nest. Instead of learning your routine, the Lyric uses its own occupancy sensors as well as connected smartphones to get an idea of when your house is occupied and when it’s empty. The Lyric app monitors your current location and can transmit that information to the Lyric. In theory, this means that if you’re headed home, it can turn on the heater—and if you leave to go to the movies, it knows you’re gone and can immediately go into power-saving mode.

If the thermostat adjusts only when you come within a few miles of home, are the extra few minutes of heating or cooling really going to make much difference?

Not every member of a home owns a smartphone, and the act of setting up everyone’s phone with the Lyric app seems a bit much. I’m also not sure if this approach is much more than a gimmick—can’t the occupancy sensor do most of this work itself? And if the thermostat adjusts only when you come within a few miles of home, are the extra few minutes of heating or cooling really going to make much difference?

(A $5 third-party iOS app called Skylark adds similar geofencing capability to the Nest, and apps like Coming Home offer it for Android users. So if you’re intrigued by the Lyric’s geofencing feature, there’s a way to get it on the Nest as well.)

Though you can set the Lyric into Away mode by tapping its Away button, Honeywell seems to want you to control it mostly from its smartphone app. You can use the app to design different heating and cooling modes, which can be executed based on time or your location, or manually by tapping in the app. Setting up the modes seemed a bit too fiddly to me, and I found myself missing the simplicity of the Nest’s scheduling.

CNET’s Megan Wollerton gave the Lyric 3.5 stars, saying “a few performance and usability quirks make it hard to recommend today.” John Brandon at TechHive gave it just 2.5 stars (or hives, or whatever they are).

Like the Ecobee3, Lyric does have the advantage of supporting HomeKit. If you’re interested in the larger smart-home ecosystem and think you’ll swing toward Apple, it’s worth considering.

The rest

The $250 Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat is a network-enabled smart thermostat, complete with a learning algorithm. Its features are arguably more impressive than Honeywell’s Lyric, but it’s a plastic rectangle with a touchscreen housing an old-school interface.

The $300 Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control is pretty much the same product, but with the addition of voice-command capabilities, so you can shout across the room to make it cooler. This is probably the most impressive of the more traditional smart thermostats, and it’s Consumer Reports’s top choice.

The $450 American Standard AccuLink AZone950 was also a Consumer Reports top choice and is available through dealers. It’s yet another traditional rectangle with a touchscreen interface. It uses American Standard’s AccuLink Communicating System, so it’s really designed to fit into a house outfitted with American Standard equipment.

Another Consumer Reports top pick, the $550 Trane ComfortLink II xL950, is almost identical to the American Standard in look, features, and concept: It’s available via dealers and largely designed to fit in with Trane’s equipment. (Both American Standard and Trane are owned by the same parent company, Ingersoll Rand.)

Wrapping it up

Despite its age, the second-generation Nest is still the best smart thermostat for most people. The hardware is excellent, and the software behind it is elegant and smart. And the Works with Nest program means the Nest can integrate with a growing number of smart-home devices. However, Nest is in danger of losing its once-substantial lead in this category. The Honeywell Lyric isn’t as beautiful or as clever as the Nest—its focus on geofencing via smartphone app seems a little misguided—but it’s a solid device with (as CNET put it in its review) “a ton of potential.” The Ecobee3 is a scrappy upstart that essentially puts a smartphone app on your wall. It, too, has a lot of potential—but the software and smartphone apps need to be better.

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  1. Thermostat Ratings, Consumer Reports
  2. Jacqui Cheng, A thermostat that learns? Three months with the Nest, Ars Technica, August 2, 2012
  3. Megan Wollerton, This round thermostat has a few rough edges, CNET, July 3, 2014
  4. Megan Wollerton, Ecobee’s new Ecobee3 closes in on Honeywell and Nest, CNET, September 30, 2014
  5. Adam Miarka, Ecobee3 Smart Thermostat - A Solid Nest Challenger, Zatz Not Funny, November 22, 2014
  6. John Brandon, This smart thermostat needs to wise up, PCWorld, December 4, 2014

Originally published: February 12, 2015

We actively moderate the comments section to make it relevant and helpful for our readers, and to stay up to date with our latest picks. You can read our moderation policy FAQ here.

  • breedm

    I think the 3M/Filtrete Radio Thermostat at least deserves a shout-out. It’s a programmable thermostat with wifi capability for cheap! It’s far from perfect and won’t knock the Nest of it’s pedestal, but it gets your foot in the door with connectivity, and it’s got a robust API which is great for the DIY/programmers.

    • Michael Zhao

      Thanks for pointing that out. I did some digging and it looks very intriguing at that $100 price point, but it also no longer seems to be available. When I go to their website, the buy now link directs me to the Home Depot home page:

      Also, it’s only being sold at inflated prices via third party sellers on Amazon.

    • Jools

      I’ll second the Radio Thermostat; I’ve been using the 3M version for several years. It’s not a learning ‘stat, but you can edit the 7-day schedule online or in the Android/iOS apps (half the burden of programmables) and store separate “summer” and “winter” schedules. You get 4 setpoints per day. The schedule is synchronized with the cloud service, but stored locally on the thermostat in case of a connectivity failure. The company documented the REST API for writing your own control
      software on a PC on your local network, too. They even support a snap-in
      module for ZWave, if you’re into that.

      The app gives you remote setpoint/fan/heat/cool controls and reports temperature. If your phone’s on the same network as the thermostat, it talks directly to it instead of routing through their cloud service. Otherwise, the app tells you the last time it “saw” the thermostat online. I’ve used that info on vacation to figure out whether my house had power during severe weather.

      While the CT30 was rebadged by a number of companies, the current model seems to be the Radio Thermostat CT50. It’s on Amazon and

  • Phillip Levinson

    My question and I have seen a lot of this around if my system would work with Nest 1.0 is there any reason to spend 250 on the 2.0 when I could spend 190 on the original? As far as I know the original has gotten all the firmware/software updates the 2.0 has its just not as thin and the adjustment ring is a bit different.

    • Michael Zhao

      Not really. It’s a bit smaller, which is nice. Thinking in the long term though, it would probably add an extra couple years of firmware support. In general, when buying new, it’s a good idea to get the most up to date model.

      From another perspective, if you’re already spending $190 on a thermostat, an extra $60 probably isn’t too much to pay for peace of mind.

  • DonutATX


    Sorry for spamming y’all on the launch site and twitter, but I am really hoping for some information.

    Before I drop $500 on these beauties, does anyone have ANY information on their home automation road map? When can I use their software to control NEST locks, NEST sprinklers, NEST modules for lights, etc? I have asked Nest, but they are really quiet, which is vexing.


    • The Tech Whore

      Nope, just thermostats. They haven’t mentioned anything about expanding into the home automation market. It would be pretty awesome if they did.

    • DK

      This is actually the biggest problem I have with the Nest, not even mentioned in this review. Do not assume that the ability to program is coming–it’s been asked for by MANY. There are hacks to get around it (screen scraping basically), but at this point it’s deliberate that Nest has not released it.

