As you all know, HVAC systems are complex. They require hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of parts operating in sync to keep your home and workplace a comfortable temperature. So, why control such an intricate system with a simple switch?
A standard thermostat turns the heat on when it's below a certain temperature and the air conditioning on when it's above a temperature. Put simply, it's an "if this, then that" type of switch.
The problem is that most thermostats only take into account the interior temperature and, sometimes, a set schedule. But, why let the those be the only controlling factors? Shouldn't motion, occupancy, and even exterior weather play a role? After all, cooling a house with no one home is a waste of your hard earned money!
Fortunately, wasting money running your HVAC system is a thing of the past thanks to the many Z-Wave thermostats available.
With a Z-Wave thermostat you don't need to worry about the heat running when you're not home, because you can program it around your schedule. You can even have it turn on/off based on your location, which can save you quite a bit of money!
In this article, you will find what we believe are the best Z-Wave thermostats available today. For those of you who don't want to read the whole article, the best Z-Wave thermostat is:
2GIG CT100 Z-Wave Programmable Thermostat
The 2gig CT100 Z-Wave thermostat is our top pick because it provides a lot of features at a very affordable price! With this thermostat, not only can you control the temperature from your Z-Wave hub of choice, but it also features an easy to read screen that offers an intuitive design for easy programming. If you want to a cheap, feature-rich Z-Wave thermostat, you won't be disappointed with the CT100. in short, there's no doubt that this is the best Z-Wave thermostat around.
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What Is a Z-Wave Thermostat?
Z-Wave thermostats get their namesake from the Z-Wave chip inside of them. It's definitely not the most intuitive name for these thermostats, but it gets the point across.
Since they have Z-Wave chips in them, they can integrate with virtually any Z-Wave hub. In fact, they can usually be added to your home automation system with just a click of a button! As a side note, if you are looking for a Z-Wave hub, check out this link.
It's important to note, that most Z-Wave thermostats need a C-wire to operate.
What Is a C-Wire?
Most modern thermostats, even boring old programmable thermostats, require multiple wires to operate. Based on Smart Thermostat Guide, those wires are:
- Blue or Black - C - Common wire, may be unused by your existing thermostat. Enable continuous power flow from the Red wire.
- Red - R - 24VAC power from the furnace's transformer
- Red - Rc - 24VAC (dedicated to heat call)
- Red - Rc - 24VAC (dedicated to cooling call)
- Green - G - Fan
- White - W - Heat
- Yellow - Y - Air conditioner
In short, the common wire (or C-Wire) is the wire that completes the circuit for the red wire, giving it the ability to provide continuous power to your thermostat.
Unfortunately, some older homes do not have a C-Wire. After all why would they need one? Back then, thermostats were simple switches that didn't require complex wiring. That being said, if your home doesn't have a C-Wire, don't fret. There is a way around this, you just have to do a little extra tinkering.
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!
How to Install a Thermostat Without a C-Wire
The expensive way to install a Z-Wave thermostat without a C-Wire involves calling up an HVAC company and having them run new wires for you, but I doubt you want to do that.
Fortunately, there's a much easier and cheaper method. All you need to do is install a Venstar ACC0410 Add-A-Wire to your furnace and you'll be golden! What this little adapter does, is it converts your 4 wire system into a 5 wire system, so basically you're adding a C-Wire without rewiring your whole system! Check out how easy it is to install below.
If you're unlucky enough to have a a 2 wire or even a 1 wire thermostat setup in your home, you will need to do a complete rewire. Fortunately, these setups are very rare, so it's unlikely your thermostat is wired like this.
|2gig Z-Wave Therm||Honeywell Z-Wave Therm||GoControl Z-Wave Therm||Trane Z-Wave Therm||Remotec Z-Wave Therm|
The Best Z-Wave Thermostat
...and four runners-up
2GIG CT100 Z-Wave Thermostat
- Bright Easy To Read Screen With Touch Functionality
- Programming Can Be Done From Hub or From Unit
- No Color Screen
- Basic Looking Design
- Doesn't Feature Z-Wave Plus
The CT100 wasn't designed to be an elegant decoration on your wall (like Nest), instead it was designed for functionality. But what it doesn't feature in looks, it makes up for in price. After all, finding a sub $100 Z-Wave thermostat that actually works well, is almost as rare as finding a leprechaun.
The CT100 is designed to integrate with a Go Control Z-Wave hub, however, based on the comments (and my experience) it integrates with SmartThings and Vera as well.
- This thermostat supports up to 2 stages of heating and 2 stages of cooling.
- It features a nice vibrant touchscreen display for easy temperature adjustments and schedule changes.
- Up to 2 year battery life if you don't have continuous power.
What Others Say
These thermostats have GREAT range! Covering four floors, end to end in the house, signals connected directly to my Homeseer controller. Second floor units even connect to z-wave devices in my garage approximately 150 feet away!
Running on AC power, these route signals and work flawlessly.
Using a few homeseer scripts, and motion/occupancy sensors, overall environmental control in the house is orders of magnitude better than the older thermostats they replaced.
These are low-profile units and look great.
The touch screen is functional and makes it easier to use.
I haven't found a way to set the time from Homeseer. A little bit of extra effort twice a year to reset the thermostats.
I have one of these running on battery only due to location.
Batteries don't last long. Use AC power if at all possible.
