Smart Home

Looking to Buy a Smart Thermostat? 5 Nest Alternatives

Dann Albright 21-05-2015

When it comes to controlling the temperature of your smart home, the Nest smart thermostat How to Install and Use the Nest Thermostat to Automate Energy Savings If you've ever considered getting started with home automation, purchasing a Nest thermostat is the perfect way to start. In just a week of using it, we cut our energy consumption in half. Read More is king—it was the first big success, and it’s what everyone thinks of when they hear “smart thermostat.”


But there are plenty of other good options out there. Here are 5 you should consider if you’re looking to buy.



One of the best things about the Ecobee3 is that it includes a remote temperature sensor that allows it to keep tabs on the temperature in different rooms in your house. This will help you get a satisfactory temperature all over your home instead of just the room that your thermostat’s in.

By using the Follow Me mode, the Ecobee3 will prioritize the temperature in rooms that have recently detected motion.

The thermostat itself also has a motion sensor, and keeps the screen off to save energy until it detects that you’re nearby. The touchscreen controls aren’t as minimal as the Nest, but they’re still very sleek; a slider on the right-hand side allows you to adjust the temperature, and buttons along the bottom open menus and make adjustments.


The Ecobee3 works with an Android / iOS app, a web app, and can connect to SmartThings, Control4, and Vera systems; its open API could signal additional future integrations with other smart home systems Which Smart Hub for Home Automation Is Best for You? For a while, people thought of the idea as nothing more than a gimmick, but recent product releases have shown that smart home automation is starting to live up to its promises. Read More , as well. And IFTTT compatibility lets you set up as many different triggers for actions as you want.

Buy the Ecobee3 from Amazon

Buy an Ecobee sensor 2-pack from Amazon

Ecobee3 Wi-Fi Thermostat with Remote Sensor, 1st Generation Ecobee3 Wi-Fi Thermostat with Remote Sensor, 1st Generation Buy Now On Amazon


Honeywell Lyric


The Lyric is designed to look like one of Honeywell’s post-World War II thermostats, the T-86 (though it’s much smarter). One of its best features is geofencing, which will activate the thermostat when you’re within 500 feet or 7 miles of your house (you can choose in the app settings).

Although there are reports of it occasionally not working correctly, the geofencing is a great feature for helping you save energy and heating / cooling costs.

The thermostat itself has few controls—most of the actions you’ll want to take other than just changing the temperature will be taken from the Android / iOS app. Unfortunately, the Lyric’s API is still private, which means you can’t use other home automation systems to control the thermostat.


It does, however, take local weather forecasts What Are The Best Weather Websites? I'm rather obsessed with the weather. It's not my fault, it's just that I was born and brought up in the U.K., and all British people are obsessed with the weather. I think it's because... Read More into account and tries to adjust for them in advance, keeping the temperature in your home as close to ideal as possible.

Although this thermostat is currently the only item in the Lyric line, it’s likely that Honeywell will be releasing additional smart home products that will be able to work with it. Until it does, the Lyric falls behind several of the other smart thermostat options, but is still a solid choice.

Buy the Honeywell Lyric from Amazon

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Emerson Sensi


While its features don’t quite compare to the Nest or the Ecobee3, the Sensi is a great value option when it comes to smart thermostats; at less than $120, it’s quite affordable. It doesn’t support geofencing or integrate with home automation systems, but it does have seven-day scheduling, support for four-stage heating, humidity sensing, on-screen weather display, and a programmable fan.

The Android / iOS app and web portal allow you to control the thermostat from anywhere, as does the web portal. The thermostat sports an away mode to keep energy usage down 5 Smart Hacks To Save Electricity In Your Smart Home he trick to saving electricity is in knowing where most of your energy is consumed. Read More when you’re not around—combining this with seven-day scheduling means you can keep a pretty tight control on how much your house is heated and cooled throughout the week.

Despite a lack of some of the advanced features included in other smart thermostats, the Sensi is a good entry-level option for people looking to get started on their smart home Kickstart Your Smart Home With 4 Easy Projects Creating a smart home might sound like a huge undertaking, and it can be difficult to know where to start. But it's not as hard as you might think! Read More .

Buy the Emerson Sensi from Amazon

Lennox iComfort


As a longtime manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment, it’s logical for Lennox to get into the smart thermostat game. And although they say that the iComfort works best with Lennox equipment, it can be installed with other brands as well.

Compared to many other smart thermostats, the iComfort displays a lot of information on the touchscreen, including outdoor temperature and weather forecast.

Lennox’s smart thermostat gives you a great deal of control over the conditions in your home—not only does it monitor and have the ability to adjust humidity, but it has one of the lowest tolerances among options on the market, making sure that when you set a temperature, your house stays at that temperature. Away mode and fan control provide customizability.

One of the biggest advantages of the iComfort is it will let you know when you heating and cooling equipment needs maintenance, and will send you reminder to change the filters. While the control system and the accompanying app (the only thing that can control the thermostat) don’t have stellar reviews, the thermostat itself does seem to do a good job of giving you the controls you need to keep your house at your preferred temperature and save on your energy bill Energy Saving Tips For Buying & Using Electronics Electronics make up a significant portion of your household energy costs. Computers, printers, and WiFi routers alone account for around 25% of your electricity bill. While electronics are becoming more efficient, their increased use offsets... Read More .

