Best Smart Thermostat for Multiple Zones

Your home would consist of multiple zones for different reasons. You would have the living room, kitchen, bedroom, and possibly an office. Sometimes you may desire to have a place in your home at a temperature different from another, rather than treating as a single cooling or heating zone. For instance, you may prefer to have a warmer kitchen and a cooler bedroom – this is where the thermostat comes in.

The Smart thermostats (Read more on Wikipedia) are devices that let you control and monitor the temperature and humidity of the multiple zones in your home from your smartphone, tablet or PC. The Smart thermostat works by collecting data on the temperature of the various zones in the house through remote sensors to assess the overall temperatures in each room.

In this review, we would discuss three smart thermostats that are the best for multiple zones in a home.

  1. Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat – The first smart thermostat with a Room Sensor and built-in Amazon Alexa)
  2. Nest (T3007ES0) Learning Thermostat
  3. Ecobee3 lite Smart Thermostat

Let’s get started!

Product Reviews

Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat 

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Pros

  1. Easy Setup and use
  2. Responsive touchscreen interface
  3. Remote sensors to improve accuracy
  4. Built-in Alexa Speaker
  5. Set temperature based on schedules and geo-fencing

Cons

  1. Price is high
  2. Alexa integration seems unnecessary
  3. No full control over Alexa
  4. Alexa does not control HVAC

The competition for the best smart thermostat in the market has always been a tough one. Ecobee4 may not be the most popular one, but it cannot be ignored either. As homeowners, Ecobee4 is a better decision to saves up on the money you spend annually on heating or cooling; since it pays for itself in under two years.

The device comes with a remote sensor you can place in a room to balance the temperature of the whole house and cost only a little over 200 dollars, but it is worth it.

The sensor measures temperature, humidity, proximity, and occupancy, before automatically switching it to the best mode for your comfort when you are in your home, and also save energy when you are away. Regardless we recommend you use more than one remote sensor for a zone to increase the efficiency and accuracy of the smart thermostat while they gather temperature information.

Even while you are trying out the Ecobee4 for the first time, the installation is relatively a 30 minutes stress-free process. To install the device, you should first cut the power to the thermostat by tripping the breaker that is connected to the heat pump and furnace. Remove the old thermostat, then following the colored wire schematics, reinstall the backplate of the Ecobee4.

There is a trim to cover up the wall holes left behind by the old thermostat plate that comes with this device. Wire the backplate, attach your thermostat and allow it to boot up. Setting up the software is also straightforward, do it then connect it to your device via Wi-Fi to get your thermostat online.

Like most other smart thermostats, you can control it using your Android or Apple device when you download the mobile software from App Store or Google Play. The device has an array of features that would make it preferred to other brands, one of them is the built-in mic and speaker that allows you to work with Alexa or google assistant using your voice. The WiFi connectivity builds up is 802.11b/g/n at 2.4GHz.


Nest (T3007ES) Learning Thermostat 

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Pros

  1. Great industrial Design
  2. Easy to set up and use
  3. Supports Alexa
  4. Exceptional software support

Cons

  1. Requires constant power connection
  2. Price is high
  3. No support for Siri
  4. They cannot control hot water

This 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat would require only a few manual adjustments and then it would get used to your settings and help you save up on your electric bill by automatically modifying your home temperature.

The display is big, bright and easy to read. You get to maintain your style since you have a choice to pick from the four available display colors that give different touch and look to your device – Copper, Black, White, and Stainless Steel.

Nest Learning Thermostat introduces something called “Farsight” that lights up the display and show you the temperature that is being read even when you are across the room. The Farsight creates an aesthetic display.

As long as you have 230 Volts main power for the Heat Links, you can easily install the Nest Thermostat yourself. While installing the Nest Thermostat, you can power it via USB and operate it in wireless mode, then use a wall-mount or dest-stand to keep it in place, but to be safer, you may prefer a professional to do the installation if you are not sure of something.

In case you already have a previous installation, you can have multiple Nest Thermostats in a heating system what you do is power the device by hooking the thermostat wires to the 12 volt DC output of the Heat Link.

Just like Ecobee4, the Nest (T3007ES) Learning Thermostat works with Alexa for voice control, only that it is not built in, but sold differently.

