Smart thermostats are one of the most important devices to install in your smart home. You have two primary choices when installing a smart thermostat:
- Wi-Fi Smart Thermostats
- Z-Wave Smart Thermostats.
This guide focuses on helping you find the best Z-Wave thermostat and why a Z-Wave thermostat might be the best choice for you.
|Z-Wave Thermostat||Description||C Wire Required||Voice Control||Buy|
|Alarm.com Smart Thermostat||No (Optional)||Alexa *||Amazon Price|
|Top||GoControl Z-Wave Battery-Powered Smart Thermostat||No (Optional)||Alexa *||Amazon Price|
|TRANE 14942771 Thermostat, Z-Wave, Works with Alexa||Yes||Alexa *||Amazon Price|
|Stelpro Z-Wave Plus KI STZW402WB+ Thermostat (White) for Electric Baseboards and Convectors||Line Voltage||No||Amazon Price|
* Requires smart home hub
The Best Z-Wave Thermostats
The list below contains the four best Z-Wave thermostats on the market today.
1. Alarm.com Smart Thermostat
This smart home thermostat is highly functional and elegant with a sleek design.
Installing the device is a breeze. It can run on batteries or you can power it with a 24VAC system if you prefer. This makes is a good choice if you don’t have a C-wire available or if you have older, higher voltage thermostat wiring.
The Alarm.com Smart Thermostat works with Alarm.com, 2GIG, SmartThings and other Z-Wave controllers. It is an obvious choice if you already subscribe to the Alarm.com services. Some of the functions might be limited if you don’t use the Alarm.com service.
When used with Alarm.com, it can also be paired with an Alarm.com Temperature Sensor. The system can then use these external sensors to more effectively heat and cool all areas of the home. You can also do advanced automation like changing the temperature if the back door is left open. No more cooling the entire neighborhood!
The Alarm.com Smart Thermostat mobile application uses large icons that are clear and easy to navigate. However, some users have found it to be slow or laggy.
The Alarm.com Smart Thermostat also works with Amazon Alexa. This allows you to easily adjust the temperature by voice. However, you will have to connect the thermostat to a Z-Wave hub with Wi-Fi access to enable this feature.
- User-friendly interface
- Elegant looking
- Works with Alexa (hub required)
- Runs on batteries
- Some users experienced latency in the app
- Higher priced option
- Best when used with Alarm.com services
2. GoControl Thermostat
Classically designed thermostat compatible without almost all heating and cooling systems.
The GoControl Thermostat is a classically designed thermostat. It is a great device for minimalists and those who primarily care about getting things done smoothly and efficiently. The price is minimal too!
This product belongs to Nortek, a leader in wireless Security, Home Automation and Personal Safety systems. Nortek has deployed over 1 million Z-Wave devices so you should expect a level of reliability and performance.
Flexibility is one of the main strengths of this thermostat. It is compatible with most of the Z-wave hubs and works with pretty much any pre-installed HVAC system. This thermostat will work with GoControl security panels, 2GIG, Alarm.com, SmartThings (classic app), Wink and more. The GoControl Thermostat can also be controlled by Alexa when connected to a hub.
The GoConrtrol Thermostat runs on 4 AA batteries or it can be powered from the C wire of a 24VAC HVAC system. However, you have to make sure you’re either operating it on batteries or using the 24-volt C wire, not both. Otherwise, you are likely to blow the fuse. If the Z-wave controller goes down, the device will still work based on the last saved settings.
- Compatible with most Z-Wave hubs
- Simple user interface and easy to install
- Inexpensive compared to others
- Runs on 4 AA batteries
- Works with most HVAC systems
- Works with Alexa (hub required)
- Limited information on display
- Doesn’t have built in scheduling
3. TRANE Thermostat
A simple thermostat with minimal functions that is easy to install.
The TRANE Thermostat is a simple thermostat with fewer options than others in this list. That can be OK if you have a simple setup. Just make sure your HVAC system is compatible before purchasing this device.
TRANE is a well known brand in the HVAC industry. Having a large, brand name company behind a device gives you some comfort that it can be trusted.
The TRANE Thermostat lets you setup 4 scheduling options for each day directly on the device (without using a hub). This offers you a great amount of customization to ensure your home is heated or cooled exactly to your needs. However, if the power goes out, the TRANE thermostat will lose the scheduling and have to be re-programmed. Backup batteries would have been a great feature to add to this device.