Buy the Lennox iComfort from Amazon

Venstar ColorTouch


While it lacks some of the bells and whistles of other smart thermostats—like motion sensing and geofencing—the ColorTouch does provide easy operation and four-stage heating. It’s also one of the more visually interesting options, as you can set it to serve as a clock or a digital picture frame when you’re not using it. It’s simple interface lets you program a number of different time periods throughout the day and the week, making it easy to create a schedule.

Setup is assisted by downloading the companion app for your PC or Mac—you can save settings and up to 100 photos to the included SD card, and then put the SD card into the thermostat to complete the setup. From there, you can also adjust your settings from the thermostat itself.

While the ColorTouch does offer Wi-Fi control via your smartphone, you’ll need to purchase the Wi-Fi module, which plugs into the unit, for an extra $58 (there’s also a starter pack that includes both for $195, which is more cost efficient than buying the Wi-Fi module later). The app doesn’t let you adjust programs, but it will let you do the basics.

Buy the Venstar ColorTouch from Amazon

Buy the Venstar ColorTouch with Skyport Wi-Fi Module from Amazon
Bryant/Carrier VST5800 VENSTAR COLORTOUCH THERMOSTAT Bryant/Carrier VST5800 VENSTAR COLORTOUCH THERMOSTAT Buy Now On Amazon $138.20 ($8.64 / oz)

Which Will You Choose?

Despite the Nest’s dominating popularity, there are a number of other smart thermostats that you can install—the five above are some of the best, but there are even more options out there.

Of course, there’s a reason for the Nest being so popular: it’s really good at what it does, and it can do a lot of things you didn’t know about 13 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Nest Thermostat You may be surprised just how many little tricks you can accomplish with your new Nest thermostat! Read More . But if you’re looking to break away from the crowd (or save some money), any of the options above will do splendidly.

Do you use a smart thermostat? Which do you use? Do you plan on buying one in the future? Share your thoughts below!

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  1. Christopher
    May 24, 2015 at 12:46 am

    I'd probably make my own with an Arduino if I could find a nice box like the Nest, Lyric or Ecobee. It'd probably cost about 90% less, too. Seriously - the prices for these things are beyond insane.

    • Dann Albright
      May 25, 2015 at 10:27 am

      That'd be pretty awesome to make your own! I'm sure it's been done. As for finding a nice-looking box, your best bet might be to make one or have one made for you. Or you could find somewhere out of the way to put it and use something that's a little less nice-looking. If you end up giving this a shot, let us know how it goes! I'd love to hear about that.

    • Christopher HasARightToPrivacy
      May 26, 2015 at 2:22 am

      Well, along with learning electronics(through Arduino projects), I have been dabbling in woodworking. A hand-made Mahogany case might be pretty cool.

  2. Mike
    May 22, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Sorry #Dragonmouth - meant AIR source heat pump! Duh!

  3. Mike
    May 22, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    #Dragonmouth - I tried going green - got sold a £14000 ground source heat pump system that was totally unsuitable and had to write off the money since I couldn't afford another £14000 to take the bastards to court!
    So I'm afraid it's fossil fuel all the way for this skint bunny!

    • dragonmouth
      May 22, 2015 at 11:44 pm


      I researched going "green" with a PV system that would make me independent of the power company. Even taking all kinds of rebates and tax breaks, at $35,000 it was bit too expensive for me.

  4. Mike
    May 22, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Does anyone know if
    A) these things are available in the UK, and
    B) whether they work with oil-fired heating systems?

    • dragonmouth
      May 22, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      "B) whether they work with oil-fired heating systems?"
      According to the eco-nazis we are supposed to get away from using fossil fuels. Using a "green" thermostat to control a "brown" furnace is a contradiction of purpose. :-)

      Seriously, since it is a thermostat, it should work with any heating system other than a wood-burning stove or a fireplace.

    • Dann Albright
      May 23, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I don't think any of these particular models are available in the UK, but there is a Honeywell programmable thermostat that might do the trick. I'll keep an eye out for UK models, though!

      As for the oil-fired heating systems, I think you should be fine. If oil-fired systems are wired differently, there might be a problem, but as far as I know, it should work like it does with any other system.

  5. tkadrum
    May 21, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    I would NEVER buy Nest products again, got dropcam and smoke detector. After the trail period, I decided not to pay for their premium($$$$) service. Well, my dropcam keep going offline, and so annoying have to reconnect to WiFi. Why was this not a problem during my trail period, but start to go offline when the trail ended. Went to forums, and people are having the same issues.

    • Dann Albright
      May 23, 2015 at 8:58 am

      How did the smoke detector work? Did you have problems with that as well? And did you have the Nest thermostat? Or just the Dropcam?

    • Aibek
      May 25, 2015 at 5:28 am

      no issues with Dropcam on my end. Been using it for about a year now.