Wifi thermostat with remote sensors: Best Smart Thermostats for July 2023

Best Smart Thermostats for July 2023

In this article:

  • What is the best smart thermostat?
  • Best smart thermostats of 2023
  • How we test smart thermostats
  • Other smart thermostats we’ve tested
  • Smart thermostat FAQs

What is the best smart thermostat?

A smart thermostat makes it easy to manage your home’s heating and cooling and can help you cut down the cost of monthly utilities. There are a wide variety of models out there, ranging from the sleek and pricey Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium to the budget-friendly Wyze Thermostat. And our pick for the overall best smart thermostat on the market right now is the Amazon Smart Thermostat, which you can pick up for just $80. 

The best smart thermostat models do a lot to cut heating and cooling costs, simplify life and provide a few extra creature comforts with various smart features along the way. Unlike traditional thermostats, these app-enabled devices let you control your home’s temperature from anywhere. And most smart thermostats require very little setup to get going. Plus, most smart thermostats work with voice control when using a compatible smart display or speaker with Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. Some smart thermostats use occupancy sensors to determine if you’re home or away to automatically change the temperature for you, while others switch between home and away modes based on your phone’s location.

To help you find the best model for your home’s heating and cooling needs and your budget, we’ve rounded up the best smart thermostat options on the market right now in the list below.

To accompany these modern features, many connected thermostats offer innovative designs. From a rounded shape to a responsive touchscreen, smart thermostats look a lot different than traditional models. They can also send you smart alerts, sync with other connected devices in your home and provide details on your HVAC system’s energy usage over time.

Best smart thermostats of 2023

Factors to consider

How we test smart thermostats

Let’s talk about testing. Smart thermostats start with the installation. Installations can vary widely from thermostat to thermostat and between HVAC systems, but there are some basic steps required for installing these devices. As always, consult a professional installer if you have any questions about the setup process. Here are the general steps:

  • Turn off power to your thermostat at the circuit breaker.
  • Remove the old thermostat.
  • Install the thermostat’s base plate with the included screws.
  • Attach the wires to the wire terminals.
  • Snap on the faceplate.
  • Turn on power at the circuit breaker.

Was the thermostat setup especially difficult to install? If so, why? Certain models require a C-wire, for example, which can complicate the installation if you don’t have one. Not sure what a C-wire is? Start here. 

From there, I move on to the app. Every smart thermostat has one. I download the app and create an account if I don’t already have one. Then I configure the thermostat following the steps in the app. This usually means connecting to the local Wi-Fi network, giving your thermostat a name like “Hallway” or “Bedroom” and then you can start using your thermostat.

How well does the app work? Is it easy to navigate to the thermostat settings you need? Is it simple to create a schedule or enable geofencing? This factors into the thermostat’s usability score, along with how simple the thermostat hardware itself is to control manually. 

I also test smart home integration, especially voice-enabled systems you can access through voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. Most connected thermostats have compatibility with at least one voice assistant and some work with all three. Do the voice commands flow naturally, like they would in an actual conversation? Did the thermostat actually adjust the temperature — heating and cooling — according to your commands? 

All of these things determine a smart thermostat’s overall score and how likely I am to recommend it.  

Other smart thermostats we’ve tested

Here’s a running list of the models we’ve tested lately:

  • Amazon Smart Thermostat
  • Ecobee3 Lite
  • Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
  • Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced
  • Emerson Sensi
  • Emerson Sensi Touch
  • Honeywell Lyric
  • Honeywell Lyric T5
  • Johnson Controls GLAS
  • Lux Geo
  • Lux Kono
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Thermostat
  • Nest Thermostat E
  • Resideo Honeywell Home T9
  • Wyze Thermostat

Smart thermostat FAQs

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Same great Nest, now with a temperature sensor

Editors’ note (Sept. 13, 2019): Nest ended the Works with Nest program on Aug. 31. 

