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Smart Thermostat vs WiFi Thermostat: Differences Explained

The market for thermostats is constantly evolving which might make it difficult to choose the right product when there are so many options available. And two of the most popular types of thermostats are wifi thermostats and smart thermostats. Even if these two types are fairly similar, they are not quite the same.

The main difference between a smart thermostat and a wifi thermostat is that the smart thermostat comes with a feature called geofencing which detects your presence within a virtual boundary and triggers the HVAC system. In addition, smart thermostats can analyze energy usage and detect potential technical problems.

Given below is a table highlighting the main differences between smart and wifi thermostats;

Features Wifi thermostatSmart thermostat 
Wifi connection Yes Yes 
Automatic settings No Yes 
Temperature notification Yes Yes 
User-friendly Yes No 
Geofencing No Yes 
Detect and diagnose potential technical problems No Yes 
Analyze your energy useNo Yes 
Installation Standard More complex and pricier than a wifi thermostat 
smart vs wifi thermostats

Smart Thermostat vs WiFi Thermostat: Differences

Even if you can connect both these types of thermostats to the internet, it doesn’t mean they will work exactly the same. You will learn fast that all smart thermostats are wifi thermostats with some extra features. But not all wifi thermostats are smart thermostats. 

The most important difference between these two types of thermostats is that the smart version will adjust your home temperature automatically according to your schedule but the wifi type won’t. This means that you will set up the desired temperature and a schedule for it so that the smart thermostat you have installed in your home can follow that pattern. On top of the setting you establish, a smart thermostat will enter a learning mode, which allows it to follow your routine and adapt the temperature accordingly, without notifying you or asking for approval. This is something that a wifi thermostat can’t do

Unlike a smart thermostat, the wifi thermostat will just notify you when the temperature in your home is different than the one you set up but it will not adjust it. You will have to change the temperature directly, by using the app of the wifi thermostat that you own. At the same time, a wifi thermostat doesn’t come with learning features so it will not adapt your temperature according to the routine you have over time.

You will also have a series of other features to enjoy if you choose to invest in a smart thermostat. For instance, some of these products come with a geofencing feature which means they can sense when you approach or leave your home and adjust the temperature accordingly. This feature will help you save energy when you are not home and enjoy an optimum comfort when you are home. And all these adjustments are made without you having to do anything but the original settings when you install the smart thermostat. 

Also, there are smart thermostats that will detect and diagnose potential problems with your heating or cooling system. You might find wifi thermostats that are able to notify you if there is a technical issue but they will not give you a proper diagnose.

Similarities between a wifi thermostat and a smart thermostat

Both wifi thermostats and smart thermostats can be controlled from your cell phone, tablet or any other device you choose to use with the app of your thermostat. They are easy to use and come with similar features. However, you will see as you read this article that smart thermostats can have additional features that wifi thermostats don’t come with. 

By owning either one of these types of thermostats you can set your home’s temperature while you are on the go, which is their primary convenience. They will also notify you when the temperature in your house dropped under a certain level you established previously or went above it. But besides these similarities, there are certain differences that can make you choose one type of thermostat over another. 

Smart or Wifi: Which one should you choose?

The type of thermostat you choose will ultimately be up to you and your expectations from such a product. But there are certain aspects that it will help you make the best decision if you considered them. 

For instance, smart thermostats can have certain disadvantages as well, if your schedule is not the same every day. These devices are still fairly new on the market so the technology used to create them is in constant development. There are smart thermostats that can even become “too smart”. When this happens, your thermostat might take more control over the temperature in your house than you want to and it can start modifying it according to its “assumptions”. This can happen due to a technological shortcoming and it is quite a common inconvenience with smart thermostats. If your schedule changes a lot, a smart thermostat can bring more frustration than comfort in your life due to these fluctuations since it will not be able to perform its learning function properly. 

On the other hand, smart thermostats bring you benefits that regular wifi thermostats don’t, such as the geofencing feature, or the ability to diagnose different issues with your system. If you use a smart thermostat correctly and if it suits your home perfectly, you will also be able to save money on energy and maintain constant comfort in your home without much input from you. 

However, if you want to have more direct control over your heating system, you might want to consider a wifi thermostat since these products give you the option to set up the temperatures yourself. With a wifi thermostat, you don’t take the risk of any unpleasant surprises such as coming home to a temperature that is too high or too low for your comfort. 

The common opinion you will find among specialists in this industry is that smart thermostats are not recommended for households where there is someone home at all times. In order for these thermostats to work at their highest standards, the inhabitants of the house need to be absent for at least part of the day to give the thermostat the option to adjust to a lower temperature and, therefore, save energy. Also, if you are changing homes often, a smart thermostat might not be the best choice because it will learn your schedule and it will be difficult to adjust to new inhabitants of the same house. In this case, the landlord might not even accept the installation of a smart thermostat precisely due to this reason. 

Ultimately, your HVAC technician can give you the best advice regarding what type of thermostat you can choose. They will consider your home’s needs as well as the needs of the people living in your household. 

Final thoughts 

As you can see, wifi thermostats and smart thermostats have their similarities but they are far from being the same type of product. It is important to keep in mind that the best thermostat is the one that will accommodate the needs of your family. Wifi thermostats are a more common choice due to the increased control they offer but if you choose the right smart thermostat for your lifestyle, you will definitely enjoy plenty of benefits. Take into account the information in this guide and you will not regret your decision.