Since this thermostat doesn’t use batteries, it requires a C wire to power the thermostat. You’ll need a 24 volt common wire available in your wiring configuration to use this device. Double check and make sure that it’s compatible with your existing wiring or hire a professional to install a C wire for you.
If you have a C wire, then this is a product that you can easily install without any special technical skills. However, the simplicity brings some limitations. The TRANE Thermostat can only support single stage cooling (Y1) and it can’t support separate heating and cooling systems (no separate RC and RH wires).
When connected to a Z-Wave hub, the TRANE Thermostat can be controlled by Alexa. Additionally, the thermostat gives you maintenance and filter change reminders. This can help extend the life of your HVAC system.
- Easy to install
- Built in scheduling options
- Friendly user interface
- Works with Alexa (hub required)
- Requires a C wire
- Only supports single stage cooling
- Doesn’t support separate heating/cooling systems
- No battery power or backup
4. Stelpro Thermostat
Line voltage thermostat for baseboard and convector heaters.
High voltage heating systems are hard to pair with smart appliances. That’s exactly the issue Stelpro Z-wave Plus KI addresses. This thermostat is perfect for 120V or 220V baseboard and convector heaters. Stelpro is the first smart thermostat in North America that works with line voltage.
The Stelpro allows you to control your baseboard heaters remotely when it is paired with a Z-Wave hub. Stelpro is compatible with multiple hubs including SmartThings, Vera, HomeSeer, Nexia and Wink.
This is a device with minimal controls on the unit. Some find it straightforward and easy to operate, while others think it’s limited and needs an extension. It relies mainly on up and down buttons that raise and lower temperature and are used to access the main menu as well.
When it comes to fan control, Stelpro comes short. It has no fan control and is not compatible with heaters with forced air.
- Supports high voltage
- Has 4 heating stages
- Comfort & Echo operating modes
- Z-Wave Plus
- Not compatible with Alexa
- Doesn’t totally turn off
Why Get a Smart Thermostat
Old fashioned thermostats that barely control temperature are no longer viable. Smart thermostats are much better at providing comfort and energy savings. With a smart thermostat, you have multiple ways to control your thermostat and set the temperature.
- Scheduling – Create a daily schedule to set the temperature to the right level based on what you are doing. I personally like in cooler when I’m sleeping at night.
- App Control – Change the temperature of the thermostat using a smartphone app. You can even control the thermostat remotely if it is connected to the internet.
- Voice Control – Many smart thermostats can be controlled with Alexa, Google Home or Siri. This makes is very convenient to lower or raise the temperature even if you are sitting on the couch.
With all of these controls, you can see why it is very convenient to have a smart thermostat. The added benefit is energy savings. You are no longer heating or cooling the house if you aren’t home. These dollars add up over time!
In short, a convenient smart thermostat combined with a good HVAC system will turn your hot summers into breezy ones and your freezing winter nights will be warm and cozy.
Should I Get a Z-Wave or Wi-Fi Thermostat?
Z-Wave and Wi-Fi thermostats can both provide the convenience and energy savings discussed above. Both of these options are good choices. Consider the following questions to help determine if a Z-Wave thermostat is the best choice for you.
Do you already have a Z-Wave hub?
Z-Wave thermostats require a smart hub to operate. Smart home hubs like SmartThings are great devices to automate and control your smart home. If you already have a Z-Wave hub for home automation or home security, then you are ready to install a Z-wave smart thermostat.
Do you want to build a smart home?
Even if you don’t have a Z-Wave hub, you might want to buy one now to build out a fully functioning smart home. Most Z-Wave hubs can control Z-Wave and Wi-Fi smart thermostats. If you know that you want to build a fully functioning smart home, then you can include a Z-Wave thermostat in your options.
Privacy and Security
Some people want a smart home, but they don’t want it to be connected to the cloud for privacy and security reasons. If you want to keep your smart thermostat off the internet, then a locally controlled Z-Wave thermostat is a good choice. Keep in mind that you will lose remote access capability with this choice.
You will find that Z-Wave thermostats are typically lower priced that Wi-Fi smart thermostats. This makes them a great option if you have multiple units to install or you need to work on a budget.