$249 (£185/AU$330 converted) third-generation
Learning Thermostat
doesn’t deviate wildly from previous iterations, this model has a larger screen and a slimmer profile, as well as a couple of new features. Specifically, it has a new sensor that’s better at picking up your presence from a distance to display the time, indoor temperature or current weather forecast. It supports voice integrations with Google Assistant and Alexa, too. 

It also works with Nest’s temperature sensor, released in 2018, roughly three years after this thermostat first hit stores. The temperature sensor is available bundled with the thermostat for $19 ($268 total), and sold separately for $39 each. Stick one in your kid’s bedroom, the basement — or any other spots that might run particularly hot or cold — so you can use them as the default temperature readings for your home (rather than your thermostat’s built-in temperature sensor). 

Like the original 2011 Nest Learning Thermostat, this one relies on built-in sensors to track your whereabouts along with algorithmic smarts to create a custom, auto-adjusting temperature schedule based on whether you’re at home or away. You can still make manual tweaks to your settings on the thermostat itself — or on the Nest app anywhere you have a
or cellular connection.

But those once-revolutionary features are now par for the smart-home course, with brands like
and Honeywell offering smart thermostats of their own designed to compete alongside Nest in the DIY market. 

The Nest Learning Thermostat is still worth strong consideration, but the Ecobee4 works with
Google Assistant
and Apple HomeKit — and it comes with a temperature sensor — all for $249.


You know how your smartphone doesn’t look dated until you catch a glimpse of the next-gen model? That’s exactly how I felt after seeing Nest’s latest Learning Thermostat. No, it isn’t a massive departure from past iterations. You’ll still get that same rounded design and familiar display style. But, there are a few key changes.

Read more: Google is replacing Works with Nest with Works with Google Assistant and it could make your smart home worse.  

You can now choose from among four different dial finishes, all for the same price — stainless steel, black, white or copper. Nest’s third-generation thermostat also has a 40 percent larger screen and an improved resolution for better all-around visibility. (Specifically, the display has 229 pixels per inch; that’s 25 percent more than its predecessor, which should make for a sharper on-screen image.) And, Nest slimmed down the thermostat’s profile so it won’t stick out from the wall as much.

While I noticed the updated display size and resolution instantly, the “thinner” depth was much less obvious. A side-by-side spec comparison shows that the second-gen Nest measured 3.2 inches in diameter (8.1cm) and 1.26 inches in depth (3.2cm). The new thermostat is a touch bigger at 3.3 inches in diameter (8.4cm), but slimmer with a depth of 1.21 inches (3.1cm).

That tiny 0.05-inch difference in depth really doesn’t make much of a difference visually, but Nest is clearly working to streamline its thermostat with each next-gen product launch. 

Nest temperature sensors cost $39 each, or $19 bundled with the $149 Learning Thermstat.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET


The third-gen Nest Learning Thermostat also offers a handful of fresh features. Where previous Nest thermostats relied on near-field sensors alone (which have a roughly 3-foot range) to pick up on motion activity, this version tacks on a far-field sensor for a new function it calls Farsight. Farsight picks up your presence from farther away than earlier models, then it lets you see your thermostat’s
temperature or the current time in either “analog” or digital modes from up to 20 feet away. This ensures that you can spot the time and temperature at a distance, without having to be on top of the Nest. And, thanks to the new and improved resolution and larger display, you’ll actually be able to read them.

The Learning Thermostat, as well as the Nest Thermostat E, now work with Nest temperature sensors. Unlike Ecobee temperature sensors, which have proximity detectors to help determine if you’re home or away, Nest’s version only tracks ambient temperature. They also don’t currently support voice commands, such as, “Hey,
, what temperature is it in the kitchen?”

You can put up to six Nest sensors in your home and each one is powered by a single CR123 battery that’s supposed to last for two years. Installation takes a few minutes — just pull out the battery tab, enter the code on the sensor, wait for it to connect and assign it to a certain room like “Kitchen,” or “Master Bedroom.” 

