Thermostats play an important role in every home automation system because most people would like to optimize their monthly energy bills with the help of cutting edge technology. One benefit of a perfectly automated smart home is the ability to cut your costs in the long run letting the system basically pay for itself with the cost savings in the upcoming years. In fact the return on investment of proper home automation should be very high – if it is done right. You might have already read our article about smart thermostats which clearly lines out the benefits of these devices. You probably have even already decided that you definitely need to have one of those gadgets and that there is no way around it if you want to have an actual smart home. The problem is that there so many products out there in the wild that most home automation lovers feel a bit overwhelmed by the variety of devices. Moreover there is the wide range of different automation protocols which makes the decision even harder. But don’t worry, if your home automation system is centered around Z-Wave or consists at least of one Z-Wave enabled controller we have selected the best products that will fit your needs. On this page you will find short reviews of what we would consider the best z-wave thermostats. To be honest, there are not a lot of programmable thermostats out there that speak Z-Wave which made the selection a bit easier.
Tip: How to install a thermostat without a C-Wire
Almost all smart and programmable thermostats need HVAC (heating,ventilating, and air conditioning) system with 5 wires to operate. The mysterious 5th wire that most people don’t know or haven’t seen yet is the Common Wire or often referred to as C-Wire which is normally colored in black. A lot of sources state that this wire is responsible for powering the device but that information is not completely correct. The Red Wire (R-Wire) is actually the power source and therefore called the “hot” wire. The C wire is simply the “common” side of the transformer 24V output and closes the circuit while allowing a continuous flow of 24V energy to power the thermostat. Unfortunately not all HVAC systems already have a C-Wire. In fact less than 40% of the United States households even have programmable thermostats which leads to a majority of homes without the need of having the necessary wiring required by the modern devices in the first place. Some thermostats work without it by using some kind of workaround – one of them being the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is not a Z-Wave thermostat , but a Wi-Fi thermostat (most of our recommended Z-Wave controllers support both protocols). But be warned that a few customers still report about having problems without a proper C-Wire installation. The Nest homepage states the same: “The Nest Learning Thermostat is designed to work even if your home doesn’t have a common “C” wire, but installing a new C wire may be required in rare cases.”
But what if I told you there is a simple device that avoids the hassle of calling a HVAC electrician and pay for a complete rewiring of half your home. I am talking about the Venstar Add-A-Wire 5 Wire to 4 Wire Adapter which is overwhelmed with good reviews on amazon by satisfied customers that finally got their thermostat working with just paying an additional $30. Venstar provides easy to follow installation videos.
However, in some households there are rare wiring setups like 2-wire or even 1-wire combinations. In these cases a complete rewiring performed by a professional is recommended to be absolutely future proof as our homes become smarter and smarter.
Our Winner: Honeywell YTH8320ZW1007/U Z-Wave Thermostat
Honeywell has been in the thermostat industry for a couple of decades and recently also started to manufacture devices that are tailored to the requirements of typical smart homes. This of course also includes having at least one thermostat in their product line that speaks ZWave. The Honeywell YTH8320 makes no secret of having that exact functionality by showing the official Z-Wave logo at the top of the minimalistically designed case. Its display is showing a clear differentiation between background and text making it easy to read the temperature even in dark environments. A nice feature is the so called Wire saver which allows the use without a common wire. But this information comes from the manufacturer and we cannot confirm if it really works without a C-Wire. Please refer to our section above on how to overcome this problem.
- Clean design
- Nice display
- Well established and renown manufacturer
- Fully programmable
- No need for a C-Wire (according to Honeywell)
- A bit more expensive but well worth it
2gig CT100 Z-Wave Thermostat
For the past couple of years 2gig has made a name for itself in the Z-Wave Home Automation branch. Its low-priced products offer solid quality without inflating the complexity by offering too many features. The devices do what they are supposed to in a very reliable fashion. The 2gig CT100 is no exception and moreover it is the least expensive thermostat in our list. Admittedly, the display is not the best of its class in terms of design but it still offers touch functionality and back illumination.
- Low price tag
- Minimalistic design
- Fully programmable
- Good Z-Wave communication range
- Display doesn’t show a lot of info
RCS Z-Wave Communicating Thermostat
The california based company RCS (Residential Control Systems Inc.) isn’t well known yet for a majority of Home Automation lovers. But it has already established quite some reputation in the manufacturing of programmable thermostats. After gathering a lot of experience in this market the engineers have realized the growing importance of Smart Home technology and decided to build a thermostat with integrated ZWave functionality. RCS is known for putting a lot of effort in the technology of its products. That’s why the Z-Wave Communicating Thermostat might not be a real beauty from the outside but its insides are working perfectly together.
- Bright, illuminated blue display
- Strong Z-Wave radios with extended range
- Display font doesn’t look very modern
- Overall design not very beautiful
- Most expensive thermostat in our list