      I will NOT be buying a Nest for this factor alone. I don’t need this system to guess when I’m away, it’s very easy for it to know with 100% when I’m on vacation and 95% accuracy for just about everything else–all because of social networking. The guess work that Nest dose now is nonsense. Sure it works for “most” but it’s inferior for others. We’ll look back at it one day and laugh.

      • Jason Rossitto

        “We’ll look back at it one day and laugh.”

        You mean like when we look back at the first iPod?


    • Randall Hammill

      I originally liked the idea that Nest has compatibility with smart ceiling fans since utilizing those instead of the furnace fan and/or AC first makes sense. Until I found out that the fans in question are $1000+.

      Ecobee doesn’t talk much about compatibility with other standards on their site, but a great number of other companies have been announcing compability with the Ecobee3.

      Ecobee seems to be focused solely on thermostats, which to me would indicate that they need to be compatible with as many other standards as possible. Whereas Nest is actively working on other products or securing ‘works with Nest deals’ which can be concerning because it makes you wonder if there will be exclusive deals in certain areas.

      In any event, I’ve jumped in with the Ecobee3 for many reasons so we’ll see what happens!

  • DK

    The auto away is more than a minor inconvenience–it’s an ideological battle ground from the Nest corporation. There are so many ways that “auto away” could be engineered in a way that it was MUCH more accurate, but because Nest has purposely not released an API for programmers to access, they’re keeping it a “closed system” and we are stuck with what Nest gave us… which is a system that we’ll laugh at one day.

    I have my meetings, work schedule, vacations in a calendar… There’s no way Nest should have to guess when I’m away. TripIt, Google, there are endless ways Nest could augment the sensor information with actual real life confirmed information that I’ve already provided. Nest is setting themselves up to be the iPhone when the Androids are chugging away with less glory.

    • Skylark

      Apologies in advance if this is viewed as an irrelevant plug, but check out . It’s an iOS app that sets your Nest to home or away based on the location of your phone. We recommend disabling auto-away and just using location instead.

  • Marcy Holmes

    I wonder what your opinion is about the amazon reviewers who had their unit fail and lock their heat or a/c on. That makes me a little nervous.

    • Edge Trio

      I originally purchased the 1st generation of the Nest Learning Thermostat and the only thing I didn’t like about that version was how far it protruded from the wall. On my final day for the return policy of the 1st gen model, the 2nd gen was already being advertised to be released soon. I didn’t hesitate to uninstall the 1st gen model to send it back and pre-order and wait on the 2nd gen. The 2nd gen thermostat’s profile in my opinion is perfect for the look and style I desire in my home. It makes my home appear a little more modern but not too much. The installation was easy (a video instruction can be found here – ) and it looks great just as with the 1st gen. I noticed a $35 drop in my $120 per month power bill. I have a 2200 sq/ft home w/ three bedrooms and two baths that’s occupied by only myself and my wife. My AC system is a basic single stage AC and a two stage heater and I hooked up six wires: O, R, B(C), W2, G, Y. I live in beautiful Florida and the AC runs at 82 during the day and 78 at night. I’m hoping for about the same performance if not better with the 2nd gen Nest. I’ll admit I did try to go with a programmable Honeywell thermostat which ended up not being compatible with my system while waiting on this order. So my options were to keep my pre-order with the 2nd gen Nest or keep the old thermostat from over ten years ago with no features. I’m glad to have decided to go with the 2nd generation Nest Learning Thermostat. It truly is best programmable thermostat around today.

  • Tyler Williams

    I work for a HVAC contracting company that installs HVAC system in new homes.

    More and more frequently, I am seeing homeowners replacing the thermostats that came with their homes with NEST’s, only to have the heating system in their home no longer work and requiring the original thermostat to be re-installed.

    Unfortunately, I only work in the office and don’t have a lot of HVAC knowledge or experience (so maybe someone else could get more specific) but essentially the NEST isn’t compatible with all heating systems. The problems I have seen is mostly with “zone” systems which uses dampers to allow for different heating levels to different areas of the house. From what I’ve been told by our service department, the NEST is not compatible with the Honeywell zone controller (HZ311K is the part number) that is used for the zone systems that my company installs.

    Basically, before you spend the $250 on a new thermostat, consult with an HVAC professional about whether or not the NEST will be compatible with the HVAC system in your home.

  • Todd Kuipers

    I recently took my Nest gen2 thermostat off the wall (after 11 months) and replaced with the Lux mentioned above. After months of wifi failures, and poorly timed temp regulation failures (i.e. going on vacation and having the Nest fail), I couldn’t take the risk any longer. Any device that rates wireless connectivity over temperature maintenance is kinda nuts.

    I troubleshot this thing to death (many hours spent), specifically trying everything on this forum thread (, and nothing produced reliable results. At minimum I would wait until the Nest crew fix their 3.5.1 implementation.

    That said, the Lux 9000 took me <15 minutes, from getting the package, through programming a full 7 day schedule, to hookup, to firing the furnace. Well worth the $60.

    • curationary

      Why didn’t you change to a different router, that router was not supported according to the link yo gave. Stay with popular wifi routers can help to avoid this type of compatibility headache.

      • Todd Kuipers

        A new router with the device capacity I need = $200+. A new thermostat that doesn’t change it’s compatibility on a firmware update, and has a design bias towards connectivity over battery levels when -30F isn’t unusual = $60.

        I’d prefer a house with heat than trying to match a regularly changing compatibility list. How there is a compatibility list at all is bizarre – if you’re rated to use an IEEE spec, use an IEEE spec.

      • Kevin M

        The Nest has had regular problems with wifi. When it was working they’d push an update and then it woudln’t work. I’ve used mine with several different router changes, none because of the Nest cause who on earth changes their router to make their thermostat work. I will say that after much wifi problems early on, mine has been pretty solid of late.

  • JustinD

    Michael, do you have any information as to why Amazon has stopped stocking this themselves? For the last week and a half or so they’ve only had it from overpriced 3rd party sellers. Is there any chance that stock is low because Nest is readying a 3rd generation of the hardware?

  • Alain Tremblay

    I bought an ecobee 3 and I definitely recommend you take a look at it as an alternative to Nest. It is as smart, but more predictable (the algorithm doesn’t try to guess what you want, yet is sophisticated enough to get increased economy)

    Remote sensors are a GREAT idea.

    • tony kaye

      Consumer Reports also liked the Ecobee which also has built-in internet controllability and is versatile enough to be used with most HVAC systems. But Brian, Sweethome’s editor, had one for a while before Nest and noted the touchscreen and app was buggy/laggy and a chore to use and program. It’s also expensive. Consumer Reports liked it, even though we found it nowhere near as great as a Nest, and they gave it a 94/100. To Brian, that is, as he put it, “insane.”

      Maybe when we refresh we’ll look at the 3.

    • Bill B

      FYI, you can can turn off the auto-schedule feature of the Nest and set a manual schedule. When disabled, you can still use auto-away, early-on, and other “smart” features.