After that, you can assign one of the sensors to act as the default temperature reading from the app. You can also create custom schedules for the morning, midday, evening and night from the “Manage sensors” section in the app settings menu.

For example, if you regularly cook in the evening, stick a temperature sensor in your kitchen. Since that room/area likely gets warmer during that time, you can set the “Kitchen” sensor to be the default temperature reading between 4 and 9 p.m. every night. That way, your heating and cooling will adjust around the temperature in the kitchen, rather than the lower temperature where your thermostat is located.

Nest’s Learning Thermostat also offers Family Accounts and Home/Away Assist, two new features that help improve performance. Family Accounts lets users in the same household set up their own Nest accounts (instead of the shared family accounts that the company offered previously). Once Family Accounts are created, Home/Away Assist jumps into action by tracking each person’s phone location. It isn’t exactly the same as geofencing, as there’s no geofenced range, but it does make it even easier for Nest to keep an eye on your whereabouts.

This model also adds a function it calls Furnace Heads-Up, for those with a forced-air furnace system. Essentially, this feature keeps track of the times your forced-air furnace automatically turns off to prevent overheating. And, if it senses that there’s a potential issue, it will alert you in the Nest app, on the thermostat screen and in your monthly energy usage email. 

Customize your temperature sensors in the Nest app.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET


While there are some clear design and feature differences between this Nest and previous iterations, version 3. 0’s installation, Wi-Fi and app configuration, performance and overall usability remain roughly the same.

Of course, installation will vary widely depending on your heating and cooling system, but the third-gen Nest Learning Thermostat is by far the easiest model I’ve ever installed. It comes with the same tiny, but functional screwdriver and built-in level as well as a basic rectangular baseplate for covering up any unsightly holes or patchy paintwork from previous installs and a steel plate for mounting your thermostat to an electrical box.

It took me about 10 minutes to install my model from start to finish; here’s a quick overview of the process:

  • Turn off the power running to your heating and cooling system.
  • Remove your existing thermostat.
  • Attach the new base plate (optional) and thermostat base. Screw them down with the included hardware (Luckily, I already had holes that lined up with the new thermostat, which saved me some time.).
  • Connect the wires to their respective ports. In my case, that included Y, G, W, Rh and C wires (Please note: Many older systems rely on a four-wire configuration — typically just a Y, G, W, and Rh or Rc — because older thermostats didn’t need to power fancy LED displays. Confusingly, some four-wire configurations will actually work with this thermostat. Consult a professional if you have any questions or concerns. Nest has experienced some friction since its four-wire setup relies on a process HVAC professionals refer to as “power stealing.” This method can damage your HVAC system if not done correctly. I had a second-gen Nest set up using just these four wires for years without any problems whatsoever.)
  • Pop on the face plate.
  • Turn the power back on. (Didn’t work? Here’s Nest’s more in-depth installation tutorial.)

Now you’re ready to configure your Nest. Your unit will power on and walk you through the process, which includes: setting your language; connecting to your local Wi-Fi network; updating any out-of-date software; setting your location; answering some basic questions about your HVAC system; inputing your preferred temperature ranges for heating and cooling; and performing a quick (optional) system test.

This sounds like a lot, but you can breeze through most of it pretty quickly; if you aren’t sure what sort of HVAC system you have, you can select “I don’t know” and return to it later on. And, if you don’t already have a Nest account, you can now download the app on your Android or iOS device of choice and dive into custom preferences, such as Farsight, vacation modes and integrating with other Nest products and third-party smart devices.

Enlarge Image

Nearly done with the installation.

John Kim/CNET

The smart stuff

While the Ecobee4, the Honeywell Lyric and the Honeywell Lyric T5 all have related apps and innovative smarts of their own (Ecobee relies on a remote temperature sensor and built-in motion sensors to track your home or away status; the Honeywell Lyric and Lyric T5 use your phone’s GPS location), Nest has the most comprehensive smart device support of its major competitors.

