The 10 Best Thermostats
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in March of 2015. These thermostats are simple to program and use and will help you control your utility costs, so you can enjoy your home in comfort year-round without excessive fuel bills. Many are fairly easy to install, but you may want to employ a specialist to ensure everything is safe and working as intended. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best thermostat on Amazon.
January 29, 2020:
During this busy round of updates, we eliminated the Ecobee 3 and Ecobee 4 in favor of the Ecobee Smart, replaced the Lux WIN100 with the more capable and affordable Hycency Automatic, changed out the Emerson Sensi for the Emerson Sensi Touch, and switched up the Honeywell 9000 for the company’s latest iteration the Honeywell Home T5+. We also did away with a couple outdated models to make room for the Google Nest E – a budget-friendly version of the company’s flagship thermostat, and the Johnson Controls GLAS – a futuristic-looking model that might harken back to childhood memories of Star Trek, for some.
A few things to keep an eye out for as you shop:
Compatibility: As is the case with most purchases, the most important thing, quite simply, is that it works. While most of the selections we ranked are suitable for installation in most homes, some do have compatibility restrictions. The Nuheat Home Radiant is intended specifically for use with heated flooring systems, and the Hycency Automatic Outlet is intended to service small heating and cooling appliances, like a space heater or window air conditioner. Neither of these selections are suitable for whole-house furnace and AC control. The Lux Universal 7-Day is compatible with most HVAC systems, but it has no provision for two-stage cooling systems, while the Orbit Clear Comfort is a single-stage device, meaning that it can control your furnace or your air conditioner – but not both.
Another thing to consider is that modern thermostats often require more control wires than the units they’re replacing did. As some homes don’t have a common wire (frequently referred to as a C-wire in this context) running between their furnace and their thermostat, and most fancy thermostats require one, it’s advisable that you do a bit of investigating prior to purchase, to make sure that you’ve got the proper wiring in place, thereby avoiding the potential additional expense of bringing in an electrical contractor. Options like the Honeywell Home T5+ come with a power adapter that will allow you to connect the device, even in the absence of a common wire.
Programming Options: Technology has come a long way since the days of those off-white, analog thermostats that could only be adjusted manually, by lever or knob. Today, even relatively basic models like the Lux Universal 7-Day and the Orbit Clear Comfort can have week-long schedules programmed into them, based around your family’s typical week.
Advanced options like the Johnson Controls GLAS feature an integrated occupancy sensor, that recognizes when somebody enters the room and adjusts the temperature accordingly, while others like the Emerson Sensi Touch apply geo-fencing technology to recognize when your smartphone is on the way home, and make sure that the house is warm when you get there. Models like the Google Nest Third Generation use sophisticated software to observe your family’s habits and develop an efficient schedule for your heating and cooling systems, based on that data.
Connectivity: This has become an increasingly all or none matter in this category, in that if a thermostat is compatible with one smart home system, its likely compatible with all of them (read: most of the major ones, certainly Amazon Alexa and Google Home). Notably, the Johnson Controls GLAS recently abandoned their Cortana connectivity, which was a blow to Microsoft supporters.
A couple asides worth noting while we’re having the connectivity conversation are the Bluetooth technology built in to the Ecobee Smart – which allows users to voice control music streaming through their Bluetooth speakers via Spotify, and the convenient wireless remote control that comes with the Hycency Automatic Outlet – which, admittedly, barely qualifies as a connective quality, but is still a nice touch for users looking for climate control solutions on a budget.
Regulation And Consistency
Thermostats can be either non-programmable or programmable.
The sensor output is then responsible for controlling the appliance.
Temperature regulation can be an extremely important consideration for your home, particularly if you live in areas where the external temperature fluctuates rapidly or if you live in a place that experiences dramatic season changes. Comfort in your home is of the utmost importance when you spend so much of your time there with your family. It stands to reason, then, that you want to maintain as much control over your internal environment as possible so that everyone in the household can get through that tough season of oppressive heat and humidity in the summer, while also surviving that chilly season around the holidays.
