The Ultimate 2018 Z-Wave Thermostat Guide [NEW]

Smart thermostats for a smart home

It's Z-Wave Thermostats and other Smart Thermostats we want to talk about today. Specifically, the top thermostats. We're going to compare them and breakdown the good, the bad, and the ugly with each one. If you're looking for any other devices, we have 39 more right here, but this article is all about the thermostats. Here is our comparison between the best sellers, for more details keep scrolling and we'll get into pros and cons of each model.

The Best Smart Thermostats

Make

2gig

Honeywell

GoControl

Trane

Remotec

Ecobee

(Editors Choice!)

Nest

Lyric

Emerson

Model 

Image

2 gig CT100

C-Wire Required

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

No

No

Optional

Optional

Touch Screen

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Heating Stages

2

2

3

2

2

2 or 4 

3

2

4

Cooling Stages

2

2

2

1

2

2

2

2

2

z-wave thermostat editors choice

Editor's Choice Winner
The Ecobee

The multiple sensors really won me over, it makes so much sense to have an average temp across different locations in your house, especially if you have an entire floor on one heating or cooling zone. In my house there are rooms that are much cooler or hotter than others , so having the average temp ensures the heat runs until the entire floor is comfortable, not just the room the thermostat is in.


Before we dive into the reviews, we have a little crash course in Thermostats 101 for you. You'll learn how a z-wave thermostat works, how it's wired, and how to replace your old thermostat with a Z-Wave thermostat like a pro. You can skip to detailed reviews here

Home Thermostats 101

Many older thermostats provided a single dial or slider to adjust the temperature of your home. They used a mercury switch (a little glass tube filled with mercury) to turn your furnace or air conditioner on. Somewhat newer models replaced the mercury switch with a digital one, and may have included a timer of sorts to schedule when to turn the temperature down, like when you're away from home. 

Today's heating and cooling systems are much more complex. Depending on your system, you maybe able to monitor and manage a lot more than just air temperature. For example, you might also be able to manage humidity, air quality, and the overall comfort of your home. You may even have zone heating and cooling, which makes it easy to maintain different comfort levels throughout your home. 

Z-Wave offers a wide range of thermostats that will work on virtually any heating and air system. Each one allows you to program it to increase the comfort of your home while reducing energy costs. 

What Is a Smart Thermostat?

Z-Wave is the wireless protocol used in all Z-wave devices. It allows your thermostat to communicate with your smart home hub and your heating and cooling system. Adding one to your hub often takes a single click, and voila! -- you're in business! 

Find out the best Z-Wave Hubs for 2018

Unlike plugin Z-wave devices, a Z-Wave thermostat requires some installation work. This may sound daunting if you haven't installed a thermostat before, but don't worry -- we have an instructional guide that will teach you the fundamentals of thermostats, how they're wired, and what you need to install your Z-Wave thermostat. 

What Is a C-Wire?

Known as the Common Wire, it allows a continuous flow of electricity from the red wire (more on that in a bit). Some systems may have the wire but don't use it, while others may not have a C-wire at all. 

Here's a quick breakdown of how a typical thermostat is wired: 

Thermostat Wiring

Don't sweat all the wires -- this is a lot less complicated than it looks. In fact, you'll likely only need to concern yourself with the C-wire (the blue wire in the diagram). That's the wire you'll need to hook into your new Z-Wave thermostat. 

How Do I Wire a Z-Wave Thermostat? 

Like in the diagram above, your thermostat will have a terminal strip in it, with letters that represent the color of the wire that goes in each terminal. The location of this terminal may vary, depending on your specific model. 

Pro Tip: Before you begin wiring your thermostat, turn off the power to your HVAC system. This prevents potential injury or an accident that can lead to expensive repairs.

What If I Don't Have a C-Wire?  

If you don't have a c-wire on your furnace, no worries. With a little extra effort, you can still use your Z-Wave thermostat. There are two ways to overcome this challenge: 

  1. Install and 'add-a-wire' adapter on your furnace
  2. Use a 24v AC adapter to power your thermostat

If you would like to learn more about C-Wires, or thermostats in general, check out Smart Thermostat Guide. It's full of great information!