That’s entirely due to Nest’s growing range of product categories, which today includes four security cameras, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, a lock, a doorbell, an alarm system and two thermostats. All of these devices are accessible through the same Nest app and can be used in conjunction with one another. If a
Nest Protect
senses smoke or carbon monoxide, it’s supposed to display an alert on your Learning Thermostat’s screen and shut off forced air systems (when smoke is detected) or fossil-fuel heating (when carbon monoxide is detected). 

You can read more about the specific ways Nest products work together on this support page.

Nest works with Google Assistant and
Alexa, too. Just go to the
Google Home
or the Alexa app and configure the Nest thermostat to work with your smart speaker of choice. Then you can ask, “OK, Google/Alexa, change the entryway thermostat to 68 degrees,” OK, Google/Alexa, raise the entryway thermostat by 3 degrees,” and a whole lot more. This voice control integration goes a long way to help Nest maintain its stronghold in the smart thermostat market, but the Ecobee4 works with Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri.

Nest’s Farsight feature tells you the weather forecast.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET


The $249 third-gen Nest Learning Thermostat is no longer the revolutionary product it was in 2011, but the Google-owned brand has managed to maintain its status as a smart-climate-control leader in spite of the rapidly changing landscape. Its support for Google Assistant and Alexa voice commands, improved design and new Farsight, Family Accounts and Home/Away Assist features only add to its already impressive performance and ease-of-use via the smartly-designed Nest app. 

Adding a temperature sensor to the lineup helps Nest hold its own alongside Ecobee, too, making the third-gen Learning Thermostat easy to recommend (especially if you’re already invested in the Nest/Google platform). Even so, the $249 Ecobee4 is still my top pick if you’re in the market for a smart thermostat. It works with more
smart home
partners (including Apple HomeKit) and comes with a temperature sensor at no additional cost. 

design, settings and principle of operation, types of mechanical temperature controllers for heating radiators

A mechanical thermostat has become a popular device among consumers, which “guarantees” heat in the house in winter and saves money on heating. In fact, everything is not so simple. Although the principle of operation of thermostats is the same, they differ in the way they are set, the number of functions, the installation scheme, the scope and price.

The mechanical thermostat among the entire model range is considered not only the cheapest, but also the easiest to manage, although all functions in it are manually configured.

How a mechanical thermostat works

Cheap heat is not a utopia at all, as today there are special devices that can take control of its distribution and save energy. Models on the market range from the most primitive hand designs to sophisticated programmers with built-in Wi-Fi and remote control.

The mechanical temperature controller is an automatic device for heating radiators, whose job is to monitor the heating of the air in the room. In the composition of the device:

  • Bellows, or as it is also called, thermocouple. It has the shape of a cylinder with corrugated inner walls that allow it to stretch to a certain length.
  • The valve that fixes the supply and shutdown of the circulation of the coolant.
  • Special liquid or gaseous medium that reacts to temperature fluctuations in the air.
  • The function of the transfer rod is to “reach” the valve and close it or, on the contrary, release it, depending on the degree of heating of the room.
  • The graduated scale allows you to set the manual temperature controller to the desired temperature.

The principle of operation of the device is simple:

  • When the air in the room is heated to the required level, the working fluid in the bellows expands under the influence of heat, which causes the cylinder to straighten. The stem connected to the bellows rushes forward and presses on the valve, pressing it firmly against the orifice. At the same time, the supply of coolant to the radiator is stopped.
  • After the remaining medium in the radiator has cooled down, the liquid or gas in the thermocouple is compressed, causing its walls to contract, which leads to the opening of the valve. Hot coolant enters the system, and the process starts over.

If the first manual thermostats had a limited lifespan and were highly dependent on the type of heating network, then the new generation mechanical temperature controller for a heating radiator is designed for a million valve opening and closing operations, which is an average of 50-70 years of operation. In addition, this inexpensive device is easy not only to adjust using a scale, but also to mount it in the heating system.