  • sophistroland

    I just purchased and installed an Ecobee Smart Si. At $140 (what I purchased it for on Amazon), I think it is a much better deal than the Nest. The Smart Si is a previous generation thermostat (around first generation Nest), but gets any updates to the web portal and app. The app and web portal were recently updated with the introduction of the Ecobee 3. When I read through a bunch of HVAC professional forums, they talk about how bad the programming is for the Nest, especially when you have a heat pump. It has much better lock out functions for your auxiliary heat and more user control, but is still a learning thermostat. It does not have a touchscreen, but I don’t plan on touching the screen. I do that in the web portal or the app. The display itself is a color LCD with the indoor and outdoor temp and pulls up the current weather for your area, but it is a small display.

    • tony kaye

      We talked about the Ecobee above

      Consumer Reports also liked the Ecobee which also has built-in internet controllability and is versatile enough to be used with most HVAC systems. But Brian, Sweethome’s editor, had one for a while before Nest and noted the touchscreen and app was buggy/laggy and a chore to use and program. It’s also expensive. Consumer Reports liked it, even though we found it nowhere near as great as a Nest, and they gave it a 94/100. To Brian, that is, as he put it, “insane.”

      I wrote just below this comment, we’ll likely take a look at the next gen model. If it’s better, it will be the top pick.

    • Jason Snell

      Just a note that this article has now been updated to review the ecobee3!

  • Core

    Next time test the Tado as well please. I have it, and like it very much.

    Draw back of the Nest is, that it doesn’t use ‘ Open Therm’, it just shuts down/turns on the heater, while with ‘Open Therm’ is just lowers or heats up (like the Tado). Price of the Tado is about 250 Euro.
    Otherwise check this test:

    • tony kaye

      It’s not available outside of the EU. If we can’t get it stateside, or if it’s not built to work here, we can’t test it. And even if we could test it, we wouldn’t recommend it for anyone since it’s EU only. Sorry :(

      • Core

        I still like the Sweethome and Wirecutter… 😉

  • Adam Miarka

    Still enjoying the Ecobee3. If Nest ever figures out remote sensors, it would be a tougher call though as Nest has a lot more 3rd party integration. Spending $300+ dollars on Wally just doesn’t feel right.

    • reddot1975

      I tried the Wally and found it to be really unreliable. Their “using the home wiring as an antenna” feature is a neat trick, but my sensors consistently disconnected and Wally tech support wasn’t really able to give me any useful troubleshooting help.. It also doesn’t help that their more advanced features are vaporware / future updates.

  • Terry Maraccini

    Smart thermostats escape me. My programmable Honeywell heats or cools according to my wishes. It obeys the schedule I’ve set.

    It cost me $30.00

    It’s 5 years old.

    • Bill B

      Yeah, but you have to get off your couch to adjust the heat….sucker!

    • Andrew Richards

      The killer features to me were:
      1. I can adjust the thermostat from anywhere in the house, and beyond.
      2. It can roughly detect when I’m not home, and not waste heat or cooling cycles — this is important for someone like me who has a wildly varying schedule.
      3. It looks like HAL9000 on my living room wall, and is quite a conversation piece when we have guests over.
      4. Humidistat — the Nest controls my humidifier too, eliminating the need for a second box on the wall.

    • Jason Snell

      There is definitely a reason we discussed that at the very top of the article! There are cheaper, and simpler, thermostats out there. If you don’t want whizzy features, you should buy one.

    • Randall Hammill

      True, but I think that many people find that it is much more efficient and save more money with a thermostat that responds to the schedule you actually keep, rather than the schedule you set. Even a simple 5% savings will recoup the cost of a Smart thermostat for most within 2 years.

      With our prior programmable thermostat we were constantly overriding it, which frequently meant it was then running much longer than it needed. Based on the insight into how our home is using our system, it looks like we should save considerably more.

    • Komrad

      What does it do when you are in Hawaii and realize that you forgot to change the programming for vacation? A smart thermo let’s you whip out your phone and fix it right then and there.

  • Steve Jenkins

    Hi, Jason. This is a good analysis of the major players in this space. Even though we end up at different conclusions (I prefer the schedule-driven approach to the learning algo one), the piece is a great read and your conclusion is defensible (and thanks for the shout out on my ecobee3 review). :)

    • Jason Snell

      Thanks Steve! I don’t mind the schedule-driven approach, but I do wish that the other units made an effort to learn from adjustments and alter their schedules, since (as the HVAC guy pointed out) most people just never set their schedules, or set it once and forget it. I’m dubious about Honeywell’s app-based location thing too. Regardless, these are all good products. I was pleasantly surprised at how hard it was to make final judgments.

  • RonV42

    Good article but I am concerned about privacy and any solution that needs to send data to Google to operate is a non-starter for me. I don’t need my lifestyle exploited by a company for their benefit of selling information to sell ads. I’ll stick with my home automation solution and communicating thermostat that has no connection to the internet.

    • Max Velasco Knott

      This too is my biggest concern. I want a strong Google-alternative thermostat. The weather where I live is fair and I don’t need to make adjustments often (nor want my system to run unless absolutely necessary). I’d settle for something as basic as an iPhone remote that works similarly to my Hue system. I may try the Ecobee3 to see if it fits this need alone. Anyone have thoughts on something that talks to an existing ZigBee or IFTTT network?

      • Randall Hammill

        Ecobee3 works with IFTTT and Zigbee. I looked at IFTTT and didn’t really find any functionality that I couldn’t already do with the Ecobee3 itself, but that will probably depend on your needs.

  • Tom Johnson

    This article had to be written by a Nest personnel. I have replaced 8 Nest’s with Honeywell’s. I use only the basic version but have installed some Lyrics. Look the nest interface is pure junk. If you want to raise the temp you can just dial it up unless the program changes it in 10 minutes because you had it programmed to be a different temp. Because it doesn’t notice anyone for a few ours it may if you allow it to automatically drop into away mode. Even stats from the 70’s at least allowed you to set the temp up or down for a period of time and then drop back into the programmed defaults. Honeywell allows you to do that. But if you have a vacation house do not even think of the Nest! There are no push notifications from Nest. Honeywell’s will send you email / texts if any preset are hit. Such as heater is down, temp has fallen bellow to a freeze level or overheat condition.

    • tony kaye

      Just because YOU have had issues with them (sounds more like you just don’t like the interface..boohoo) doesn’t mean this is a promotional post for Nest. Do you see the part where we mention other brands? Nest would FIRE an employee for even mentioning other brands in a Nest-paid for article. The thing has a 4/5 star rating on Amazon with near 3,500 reviews.

      If you want to be rude, you can GTFO.

      • Randall Hammill

        Well, this entire review is based on the direct experiences of one (or a few) people. Yes, it’s supported by other reviews and rankings, but even so somebody speaking up with their experiences is just as valid. Otherwise what’s the point of having the comments? Just so people can agree with you and praise your wonderful review?

        This review leans heavily on the interface and design as a great advantage, while there are many of us that disagree. It starts focusing specifically on that fact: “With its round, metallic design, the Nest Learning Thermostat made all other thermostats seem old and outmoded in an instant.” Funny, the first time I saw the Nest I thought of it as retro and an update on a very old design.