The Add-A-Wire Solution  

The Venstar ACC0410 Add-A-Wire adapter kit does exactly what its name implies -- it adds a C-wire to your furnace. To see how it's done, check out this video: 

Pretty easy, right? Not so much? If tinkering with your furnace feels like you're tempting fate, there is an alternative. 

The 24v AC Adapter Solution  

A bit more work and materials are involved, yet you're spared the stomach-twisting anxiety of tinkering with your furnace's control board. To use this solution, you'll need: 

  • check
    24-Volt AC Adapter (a DC adapter won't work)
  • check
    Several feet of 2-conductor thermostat wire (3-conductor will work, too)
  • check
    Electrical Tape
  • check
    Wire Nuts
  • check
    Wire Strippers

Product Reviews 

With a solid reputation built on accuracy and reliability, this 2gig thermostat has established itself as a great value for the money. The functional design of this 2gig thermostat blends well with virtually any decor and can be managed from your smart hub app. Once you have it paired with your smart hub, it's easy to program in jut a couple of minutes. 

While the CT100 was designed to work with the Go Control Z-Wave hub, many customers have had success pairing it with the Samsung SmartThings hub and hubs from Vera, too. 

Features

  • Supports up to 2 stages of heating and 2 stages of cooling
  • Backlit touch screen that's easy to read
  • Batteries can last up to 2 years if you don't have continuous power

Pros

  • Affordable Price
  • Bright, easy to read touch screen
  • Program it from your hub or thermostat touch screen

Cons

  • No Color Screen
  • No frills design
  • Doesn't feature Z-Wave Plus

Customer Review

First off, the thermostat functions great and is very accurate. The thermostat is very basic, but allowing the smarts to be controlled somewhere else (e.g. SmartThings) makes the device very appealing to me. 


I am just happy to have a thermostat that I can easily program through a zwave hub and interact with my other devices. It's also nice to use presence for setting the temperature. This thermostat can do everything Nest can do, but may require more effort. It is also a lot cheaper than Nest.

James M., Verified Purchase

Conclusion

The CT100 is a simple, easy to program thermostat that works with popular smart hubs. If you're looking for a solid alternative that's less than half of the top-shelf brands, this thermostat is for you.  

Honeywell is well known for its ultra-reliable heating and air controllers, and this thermostat represents the brand well. Ugly model name aside, this thermostat has been around since near the beginning of Z-Wave technology. The bright green backlight makes it easy to see the different controls. It's easy to program and plays  

Features

  • Wire Saver mode to hook it up without a C-wire.
  • Built-in messaging system that tells you the status of your heating and cooling system.
  • Large, easy-to-read touch screen.

Pros

  • Doesn't require a C-wire
  • Large, easy to read touch screen
  • Program it from your Z-Wave hub or use the touch screen

Cons

  • Clunky Interface
  • Reports of Connection Issues
  • Wire Saver mode may quickly drain batteries

Customer Review

Have you ever left home for a few days and rembered after it’s too late to turn around and come back that you left the furnace or air conditioner running? Well, I have, more than once. This device changes all of that. In conguction with a smart hub or amazon echo, etc., you can check and/or set your thermostat from anywhere in the world if you have access to the internet. I use this all the time.


Since Alexa can hear me throughout my home I can give a command and alter the thermostat anytime I need. Honeywell has developed a great device and in conjunction with a compatible smart system, you can enjoy having peace of mind you’re not running up a high gas bill while out of the country.


B. Allen, Verified Purchase

Conclusion

While not the cheapest by a long shot, this Honeywell thermostat is still about $100 less than the most expensive models. If you're looking for a thermostat from a well-known brand, this is it. If you're looking for a great value, the 2gig CT100 is a better choice. 

Smart home owners love this thermostat because it's affordable and compatible with virtually any Z-Wave hub available. It's also one of the easiest to set up straight out of the box. 