It is enough to unscrew the radiator cap and fix a mechanical thermostat in its place, but this must be done taking into account the type of heating system. So in one-pipe systems without a bypass, the installation of a thermostat is not recommended, since the coolant needs free circulation through the heating circuit at the moment when the valve blocked its access to the radiator.

When mounting the thermostat, make sure that it is screwed in horizontally. As a rule, arrows on the body of the device show the movement of the coolant.

In many ways, the quality of the mechanical thermostat depends on factors such as:

  • The circulation of warm air in the room.
  • The directivity of the sun’s rays.
  • Outdoor air temperature.
  • Additional sources of heat or cold.

Unlike its more “advanced” electronic counterparts, a mechanical thermostat for heating batteries does not react so quickly to changes in air temperature outside the window, but quite effectively copes with the task assigned to it to maintain a certain microclimate in the room.

Advantages of a manual thermostat

Although some consumers consider these devices primitive, they have a number of very attractive and useful features:

  • Instruments with an indicator screen make it easy to set the desired temperature parameters.
  • Installation takes only a few minutes and operation does not require any additional preventive maintenance or maintenance.
  • Even such a simple device with a minimum number of functions can create comfortable living conditions, minimizing heating costs.
  • The temperature range from +5°C to +27°C allows you to set the thermostat to the minimum when the tenants leave or fix it on medium settings when they are not at home all day.
  • Mechanical thermostat creates an even flow and ensures that all radiators in the heating circuit are heated equally.
  • These devices can be used both in a working heating system with old or new batteries, and included in the plan when installing autonomous heating.

    Bimetal thermostat

    Today there are thermostats on the market not only with different types of settings, but also with internal contents. So the cheapest among analogues is a bimetallic thermostat, which is based not on a bellows filled with a gaseous or liquid medium, but on a special bimetal plate.

    It has only two functions – on and off, which, as you know, does not guarantee the accuracy of the settings. The principle of operation of the bimetallic regulator is that the built-in plate reacts to temperature and, when it rises, bends, opening the electrical circuit. The reverse process occurs when it cools, it straightens, and the circuit is closed again.

    Although this type of device is in demand due to its unpretentiousness and cheapness, it should be borne in mind that its settings are inaccurate by several degrees. This may cause the temperature sensor readings to indicate the set parameters, and the air in the room will actually be cool.

    Another factor not found in other mechanical thermostats is the clicks the plate makes when straightened.

    Remote sensor device

    Today, thermostat manufacturers are adapting to the needs and preferences of consumers. If 20 years ago the choice was limited to mechanical devices with manual control or with a primitive display, then today these are truly complex and “smart” devices that monitor any changes in air heating.

    For radiators “hidden” from the eyes by curtains or screens, you can buy a mechanical thermostat with a remote sensor. It will also be indispensable in rooms with high humidity, such as a kitchen or bathroom.

    In devices of this type, the working part is mounted directly into the battery, while the sensor can be located a few meters from it. This will open access to the settings, which would be difficult to do if they were covered with a decorative box along with the battery. In addition, if in conventional mechanical thermostats all data on changes in the environment are sent directly to the thermal head, then in the case of a remote sensor, it becomes a transmitter that detects a decrease or increase in temperature and sends the corresponding signal to the working part with a bellows.

    If a surface-mounted mechanical thermostat is installed, it is mounted directly on the wall. Similar devices are needed to regulate the heating of air when the “warm floor” system or any electric or infrared heaters are operating, for heating boilers.


    As the practice of using thermostats in everyday life has shown, they are suitable not only for heating boilers and radiators, but also very useful if the heat source is electric heaters. As a rule, these are oil, infrared and convection devices powered by the mains. A mechanical thermostat for a wall-mounted electric heater is able to turn it into an autonomous heating system.

    Whatever the application of the manual thermostat, it keeps the room at the right temperature and saves both fuel and electricity, and at the same time is affordable. These are the main parameters that the modern consumer focuses on, although ease of installation and use also play a significant role.

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    Partybox SVEN “PS-730”

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