        Amazon reviews, and your own opinions (yes, reviews are, at least partially, opinions) still do not change the actual experience of a specific individual. Jason “calls ’em as he sees ’em” and Tom reported what he experienced.

        It’s irrelevant for Tom what your or other reviews say, since his experience will not be changed by your opinions.

        Maybe Tom’s an idiot and can’t figure out how to use it. Based on his post I don’t think so. But there will be a lot of idiots who do buy these things and they’ll need to figure out how to use them, and also which is right for them. This review has done a good job of highlighting the Nest, but based on posts from actual users here and elsewhere it appears to be highlighting the strong points of the Nest and the weak points of others, and very little of the opposite. Propaganda reviews absolutely will mention other brands, and do so in a manner to make their own product appear to be superior.

        I absolutely don’t think that’s Jason’s intention, and he says he’s writing from his own and other’s direct experience. But compared to his raving about the Nest design is this: “It’s a black slab, a touchscreen that you interact with as if you were using a smartphone app. If your sense of style is more high-tech than homey, you might even prefer it. Because it’s driven by a touchscreen, interacting with the Ecobee3 is much less tactile than turning a ring on the Nest or the Lyric.”

        My take: “Rather than the retro design of the old circular thermostat, Ecobee has taken a more modernistic approach with a minimalist rounded black square and a touchscreen that you interact with like a smartphone. While interacting with the Ecobee3 is much less tactile than turning a ring on the Nest or Lyric, it’s far more intuitive, right down to the fact that the smartphone app uses an identical interface. Instead of having to turn a dial through a list of options then push the face you simply tap the option you want. Simple, and entirely natural in the age of iPhones.”

        As a result I can easily see how this review would appear to some (perhaps many) as a biased review toward the Nest in both content and tone. I’m not saying it is, but if this is supposed to be a place for impartial, unbiased, and accurate reviews, then I would suggest that a comment such as that be taken as constructive criticism and use it as an opportunity to improve ones craft. If the comment is way off base, then just ignore it. I’d suggest it’s not.

        Further, I don’t find Tom’s comment rude at all. The final sentence in your comment is not only rude and insulting, but it’s also unprofessional if you’re connected to The Sweethome, which your comments throughout seem to indicate.

        In fact, if you are connected to this site, your entire comment is unprofessional and would make me question ever relying on this site for a professional, impartial review again.

        “Just because YOU have had issues with them (sounds more like you just don’t like the interface..boohoo) doesn’t mean this is a promotional post for Nest.”
        – Insulting to your readers and indicates that your perspective is the only one that matters. In other words, biased and invalidates the review.

        “Do you see the part where we mention other brands?”
        – Condescending.

        “Nest would FIRE an employee for even mentioning other brands in a Nest-paid for article – let alone recommending one for larger homes – like we do with the Ecobee3.”
        – Not true.

        “The thing is, Nest has a 4/5 star rating on Amazon with near 3,500 reviews. That’s super solid. And it’s not like there’s an entire hours worth of reading on whywe think it’s the best or anything.”
        – I’m happy for Nest. But not only irrelevent in the case of his personal experience, but also worded in an insulting manner.

        “If you want to be rude, you can GTFO.”
        – Rude and unprofessional. If I was running the site and you worked for me I would consider this as grounds for disciplinary action up to and potentially including termination. Your effort to support Mr. Jason’s review effectively undermines it for intelligent readers, as I suspect is one of the site’s target groups.

        All in all, I think Jason has done a wonderful job explaining why the Nest is the best option for him, and perhaps those he knows closely. It has fallen a bit short on a full impartial review, and while he continues to update it, they are short comments rather than reworking the whole. Your comment has done nothing but insult a reader and make Jason’s review seem more biased and the site less professional.

    • Jason Snell

      I appreciate the shade, but I call ’em as I see ’em. In addition, I’ve used the first-gen Nest for a couple years without trouble, and Wirecutter staff experiences match up with that.

      That said, all three of the products I tested are good. This is no longer Nest’s category to own. If the features one product offers address your needs in very specific ways, you should buy that product.

  • Kevin Malm

    Engineer here, used programmable thermostats for last 10+ years, all Honeywells, all worked and though difficult to program from the limited interface controlled heat and cooling very nicely. Only time there was ever a problem was if the batteries died.

    I have now lived with my Nest for 1.75 years. Originally it was almost complete junk. It is now tolerable after unlimited software updates. I spend half my life using the web interface to try to set a million changes in temperature which I used to be able to do easily with stuff like hold until the next heating period. Most of the updates early on made it far worse rather than better.

    I spent a great many hours with support and even paid a certified HVAC guy to come out and try to get the Nest to work 1/2 as good an an old fashioned dumb programmable thermostat. I would wake up with the Nest all orange thinking it was heating the home but it was not and it was crazy cold. This was a regular occurrence (several times a week). Summer with cooling was much better than heating. Changing back to the old thermostat, everything works great. Use the Nest, its a total crapshoot.

    Biggest problem is the Nest is designed by software guys not thermostat guys. Basic functionality of a thermostat like hold functionality completely ignored by the Nest guys in favor of trying to set the thermostat for us by guessing when we are home using a motion detector in the Nest unit. Epic fail.

    One of the worst consumer electronics pieces of equipment I’ve bought in years. The product was hardly ready for beta testing and they’d shipped a bazillion of them.

    Oh, there is one thing everyone points out. It looks cute on the wall. It comes totally over packaged just like every other product trying to look like it came from Apple. You even get a Nest screwdriver for your $225.

    Would I buy a smoke detector from this company ? not if my life depended on it.

    I am still using it. I have to nurse it often. I would never recommend it to anyone who is not tech savvy.

    All this said, I still love being able to grab my pad and turn up the thermostat from bed when I’m cold.

    • Jason Snell

      I appreciate your perspective. As someone who bought the original Nest early on in its lifespan, I haven’t seen any of the issues you report, but I don’t doubt that you had a bad experience.

      • Komrad

        The Nest is just plain awesome.

    • Randall Hammill

      The Ecobee3 has a hold function. You can also designate whether the hold lasts for 2 hours, 4 hours, until you change it, until the next scheduled change, or prompts you when you put it on hold. In addition, the hold clearly shows on the face of the thermostat and all you have to do is tap that alert to end the hold. Extremely useful and easy to use.

    • Josh Meckel

      I would highly recommend the EcoBee. I have been using it for 6+ months and I have not experienced any of the BS that you have.

  • zack

    A question for the experts – I own a four-story, 3-family townhouse in Brooklyn, NYC. We have a hydronic heating system, using radiators in each room. It is a single zone for the entire house, with no central AC. There is a single thermostat on the second floor to control the heat in the whole house. From all that I can find online, there is no use in getting a smart thermostat for any purpose except for monitoring/changing/scheduling the heat status from a smartphone. There is no point in the thing learning habits, because the occupants in the apts all have different habits. Obviously, without AC, that functionality is null. Anyone have an opinion based on knowledge?

    • tony kaye

      @jsnell:disqus might be able to answer this!

    • Jason Snell

      You could place separate occupancy sensors (from the Ecobee3, not the Nest) in all three townhouses and the thermostat could adjust based on that, but given that it’s a single zone I fear it would just turn into a battle between the three different families over who wants it warmer or colder. In that situation I’m not sure a product like this is worth it.