Other Nest devices can help to keep you safe and secures. Now the good thing about this is you do not have to worry about compatibility since this smart thermostat works well with other Nest devices around your home. For instance, the Nest secure can use your lightbulb, smart washer or dryer to get your attention in any event of an emergency.

The Nest Learning Thermostat comes as two components; the smart thermostat and Heat Link which you can connect to your boiler. The Heat Links control both heating and hot water.


Ecobee3 lite Smart Thermostat 

Check Price on Amazon.com

Pros

  1. Great design and responsive screen touch
  2. It works with remote sensors
  3. Cheaper than other WiFi supported Smart Thermostat
  4. Integrated with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Wink and Samsung SmartThings

Cons

  1. Not compatible with Google Home
  2. No remote sensors or extra features in the package

For a Smart Thermostat that would not take up all of your money on the purchase, and still help you save up on your annual heating and cooling costs, the Ecobee 3 Lite Smart Thermostat is decent enough to be one of the best.

The device works with room sensors that help to balance the temperature all through the home when they are placed in the rooms that matter the most. The Remote sensors measure occupancy and temperature and automatically switches to your desired mood when you are there, or saves your energy when you are not.

Even though this is the cheapest WiFi supported Smart Thermostat you can find, you may not like that they do not come with remote sensors or c-wire for installation.

There is an easy to follow step by step instruction and in-app guide to simplify the installation so that you can carry it out yourself. So when you want to set it up yourself, you should shut off the power to the thermostat at the circuit breaker, remove the original faceplate and study the wiring connections of the old thermostat. Now disconnect the wires from the old thermostat and uninstall the original thermostat baseplate.

Put the wires through the baseplate of the Ecobee lite, mount it on the wall, connect the wirings as they were from the old thermostat, attach the faceplate to the mounting base plate, and power back the circuit breaker.

Ecobee3 gives you control of your smart thermostat from anywhere with your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Tablets or Android Devices (To get the Ecobee mobile software, download it from App Store or Google Play).

The most attractive feature of this smart thermostat is how it flows well with other smart home setups like Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung SmartThings, Apple Homekit, Wink and IFTTT.


Smart Thermostat Buying Guide

Just randomly picking out a Smart Thermostat would be wrong, since there are certain factors for you to get your desired device. We would go further by discussing the thermostat based on Algorithms, Geofencing, Remote sensor, Installation, App talk, and Design

  • Algorithms

Some smart thermostats rely on algorithmic-based learning, one of the is the Nest Learning Thermostat. Similar to the traditional programmable model, the algorithmic-based learning allows you create a schedule, but the difference is the capability to learn the schedules you have been inputting over time and automatically adapt to your pattern of changes.

Even when the algorithm has learned your change pattern, the Nest Learning Thermostat is built with an Auto-Away feature that works to monitors motion and lights in a 150-degree radius. When the sensors detect nothing at the regular time you are supposed to be home, it imagines you are gone and saves energy with the Away mode.

The slight imperfection with algorithm-based learning thermostats is that once it continues to change to the default Away mode at a particular time, it learns and adjusts the schedule to the new pattern, which may not be your interest.

Sometimes certain circumstances to result to you less movement around the 150-degree motion sensor of the device, but then it could be adjusted with a quick manual setting on the app or the thermostat itself to let it know that regardless of what the sensors are detecting, you are home.

  • Geofencing

Another feature of the smart thermostat you should take into consideration before  purchase is “Geofencing.” To get a real picture of geofencing, liken it to a virtual perimeter. When your thermometer has geofencing, you can create a range for the sensors.

Geofencing is a program that sets a boundary line around your home to detect when you are home or when you are not. If the device detects you are away, it turns down the dial to a low temperature to save energy.

For instance, you can set your dial from your phone app to the range of 500 feet, so that when you step out of the premises, and it detects your phone is away from the set 500-foot perimeter your smart thermostat moves to the default away mode. When you return to the environment or cross the threshold, it would return to your desired home mode.

The downside is that it would not go according to your plan if you have a habit of forgetting your phone or you work in very close proximity to your house – It could create some problems when your phone has to be close to your home.

  • Remote sensor

thermostatMore than just turning on the display some smart thermostats like Ecobee3 uses motion and proximity sensors to detect when it would move to its default away mode in a particular room. The remote sensor would perceive the place, and when it is empty, it turns off the heating or cooling system to save up energy.

