I’ve been advising my friends to choose a smart thermostat with a touchscreen if possible. The reason is simple, the “on-screen programming” option in a touch screen thermostat will save you when a server outage occurs in the cloud server of the smart thermostat. If you are not aware, there were many instances in the past of thermostat servers going down multiple times in a day. So what happens when a server outage occurs? The answer is simple, you will not be able to control the thermostat from your mobile phone via the internet.
I’ve got a detailed article on how server outages affect your thermostat. If the thermostat we use supports “on-screen programming”, this server outage problem can be handled easily. All we need to do is change the settings by ourselves using the on-screen touchpad. Luckily all the popular internet-enabled thermostats like Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell RTH9585WF, and Emerson Sensi have a touchscreen and they all support “on screen programming”. If you are choosing a different brand/model, just ensure the device has this feature.
If you’re on the hunt for a new touchscreen thermostat, here are some great options;
1. Nest Thermostats
Nest thermostats are the most popular smart thermostats on the market. They can be controlled from a smartphone, they use your phone’s Wi-Fi capability to update their settings, and they’re compatible with Apple HomeKit, which means you can control them from Siri. All in all, Nest is a great option for anyone who wants to improve their home’s efficiency and comfort while smartening up its temperature control!
There are two nest thermostat models in the market: Nest 3rd gen and Nest E. Both are great thermostats however Nest 3rd Gen model is a step ahead of Nest E in many aspects. Let’s say Nest E is a more pocket-friendly version of Nest 3th gen.
The main differences between Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E thermostat models are;
- Nest E has a smaller display and less display resolution than Nest 3rd Gen
- Nest 3rd Gen model has a one year longer warranty than Nest E
- Nest 3rd Gen looks better with its shiny metal finish while Nest E blends to the bakground
- Nest 3rd Gen model supports a wider array of HVAC systems than Nest E does
- Nest E is less expensive
Both are great touchscreen options to buy for your home.
Nest 3rd Gen thermostat
Nest E thermostat
2. Ecobee Smart Thermostats
Ecobee is another brand that makes awesome touchscreen thermostats. Their newest offering, the Ecobee4 is sleek and modern, and doesn’t compromise on performance. This Ecobee model boasts a large touchscreen that is easy to read and operate even in bright light. It does everything you would expect from a modern model: can be controlled with an app for iPhone or Android, connects to your home Wi-Fi network for easy installation. The design is also very sleek and sophisticated looking.
Just like Nest has two versions of the same thermostat, Ecobee 4 has a Lite version, called Ecobee Lite. This version has all the same features, except can’t be controlled via Alexa. As you guessed, Ecobee Lite is a cheaper version of Ecobee 3. Both Ecobee models are great products.
The main differences between Ecobee 4 and Ecobee Lite are detailed in this article: Ecobee 4 vs Ecobee Lite
Ecobee 3 Lite
Nest or Ecobee – How to choose?
I think this question is hardest to answer in thermostat shopping 🙂 If you’ve decided to go for a smart thermostat, you should either choose an Ecobee model or a Nest model. I believe both are great thermostats, proven, time tested and have been in use for so long in many American homes. So how to choose between the two? The answer is in the fact that Nest & Ecobee has its share of differences. I’ll explain.
Nest is basically a “self-learning” thermostat, which can learn behavior patterns of house inmates and can program a schedule automatically based on the behavior. Until recently, Ecobee didn’t have this “self-learning” feature. So this ‘self-learning’ feature was used to be a key differentiator between the two. But recently (in January 2020), Ecobee released an upgrade named ‘Eco+’, which is basically a machine learning feature. With this new upgrade, all Ecobee thermostats learn themselves and create an automatic schedule that saves energy and gets the best of everything.
Touchscreen – Ecobee & Nest, both have an excellent touchscreen with a good response. They both have an ‘on-screen’ programming feature and everything can be controlled on the device itself. The only matter of concern here is the display screen size, which is kept minimal in both models. Ecobee has a 3.5-inch square screen, whereas Nest has a 2.08-inch diameter circular screen. So that’s a differentiator here. If you need a little bigger display screen, go for Ecobee models.
I’ve written a detailed comparison of Nest vs Ecobee in my article. I’ve compared both models feature to feature, explaining all the differences. If you like to go into the details, read my comparison article.
For those who are short on time, here are some important points in a nutshell.
Voice Control – Ecobee supports Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Homekit and some other smart hubs as well. Nest supports only Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and others. Nest doesn’t support the Apple Homekit ecosystem currently.
geofencing – Nest supports geofencing in multiple phones by setting up multiple accounts. Ecobee, by default, supports geofencing in only one phone. However, you can make Ecobee support multiple phones using third-party apps.
C wire requirement – Nest is designed to work without a C wire in most cases. Ecobee, on the other hand, requires a c wire. However, the good thing is that, if you don’t have C wire, Ecobee comes packed with a power extender kit that can solve the c wire requirement.
Room Sensors – used to be another differentiator until Nest introduced extra room sensors last year. Earlier, only Ecobee has extra room sensors to solve the problem of hot/cold spots. Now they both supply extra room sensors.