  • AndyF

    I was about to buy one but was spooked by the comments on Amazon. The ones which point out that the Nest is not fail-safe– it sometimes fails in the on position an you get a stuck on heater or AC.

    How do you feel about this and was it a consideration in your review?

    • tony kaye


    • Jason Snell

      I’ve never seen this behavior with the Nest.

      • Eric McCormick

        While you may have not personally seen this behavior, it is a big issue. I am one of the people it has effected. I went though 3 Nest thermostats, 1 complete HVAC system and an another compressor before I figured out that the Nest has a huge problem with heat pumps which include geothermal system. On a heat pump you have a O/B wire that triggers if the compressor should be in heating or cooling mode. In the Nest, they use FETs instead of relays and so it isn’t always 0V or 24V, sometimes you can get voltages that float in between, normally around 14V, when it is supposed to be in the off position. When the heat pump sees this voltage, it causes the system two switch between the two causing over pressure and over heating. For other parts of the system for a AC only or gas, you won’t have these damages but you could have a system run when it really shoudn’t.

        My HVAC system was covered mostly by my home warrant and the compressor was covered under the manufactures warranty but I have put in a claim with Nest to get some money I had to dish out in labor to have this stuff done plus I am hoping they buy my Nest back from me.
        In theory it is a great product but they need to change the product to use relays instead of FETs even if it makes the product larger.

    • iamlucky13

      There have been a lot of reviews from people experiencing this. Some discussion on it based on teardowns suspects that Nest is undersizing the transistors that switch on your HVAC relays, possibly in part due to the smaller size. If a thermostat fails on, the best case is it wastes money. The worst case is it does thousands of dollars damage to a central AC or heat pump.

      Other factors I’ve never liked about the Nest is that Google uses it to monitor your home’s occupancy (of course they will never confirm it, but the ability to better target ads to your phone based on when you’re at home is clearly the reason they bought Nest. In the corporate world, you can safely assume that if a business can do something that benefits them, they will), and more notably, it wastes energy by trying to guess when it should be on instead of being programmed like a normal smart thermostat by an intelligent device that actually know when people will be home: the homeowner his or her self.

    • jjkraw

      Even worse is failing in the off position, which mine did twice after the software release concurrent with the release of the Protect (which appeared to be rushed and under-tested based on the reaction on Nest’s community board).

      What makes the Nest non-fail-safe is that the basic operation of the HVAC relies on the health of the microprocessor, which also runs all of the smart stuff. If the thermostat is connected to the net, you cannot control if and when new software is pushed. And if that new software has bugs sufficient to actually crash the processor (as it did for me and others), you could be dealing with a really bad situation if no one is in the house to notice that the heat isn’t coming on. It takes a hard reset to get the thing working again. Needless to say, my Nests came down after this happened.

      In order for me to feel confident about using a Smart thermostat again, I’d have to know that the hardware was designed with fail-safe in mind. To me, this means the logic operating the HVAC is separate from the “smart” processor. One way to think about this logically is if, say, you had a robot pressing the buttons on a basic programmable Honeywell. You wouldn’t really implement it that way, but the basic idea is if the “smart” part fails, the basic, simple HVAC firmware still reliably turns the heat on and off. If anyone has details of the Ecobee or Lyric hardware, I’d love to hear about them.

      I also saw the chronic offline issues over multiple releases – the thermostat can have problems staying reliably connected to the Nest server, regardless of what router or access point one uses. I have a systems and networking programming background, so I was able to take network traces that identified the buggy behavior and give them to Nest. From looking at the community forum, it appears that none of the bugs I found have been fixed yet (more than a year later).

      Anyone considering the Nest would be wise to spend an hour or two in the community forum at

  • David Riethof

    The Nest and Ecobee are great if you have an uncomplicated HVAC setup and you like the data reporting and sleek design. But the programming that controls the HVAC system itself, especially for heat pumps, has a long ways to go before it’s even as good as a basic, ugly Honeywell. At the end of the day, is it more important to have a cool thermostat or one that actually works and doesn’t fry your system? Just be careful if you have a heat pump or some other complicated set up and don’t live in a mild mild climate like the bay area — i had to learn that the hard way.

  • garbanzito

    picked up a Nest (2nd gen) used at Goodwill; upshot is i would never have paid full price, and it helps if you’re a good troubleshooter, but if you can get it for half price it’s kind of nice

    installed it in about 10 minutes, but it was causing my crap 90s furnace to buzz every few seconds and do a lot of short cycles; i did some internet searches and realized i had the “no common wire” problem; there had been only red & white wires connected to my old Honeywell programmable thermostat, but the existing wire bundle included unused green (fan) and blue (common) so i went down to the furnace and hooked them up, then back up to the Nest and hooked them up, and now it works fine; one thing about it “learning” is that we have a quite varied schedule, i work from home a lot and bedtime varies, so what’s to learn? the Skylark app (which is just a trial without an in-app purchase) might be a requirement to get it to be any more efficient than the Honeywell, but it is nice to be able to turn it down from upstairs

  • David Fischer

    Despite this detailed review, I’m still don’t feel like I know what’s the best thermostat for someone who programs their thermostat. For someone who thinks these problems are from a sitcom and not real life: “no more getting up in the middle of the night to turn up the A/C. No dashing back into the house to lower the heat before you go on errands (or vacation)…”

    I need a schedule driven thermostat that’s easily programmed and then simply switched between and Heating and Cooling programs, and auto-sets for DST. A Vacation mode would be a benefit. And for me, it needs to support two-zone dampered system (one unit, with a damper controlled by a second thermostat.). Smartphone apps are a benefit, welcome, but not needed.

    From this review, the Honeywell or Ecobee sound like top choices.

    I appreciate any additional insights :)

    • Randall Hammill

      All of these features are supported by the Ecobee3, except the thermostat controlled dampers. For that you need a zone control board that will control the dampers itself. You may already have that, otherwise I installed the Honeywell HZ311 myself for $150. I have two zones and two thermostats, and you don’t have to upgrade both thermostats at the same time either. I rarely use the smartphone app. It also has a vacation mode.

      I accept that when this review was posted there may have been some bugs in the apps, but the primary benefit this review seems to focus on its appearance. I did a lot of research including for this ‘scrappy upstart’ that was founded and started selling smart learning thermostats 3 years before Nest Labs, and I’ve had no issues with any of the apps in terms of bugs.

      There is no doubt that the Nest dramatically changed the concept of a smart thermostat. But in the end I found that the Ecobee3 with its remote sensors to be a much better option. In addition, the touch screen interface is super simple to use compared to the dial-and-push approach used by the Nest.

      The Ecobee3 fully supports programming like a standard programmable thermostat, at the thermostat, through the app, or on the webpage (which is probably the easiest with a copy function). It adds auto cool/heat capabilities, the remote occupancy/temperature sensors, and auto home/away capabilities.

      So you set a range of temperatures that are acceptable while home and away. It will focus on the room that has occupancy, or average the two if both are occupied, to keep the temperature within your defined range. In addition, if you are scheduled to be away, but it detects occupancy, it automatically overrides your schedule.

