Our Amazon Smart Thermostat rating:
Brand new for 2021, it’s Amazon’s very own smart thermostat!
For the past half-decade or so Amazon’s been busy building a smart home/home automation platform of their own so this new thermostat isn’t exactly a surprise. What is surprising is how low they priced this thing – this is most inexpensive smart thermostat we’ve ever reviewed.
Even better, it’s actually a good thermostat, too. It’s easy to set up, easy to schedule, easy to manage through the Alexa app, and easy to afford – with a rebate from your utility company, it might even be free.
Read on for our in-depth, hands-on review of this brand new smart thermostat.
Amazon Smart Thermostat
- Skip the programming, this thermostat attempts to learn your schedule on its own
- ...but you can also still schedule it, if you like
- Good HVAC compatibility
- Very low price
- Adapter available for setups without a C-wire
- "Change filter" reminder
- No support for Google Home, Apple HomeKit, or Samsung SmartThings
- No room sensor accessory support
- "Hunches" not always as smart as they could be
We are independent and unbiased home automation enthusiasts who buy, try, and review smart thermostats with our own funds (no freebies). Photos are our own unless otherwise noted. We source opinions from local HVAC installers and friends and family who are long-term users of various smart thermostats. This review is intended for visitors in the US and Canada. We hope you find our site useful and we welcome your comments and corrections.
Thoughts on the thermostat itself
First off, it feels like a $60 thermostat. It doesn’t have the metal and glass heft of the Nest or the large almost smartphone-like screen of the Ecobee. No surprises there.
The Amazon Smart Thermostat is made of a lightweight plastic but the face of it has a nice feel to it. Not too smooth and not too “plasticky”. It’s nice to touch. You shouldn’t spend that much time at the thermostat itself anyway. The whole point is to automate it and forget it. The app behind this thermostat, the same Alexa app you’re already familiar with if you’ve got an Echo or similar, is stable and well-designed.
Notably, there are just three “buttons” on the Amazon Smart Thermostat. You might not even realize they’re there until you set it up and they start glowing. The “buttons” are actually touch-sensitive regions marked by little raised bumps near the bottom of the thermostat’s face. There is almost nothing to do from the thermostat itself besides adjusting the target temperature and changing the system’s current “mode” (heat, cool, fan).
In our test I wired it for heating only. That’s all we had at our last two homes, so I wanted to see how it handled this common use case. I needed a C-wire for this setup (3 wires total).
If you’re running a heat-only system, be warned that when there is no A/C or fan to switch to, then tapping the middle button simply turns the thermostat off. Like, off off.
I didn’t like this – it’s too easy to accidentally touch the middle button with another finger or knuckle while you’re adjusting the temp, and it’s an tempting target for children. Alas, there is no screen lockout feature, so if you have small children and your house is becoming unbelievably cold… see if the thermostat got turned off. It’s very rare that someone would want to turn a thermostat all the way off, so I would hope that this button would just do nothing if there are no other modes to switch between.
If you do have a fan, take note that have to switch to “fan mode” by stepping through the heat / air conditioning / fan options via the middle button on the thermostat. Some thermostats give the fan its own button, but this one treats it as one of up to three possible modes to step through.
The simplicity might actually be pleasing to users who don’t appreciate having every last option available on the thermostat. The buttons are big and responsive, and they stop being illuminated once you’ve stopped touching the thermostat for a while, so they won’t annoy you by always being lit up (but I could also see people unfamiliar with the unit not realizing they’re even there in the first place).
Thoughts on the app
If you’re already used to using the Alexa app to manage other aspects of your smart home, then you’ll feel right at home adjusting your Amazon Smart Thermostat from the same place.
If you’re newer to the ecosystem, rest assured the app is straightforward with things clearly labeled and easy to find.
Here’s what it looks like when you’re adjusting the temp through the app:
One standout feature is the in-app energy usage tracking. This is something other smart thermostats have attempted (either in the form of monthly reports or watered-down real-time reports) and we thought Amazon’s implementation was great because it can aggregate the energy usage of all your “smart devices” (we have 31, according to the app) or drill into a particular one.