If you have a smart thermostat that relies on remote sensors, it is preferable to place your sensor around the busy part of your house, so it works well. Maybe we should also mention that it automatically returns itself to the home mode when the sensor detects you are back to that zone.

  • Installation

Installing a thermostat should not be so difficult, even when you have less experience. There should be a step-by-step and easy-to-understand guide with photographs or illustrations to instruct the process.

Thermostats like Ecobee3 Lite requires a common wire, sometimes called a c-wire for their installation. The function of the wire is to provide a constant and exact continuous flow of 24 VAC through the device for some features like the LED display to work correctly.

Some other thermostats like the Nest Learning thermostat are compatible with four-wire installations. It would depend on the model of thermostat you are purchasing, so we recommend you confirm from a professional because some wires can supply enough power and do the job of the c-wire by borrowing energy from other cables.

You may prefer to get a thermostat that is compatible with the four-wire, so you do not have to worry about rewiring your system with the C-wire. The process could be a little complicated, and it could cause harm.

The wiring of some thermostats are labeled or color-coded to indicate where they should be connected, but it is a good practice to study the wiring arrangements of the old thermostat before you replace it.

  • App talk

App talkThe app is an extra feature you have to be sure of before your purchase. It has several functions including providing a remote control so you an made adjustments from afar and making auto-schedules easy.

Configuring the app would differ from one product with another, and would depend on a series of factors like the type of system you are using, your energy source, whether you use one or two stage heating and cooling and a few others.

The app also controls the mode, types of alerts you prefer to get and determines the if it can be integrated with other smart-home assistant systems like your smoke detector, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Siri, Samsung SmartThings and Apple Homekit.

  • Design

The function of a thermostat would not be the first impression you get from it, but instead, the design would determine if it is something you want to look at, that is why this is the last feature we would talk about. Even if most of the smart thermostats look pretty utilitarian, it would be preferable if they are designed in a way to fit well into the environments they are placed. They come in a variety of color options that you can choose from.

Apart from the general neatness of the thermostat, another thing is the display. The thermostats are built to have different ways of turning on; some have screens that are always on, some may require a tap to come on, others turn on with motion sensors. The primary job of the display is to gives you the critical information on temperature and time, but is equally better when it serves a stylish purpose.


Wrap up

In general, thermostats are electrical components that allow you to maintain the temperature of a specific zone at the desired setpoint. The thermostat is also a buildup of devices like the heaters, air conditioners, ovens, refrigerators, incubators, and other HVAC systems.

But the Smart thermostats are extremely necessary when the winter draws closer most especially if you live in North America. Investing in the smart thermostat is a smart choice; they help to reduce the energy bill spend on heaters. The cost of getting a thermostat with a remote sensor for the individual zones in your home would never amount to the regular electrical bills you would have to pay to maintain your home temperature.


FAQ

How to choose a smart thermostat?

There are several brands of smart thermostats in the market right now which may complicate your choices when you need to purchase one. The brand of thermostat you use all boils down to your convenience. You could consider some conditions like the algorithm based-learning, the geofencing ability, how the remote sensor functions, the ease of installation, the app functions, or the general design of the body.

Some other factors you should put into consideration is what you use as a smart hub like a Samsung SmartThing, or maybe you plan on using Alexa or Google Home Assistance. Although all smart thermostat may perform the essential functions of regularizing your home temperature, they act differently in these features, so you need to put them into condition before you decide on a purchase.

How to program the smart thermostat?

Before you get started on installation, you need to check the compatibility of your smart thermostat with your wiring system; then you can proceed. It is also better to note that there is a hardware installation, and there is the software installation.

So after you have reset your old thermostat to default or just done the hardware installation like wire connections and plotting your thermostat on the wall; the next step would be to set up and connect the app. You would have to answer to a setup interview, which would be a few questions about your home’s heating and cooling system to know what your preferred temperatures are. The thermostat would use the information you provide to keep you comfortable and save energy.

How smart thermostat save energy?

The smart thermostats have sensors that work within a geofencing range to detect when you are away from the premises. The smart thermostat controlled by a phone app would perceive your presence by noticing the presence of the phone and giving your home your desired temperature. When you are not home, it moves to an away mode, where it would turn off the cooling and heating system to save up energy.