      The Nest will do the auto home/away, and can detect occupancy if you use the smoke detectors. But in our current configuration, the wired smoke detector isn’t in the location I need to monitor. In addition, that room is of newer construction with 2×6 instead of 2×4 construction and better insulated, so the temperature sensors really help ensure that both rooms are within the temperature range as appropriate.

      So as a new owner I can confirm that the Ecobee3 absolutely works for your configuration. I’ve also found the graphs extremely helpful, our upstairs responds very differently to outside temperatures than downstairs, and I’ve already started making simple changes to alter our energy use (windows, etc.) since I can easily see when the HVAC is being used and for how long. I highly recommend it, and I also feel that it has surpassed the Nest in both usability and functionality. I liked the retro appeal of the Nest, but it’s actually a lot bigger than I thought, and really like the modern simplicity of the Ecobee3 better.

      • Kevin M

        Thanks Randall. Been away from looking to replace the junky Nest for awhile but just had a look at the Ecobee3 and its reviews based on your posts. The remote units ? nice. A hold function ? where do I buy ? I’m in. I will buy one of these next week and give it a try.

        The Nest software updates crack me up. Its UI was bad originally on the actual unit and now it is getting worse. I go to a setting I’m used to going to and whoah, they updated again and things look all different.

        Why oh why ? cause they can and they have to push out so many defect repairs that they just keep pushing “improvements”.

        I now have a favorite Nest setting that I’d paste a picture of here if I could. This setting generates me tons of Nest green leaves so they can send me more spam email pimping themselves as saving all this money and trying to get me to risk my life by using their smoke detectors. This setting is…drum roll please….. ? OFF. I love this time post spring and before summer cause I don’t have to figure out what the heck the Nest is going to do next. I call it permanent hold. Sweet.

  • aservant

    I noticed that the Carrier Cor wasn’t listed. Any reason in particular?

    • tony kaye

      Looks like you have to go through a local dealer rep to get one. I don’t see them on Amazon or other major retailers. Needs to be installed by a Carrier authorized dealer = dealbreaker. Aside from those caveats it may not have been available when we tested.

      EDIT- Yep. Tom’s Hardware confirms dealer installation only. They gave it 3 stars so we very likely will not be recommending it for anyone.,review-2745.html

      • Seth

        So I’m not sure the dealer installation restriction is really a fair knock. Most people (the ones not reading DIY blogs :) ) are having someone other than themselves install their stuff. I think that the thermostats should be compared on the merits of how well they keep the home comfortable, require minimal intervention, and reduce electric consumption.

        In truth it’s hard to say which smart thermostat is the best just like it’s had to say which car is the best. The answer is ‘it depends’. Do you have passengers frequently, does it snow where you drive, do you prefer an excess of 400bhp? So too for thermostats you need to know what your install environment will be.

        The nest, triumph of industrial design that it is, works in only a limited scenario. Ignoring the need for grounding (the C wire) which all wifi thermostats need (and ecobee provides an adapter if you don’t whereas Venstar’s adapter works with the rest and Honeywell has a proprietary one for their smart thermostats), if you have a single zone system, and your thermostat is in the area where most people are for it to learn patterns, prefer it controls temperature at that specific location on the wall where it hangs, and you have a routine schedule with hardly any interruptions then the nest is for you. That and you have to teach it by constantly playing with it for it to learn which may or may not be appealing. Of course there are other more techy things that the nest can do which may or may not appeal to you either (works with Wink!, geofencing, talking to fitness bands about when you wake up to determine when to adjust temperature etc.)

        If however, you have a home with multiple bedrooms, still just the one zone, like apple homekit integration (tell Siri to make it cooler), then the Ecobee is better since it can adjust the temperature based on the individual rooms since it is most likely the thermostat is near the return air for the home and measures the mixed air coming from the various locations but not the location you are in (dining room for dinner, bedroom for bedtime). Of course that may not save any money but it will increase comfort. That it works with most wiring out of the box automatically makes it better than the nest ‘for most people’, but like I mentioned above there is a $20 adapter that can fix this for the other smart thermostats without needing to rewire or ‘steal’ power.

        However, if you are used to a carrier infinity system, the Cor brings the controls of the inifity system to a non-infinity product (optimizations of the compressor and blower). It does what it can to reduce humidity or set smart setbacks based on the differences in interior and exterior temperatures. No techy extra stuff at this generation which again may or may not appeal to you.

        Most importantly, for people who don’t have set schedules (meaning you are coming back and it would confuse a learning thermostat) the touch and go feature is a huge plus. So, at the time you first turn it on, you tell it when you wake up, go to work, come home, and go to sleep (and what you would like the temperature to be). You can adjust this at the granular level, but you don’t have to. Then if your schedule changes temporarily – just tell it that. (i.e. you’re coming home by pressing home on the thermostat or app). So too with leaving, or vacation, etc. In other words – what I liked about the Cor vs. the others is it’s hold feature.

        On the ecobee for comparison there is no hold, you just change the temperature and it will stay there until you change it back. The nest does not have a hold temp either – you have to play with it too. The cor does – if you have it set for away, and come home for lunch, just press home, and it goes to home mode with a default timer to set back to the schedule again. Having guests for dinner and need it cooler or warmer it will do that too. Of course it does reporting like the others (although some reports you can see on screen) and has an app like the others so those could be debated on their software design – but those don’t really impact the comfort of the home nor usage of the device day to day (which should be none).

        The honeywell splits the difference by being from an established thermostat brand and has an app and learns and works with home automation systems but people may not love the interface (Cor is better here).

        Personally I like the Trane Comfort Link the best but you need to have the best system they have, it’s not designed for the typical AC installation as a retrofit, although that is money very well spent.

        All in all it depends on your application. Want it to talk to a smart home system? Studio apartment with a 9-5? Nest is for you. 4 bedroom home with T-stat in hall where everyone leaves during the day and comes back later? Ecobee is for you. No smart home, mixed use residence with people coming and going (housekeeper, work from home one morning) go for the Cor.

        • tony kaye

          Regardless, I don’t believe we would recommend the Cor since you can’t purchase one online and even if you could I still don’t think we would. Plus, Tom’s Hardware said the following:

          Unfortunately, Carrier’s newest thermostat doesn’t innovate as much as the competition.


          Outside of its touch screen and app, there’s nothing that distinguishes the Carrier Cor from other connected thermostats. It doesn’t have extra sensors like the Ecobee3, doesn’t offer geofencing like the Honeywell Lyric and doesn’t work with other smart home devices, like the Nest does. Plus, Carrier requires that you get it installed by a technician. While the Cor works well, it wouldn’t be my first — or even second — choice of connected thermostats.

          They gave it 3 out of 5 stars. Just not reasonable for most people when there are other great options out there.