Overall, we were impressed with the thermostat and its app.
Like most smart thermostat on the market today, you can issue commands to this one via an Alexa-enabled device anywhere in your house.
To be clear, there is no Alexa microphone built into this thermostat. You’ll have to speak to an Echo device or your phone with the Alexa app open if you want to give verbal instructions to this thermostat. (There is one smart thermostat on the market with Alexa’s listening/speaking abilities built right into it, and that’s the Ecobee SmartThermostat.)
Unlike every other smart thermostat on the market, however, Amazon’s new thermostat can tap into Alexa’s “smarts”.
This is the first (and only) smart thermostat to use Alexa’s “hunches”, which is Amazon’s name for its AI-driven system that takes note of what you do, when you do it, and starts doing those things for you automatically.
“Hunches” are an Alexa feature. Based on your routines, “Hunches” enable Alexa to proactively make adjustments to your smart home devices.
For Alexa to get a hunch, it first has to observe your preferences and habits. For example, if you usually lock your front door’s smart lock and turn off your smart lightbulbs at bedtime, Alexa will start to associate those events with that time of day and perform the task for you.
In the context of the Amazon Smart Thermostat, that means if Alexa thinks you’re home, it begins heating or cooling to your preferred temperature without input from you.
How useful this feature feels is going to depend a lot on how consistent your daily routine is and how many devices you entrust to Alexa’s care.
A new take on “learning”
Years ago, the Nest Learning Thermostat made a splash with its “learning” algorithm. Rather than input a day-by-day schedule, a step that proved so unpopular with old-fashioned thermostats that most people didn’t even bother to do it, the Nest would figure out what temperature you liked at night, what temperature you liked during the day, and take it from there.
No one else has attempted a learning thermostat until now, though manually scheduling literally any smart thermostat on the market today is light years ahead of what we used to put up with.
Amazon’s Alexa attempts to manage your smart home devices in a way that feels smart and intuitive.
Your mileage will vary with Alexa. We’ve had mixed results over the years. It’s not bad, but our Echo devices struggle to understand us unless we ENUNCIATE. EVERY. WORD. and Alexa itself randomly forgets about our smart light bulbs. Our overall impression of the Alexa system some six years on is that it’s not perfect (nor is Google Home – we have that too and it’s no better).
The idea behind Hunches is that Alexa can learn what actions you commonly perform and, if Alexa has a “hunch” you forgot to do something you normally do, it’ll go ahead and do it for you. For example, if you set your heat to a lower temperature and turn off all your lights at bedtime each night, Alexa will take notice and begin making those changes for you automatically.
We’re probably not the target audience for Hunches because our household doesn’t have a consistent schedule. If I haven’t turned the lights off at 11pm it’s not because I forgot to turn them off (and went to sleep with them on?), it’s because I’m still up and I don’t want them off yet.
But if this sounds exciting to you – because you have a consistent schedule and also don’t want to turn things on/off yourself – then you might enjoy automating multiple parts of your morning and nightly routine in regards to lights, temperature, the locking of your front door, etc.
Additionally, Alexa supports geofencing. This means that the Alexa system can figure out if you’re home or not (based on how far your smartphone is from the location you told it is your home) and set your smart home devices accordingly. This works for multiple household members, too, provided everyone has a smartphone with the Alexa app installed.
You can still schedule it, though
… and scheduling it is straightforward once you realize you are setting the “start times” for the various things you do. Your day starts with “home” (because you wake up at home), then you tell it when you leave (“away” – presumably for school or work somewhere outside of your home), when you return (“home” again), and when you go to bed (“sleep”).
You’re only allowed four of these events in a day, which might feel limiting if you’re the kind of person who comes home mid-day for an hour or two before heading out again. This thermostat seems designed for people who have a consistent schedule and only one long “away” period per day.
Amazon Smart Thermostat Unboxing
If you select “no C-wire” when you order your Amazon Smart Thermostat, a Honeywell-branded adapter arrives packaged separately. (In our case, it shipped separately and arrived a couple days before the thermostat did.)