Features

  • Compatible with virtually all Z-Wave hubs
  • Works with batteries or C-wire
  • Easy to install

Pros

  • Works with 3-stage heat and 2-stage cooling systems
  • Doesn't need a C-wire
  • Super easy to set up

Cons

  • Small screen 
  • Batteries may drain quickly
  • May not support auxiliary heat or emergency heat

Customer Review

Was easy to install and is simple to operate when you want to make adjustments outside of the automatic control. I also like that I have remote access via my own facilities rather than a manufacturer's central web site. This thermostat also controls more advanced HVAC systems that have multi-stage heating and cooling and emergency heat systems, many thermostats do not. If you have Z-wave home control then this is a better and lower ost solution than the more popular brands. Thumbs up!


Dan O., Verified Purchase

Conclusion

A popular, inexpensive thermostat that's one of the easiest to set up. With support for multi-stage heating and cooling and a price point well under $100, this thermostat is hard to beat. 

This thermostat is from another leading brand in heating and cooling, with a large, touch screen control panel. It's about as easy to install as other Z-Wave thermostats and boasts built-in scheduling to efficiently manage your home's temperature during different times of the day. Works with Amazon Alexa and popular Z-Wave hubs. 

Features

  • Reminds you to change your furnace filter and perform other maintenance on your HVAC system
  • Easy to navigate touch screen 
  • Easy to install and set up

Pros

  • Large, easy to read touch screen
  • Automatic filter replacement and Maintenance reminders
  • Works with Alexa and multiple hubs

Cons

  • Incompatible with separate heating and air conditioner systems
  • Cannot be set to periodically circulate air
  • It's not documented that it requires a C-wire

Customer Review

I was skeptical about the fuss of a smart thermostat but decided to give it a try and now I won't go back! I installed this to my heat pump and AC unit wires and it works great. It easily joined my zwave network on my Samsung smartthings hub. I am able to set temp, fan mode, and do scheduling all from the smartthings app. I can also set arrival schedules using my phone as sensor to arrive to a comfortable temp. Even when I'm away and not on my local wifi lan switching temp or fan mode is instantaneous as I'm told by someone at the home. One other thing, this unit does respond well to Alexa through the smartthings skill from the Alexa app.


Joey W., Verified Purchase

Conclusion

At around $100, this thermostat is a great value. A full array of features combined with easy installation and set up sweeten the deal. Compatibility with most Z-Wave hubs make it a worthy purchase. Before you purchase, however, make sure it's compatible with your heating and cooling system.  

Remotec has been around for a long time, yet is still a bit of a newcomer to home automation. The ZTS-500 is their latest offering with several improvements over older models. It sports an interface that's unique among Z-Wave thermostats, opting for a 4-way button control over a touch screen. Perhaps the most unusual feature of this thermostat is its AES 128-bit encryption. It's not state-of-the-art encryption, but it's the only thermostat we know of with any encryption. 

Features

  • Detachable terminal strip for ease of installation
  • Super simple interface
  • AES 128 encryption

Pros

  • Compatible with any Z-Wave controller
  • Supports 2-stage heating, 2-stage cooling, and 2-stage fan
  • Supports multiple heating and cooling system configurations

Cons

  • Lacks touch screen 
  • Non-existent customer support
  • Possible connection issue with Samsung SmartThings hub

Customer Review

Aside from a few minor quirks, this device is a great option for a Z-wave thermostat. Almost all pre-2018 Z-wave thermostats simply don't have encryption, which was a deal-breaker for me - the encryption on this device worked great out of the box for all command classes.


As far as basic "thermostat stuff" - the temperature sensor seems accurate and consistent, the differential and swing options work well to configure the behavior of your HVAC. There's no scheduling capability (your Z-wave gateway will have to do that) - it's pretty much just a simple, dependable thermostat that exposes literally everything to Z-wave.


Shane M., Verified Purchase

Conclusion

Even at about $120, the ZTS-500 is still over $100 cheaper than a Nest thermostat. Time will tell if there are issues with other smart hubs, but for now, it seems that this thermostat is easy to install and program. If you're into trying something new, this may be the ticket! 

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