          • Seth

            Thanks for the reply – I happened to have read that article as well and don’t disagree with their assessment.
            (only their usage of the word innovate)
            However, they did mention that it performed flawlessly which is kind of the point.
            It doesn’t have extra sensors nor work with automation systems and doesn’t claim to.
            Keeping with the ‘make a recommendation for most people’ logic – the only reason I would not list it as #1 (at retail prices not ebay) is because it isn’t actually any cheaper than the other guys who do have those extra features (whether they are ever used or not) – so dollar for dollar your money does go farther with the other options.
            P.S. I happen not to have any of the above mentioned ‘smart’ thermostats since we have an infinity system and none are compatible.
            Keep up the good work – I’ve been recommending thesweethome for a long while since it does a great job at answering the ‘which X should I get’ questions I get asked so often.

          • ricky roo

            Seth, do you happen to know if the Carrier Cor works with the Carrier Infinity? My Infinity Controller is failing and it would be nice to upgrade to the Carrier Cor. I can’t find any info on Carrier’s site that says it does.

          • Seth

            Hi – Unfortunately it will not.
            As I have learned no 3rd party thermostat will work properly with the Carrier Infinity systems. Their controls are completely proprietary between thermostat and controller board.
            Sure you can hotwire any thermostat to turn on and off the compressor and fan in the HVAC but that would be a horrible idea since you effectively obviate the features of the system (making the infinity system no better than a non-infinity system).
            This means installing a Nest or Ecobee will dumb down the carrier since it has features that they can’t accommodate (variable fan speeds being the biggest but there are others too).
            The suggestion is to either get the local carrier tech to provide a new T-stat for about double the cost of the thermostats mentioned in this article or find something on ebay. I’m partial to the latter but others prefer the safety of the former.

          • ricky roo

            Thanks so much. I was hoping a Carrier Cor would not be considered a 3rd party product and that maybe Carrier would make the Cor be a thermostat that would cover all of their furnaces. Hopefully they’ll update the Infinity thermostat at some point.

          • Seth

            So carrier makes a Cor style thermostat for their infinity systems SYSTXCCITW01-A. The Cor is simply their thermostat for non infinity systems.

          • ricky roo

            Thanks. Appreciate the info.

  • Adam

    So frustrating: most (or all) of these thermostats don’t support line-level heating, such as baseboard electric. But baseboard electric heaters are used in the vast majority of homes in Quebec! This article should really point out which of these thermostats (if any) work with baseboard electric, since it’s used by millions and millions of people in North America.

    • Amira Farah

      Why Don’t you try Trueway Thermostat. It support Line-level heating.

  • lostinaustin

    Honeywell’s Prestige 2.0 IAQ has several powerful features and design elements that set it apart from any other thermostat. It is Honeywell’s top-of-the-line. It’s basic design is revolutionary, far more so than Nest or Ecobee, imho.

    First, it requires no conventional hallway control. Instead, it puts the intelligence and system interface in a module next to the blower. All external inputs to this module – sensors, remote control, internet gateway – are via a proprietary wireless connection. Honeywell offers a wide range of control and sensor options, all of
    which automatically connect to this module by the proprietary wireless

    Because the controller is mounted at the blower instead of in the hallway, a new build house with IAQ requires no pulling of wires! The optional wall control/sensor requires standard two-wire 24V DC, which can be a $10 AC converter. Other controls are either battery operated or via apps.

    A basic “old school” version of IAQ would use the conventional touchscreen/temp sensor/humidity sensor wall box. I reused the 24V line from my old thermostat. All other wiring was disconnected. Ffor those who find this style a bit too old school, the bezel can be changed from off-white to black or grey, and LCD color choices are nearly infinite. I chose a grey bezel and grey LCD background with pastel yellow alphanum display, and it looks very tasteful, imho.

    An upgraded system would use one or more indoor temperature/humidity sensors, one outdoor temperature/humidity sensor, the internet gateway, and Honeywell’s computer or smartphone apps. The IAQ can bet set to average all sensors, or to ignore sensors in unused rooms. With such a system there is no visible AC control unit.

    There is also a remote control similar to a TV remote, ideal for users who aren’t comfortable with apps but still want remote control.

    Two special duct sensors are used for the built-in Delta-T Diagnostics, which notifies the homeowner if system efficiency falls for any reason (a leak in the duct work, or low freon level, for example). An amazing feature.

    Humidity is almost as important as temperature for home comfort. The IAQ can control humidity several ways. In a basic system, the AC can be made to run cooler than specified if humidity rises above a level you set (in a two speed system, this will be done on low speed). If you have a dehumidifier and/or humidifier, it can operate these devices to control humidity.

    A very high-end system might control multiple ACs/furnaces/heat pumps plus a humidifiers and dehumidifiers, have a temperature/humidity sensor plus remote control in every room, plus internet capability for control from anywhere via smartphone or laptop.

    Cost can run from about the same as Nest, to a great deal more if you use many sensors and controls. My basic unit was $236 at Amazon including Delta-T Diagnostic sensors and an LCD touchscreen/sensor (the wall unit pictured is incorrect; it actually has a much larger LCD with a narrow bezel –

    I’m going to stop here. The IAQ has many more features and capabilities (zoning, for example) that you can find more about online. Honeywell is the largest thermostat maker by a wide margin, and the Prestige 2.0 IAQ is their top-of-the-line home thermostat by a large margin as well. Though it’s advertised as for professional installation, anyone who can figure out a Nest or Ecobee can install the IAQ (I consulted an online HVAC forum for advice on installing the Delta-T duct sensors).

    Humidity control, system diagnostic ability, etc. … I don’t think you can find a thermostat that approaches IAQ’s flexibility and powerful feature set, especially if you prefer/need to control your environment rather than have an algorithm do it for you.

    • TC

      “top-of-the-line” usually just means that something is really expensive, not that it’s actually good… And it may have a lot of features, but that doesn’t mean that they are well designed or work easily.

      From the looks of it, and watching some Youtube videos, it seems very similar to American Standard’s 950 system.

      HVAC companies are used to designing things for contractors to buy and install. It’s like HR systems that most companies use. They don’t really care about the end user. The person making the purchasing decision is not the end user, so they don’t prioritize design and usability. Hopefully those days are coming to an end for many areas, including these two.

  • reddot1975

    We recently moved from a place that had those basic white contractor special thermostats. Sure, you could program them, but the process of doing so was terrible. And if you had to change the program or adjust the time for daylight savings! I replaced those with Nest thermostats (2 zones, separate air handlers) and it was an amazing difference. We had no problems over the 2 years we had them installed before we moved. Based on my experience there, I would highly recommend them. My sister got one based on my experience and has been very happy with it. They bought an old house many years ago with an equally old HVAC system that they had replaced a year or two before getting the Nest, and have had no problems.

    However, I also bought one for my mother, who had a pretty old heat pump system at the time and there were many problems. However, when we replaced the system last fall (due to the age of the system, rebates, etc) there have been no problems since. I wonder if many of the people who are reporting problems have old HVAC systems.

    In any case, we moved last month to a place that has an American Standard 950 based system, and holy crap is it terrible! The main thermostat, while it has a large screen, is super ugly, very slow, and the logic and workflows of the software are crap. You can tell that they don’t hire software design professionals to work on their products. It’s reminiscent of many in-car systems from a few years ago.

