The battle to be the top smart thermostat is heating up. In this guide, we will help you to choose the best smart thermostat of 2020. We will profile the big three – Hive, Nest, and Honeywell – and also outline the best of the rest and give you all the information you need to make an informed decision
Smart thermostats are taking the country by storm and this should come as no surprise. After all, what’s not to like?
A smart thermostat will completely transform the way you heat your home. It will allow you to control your heating remotely with app controls, benefit from zoned heating, and enjoy home-away detection.
With a smart thermostat, you will save money on your heating bills and also do your bit towards countering the climate crisis by cutting down on your energy use and CO2 emissions too.
Smart thermostats are a terrific innovation but there are a lot on the market and the technology, functionality, and the price can vary significantly between different models.
This can leave customers at a loss to know which smart thermostat is the right one for you. That is where we come on. In this article, we will profile the big three smart thermostats of 2020 – from Hive, Nest, and Honeywell.
We will also tell you a little more about the best of the rest and share everything you need to know to help you make an informed decision about buying the best smart thermostat in 2020.
Hive vs Nest vs Honeywell – The Big Three
- Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) – RRP – £219.99
Sleek design, packed with features, easy to use, and interacts with lots of other devices.
- Hive Active Heating 2 – RRP – £179 – Classy design, lots of features, and a significant improvement on their first-generation smart thermostat
- Honeywell Home T9 – RRP – £150 – Simple installation, remote room sensors, multiple device integration but not compatible with other Honeywell smart devices.
What is a Smart Thermostat
Before we delve down into the detail, lets quickly outline what we mean by a smart thermostat in case you are unsure what one is.
A smart thermostat is a gadget that does the job of a traditional heating thermostat but with the added feature of Wi-Fi connectivity. The first smart thermostat to really break into the mainstream was the Nest Learning Thermostat. It’s success spawned a whole new market and today there are hundreds of different smart thermostats to choose from.
The main benefit of a thermostat with Wi-Fi connectivity is that it enables you to control your heating remotely. This means that when you are out at work, on holiday, or have an unexpected evening out, you can change your heating settings from wherever you are. This saves you money as you will not find yourself heating an empty house and is also more environmentally friendly too.
Needless to say, smart thermostat innovation has been fast and today’s models offer all sorts of additional features too. Basic models simple heating and cooling systems and allow you to set and override heating schedules and as well as operate some simple programming options.
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More advanced models will allow you to adjust temperatures by room and can control heating, cooling, dehumidifier, and ventilation systems. Some come with room sensors that will switch the heating up when a person enters the room and lower it when they leave. Others offer a similar feature that uses geofencing to detect when people enter or leave the house.
Usage reports is another feature that many users appreciate. They offer a historic record of when your system was switched on and how efficient it is allowing you to make any necessary adjustments.
Some manufacturers also allow you to combine your smart thermostat with other smart devices in their range such as smoke alarms and security cameras. Other can be combined with smart speakers to enable voice-activated controls to be used.
In general, the cost of a smart thermostat will depend on how many features it offers. But this does not always mean that the most expensive smart thermostat is the best. Nor does it mean it is the right one for you too.
The best smart thermostats of 2020
While there are lots of smart thermostats on the market, the three most established manufactures are still the three big players in the market. Hive, Nest, and Honeywell’s flagship devices are still three of the market leaders and with some justifications.
Our team of researchers have been putting each of these three devices through its paces to help you differentiate between them. Their findings have now been collated and here is the rundown of our top three smart thermostats for 2020:
1. Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) – RRP – $249
The Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) is our number one recommended smart thermostat on the market right now. It looks terrific and comes in a modern circular design with a choice of four colours; stainless steel, copper, white, and black.
Like the previous generations, it replaces your old thermostat with a device that still features a dial that allows you to adjust temperatures manually on the wall. But being a connected device, you can also make changes using an app on your smartphone or via the Nest website.
The quality of the manufacture is first class. The dial itself is slick and doesn’t click and the round design means this is a device you will want to show off rather than hide away. The Nest apps for iOS and Android devices are well designed and simple to use and you can also control the settings easily through the Nest website.
New features on the Nest Learning Thermostat include hot water controls, a larger display with a higher resolution, a thinner design that sits flusher to the wall, and OpenTherm support, which allows two-way communication with certain compatible boilers.
Every Nest Learning Thermostat comes with a Heat Link. This attaches to your boiler and has built-in Wi-Fi to connect the system to the internet via your wireless router. It is a much slicker system than many other smart thermostats that come with another component that has to be connected to an Ethernet port on your router
The Nest Learning Thermostat works best in smaller homes. It communicates directly with the boiler so can only adjust temperatures across the whole house. You cannot use Nest to communicate with individual smart radiators valves but it can support multiple zones if your heating has already been plumbed in that way.
The big USP in the Nest Learning Thermostat is its smart technology that allows the system to learn your schedule and automatically set you heating according to your requirements. For the first couple of weeks after you buy this device, you will be encouraged to change your heating settings manually.