Some people think it's easier to warm one's self than it would be to cool down, as one's body temperature is already a naturally-warm 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there's still nothing wrong with using a tool to keep the temperature as consistent as possible in each room of your home. A thermostat will be a big help in this regard. Just the same, if you have a lot of appliances, like ovens or refrigerators, independent thermostats can regulate their temperatures as well.
A thermostat is considered the main control component for either a heating or cooling system with a target internal temperature (or setpoint) that needs to be maintained. A thermostat accomplishes this temperature maintenance by switching the various heating or cooling devices on or off in order to maintain a set temperature. Examples of appliances that use thermostats include refrigerators, ovens, and central heating systems.
Thermostats typically make use of a variety of sensors that measure the internal temperature of their surrounding environments. Common sensor types can include a thermistor or a bimetallic strip. The sensor output is then responsible for controlling the appliance. In most cases, the controlled appliance will run continuously and will not shut off until the desired temperature has been reached.
Thermostats can be either non-programmable or programmable. Most non-programmable thermostats have, at the very least, a digital display readout with independent buttons for raising or lowering the temperature. For those who may not be technologically-inclined or prefer simplicity, there is still a place for the non-programmable thermostat and they're certainly easy to use. By contrast, the programmable thermostat offers additional options that include setting various temperatures at different times of the day and even on different days. This certainly comes in handy if you live in areas where the weather changes frequently.
Many modern programmable thermostats now make use of touchscreen technology, which eliminates the need for so many buttons on their main panels. Such an interface also cuts down the need for reading complex manuals, as everything you need is available right on the panel screen.
A Brief History Of Thermostats
The earliest recorded use of a thermostat control dates back to around 1620 when Dutch builder Cornelis Drebbel invented one made from mercury that was used to regulate the temperature of a chicken incubator. Drebbel was also the inventor of the first submersible submarine.
Butz eventually formed the Butz Thermoelectric Regulator Company, which then became known as the Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company.
The modern form of thermostat control was invented in the 1830s by Scottish chemist Andrew Ure. Ure patented the bi-metallic thermostat after having worked with various textile mills and recognizing the need to regulate their temperatures.
Annoyed at the fact that his classroom was never warm enough, Wisconsin professor Warren S. Johnson invented the first electric room thermostat in 1883. This was in response to the fact that the building in which Johnson taught was heated by a basement furnace, which needed constant manual adjustments by a custodian. Johnson's original design included a bell that would ring as a signal for the janitor to adjust the furnace damper.
Following in his footsteps was Swiss-born immigrant Albert Butz, who patented his own thermostat design in 1885 that regulated furnace heat by opening and closing a furnace door using an automatic pulley system. Butz eventually formed the Butz Thermoelectric Regulator Company, which then became known as the Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company.
In 1906, young engineer Mark Honeywell formed Honeywell Heating Specialty Co. Incorporated, which specialized in hot water heat generators. By 1927, this company and the Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company merged to lay the foundation for the modern innovation of Honeywell International, which is still considered one of the most successful thermostat manufacturers today.
Minimalism, efficiency, and the ease of programming a thermostat are going to be the most important factors when making one's choice. When choosing a digital or wireless thermostat, the digital interface should be bright enough to read.
When choosing a digital or wireless thermostat, the digital interface should be bright enough to read.
Some thermostats even have the ability to automatically program your temperature regulation based on your historical pattern of scheduling the device. This feature can definitely save you time when it comes to re-programming the unit.
Other thermostats can even keep track of your energy usage, which comes in handy if you want to save on the electric bill each month.
Full color and backlit touchscreens are also quite common for modern thermostats, so if those features make it easy to see, then go for it.
For large buildings with multiple floors, wireless thermostats also come in very handy, as they can be monitored and set from different locations (i.e. adjacent buildings).
Finally, if you have young kids and don't want them messing around with your thermostat's settings, your investment should include built-in security features, such as password protection.
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