The Best Cheap Wi-fi Thermostats of 2020

best cheap wifi thermostats
  • Save

As the warm and cold seasons roll around, homeowners across the country are forced to engage the same conflict – the battle between remaining comfortable indoors and keeping energy costs down. While this battle has always placed an extra burden on homeowners’ shoulders, the rising cost of energy has caused some homeowners to question whether a thriftier solution exists.

As it turns out, recent innovations in the in-home climate control industry have allowed homeowners to utilize the latest in thermostat technology without breaking the bank. These wi-fi thermostats are exceptionally user friendly and affordable, making them accessible to large and small homeowners alike.

In this guide, we’ll help you compare six of the most popular cheap wi-fi thermostat models in simple and no-nonsense way. At the same time, this guide will help you learn about the qualities of a high-end wi-fi thermostat, particularly if you are looking to simplify your in-home home climate control system and make it a smart system.

Comparison Table

ModelDetailsWhere to Buy

Vine – 2nd Generation

Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
Geofencing: No
Touch Screen: Yes
Voice Control: Yes
Weather Forecast: Yes
Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant)
Check Price on Amazon

Aprilaire 8476W

Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
Geofencing: No
Touch Screen: No
Voice Control: Yes
Weather Forecast: No
Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa)
Check Price on Amazon

ecobee3 lite 2nd Generation



**Editor’s Choice**

Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
Geofencing: Yes
Touch Screen: Yes
Voice Control: Yes
Weather Forecast: No
Smart Control Methods: Yes (Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, and IFTTT)
Check Price on Amazon

Emerson Sensi ST55

Mobile App: Yes
Geofencing: Yes
Touch Screen: No
Voice Control: Yes
Weather Forecast: No
Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Wink)
Check Price on Amazon

Honeywell Home RTH6580WF



Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
Geofencing: No
Touch Screen: No
Voice Control: Yes
Weather Forecast: Yes
Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, Bonomi, Wink, and Stringy)
Check Price on Amazon

Honeywell Lyric T5 RCHT8610WF2006



Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
Geofencing: Yes
Touch Screen: Yes
Voice Control: Yes
Weather Forecast: No
Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit)
Check Price on Amazon

Our Top Pick

Best Choice

BEST CHEAP WIFI THERMOSTAT

Smart thermostat that offers unparalleled comfort, control and savings.

Ecobee remains a leader in the wi-fi and smart thermostat industry with this, their latest model that provides more user-friendly features than ever while maintaining a sleek, minimalistic aesthetic style. Even for its raised price point, you can expect the ecobee3 lite 2nd Generation to last multiple decades after a quick 30 minute set-up process.

Though it may be one of the pricier options in our collection, there’s simply no denying that the ecobee3 lite 2nd Generation is among the very best wi-fi thermostats on today’s market. When it comes to core capabilities, this model is compatible with nearly all gas, oil, electric, and dual fuel HVAC systems. At the same time, this model provides an unmatched level of compatibility with modern smart assistants, including Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s SmartThings).

Also, the ecobee3 lite 2nd Generation’s iOS and Android app provides more actionable data that you can use to save money and remain comfortable in every season. This includes the HomeIQ system, which works with the Home Recovery system to minimize your runtime and demonstrate just how much energy you are saving on a regular basis.

The Best Cheap Wi-fi Thermostat Reviews

Vine - 2nd Generation

Best Value

Specifications:
  • Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
  • Geofencing: No
  • Touch Screen: Yes
  • Voice Control: Yes
  • Weather Forecast: Yes
  • Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant)
Key Features:
  • Can be programmed for up to 8-day periods through iOS and Android app
  • Programable LED nightlight feature
  • Comes with all necessary mounting equipment
  • 3-year warranty and lifetime technical support

The 2nd generation of the VINE, one of the market’s most popular cheap wi-fi thermostats, has brought with a number of innovations that modern homeowners (and their wallets) are sure to love.

For example, this model’s interface combines a familiar easy-turn slide knob with a durable 3.5 inch LED touch screen to provide users of all skill levels with any easy method of controlling their home’s temperature. That LED touch screen is noticeably bright also, bright enough, in fact, that this model includes a devoted nightlight mode.

While most wi-fi thermostats are programmable for up to a week, the VINE 2nd generation takes this time-saving and energy-saving feature a step further by providing up to 8 days of programmable customization at a time. While you are programming your VINE thermostat, you’ll also be pleased to see that it includes a weather forecasting feature right on its main interface.

Also, installing and mounting this unit isn’t difficult at all and takes most folks 30 minutes at most. Should it malfunction, though, you can count on this model’s 3-year warranty and lifetime support service to come through in a pinch.

The Vine – 2nd Generation ​is available from Amazon.