In saving energy, it also saves the monetary bill you have to pay on heating and cooling usage. Most thermostat brands already assure you of saving up money with two years of usage. You do not always have to adjust your thermostat or worry about the times you are away from your home during the week since the smart thermostat can increase the energy efficiency and lower your energy bill.

How to read a digital thermostat?

The digital thermostats have an LED or LCD readout with data entry pads or buttons to make settings. Most of them are flexible, and they come with a wide range of features to be used on heating and cooling systems. The digital thermometer assists you to control temperature with your schedules.

Since not all of the models of smart thermostat functions the same way, then depending on the model you are using, the digital device is supposed to display the temperature on the screen in Celsius or Fahrenheit. Some smart thermostat features a farsight to light up the display and making it easy for you to view while you are far or near.

How much does a smart thermostat save?

A smart thermostat is very helpful in saving you money on heating and cooling costs and while some may say that it doesn’t pay off, well the numbers don’t lie. Most of the large heating and cooling companies say that within 1-2 years, the savings you get from lower heating and cooling costs will pay for the unit itself.

Those companies’ units are around $200 though, but you can get smart thermostats for as little as $50.

Here are some of the most well-known companies and their average savings claims:

  • Nest: One of the most well-known thermostat companies report average savings between $10-20 a month.
  • Ecobee: On average their users are saving up to 23% on their heating and cooling.

Now both of those companies seem to have their savings set on the high end, but on average the studies say that you can save between 10-15% on your energy bills. If you’re saving around $10-20 a month that’s already well over $100 a year which will pay for most of the basic units. The more expensive ones like Nest you’ll have paid off within 2 years max.

A few things that factor into how much you save are as follows:

  • Where you live – If you’re in a much colder or hotter area, your energy costs will be much higher.
  • Energy Use – The total energy you use currently will affect your savings. Do you turn your dial down at night or when you’re at work already? If so, you’re already doing some of the work that the smart thermostat so your savings may not be as high.

It is not only more energy efficient to get one, but it also saves you money and helps save the earth at the same time.

What does a smart thermostat do?

Since half of your electric bill usually goes towards heating or cooling, if you could save yourself a portion of that would you want to? Of course! When I think of a smart thermostat, I compare it to your vehicle. When you need to use your vehicle, you turn it on and when you don’t need it you turn it off.

Our heating and cooling systems we typically set it to a flat 70 degrees Fahrenheit and forget about it. This means when you’re away to work it’s still running full steam, and when you’re sleeping it’s also running.

A smart thermostat is the same as most, except it comes with a programmable tech feature that allows you to set specific temperatures throughout the day. There are a few different settings that thermostats have:

  • 5+2: The most typical model is the 5+2 which means there is one setting for Monday-Friday and another setting for Saturday/Sunday. In this case, you can set different temperature settings for weekdays and weekends for normal working people.
  • 5+1+1: In more expensive models you’re able to set weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays all in different settings.
  • 7 Days: The most basic models have it so that every day is the same setting but it will allow you to have 3 or 4 different changes (morning, lunch, afternoon, night, etc).

Some of the best smart thermostats also connect to your home’s wifi system. These ones will typically come with an app that you can use on your phone so if you need to check the temperature or to turn it down or up you can do it no matter where you are in the world. If you’re still using an analog relic thermostat, look for a smart thermostat that you can get for under $50 and see how much it can save you in the long run.

What temperature to set the thermostat in winter?

As winter comes every year, we all find there’s the one day of the year where it finally gets too cold and you’ve got to light up the furnace. But what temperature do you set in the winter? Do you change it depending on the time of day? If not, you should. Changing the temperature throughout the day will save you anywhere from 10-15% on your overall electric bill and allows your system to last longer with it being used less.

So what temperature do we suggest? If you’re home during the day-time, a comfortable setting is at 72°F, although we suggest aiming for 68°F if you want a truly efficient system. True, at 68°F you won’t be able to walk around in shorts and a t-shirt, but if you wear socks, long pants and a sweater you’ll be plenty comfortable at 68°F. That is the most energy efficient temperature that won’t make you cold.

If you’ll be away from home or you’ll be going to bed, anywhere between 62°F to 66°F is a good range. When you’re sleeping, you’ll be comfortable under the blankets and won’t notice a difference in the temperature and if you’re using your smart thermostat you can have it crank the temperature up before you get out of bed so you won’t notice a difference.

