The 10 Best Temperature Controllers
This wiki has been updated 9 times since it was first published in August of 2019. Whether trying to keep a hydroponic garden cool, a pet's terrarium or aquarium warm, or a carboy of lager brewing at just the right temperature, many hobbyists depend on temperature controllers to help automate their processes. Our rankings in this category cover a variety of reasonably affordable options, including single-stage, two-stage, hardwired and plug-and-play models. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
January 15, 2021:
Most of our picks from last year continued to be great choices for the category. However, we did decide on removing the Poniie PN160 due to availability issues, and we removed the Johnson Controls A421 – which we felt was overpriced for the functionality it offered – in order to make room or a couple new additions.
The Inkbird ITC-306T – another device that closely resembles the Inkbird ITC-308, which is seen so ubiquitously through the hydroponics world – operates quite similarly to comparable options from the company, but also offers the ability to set separate daytime and nighttime temperatures, which is a great option for terrariums and grow rooms.
The BN-Link BNQ-T9 caught our eye with its 1,875-watt power rating, which is larger than the rated capacity of any circuit that that can service it, so you can expect this device to competently control any equipment you plug into it. We also took note of its impressive temperature rating, which makes it a smart choice for use in extreme environments.
August 15, 2019:
Whether they’re trying to mitigate the heat caused by their indoor grow lights, make sure the temperature’s just right to perfect the next batch of beer they're brewing, or control the climate in their pet’s aquarium, terrarium or chicken coop, hobbyists of all sorts depend on temperature controllers to help automate their activities.
While some advanced options in this category depend on proportional, proportional-integral or proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control methods to minimize fluctuations in temperature, a simple on/off controller (that essentially operates like a basic thermostat) is more than good enough for the job, in many cases.
A few things to look out for when shopping in this category:
Are you heating? Or cooling? Or heating and cooling? If your purposes are limited to a one-or-the-other type situation, then you’ll be fine with a single-stage timer. However, if you’re looking to control heating and cooling equipment simultaneously, you’ll need a two-stage.
How handy are you with electrical? Several options in this category are hardwire-only, which might save you some money and wind up looking like a much nicer install (if done right), but for the less electrically inclined, there are plenty of plug-and-play options available, as well (which is exactly what we recommend to anybody short of a licensed electrician).
And lastly, what are you powering? If this controller is intended to fire up any sort of a compressor (say in the case of a repurposed fridge or freezer in a basement microbrewery), make sure that the option you select is properly equipped with a compressor-delay function – which will help prevent burnout due to racing equipment.