Aprilaire 8476W

Best LCD Screen

Specifications:
  • Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
  • Geofencing: No
  • Touch Screen: No
  • Voice Control: Yes
  • Weather Forecast: No
  • Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa)
Key Features:
  • Soft Touch keys and ​IAQ Control system provide for hassle-free programming
  • Event-Based Air Cleaning system allows for compatibility with Aprilaire air purifier
  • 4.5 square-inch LCD screen provides high contrast for easy reading
  • Exceptional 5-year warranty

The Aprilaire 8476W is another great pick if you are looking for a cheap wi-fi thermostat, particularly if you are in the market for a great LCD screen.

This model’s LCD screen measures in at 4.5 square-inches, which is plenty wide enough to prevent information on display from being crammed together. This model’s use of contrast also makes the unit particularly easy to read, even from several feet away.

The Aprilaire 8476W is also noteworthy for its use of Soft Touch keys, which compress easily and remain operative over several decades of use. However, if you prefer, you can also forgo those buttons altogether and interface with this unit solely through its Android or iOS app.

In either case, this model’s IAQ Control system provides users with enough customization options to meet the energy and climate control needs of their home’s unique architecture.

In addition to interfacing with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, the Aprilaire 8476W is uniquely able to interact with this brand’s Event-Based Air Cleaning system. As such, you can control your home air purification system from the same interface as its climate control, should you choose.

The Aprilaire 8476W ​is available from Amazon.

ecobee3 lite 2nd Generation

Best Smart Thermostat

Specifications:
  • Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
  • Geofencing: Yes
  • Touch Screen: Yes
  • Voice Control: Yes
  • Weather Forecast: No
  • Smart Control Methods: Yes (Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, and IFTTT)
Key Features:
  • Compatible with nearly all modern gas, oil, electric, and dual fuel HVAC systems
  • Sleek, minimalistic exterior blends into every décor
  • Compatible with all major smart networks, including Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa
  • Comes packages with a power extender kit for homes without a C-wire

Suffice to say, all of the hype about Ecobee’s smart thermostat’s is well-justified. That’s because one of their latest models, the ecobee3 lite 2nd Generation, has managed to take whole home climate control standards to the next level.

This is immediately apparent when you check this model’s compatibility portfolio, which includes nearly all modern gas, oil, electric, and dual fuel HVAC systems. You’ll even be able to integrate the ecobee3 lite with nearly every popular smart assistant, including Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung SmartThings, and more.

Even before you turn the ecobee3 lite on, you’ll undoubtably be impressed by its appearance. This model’s edgeless black surface blends into any décor while its interface is powered down, but also accents homes equipped with other smart devices at the same time.

Installing the ecobee3 lite is an exceptionally easy process as well, so long as you follow the step-by-step walkthroughs in this unit’s Android and iOS app.

The ecobee3 lite 2nd Generation ​is available from Amazon.

Emerson Sensi ST55

Best Certifications

Specifications:
  • Mobile App: Yes
  • Geofencing: Yes
  • Touch Screen: No
  • Voice Control: Yes
  • Weather Forecast: No
  • Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Wink)
Key Features:
  • Energy Star certified in 2018
  • Smart alert system can detect extreme temperatures and humidity
  • Quick set up using in-app video guides
  • Geofencing system allows for automatic temperature adjustments based upon your current location

While other wi-fi thermostats are quick to brag about their certifications, only the Emerson Sensi ST55 puts in the extra work necessary to qualify their certifications.

This can clearly be seen with its Energy Star certification, which was renewed in 2018 due to its continued ability to save homeowners money on their utility bills. In fact, when using its 7-day flexible schedule and geofencing, this unit is capable of saving most homes up to 23% of their energy during high use seasons.

Speaking of geofencing, the Emerson Sensi ST55’s geofencing features operates reliably and without much fuss. All you need to do is set a few geographic and time-based parameters and this unit will be able to adjust your home’s temperature based upon your location (or rather, your smartphone’s location).

While you are using this model’s iOS or Android app, you’ll also be able to instantly check smart alerts that tell you when extreme temperatures or humidity are detected in your home.

Also, the Emerson Sensi ST55 does take in-app set-up a step further than most of its competition. That’s because its specialized videos are made for new users like you that are completing wi-fi thermostat installation for the first time.

The Emerson Sensi ST55  ​is available from Amazon.

Honeywell Home RTH6580WF

Best Cheap Option

Specifications:
  • Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
  • Geofencing: No
  • Touch Screen: No
  • Voice Control: Yes
  • Weather Forecast: Yes
  • Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, Bonomi, Wink, and Stringy)
Key Features:
  • Can be programmed for up to 7 days, with 4 program periods per day
  • Cheapest overall, making it a solid upgrade on a budget
  • Compact form factor allows for versatile installation options
  • Comes with G-wire jumper cable, which allows for use without a C-wire

While the folks at Honeywell where redesigning the Home RTH6580WF, it’s clear that they had one of the chief complaints of prospective users in mind – incompatibility with existing electrical infrastructure.