3. Honeywell 7-Day Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat
Honeywell has also come up with it’s a seven-day touch screen Programmable thermostat device, just like other small size devices in the market it can do its part in a basic and efficient manner. The look is very simplistic in nature and all the key functions are mapped out in the main menu. The display has a neon green color and the menu titles are quite small. The price still is above the $100 mark, this may be due to the Honeywell brand name which promises a more durable and long-lasting device, but is it really enough when compared to the competition.
Let us take a closer look-
• It has a large touchscreen display with a backlight.
• It has Smart Response Technology which calculates the amount of time it takes to reach the desired temperature and accordingly make settings for the future
• The 7 Day program can withstand power outages
• The device can be programmed for each day of the week which can be divided into 4 periods.
• The device is easy to program with words being used rather than symbols.
The device is quite easy to install and is compatible with most heating and cooling systems. The company also gives out a one-year warranty on the product. They take the Honeywell name into account when putting a price on this device. There are some alerts in the system like the filter change alert which tells you when is the time to change the filter so that the fans are working at their optimum level. The backlight display is easy to read even when there is no light in the surroundings or even if the area is very well lit. The device automatically adjusts for daylight saving.
Even though we found the device slightly on the expensive side it does give a robust performance. The design is easy to use and very clear in the interface. If you are looking for a device that gives 7-day programming then you will be quite satisfied with the Honeywell 7-day Programmable touch screen thermostat.
4. Honeywell RTH7600D Touchscreen 7-Day Programmable Thermostat
Compared with the sister device the RTH8500D, the Honeywell RTH7600 D touchscreen thermostat is a further simplification that gives a basic functionality expected from a touch screen thermostat. Saying so, it is slightly less expensive than its higher functioning model. For users who just want the plain and simple device from which they can regulate their ambient temperature without much sophistication then this is a device to be considered.
• The panel is made of plastic.
• It has a seven-day Programmable temperature control that can be easily set from the user interface.
• The installation procedure is simple.
• It has a backlit touchscreen
• It is resistant to power outages where the programming and time settings are retained.
Looking at the key features of the device one can say that it offers almost similar features to its sister Honeywell device the RTH8500D. The unit also is much smaller and can fit anywhere on the wall without attracting too much attention. The backlight is easily visible in dim or bright conditions. The product claims that it can save up to 33% in energy consumption for the year but in actual practice, the value is more likely to be between 15 to 20%. This is not bad when you consider the price of the product which most likely will be reimbursed in the first year itself. The device is also highly accurate in operation where the exact temperature settings are reached.
We somehow feel that this is a better choice than the previous Honeywell RTH 8500D when you look at the price and the functionality offered it does make a better argument. Of course, if you are looking for a feature-rich device then it will be better to look further, but in terms of a robust device with basic functionality, this device works well.
5. Honeywell RET97C0D1005/U 7-Day Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat
Honeywell has another card up its sleeve in the touch screen Programmable thermostat line of devices. The RET97C touch screen Programmable thermostat is simple, easy to use, and universally compatible. The display is quite basic with a backlit LED. The device is good at providing the basic functionality of a 7-day programming setting and response measurement.
Let us take a look at the main points of this device and see whether it is worth its value-
• It has a backlit neon green display which continuously gives the temperature and current time display.
• The temperature settings are accurate to within 1F degree setting
• The smart response technology helps in better settings to shorten the time taken for reaching the desired temperature.
• It has a 7-day programmable thermostat which can be divided into 4 periods per day.
• It has a filter change reminder and a low battery indicator
The Honeywell RET97 Is quite a basic device but has a strong functionality model. One of the main strong points of Honeywell devices is the use of highly accurate sensors which help in exact temperature settings. This can be particularly useful when using this device in an area where a precise temperature needs to be maintained. The smart response technology is very useful in determining the time lag inputting the temperature value and the temperature change of the room. The company gives a 1-year warranty for the product.
In terms of basic functionality, the Honeywell RET97 checks all the main boxes. It has one of the best accuracies of all the touch screen thermostat devices and it is a long-lasting product.
6. Emerson 1F95-1277 Universal Touchscreen 7-Day Programmable Thermostat
The Emerson 1F95-1277 Essay touchscreen thermostat device with some strong features. It has a rather large display which is 12 inches with a blue backlight. The device promises an accuracy rate of being within the degree of the target temperature. The device also enjoys one of the longest warranty periods given by the company, which is for 5 years. The user interface is easy to use and all the main information is given right on the display.
Let us go through the main features of the device before we dive into a more detailed analysis-
• It has a 12-inch touchscreen display with a blue colored backlight
• It has a 7-day Programmable thermostat
• Temperature settings are accurate within 1 degree F.