Why does it come with a Honeywell adapter? That’s because the Amazon Smart Thermostat was developed in partnership with Honeywell’s spin-off company, Resideo.
Inside the Amazon Smart Thermostat box:
- Amazon Smart Thermostat unit
- Decorative trim plate (for hiding old installation holes)
- Mounting hardware
- Allen wrench with Phillips-head tip
- Installation manual (directs you to the Alexa app)
Installation and Setup
Prior to installation, take several photographs of your existing thermostat’s wiring. As always, turn off the power to the circuit your home’s thermostat is on.
The Alexa app will help with wiring:
From here, you follow the in-app instructions to complete the setup. Eventually you’ll turn the power back on to your thermostat and you’ll see “SEt” on the screen – that’s short for “setup”.
This is also where I realized there are three buttons on the face of this thermostat along the bottom.
At this point the rest of the setup was straightforward and quick.
Once set up, the thermostat is largely managed through the Alexa app on your phone. All you can do from the device itself is raise/lower the target temp and toggle the HVAC’s current mode (heat/cool/fan, as applicable).
- Only for 24V HVAC systems. Works with heat-only and cool-only provided you have a wire that can supply continuous power (usually referred to as the C-wire)
- Works with Amazon Alexa, but not with Google Home.
- Doesn’t support systems with more than three stages or multi-speed fans.
- WiFi: 2.4 GHz only, 802.11 b/g/n. Does not support 5GHz networks or connecting to ad-hoc or peer-to-peer networks.
Odds and ends
The moment you place your order, a welcome email arrives from Amazon directing you to possible rebates in your region. This was nice, thanks!
Known issues / What’s missing?
A few “bells and whistles” and nice touches are noticeably missing. Consider if any of these are important to you:
- No way to disable the thermostat’s on-unit buttons. The glowing buttons are a tempting target for small children (and a point of contention in some homes). Most smart thermostats offer the ability to “lock out” inputs made at the unit itself, but this feature is absent here.
- No support for temperature sensors – you get the reading it takes at the thermostat itself. These are fluff to some users, essential to others.
- There’s almost nothing useful on the screen – Maybe you never look at your thermostat, or maybe it serves as your home’s weather station, clock, and more. Some thermostats take advantage of their higher-resolution screens to show you the outside temp, the humidity levels, etc., the Amazon Smart Thermostat shows the target temp, the current mode, and an icon indicating if the current settings are “efficient” and little else.
- Like all smart thermostats on the market right now, Amazon Smart Thermostat cannot be operated over a LAN. Even if you’re home and on the same WiFi network as your smart thermostat, the app still has to “phone home” to Amazon’s own servers. We gripe about this constantly but having to send your data to whoever manufactures your thermostat seems to be the price of having a smart thermostat. In event of internet outage, you can still control the thermostat from the device itself.
- The app does not accept Wi-Fi passwords above a certain length. This was something we learned from reading user reviews of the thermostat, we don’t know what the length limit is but if you have a super long WiFi password this might affect you.
- Multi-zone woes. At the time of this writing, there is a bug in the Alexa app that makes it difficult to manage more than one Amazon Smart Thermostat through the app. It makes them all appear to share a schedule, even if they don’t. If you’re shopping for a multi-zone home, consider holding off until this is fixed.
The bottom line
Amazon’s new smart thermostat is complete bargain. If you were waiting for a smart thermostat at a ridiculously low price, this is the one. The only other “under $100” smart thermostat that we can recommend is the Emerson Sensi, which has a more fully featured screen but doesn’t benefit from Alexa “hunches” or grouping control over multiple smart-home devices into one app.
User experience is our only real complaint with the device right now, and it’s a small complaint. We didn’t like how easy it was to turn the thermostat off with our heat-only setup and we wish there was a way to disable inputs from the device itself. (These might be fixable with a software update but that sort of thing is completely up to Amazon.)
Overall, it’s easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to just sort of forget about once set up, which is all we want in a smart thermostat.
The short of it
Amazon Smart Thermostat
Affordable smart thermostat from Amazon
Amazon's Alexa-powered thermostat offers home automation smarts at an unbeatably low price.