Their work on this front really shows because this model comes with a G-wire jumper cable that allows the unit to forgo the need for a direct C-wire line. As such, for the lowest price in this collection, homeowners without a C-wire in their existing electrical infrastructure will be able to upgrade to a wi-fi thermostat without trouble.

Speaking of which, installing the Honeywell Home RTH6580WF is surprisingly easy when it comes to placement. This model’s form factor imitates analog thermostats, allowing it to mount on to most wall types without the need for extra clearance.

When it comes time to installing the Honeywell Home RTH6580WF, even novice users won’t feel out of their depth thanks to the quick start guide that comes with this unit as well.

The  Honeywell Home RTH6580WF  ​is available from Amazon.

Honeywell Lyric T5 RCHT8610WF2006

Best Cheap Option

Specifications:
  • Mobile App: Yes (iOS and Android)
  • Geofencing: Yes
  • Touch Screen: Yes
  • Voice Control: Yes
  • Weather Forecast: No
  • Smart Control Methods: Yes (Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit)
Key Features:
  • Can be programmed for up to 7 days, with 4 program periods per day
  • Cheapest overall, making it a solid upgrade on a budget
  • Compact form factor allows for versatile installation options
  • Comes with G-wire jumper cable, which allows for use without a C-wire

Finally, despite some struggles that Honeywell wi-fi thermostats have experienced in the past, the Lyric T5 RCHT8610WF2006 actually appears to be one of the most user-friendly options in our collections. That user-friendliness begins as soon as you pair this unit with your home’s Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit, at which point it will accept and interpret voice commands without trouble.

The Honeywell Lyric T5 RCHT8610WF2006’s user-friendliness goes a step beyond this though, as seen its use of geofencing and flexible scheduling. This later feature, known as Smart Response, deserves a mention of its own because it can intelligently adapt to your home and away schedule, thus allowing for automated climate control over time.

Even this model’s smart alerts are reliable in their application, particularly when it comes time to change your HVAC system’s air filter.

In terms of compatibility, this model has no qualms with most single-stage and multi-stage conventional and heat pump climate control systems. Even so, you might check Honeywell’s online documentation just to ensure that your existing climate control system will interface with the Lyric T5 RCHT8610WF2006 efficiently.

The Honeywell RCHT8610WF2006   ​is available from Amazon.

A Wi-fi Thermostat Buying Guide

using a wifi thermostat
  • Save

Compatibility

First and foremost, while you are shopping through the current selection of cheap wi-fi thermostats from brands like Ecobee and Honeywell, be sure to keep compatibility at the forefront of your considerations. This is because, despite their excellent technological innovations, not every modern wi-fi thermostat is designed to work with every home’s electrical infrastructure and HVAC system.

Case and point – the C-wire or common wire. This single electric hook-up is required to operate many types of wi-fi and analog thermostats. Despite this, not every home is equipped with one right off the bat. If your home lacks a C-wire at your intended installation site, you’ll need to opt for a model that either does not require a C-wire or circumvents it through an alternative electric hook-up.

Also, while comparing prospective thermostat models, be sure that your chosen unit works with your home’s existing climate control systems. This includes ensuring that the unit can interface with your heating and/or cooling system’s fuel source without any loss of efficiency.

When in doubt on this issue or those involving the C-wire, a trained HVAC specialist or electrician may be able to provide further insights (if not installation services outright).

Features 

Mobile App 

One of the most exciting features that nearly all wi-fi thermostats offer is a mobile app through which the user can access a home’s climate control system remotely. This alone represents a major innovation in thermostat operation because it allows a user (such as a parent) to control their home’s temperature based upon when they return from work or when their children return from school.

Generally speaking, these apps are available for both major mobile operating systems, Android and iOS. Though iOS app availability implies that that thermostat unit can interface with an iPhone, some newer models go further and provide specialized mobile apps for iPads as well as Apple Watches.

Geofencing

Geofencing is an innovative attribute of wi-fi thermostats that allows your home’s climate control system to adjust itself based upon your present location. Though the in-depth mechanics of geofencing systems involves both RFID and GPS software, users are usually able to set a pre-programmed action (such as a temperature increase or decrease) based upon their personal proximity – all without needing to press a single button.

Geofencing can also be used to send users a notification, such as when they forget to adjust their thermostat before leaving on a long vacation.

Touch Screen

Touch screens are one of the reasons wi-fi thermostats are prized among newer homeowners. As with smartphones, a touch screen allows for a more intuitive user experience that is less reliant on learning the function of just a handful of analog buttons.