If you aren’t good with handling cold temperatures, you may also want to slowly slide into the cooler temperature settings. Start out at 72°F and then each week turn it down a notch until you get to the 68°F comfort setting.

What temperature to set the thermostat in summer?

The summertime can get to be quite unbearable, so it’s understandable that you need to have air-conditioning to prevent things like heat strokes and other heat-related health problems. But what is the best range to set your home to and should you change it when you’re not around?

When you’re home in the summer, a comfortable range is between 76-78°F. This will allow your air conditioning to keep your home comfortable but avoid getting that incredibly high electricity bill. At the range of 76-78°F you’re likely to have an increased electricity bill, but you can expect between 5-10% lower than if you set it at the standard 70°F.

If you’ll be away from your home and want to save more money you can have your smart thermostat set your temperature to around 88-90°F. This will ensure your home doesn’t overheat but yet won’t waste energy cooling it down to a low temperature. If you’re comfortable with it, simply turn it off completely to save the most amount of electricity.

During the summer, you can do a couple other tricks that will help your home to stay cool including the following:

  • Get a dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air as that’s a key contributor to feeling too warm. A drier environment will make you feel cooler than a humid one.
  • Look into heavy blackout curtains that will stop the sun from shining in and baking your home in the process. This greatly will reduce how hot your home becomes during the daytime.
  • Limit th99.e use of the oven and stove during the daytime and try to use it after 6 pm only. Additionally, you can choose to grill out most of the time which will avoid this completely.

What temperature to set the thermostat at night in summer?

In the winter, it’s easy to choose to turn down your thermostat as you’ll be jumping under the covers and you’ll be plenty warm. But at night in the summer it can be a little bit trickier as it’s hard to sleep when you’re covered in sweat. A comfortable setting at night is around 75°F which will allow you to still be comfortable in bed without sweating.

There are a few tips at night for keeping your home cool and to save money on electricity:

  • Install ceiling fans or standing fans to keep you feeling cool even when the temperature isn’t as cold.
  • If you live in a region that cools off at night, turn off your air conditioning completely and open the windows. A ceiling fan or window fan helps a lot for pulling in that cool outside air.
  • Upgrade your system to an EnergyStar system which is already rated by the government as an energy efficient system.
What temperature to set thermostat when on summer vacation?

When you head out on summer vacation, there are so many things you have to get ready so you don’t forget something. Packing your clothes, the camping gear, asking your family to watch the dog, neighbor to get the mail, etc. Often you don’t think about your thermostat and it runs the whole time you’re gone cooling down your home.

One option is just to turn it off so they can save the most amount of money. While this may seem like the most ideal option, it isn’t the best option for your home. Letting your home get too hot (often it can bake in the sun and get to temperatures well above 100°F) can damage your home as the wood will expand and crack under extremely hot temperatures. Using your smart thermostat, you can program it to only cool if it gets above 85°F. This way it’ll just turn on a little bit during the extremely hot times of the day and they won’t run the rest of the day.

What temperature to set the thermostat in winter when away?

It is very important to properly prepare your home during winter when you’ll be away on vacation. Turning off your heating system during winter can cause devastating long-term damage to all sorts of parts of your home. Specifically, your pipes in your home if they still have water inside them, when they freeze, they may end up bursting at the connecting points causing water leaks and damage to the structure.

Never turn off your heat in the winter, but instead lower to around 50°F to ensure your home stays warm enough to not freeze, but not too warm so that your electricity bill is still reasonable.

You can also turn down your water heater to ensure you save money on heating the water while you’re away. Just remember to turn it back up or your shower will be quite cold.

What happens if thermostat battery died?

For non-analog thermostats, you do need a battery to keep it running unless it is connected to your homes power source already. This means it’s very important to watch the low battery warning on your smart thermostat because when the battery runs out, your systems will not work. This is especially important for heating because if your heat stops working completely and you’re not around to do anything about it your home can potentially get down to freezing levels.

It’s recommended that every fall when you first turn on the thermostat for the winter heating that you replace the battery. At least once a year even before the low warning light comes on to ensure you never encounter this issue.

No batteries mean no heating or cooling.

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