After this phase of training, the built-in movement sensor will detect when there is anyone in the house and turn the heating on and off accordingly. This sensor is smart enough that pets will not trigger it. The Nest Learning Thermostat will create a schedule based on your habits but you can set up a manual schedule or make adjustments using the app if you need to.
You can also integrate the Nest Learning Thermostat with both a smoke alarm and CCTV camera system too. These systems are on the expensive side, but on its own, the Nest Learning Thermostat represents excellent value for money given the number of features it offers.
2. Hive Active Heating 2 – RRP – $235
The Hive Active Heating 2 smart thermostat has been designed to work with almost any gas and LPG heating system as well as most radiators and underfloor heating systems. It is a huge leap forward from Hive’s first-generation device which was functional but largely uninspiring.
The design of the second generation Hive Active Heating smart thermostat is a huge leap forward. The first generation was a device you would hide away. This model has a modern glass-mirror frontage with touchscreen features and a dial which illuminates like something out of Star Trek. It comes with a default cream-coloured surround but there are a choice of 12 different optional colours available too,
The second-generation Hive active Heating has added support for multizone which means the device can now manage large and complex heating systems with ease. The new device can handle up to three heating zones and control hot water too.
The Hive Active Heating 2 smart thermostat is quite simple to install but they do recommend getting a qualified engineer to do it. This can push the price up a bit so you might want to give it a go yourself.
The device is simple to use and the interface is large and easy to read. There are also terrific iOS and Android apps that are so good it almost makes controlling your heating fun. Management can also be done through the Hive website too and there is even a system to allow you to change settings by sending a text.
Unlike the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Hive Active Heating 2 smart thermostat will not try and intelligently work out what you want your heating to be like. It allows you to set and adjust schedules and then does as it is told which for some users is preferable.
It is also possible to integrate your Hive Active Heating 2 device with other Hive devices including their active plugs, door sensors, motion sensors, and lights.
3. Honeywell Home T9 – RRP – $199
The Honeywell Home T9 smart thermostat employs remote room occupancy sensors to ensure uniform heating and cooling throughout your entire home.
It offers a more classic white rectangular design and incorporates a colour touch-screen control panel. It comes with temperature and humidity sensors and a wireless smart room sensor. More of these can be purchased at an additional cost.
The Honeywell Home T9 can be connected to most regular heating systems. It is fairly simple to install but unless you are comfortable working with electronic wiring, it is advisable to get a professional to fit it for you.
As well as a slick interface on the device itself, the Honeywell Home T9 can also be controlled using the Honeywell Home app for Android and iOS devices. This app is another that is well-designed and simple to use.
Setting up manual schedules is the most effective way to manage your heating with a Honeywell Home T9 smart thermostat and these schedules can be managed from anywhere really easily.
While the Honeywell Home T9 doesn’t use motion sensors it does have a geofencing system and tries to make changes based on whether or not it thinks there are people at home or not. We found this system worked fairly well but was not quite as reliable as the Nest one.
Interaction with Alexa and other smart speakers is available and in our tests, this was pretty effective. Overall performance was extremely good but interaction with other Honeywell devices, including HomeKit is not great at the moment. Honeywell has indicated this is one area they hope to improve.
Best of the Rest
While Nest, Hive, and Honeywell remain the market leaders, they are far from the only companies manufacturing smart thermostats. Our researchers have also been taking a look at some of the other well-regarded smart thermostats available to buy in the UK right now. Here is their rundown of the best of the rest:
4. Tado Smart Thermostat Starter Kit V3+ – RRP – $260
Tado is one of the best smart thermostats at sensing when someone is in the house and adjusting the temperatures accordingly. It uses sensors and your smartphones GPS for this. It also offers such things as inside and outside Air Comfort reports and Open Window Detection features. There is a subscription involved if you want to enjoy all the features but Tado is still another great bet.
5. Genius – RRP – From $550
The Genius smart thermostat is expensive but highly efficient and could save you more during its lifetime than the additional upfront costs you will incur. This is a high-end system with great multi-zonal functionality and if money is no object it is one we are happy to recommend.
6. Ecobee 4 – RRP – $265
The Ecobee fourth-generation smart thermostat offers great interconnectivity, embedded Alexa voice service, remote room sensors and is really easy to set up and install. It is not the cheapest device around though and in our tests, the audio quality was average, to say the least.
2020 looks likely to be the year when smart thermostats really go mainstream which is why now is the time to know which smart thermostats really are the best on the market.
This is why we have been testing all the top models to help you make an informed decision. In this article we have profiled our top three smart thermostats on the market right now; the Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation), the Hive Active Heating 2, and the Honeywell Home T9.
We have detailed what they can and can’t do, highlighted which features they possess and also given a nod to some other smart thermostats that have something to offer as well.
Have you used any of our three recommended smart thermostats? How was your experience? We always welcome feedback from our readers so why not share your thoughts today using the comment box below?