Most touch screen wi-fi thermostats also possess a particularly refined form factor, allowing them to blend seamlessly into a home’s décor.

Programmability

As with analog thermostats, programmability is a key component of the unit’s ability to maintain your home’s internal temperature sustainably. As a result, most wi-fi thermostats are programmable for up to 7 days in advance, with some units providing further customization based upon the time of day.

Programming a wi-fi thermostat can be accomplished while away from home also, by way of the unit’s mobile app (described above).

Learning Capability

Another innovative component of most wi-fi thermostats is their ability to learn your home’s heating/cooling schedule and habits. Often, this is accomplished by analyzing when you interact with your home’s climate control system and then making suggestions to automate the process going forward.

Some models also make use of “satellite” modules that can be placed in individual rooms, thus allowing the thermostat to learn the average temperatures in those spaces and facilitate a deeper level of whole home climate control automation in turn.

Weather Forecast

Recently, more and more cheap wi-fi thermostats have begun to include weather forecasting features through their primary interface. Much like a weather forecasting app on a smartphone, these convenient programs allow a user to pull up a concise weather forecast while they are programming their thermostat.

Often, models that include this feature are also able to make automated in-home temperature adjustments that account for outdoor weather conditions.

Smart Integration and Voice Controls

Numerous top-of-the-line wi-fi thermostats can be additionally categorized as “smart thermostats,” which means that they can (among other unique features) interface with smart assistants right out of the box. Though individual models come with different levels of smart integration, many models are capable of accepting voice commands from Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home, Apple’s HomeKit, and more.

Speaking of voice controls, many of the same models categorized as “smart thermostats” come with a number of voice commands that will initiate their primary functions without the user needing to touch a single button. Specific voice control protocols differ based upon the smart assistant used as an interface point, though, so users interested in this feature should seek out reviews from users who own the same smart assistant as they do.

Check out this article for more home automation ideas.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about Wi-fi Thermostats

What are the advantages of a “smart” system?

As you’ve likely noticed, several of the most popular wi-fi thermostats on today’s market can additionally be categorized as “smart.” Though this term is thrown around a lot in today’s personal and whole home technology markets, many consumers are not familiar with the numerous advantages of using smart systems throughout your home.

First off, much like the smartphones you are familiar with, smart systems are designed to simplify the user experience by streamlining all engagements. Some units accomplish this by providing a touch-sensitive screen while others provide integration with smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa.

As far as advantages go, this level of integration allows you to control numerous facets of your home with just a voice command or a finger tap.

When it comes to in-home climate control, smart systems are also exceptionally energy efficient and cost effective. That’s because smart thermostats tend to use machine learning to adapt to your family’s heating and cooling habits. This allows the unit to auto-adjust itself in turn, which effectively saves you money on your monthly utility bill.

Do smart thermostats really save you money?

Even in an ideal set up (such as in a newly-built home), your results with a smart thermostat may vary. In fact, the ability of a smart thermostat to save you money on your utility bills depends greatly on how much effort you put in to facilitate its integrated operation.

For example, if your chosen unit advertises that it can save 20% on your energy costs, then you’ll need to use all of its recommended features (such as scheduling and geofencing) to reach this quantitative goal.

Another way to make a new smart thermostat pay off quickly is by checking into rebates provided by your energy company. Often, electric companies will provide rebates to customers that use smart units because it decreases demand on their infrastructure.

Some energy companies may even offer to set-up your new smart thermostat at little to no cost, so be sure to take advantage of these cost-saving measures.

Will I need to perform any special tasks to install my wi-fi thermostat?

Installation specifics will vary from model to model, but generally speaking, you’ll need to start by safely unhooking your old thermostat. This should only be done after reading through that unit’s user’s guide to ensure that you are able to complete the task without damaging your electrical infrastructure.

From there, you’ll need to check if your new wi-fi thermostat requires the use of the “C-wire” or common wire. If so, you’ll need to isolate it and prepare it according to the new unit’s user’s manual. Beyond this, installation of most wi-fi thermostats only requires a few simple tools, primarily for mounting purposes.

Conclusion

As you’ve now seen, there’s a lot to consider before picking out your home’s next wi-fi thermostat. While affordability is a major consideration for most, a productive set of useful, user-friendly features also goes a long way towards making a wi-fi thermostat a permanent in-home fixture.

As a reminder, if you’re looking for all of these qualities in a single unit, then the ecobee3 lite 2nd Generation should be a sure thing. While it may cost a bit more up front, this model more than pays for itself by way of its diverse compatibility arsenal and its inclusion of a power extender kit.

Otherwise, if you’re shopping on a tight budget, you’re sure to find the ever-affordable Honeywell Home RTH6580WF  and Vine – 2nd Generation to your liking.

best cheap wifi thermostats
  • Save

Leave a Comment

Share via
Copy link