• It is easy to install and universally compatible with Single stage and multiple stage heat pump
• It has the longest warranty period in the segment of 5 years
Some users may find the 12-inch screen display a bit too large as it can cover a significant portion of the wall and doesn’t necessarily provide that much information for a display of that size. The accuracy is very commendable and the device is able to attain to 1 degree Fahrenheit of the required temperature. The seven-day programming option does not contain sub-periods and one has to make 1 schedule for the whole day. The device is quite effective in reducing the energy consumption throughout the year although it might not be at the levels claimed by the company. The device is also easily compatible with a single stage or multistage heat pump.
The Emerson 1F95-1277 is quite a well-packaged product and covers all the basic functionality required of a touchscreen thermostat. One of the main high points of the product is the five-year warranty period given by the company it places a lot of confidence in the user. Though it is on the pricier side it gives an excellent accuracy of being within 1 Degree of the set temperature.
7. Honeywell RTH8580WF Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat
After looking at the basic Honeywell model of a touchscreen thermostat we now go to a higher level device that integrates WiFi into the functionality. as it can be imagined the WiFi greatly helps in real-time remote monitoring of the device. That being said the touch screen thermostat is still quite simple in design and has a green backlit user interface. Being priced at $125 it packs in quite a few good features. Thanks to the WiFi connectivity through a secure portal the temperature can be changed from any time anywhere.
Let us go through all the features briefly-
• It has a built-in WiFi and it requires a wifi device with a web browser for an initial setup.
• It is excellent for remotely monitoring the temperature
• It has a secure network
• There is a free downloadable app for iOS and Android devices
• It has free software updates
Honeywell has its own Total Connect Comfort app, Which lets you program the device from any location around the world. It is a highly desirable feature if you are considering remote controlling temperature settings before you come back home or just keeping a check on how your system is running when you are away. The app also gets notifications for high and low-temperature alerts.
The product is quite impressive in terms of functionality and its WiFi connectivity and given the price it is offered at it proves to be a good purchase. if the user is satisfied without a fancy color display then there will be quite happy by using the Honeywell WiFi 7 day programming touch screen thermostat.
8. Venstar ColorTouch Thermostat
The Venstar ColorTouch Thermostat covers all the basic functionality of a WiFi-enabled touchscreen thermostat device with the added flair of color display. It comes with a seven-day programming setting and is a highly compatible with Gas electric and heat pumps.
Before going into a more in-depth analysis let us look at the main features first-
• It has a color touch screen with a large vibrant display
• It is very easy to program and use
• It has a 7 Day programmable setting with auto changeover
• It has built-in WiFi
• Small device which can be fitted into any part of the wall
For people who just love the sense of having a color touch screen on the wall, they will be pleased by the Venstar Colortouch thermostat. The built-in WiFi allows it to be remotely controlled from any location. The temperature setting can be made for a 7 day period with the auto changeover. For installation, it will be better to hire a trained professional as the manual seems to be insufficient for the complete installation.
For the price, it is being offered it seems like a very nice bet, but one needs to be careful as the company doesn’t give enough warranty. The device, however, is easy to use and any user will find the user interface simple. The seven-day programming is an important aspect of the device.
Things to look for when buying a touchscreen thermostat
Here are certain things I advise to decide beforehand when looking for a touchscreen thermostat;
A Smart model or a WiFi programmable type?
The first question is – do you need a smart thermostat (like Nest or Ecobee) or a programmable WiFi-enabled model like (Honeywell RTH9585 or Emerson Sensi). If you really don’t prefer high-end features like “self-learning”, you would do very well with a WiFi-enabled programmable model.
Flat, Box type style or Round, Sleek style?
We all love our thermostats to look good – right? We install them in our living rooms and who would like to see a dull-looking, depressingly big case on our living areas! I am a fan of sleek designs and in that aspect, I love Nest & Ecobee. They look amazing inside our home and the design seamlessly flows with the interiors. But sleek designs have this problem of smaller surface area for touchscreens.
If you love to program the thermostat on screen, you should go with a flat, box-style thermostat like Honeywell RTH9585 or Emerson Sensi. They have bigger touch screens and bigger displays, which makes it very easy & convenient to adjust programs. The slim style and rounded edges add to the aesthetic appeal of these 2 models. I know people who were once users of Nest switched to Honeywell RTH9585WF, just because they preferred a bigger touch screen display. So ultimately what kind of design to use is a personal choice.
How responsive is the touchscreen?
When we buy our smartphones, we definitely check how responsive is the touchscreen. A quick, seamlessly flowing touch response is crucial for a good user experience. Thermostats may not require a good touch response as good as smartphones, because we don’t interact with the thermostat very frequently. I believe all the 4 models we just discussed here have a good, decent touch response behavior.
If I am to select a model, I think Nest & Emerson Sensi stands tall with excellent touch-responsive behavior. Well, this is just a personal opinion from my experience & what I know. I can vouch for the other 2 models also. Good touch-responsive behavior alone is not enough to choose the right thermostat. We’ve to take into account many other factors, before finalizing the best choice.
Have you checked the most important?
The most important criteria to check before choosing a thermostat is compatibility with your HVAC system. If you’ve not checked this, please read my article on thermostat compatibility – which compares the compatibility of all popular thermostats with different types of HVAC systems.