The $60 Amazon Smart Thermostat accomplishes something few smart home gadgets can: It gives all the features of expensive linked thermostats for less. It performs so well with few compromises. Alexa is the caveat. Amazon’s Smart Thermostat can learn your habits and automate your heating and cooling schedule. This can save energy and reduce power bills without losing comfort. Amazon’s thermostat is less than the $80 Wyze Thermostat, a popular bargain brand.
I replaced my third-generation Google Nest with an Amazon Smart Thermostat I’ve been testing for over a month. The Nest won’t return.
Why? The Amazon Smart Thermostat uses Alexa to adjust the home temperature for less than competitors. The Amazon Smart Thermostat is for Alexa users or those ready to adopt Amazon’s smart home ecosystem.
It doesn’t have a speaker or microphone but can use Alexa speakers.
Alexa and the Amazon Smart Thermostat function better with more smart home devices.
When it comes to a smart thermostat, less is more. Amazon’s smart thermostat may be the most autonomous, requiring less interaction than Nest. It’s the cheapest and compatible with most 24-volt systems (contemporary residential HVAC installations), although it requires a C-wire (an adaptor is available if your home doesn’t have one).
Comparatively: Amazon’s Smart Thermostat, which costs less than a quarter as much as Nest’s, lacks build quality. Nest’s color LCD and metal click wheel are prettier than Amazon’s cream-colored plastic touchscreen and color symbols. Whether that matters depends on whether you want your thermostat to be a conversation piece or just heat and cool your home. The Ecobee Smart Thermostat has a speaker and microphone to communicate with Alexa or Siri. It doesn’t have as much access to your routines as Google or Amazon, so its automation system has less data.
Anyone with a bit of mechanical competence should be able to install the Amazon Smart Thermostat. The Alexa Smart Thermostat is a 3-1/2-inch-tall, 3-1/2-inch-wide white plastic square. It has a soft touchscreen faceplate (red for heat, blue for AC) and a digital number display. As with other thermostat kits, Amazon supplies a screwdriver and a faceplate to disguise ugly wall scars.
Connecting the thermostat to Alexa is quick and intuitive. Amazon gives printed instructions and how-to videos in the box, but there’s also a Smart Thermostat help page. When you’re done, everything should look clean and neat, even if you need a C-wire adaptor for your furnace rather than your thermostat. If you don’t have the Alexa mobile app, you’ll need to download it (follow onscreen prompts to add a device).
Alexa adjusts the thermostat to “auto,” automatically switching between heating and cooling. You can alter the default temperature range from 68°F to 75°F. You can also switch to dedicated heat or cool or turn it off, but for maximum set-it-and-forget-it delight, I recommend letting Alexa take over.
Alexa is the only voice assistant supported by Amazon’s smart thermostat. To use the thermostat, download the Alexa app. The device’s touchscreen controls include up, down, and mode (switch between heating, cooling, auto, and off). In-home voice control requires an Amazon Echo smart speaker or display, unlike the Ecobee. You can yell commands at Alexa, but it’s not easy. The more you use Alexa, the better she learns your schedule and preferences (and the better your thermostat can adjust accordingly).
I have a dozen Amazon Echo and Echo Show devices in my townhouse and rely on Alexa for everything from turning off lights to keeping a shopping list. I tell Alexa when I’m home and away. Alexa quiets my barking dogs. My Amazon Echos can identify my daughter’s voice and features from mine.
Amazon launched Alexa Hunches. Enabling Hunches gave Alexa behavior-based suggestions. Alexa may ask if you meant to turn off the front porch light if you lock the door without turning it off at 9 p.m. (then offer to do it for you). Sharing your phone’s location with the Alexa app improves Alexa Hunches. Alexa can act on hunches without consulting you. Alexa can change smart lights, locks, and the Amazon Smart Thermostat via Hunches and Automatic Actions.
If that sounds too hands-off, remember that if Alexa doesn’t get it right, you can always modify things and she’ll (try to) do better next time. Early spring brings warm-to-hot days and icy stretches. The whole year may be unpredictable, so I programmed my thermostat to trigger heat if it’s too cold and cooling if it’s too hot – the trickiest option for a smart thermostat to get right.
I turned off Nest’s heat or cooling dozens of times in four years. For six weeks, I never changed the Amazon Smart Thermostat. Amazon’s default temperature range is wider than my Nest’s (68 and 72 degrees, respectively). When cooling was set above 72 degrees, I felt hot. A 75-degree Amazon Smart Thermostat kept me comfortable all day. After the first setup, I changed the temperature. After installing the device, I lowered the AC to 68 degrees four or five times. My bedroom was always comfortable after that. I won’t put the Nest back on my wall because of this. I never changed the Amazon Smart Thermostat after three or four weeks. Too soon to tell if the Amazon Smart Thermostat lowered my electricity bill last month, but I expect it will.
Amazon’s Smart Thermostat only works with Alexa, but that’s irrelevant if you don’t use it. The Nest may look finer, but I’d rather have greater function. The Amazon Smart Thermostat’s shape mimics its function, blending into the background as it learns to anticipate your heating and cooling needs. The Amazon Smart Thermostat costs $60, and the Nest costs $250. Both can learn your behaviors and manage your HVAC controls. Unless you hate Alexa, it’s a no-brainer.
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