The CT100 offers a lot of punch in a very small package. If you want a cheap, feature packed Z-Wave thermostat, there's no question about it: this is the best Z-Wave thermostat for you!
Honeywell YTH8320ZW1007/U Z-Wave Thermostat
- C-Wire Optional
- Large Touchscreen Display
- Control Thermostat From Screen And Z-Wave Hub
- Display Isn't In Color
- Clunky Interface
The Honeywell YTH8320ZW1007/U is a tried and true Z-Wave thermostat. It's been around since about 2011 and has pretty much been the standard for Z-Wave thermostats. It offers everything a normal thermostat would with the addition of a Z-Wave chip, so if you have a Honeywell programmable thermostat already, then you already have a good idea of how this unit functions.
As a side note, couldn't they have picked a better name?
- This thermostat features a "wire saver mode" which lets you hook it up without a C-Wire. That being said, I would still suggest using VenStar's Add-A-Wire system to avoid constantly replacing batteries.
- Honeywell built a messaging system into this thermostat that can tell you the status of your HVAC equipment. The reviews are mixed as to how useful this feature is.
- The screen is very large and easy to read.
What Others Say
Easy to install, very easy to program. Love the touch screen and the green glow it gives off. Bought this unit because of its z wave capabilities and the touch screen. Great unit!
If you're looking for a thermostat with a reliable track record, this is it. If you want something a bit cheaper, but with just as good of reviews, I would suggest going with the CT100 thermostat listed above.
Go Control GC-TBZ48 Z-Wave Thermostat
- Works With 3-Stage Heat and 2-Stage Cooling Setups
- Under $100
- Very Simple To Setup
- Not Touchscreen
- Screen Is Small
This thermostat from GoControl is very popular in the home automation realm thanks to it's cheap price tag and easy setup. What makes this thermostat most enticing is that it's compatible with virtually every Z-Wave hub out there. GoControl designed it to be easy, quick, and convenient straight out of the box.
- It's compatible with most Z-Wave hubs.
- It was made to be battery powered, so no C-Wire is required, but I would recommend one.
- It's simple design makes for an easy install.
What Others Say
I love the modern, easy to read display. Controlling this with SmartThings has been a dream and I highly recommend it!
This thermostat from GoControl will not win any design awards, but it does offer the convenience of compatibility and easy setup. It also offers a very affordable price under $100.
I've personally never used this thermostat, but people seem to love it. I doubt you'd be disappointed with this unit.
TRANE XR524 Z-Wave Thermostat
- Large Screen Built Into Small Form Factor
- Filter And Maintenance Reminders Built In
- Designed To Specifically Work With Nexia. It May Have Issues With Other Hubs.
- Customer Reviews Are Very Mixed
Trane is well known for making good quality thermostats and at first glance this is just that. However, many customers have had issues with this thermostat working with their HVAC systems. It doesn't seem like there's a rhyme or reason to which systems work and which don't, but I'd suggest keeping your receipt just in case you have issues.
- This thermostat will give you reminders to change the furnace filter and do maintenance on your HVAC system, so you don't forget.
- It features a very large screen with an easy to navigate touchscreen.
- It's very easy to install. Based on their reviews, most people can install it within 30 minutes.
What Others Say
I love this thermostat. I used to use Nest, but it seemed that the temperature would always be to high or too low - never just right. Now with this thermostat, It's always perfect!
This thermostat usually hovers right around $100, which is a pretty decent price for a full featured Z-Wave thermostat. It has easy to use controls and is designed to work with any Z-Wave Hub. However, as I mentioned earlier, some people have had issues with this thermostat controlling their HVAC system. Keep this in mind if you decide to purchase it.
Remotec ZTS-110 - Z-Wave Smart Thermostat
- Easy To Use Buttons
- Can Run Off Battery Power (No C-Wire Needed)
- Small Screen
This thermostat is relatively new to the market, as it's only been around since 2015. However, people love it. It's fast, reliable, easy to set up, and it pretty much blends in with anything. This is a simple Z-Wave thermostat that does it's job and does it well.
- Can work in single or double stage heating systems.
- Has battery backup built in if you can't run it on continuous power.
What Others Say
Not a bad unit for the price but beware, it does not seem to have a 2 stage cooling option! It joined my z-wave network without a hitch though!
This thermostat is a bit expensive at $200+, but it is a well reviewed unit that is very reliable. If you don't need all the frills of a feature rich unit, this may be the right thermostat for your setup.
Most Z-Wave hubs feature third party applications that allow you to hook up non Z-Wave devices to your system. In regards to thermostats, many hubs have apps that integrate with popular smart wifi thermostats like Sensi, Honeywell, Nest, and Ecobee.
If you already own one of these thermostats or you'd prefer to have one of these thermostats control your HVAC system, check your hub's forum to see if they can be integrated into your smart home.
No Z-Wave Thermostat is perfect, but these 5 are some of the best. They all feature good reviews, strong reliability, and lots of features. If you are looking to add thermostat functionality to your home automation setup, you can't go wrong with any of these options.
The most important thing to do when looking for a new Z-Wave thermostat is to verify that it will work with your hub. The best way to do this is to look through the Amazon reviews for each thermostat and see if your hub is mentioned. Another way would be to check your hub's forum or go to the manufacturer's website directly.
If you have any questions about Z-Wave thermostats, let me know in the comments.
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