Amazon is the latest brand to enter the smart heating market with the Amazon Smart Thermostat. First unveiled at the Amazon event 2021, the imaginatively named Amazon Smart Thermostat lets you switch your heating system on or off even when you’re not close-by
At just $60 it significantly undercuts rival models from Nest, Ecobee and even Wyze, which is best known for its cut-price smart home products. Available only in the US for now, the Amazon Smart Thermostat works exclusively with the Alexa smart home platform.
While it doesn’t have Amazon's voice assistant built-in, if you have an Amazon Echo smart speaker or smart display in your home, Alexa can control the heating and cooling of your home. There is also a degree of intelligence here, where the thermostat will automatically adjust depending on what it thinks is going on in your home. If it believes the home is empty, it will lower the heating or air conditioning in a bid to save energy – and the more Amazon Echo smart speakers you have, the more accurate this predictive behavior will be.
But how does Amazon's model stack up against the best smart thermostats you can buy right now, and crucially should you be buying one?
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Read on to find out whether you should buy the Amazon Smart Thermostat, or if you already know which model you want to control your heating and cooling system, check out the best prices right now.
A key feature here is the price. At $59.99, the Amazon Smart Thermostat is significantly cheaper than the $249 Nest Learning Thermostat and almost half the price of the simpler, less intelligent Nest Thermostat ($130, although currently reduced to $100). It really is a big deal that Amazon has got the price so low, especially given the promise of genuinely intelligent decision-making, and the thermostat’s attractive design.
Amazon also sells a version of the Smart Thermostat with a C-wire adapter. This is often required if fitting the device to an older home, and increases the price to a still-impressive $75. Amazon has a compatibility guide here for checking if the thermostat will work in your home.
Price is a key consideration when buying a smart thermostat. Because, while you might be tempted into spending $250 on a Nest, it’s important to calculate how long it will take for the smart thermostat to earn this money back by lowering your energy bills. A cheaper thermostat that promises to be just as intelligent, like that from Amazon, will see you saving money far more quickly.
The Amazon Smart Thermostat has a simple and unobtrusive design, but one with a more premium aesthetic that might be expected for the price. It has a white plastic front and sides, with a simple LED panel for showing the current temperature. Only the lower half of the front is touch-sensitive, with more LEDs that illuminate to show you where to press to adjust the temperature and cycle through the menu system. A green tree icon, not dissimilar to the green leaf on Nest thermostats, appears when the Amazon device is running your HVAC system at its most optimum.
The brightness of the display can be adjusted from within the Alexa smartphone app, and you can set it to switch off entirely, which could be useful at night if the thermostat is located in a bedroom.
Amazon thoughtfully includes a screwdriver and a faceplate in the box, which frames the thermostat when on the wall, hiding any evidence of whatever was there previously. Despite being more expensive, the Nest Thermostat doesn’t come with a faceplate; instead, Nest charges $15 for a trim kit, but at least offers them in multiple colours to match your decor.
Amazon advertises the Smart Thermostat as being DIY-friendly, but we urge readers to only attempt installation with the C-wire adapter if they are comfortable working with their home electrics.
The Amazon Smart Thermostat can be controlled by speaking to the Alexa voice assistant. But as we’ve already mentioned, because the thermostat doesn’t have a microphone or speaker of its own, this can only be done by issuing your commands to an Echo speaker or display elsewhere in the home, or by chatting to the Alexa smartphone app.
There are several ways to have the Amazon Smart Thermostat control your HVAC system. You can adjust the temperature manually either by touching the thermostat itself or via the Alexa app. Or, you can set up a schedule that turns the heating and cooling on and off at set times for each day of the week, much like a regular, non-smart thermostat.
Things get more interesting when you delve into Alexa Hunches, which uses your interactions with Alexa to work out whether you are home or not, and how you might like the temperature adjusted. The more Echo devices you have in your home – plus other devices like smart door locks, lights and sensors – the more accurate these hunches are supposed to become. Sharing locational data from your smartphone (and the phones of others in the household) will also improve Alexa’s intelligence, with the heating turning off when it has a hunch the home is empty.
Alexa will attempt to work out when you wake up each day, then begin to automate the heating accordingly. These actions can be overridden and corrected if Alexa gets it wrong, which in turn should further help the system learn.
Amazon’s low price is even more impressive when you bear in mind how a lot of connected thermostats, aside from select models by Nest and Ecobee, are truly smart. Many can connect to a smart home system, follow a schedule and be prompted by the actions of other devices (like a temperature sensor telling them to turn the heating on). But few can really think for themselves. That Amazon has included such technology in a $60 thermostat is all the more impressive.
Should I buy the Amazon Smart Thermostat?
There are many compelling reasons to buy this thermostat. Price is key here, as it seriously undercuts similarly smart options from Nest and Ecobee. But it is also genuinely intelligent, too. The Amazon Smart Thermostat could well save you money on your energy bills, while also heating and cooling your house in a more convenient way.
If you already have an Alexa smart home system, this smart thermostat should be something of a no-brainer. Thermostats from other systems can be used, but there’s a lot to be said for buying one that comes from Amazon itself, with tight Alexa integration – and not to mention, one that can earn back its expense more quickly than rivals.
This smart thermostat only works with the Alexa smart home platform. Therefore, if you use Google Assistant, Nest, Samsung SmartThings, Apple HomeKit or any other system it is to be avoided. Adoption of the new Matter smart home protocol could change this, but Amazon hasn’t yet said whether the thermostat will be updated to work with Matter.
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Alistair Charlton is a freelance technology and automotive journalist based in London. His career began with a stint of work experience at TechRadar back in 2010, before gaining a journalism degree and working in the industry ever since. A lifelong car and tech enthusiast, Alistair writes for a wide range of publications across the consumer technology and automotive sectors. As well as reviewing dash cams for TechRadar, he also has bylines at Wired, T3, Forbes, Stuff, The Independent, SlashGear and Grand Designs Magazine, among others.