Z-Wave Thermostat Buying Guide
The devices above are the best available on the market. Now let’s dive deeper to learn more about what you will find in the best Z-Wave Thermostat for your home.
What’s a Z-Wave Thermostat?
A Z-Wave thermostat is a programmable thermostat that uses Z-Wave protocol to wirelessly communicate with other devices. Its main function is to monitor and adjust temperature and humidity inside your home. It will replace your existing thermostat and control your currently installed HVAC system.
If this is your first Z-Wave product, you should know that you’ll probably need a Z-Wave controller. If you already have other Z-Wave devices, this newly added thermostat will serve as a node in the established network.
What is Z-Wave Protocol?
Z-Wave is a smart home protocol that allows commands to travel from one device to another. Connected devices create a non-centralized mesh network with multiple paths to reach different destinations.
Its goal is to provide a set of standardized commands to make communication between home automation devices easier.
Currently, Z-wave plus is released as an upgrade of the original Z-Wave protocol, it’s more power efficient and more secure than it’s precedent.
Benefits of Z-Wave Thermostats
There are several great smart thermostats available today. Why should you choose a Z-Wave thermostat? What are the benefits of a Z-Wave thermostat versus. a Wi-Fi thermostat? Here are the primary benefits of a Z-Wave thermostat.
No Need for Wi-Fi
The two primary options you have for a smart thermostat are Wi-Fi and Z-Wave. The main appeal of not using Wi-Fi as a communication protocol is privacy. A local Z-wave transmission protocol grants data integrity and confidentiality.
Adding new Z-Wave devices to your smart home is network is easy. Additionally, adding new devices to an already existing network makes the mesh network even stronger. This makes all of your Z-Wave devices better or more reliable.
Technically speaking, Z-Wave runs at a low frequency, thus minimizing the interference with other wireless signals. If a signal faces no interference on its path, it means smoother transmission and less energy consumption. It is also more reliable than Wi-Fi.
Low Power Requirements
Z-Wave is very efficient and only uses a small amount of power. This gives you options you won’t find in Wi-Fi thermostats that use more energy. The biggest advantage is the ability to power the thermostat using batteries. This is a great choice if you have an older thermostat without a C wire to power the device.
Factors to Consider Before Buying
These are the main factors you should look for in every product before purchasing.
Assembling pieces of your smart home is like working on a puzzle. It’s challenging, but rewarding when you see the final result. Perhaps the most pressing issue you’ll face is compatibility.
You should do thorough research to know how to connect your upcoming thermostat and to understand the existing infrastructure of your home automation system if it exists.
Getting a thermostat that works with Z-Wave protocol is not enough. Beware that some products have features that differ from one hub to another. Make sure you are choosing a thermostat that is proven to work with your Z-Wave smart home hub.
The compatibility issues we’ve been talking about were mainly regarding hubs. However, you can face other compatibility issues concerning the HVAC system.
Before buying, you need to double-check that the thermostat you intend to get is compatible with your currently installed HVAC. Check the wires connecting your current thermostat and make sure your new thermostat has the same connections available.
Compatibility with Alexa is also something to consider if you’d like voice commands.
Power is the single biggest issue most people face when buying a smart thermostat. A lot of smart thermostats require a C wire, but not all of them. If you don’t have a C wire, then you should focus on thermostats that don’t require it. If you really like a smart thermostat that requires a C wire, then you can pay an electrician to install one in your home.
Since we’re talking about Z-wave thermostats, you will find that most of them are designed for low power consumption. In most cases, a Z-Wave thermostat can operate on batteries alone without the need of a C wire.
A thermostat isn’t a device that you’re going to replace every now and then. You need to make sure that it’ll stick with you as long as possible. One way to help with that is to know that the manufacturers have your back by offering a good warranty.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The best Z-Wave thermostat in my opinion is the GoControl smart thermostat.
The GoControl smart thermostat checks all the boxes. It is made by Nortek, which is a leader in the industry. It also supports virtually every type of HVAC system. This includes 2 stage heat and 2 stage cool standard systems and 3 stage heat and 2 stage cool heat pump systems. The GoControl thermostat can be powered by batteries, which makes it extremely vertical for installation. It can also be controlled by Alexa when connected to a smart home hub.
If you want a Z-Wave thermostat, then GoControl is a great choice.
P.S. Please leave a comment below to ask a question, help someone else or share your experiences. Thanks!