    Additionally, we’ve been working with the HVAC professional that installed the system to help fix a problem where the control for the second zone keeps throwing errors. He finally says that it’s a known problem to American Standard that they aren’t going to fix for a few years. Perhaps he’s saying that just to try to get out of being on the hook to try to fix it any more times… Plus, the final insult is that the only way to get remote access is via a $10 / month Nexia subscription. Needless to say, I want to find another alternative.

    I’m pretty sure that Nest won’t work here, and I’m increasingly creeped out by Google, so I’ll be looking at the Ecobee. I like their remote sensor concept and that they are HomeKit compatible.

    • tony kaye

      Let us know which direction you went in & how things worked out in the end!

  • Richard Johnson

    Just FYI for DIY’ers:

    I have recently learned (directly from Nest) that you are not allowed access to your own thermostat within your house. It will report information to Nest and you can use their programs to control it, but if you request direct API access to your own information, you will be denied! I’m now thinking of moving to a Honeywell thermostat. It not only has an open API, where you can directly talk to your own thermostat to gather information, but you can control your own thermostat from within your house even if your Internet connection is down (because you can talk directly to the device), unlike Nest, which requires you to use their programs and always talk via their web server.

    • Eric Murphy

      Where did you find this? Honeywell’s site says it’s coming soon. :(

  • xc

    I chose the ecobee3 for the main 2 reasons mentioned in this review: the remote sensors (our upstairs gets hotter than the downstairs where the thermostat is located), and the power extender kit. I didn’t want to risk the Nest screwing up my logic board the way it pulls power from the other wires.

    Installation (including the power extender at my furnace) was easy (<1 hr), and the system is working beautifully. I love that I can put the included remote sensor in the bedroom at night and during the day move it to my home office so it. I eventually might invest in a couple extra sensors to add more coverage. No complaints or glitches for the mobile app and web interface – I especially like how they mimic the interface on the thermostat for a consistent experience.

    For anyone with a multi-story, single HVAC- zone house, I couldn't see choosing the Nest over this.

    Got it on sale for $180 at Best Buy last week and my power utility will give another $50 rebate, so for that price it's a no-brainer.

    • tony kaye

      Yeah I’m going with the ecobee for my mothers house instead of the Nest. Glad you got a good deal and it’s working out for you!

      • xc

        Thanks, I really appreciate the article, it was quite helpful in my research!

    • Komrad

      I’d like to get it for my apartment, but the need to run an extra wire to the furnace is discouraging. Maintenance agree to pop off the old thermo and install the Nest for me, but I doubt they’d do anything beyond that.

  • Scott Virkler

    I’m recently purchased a 5 bedroom, multi zone house with a heat pump in the Carolinas. I have had great experiences previously with the radio thermostat. As I look for a remote thermostat for this new house any recommendations on what to be on the look out for?

  • Marcelo

    I have a 4 level home with one thermostat controling the top 2 floors and the second controlling the bottom two. I live in California so heating is not quite as much of an issue, and considering that where I live gets a fair amount of wind, cooling is not a big issue either. Most of the time, all cooling and heating is simply turned off. Also, I have looked into the nest for a bit and found it incompatible with my system as it was setup only a few years ago and includes 2 data wires and 2 regular wires in its setup. Nest does not know how to deal with that as of 2-3 months ago. I don’t know if ecobee3 can deal with a setup like that.

    The whole geofencing and third party integration are the most important to me because I like the idea of the house ( not necessarily google or any other company ) knowing whether I’m home or not and adjusting accordingly ( lights going off, hvac turning off. I haven’t really used the hvac system for months now but ease of use, be it through phone, tablet, computer or on the unit is important to me as well, for when I do start using it more.

    As for the 2 major competing thermostats on this article I like nest for its learning capability, ease of use and installation, and its third party integration. Granted the learning capability would not get much use until I actually start using the hvac system more.

    The ecobee3 sounds appealing for its inclusion of room sensors that can pick up temperature and motion so as to heat or cool only areas that are occupied. but from what I’ve read it functions much like any old regular thermostat with the added ability of being controlled by smartphone, tablet and computer remotely, being able to monitor different areas of a house with its remote sensors, and having a much more modern look.

    Now, considering that the learning capability of a smart thermostat would not get much use in a house like mine…then the third party integration and individual room sensors become much more important to me. Of course, direct integration is usually preferable but integration through IFTTT is fine for me.

    So its sounds to me like I’m convincing myself to purchase an ecobee3 instead of a nest.

    Now another good question, considering my house uses two zones with 2 separate thermostats, would be if two separate ecobee3 thermostats communicate with each other? meaning if the thermostat on the bottom says there’s no one home would the one on the top be able to tell third party devices up top to shut off or something of that nature. Would there be a need for the 2 thermostats to communicate with each other. Would I be able to use ecobee3 remote sensors to tell the whole house whether someone is in a particular room and react accordingly.

    • Marcelo

      Just wanted to add something that came to mind. These thermostats are being marketed by their respective companies almost as smart home hubs in themselves…cause isn’t it a hubs purview to take info from one source and make other connected devices act on that info, such as Nest thermostat taking info from its smoke detector and communicating with the hue bulbs telling them to flash. I would assume that most of this can easily be done with IFTTT, but as I mentioned earlier….built in options such as these are often more responsive.

  • WombatLanding

    For someone who has an Ecobee3, how good/bad is the touchscreen at showing fingerprint smudges? I’ve read in reviews that the Ecobee3 screen is plastic, so perhaps this is better at not showing smudges than a smooth glass screen. However, plastic screens are more prone to scratching than glass, so if I need to wipe smudges off the screen once in a while, there’s a chance it could get scratched.

    • tony kaye

      @jsnell:disqus should know!

  • Jenna

    I currently rent an apartment and plan on being here for at least 2 more years. Would the nest be a good investment for me which I can take with me later when I move or should I just stick with the one provided?

    • tony kaye

      Checking with our expert, but as long as you keep the old one – like you said – you can take the Nest with you when/if you move (and the second generation model is currently down to $199).

    • tony kaye

      Here is what our expert said!

      Assuming you’ve got an existing, compatible HVAC layout — i.e., the thermostat you’re currently using could be removed and replaced by a Nest — i’d say go for it. Thermostats don’t have to be permanent installations. When you move out you can just remove the Nest and take it with you, if you want to keep using it elsewhere, and put back the (presumably generic) thermostat that’s currently in place.

    • Komrad

      it depends also on what it is replacing. I recently moved to a larger apartment in the same complex , and it did not have a programmable thermometer installed. My July/August electricity bills are twice what they were the year before when I had a programmable thermo, so I’m getting a Nest .

      It’s a good idea to get the ok from maintenance to install it. If they are like mine, they will install it for you. That is good because now you are not at fault for installing it if anything goes wrong.

  • John832

    Does anyone know which of these, or any other Wifi thermostats, allow me to directly connect to them without requiring the use of a third party server that can go out of business or start charging? I’d like to ensure any Wifi thermostat I buy only depends on infrastructure that I control as I don’t like the idea of some third party data center in California having its connection dug up causing me to lose Wifi control of my thermostat.