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Our 2020 top rated non-programmable thermostat guide includes some of the best thermostats you can find on the market, breaking down their need-to-know details for you.
Something to keep in mind. We know it’s a common rule of thumb that if a product has fewer customer reviews, that usually indicates its rating is disproportionately high or low. Yet, as you browse non-programable thermostats, there are fewer customer reviews for them than programmable thermostats. It is not uncommon, then, to only see 20 online customer reviews for any one particular non-programmable.
- Overview of Top-Rated Non-Programmable Thermostats
- Full Reviews & Deeper Analysis of Top-Rated Non-Programmable Thermostats
- Non-programmable Thermostat FAQ
Overview of Top-Rated Non-Programmable Thermostats
If you’re in a hurry and want our quick pro analysis, these overviews are useful. You can make your purchase, and get on with more important tasks.
- Big Numbers with backlighting option
- 1H/1C for all compatible systems
- User-friendly keypad interface
- Temp Limit & Keypad Lock
- Dimensions: 3.75" H x 6" W x 1.13" D
- Digital display with green backlight
- Stages: 1 Heat plus Fan (No AC)
- 1 Heat / 1 Cool Model Avail.
- Compatible with gas, oil, or electric heating systems
- Dimensions: 3.44" H x 4.63" W x 1.19" D
- Up to 4H & 2C Stages
- Digital display with blue backlighting option
- Permanent Memory
- Emerson Install Wizard Included
- Dimensions: 3.75" H x 6" W x 1.13" D
Pro1 Iaq T701
- LCD Display
- Easy Change Battery Door
- 5-Yr Warranty
- Dimensions: 4.4" H x 4.7" W x 1.1" D
- Digital Display w/ Optional Backlighting
- Current & Set Temp Displayed
- Manual Changeover Heat/AC
- Dimensions: 5.5" H x 4" W x 2.5" D
Full Reviews & Deeper Analysis of Top-Rated Non-Programmable Thermostats
Our full reviews include pros, cons, more information to help you make a buying decision plus a “bottom line” for the best use for each model.
1. Emerson 1F83C-11NP Non-programmable Thermostat
Nearly 90% of more than customer reviewers give this Emerson 80s series product top ratings for its comprehensible directions, easy-to-learn operation, simple installation process, and accuracy.
As one customer wrote, “For a non-programmable thermostat, it has everything you will need…[S]o if you want a good non-programmable, one you can actually see, this is perfect!”
This model is designed to work easily with existing wires in your home while also providing extensive compatibility with multiple heating systems for homeowner convenience.
Features: Keypad lock, temperature limits, a backlight button, and a filter change reminder.
- It is easy to read, as it displays large characters.
- It is compatible with a heat pump system and a standard furnace/air conditioner split system.
- The display is larger than most, so if you have trouble seeing the digital readout on small devices, you’ll like this larger size.
- No automatic changeover, so you’ll have to switch it from Heat to AC mode.
- The larger size of this thermostat has its downside in that it might not fit an existing hole very conveniently, especially if you are planning on replacing a smaller thermostat. The wiring arrangement will require you to mount the Emerson 1F83C-11NP off-center if you do not order the optional wall plate.
Additional information: Depending on your heating system, you will need to move a switch behind the thermostat cover to ELEC for heat pumps or electric furnaces or GAS for gas or oil furnaces. Be sure to do this during installation – it will be easier than having to do it later.
You may also like: Top 8 Heat Pump Thermostats and Buying Guide
Bottom Line: If you are fond of hard-working devices with a no-frills approach (which keeps it simple and affordable), this is the one for you. Customers who do not care about extra features are more than satisfied with this Emerson product, preferring it over programmable thermostats.
2. Honeywell TH1100DH1004 Non-programmable Thermostat
Honeywell is a top name in the thermostat industry, and this unit shows why. It gets great ratings for quality. More than 90% of users give it very high marks, praising this model for its simplicity, accuracy, and easy installation.
This model does its job without complicating the process, making customers happy that they don’t have to jump through hoops to heat their homes. It’s a good option if you don’t have AC and you’re considering DIY installation.
Features: A “heat”/“off” switch only, a push button interface, and a single circuit for heating.
- Incredibly user-friendly with simple up/down control.
- Lights up when you change temperature, and then the light fades.
- Easy installation.
- Something to note about this thermostat is that it only works with heating, not air conditioning.
- This Honeywell model isn’t heat pump compatible.
Additional information: If you are looking for a model that is compatible with both heating and cooling, this Honeywell series has other models that are 1H/1C or 2H/1C. Here’s a good option that also gets very high marks for quality and precision.
Bottom Line: This unit is designed for cool climates where many homes don’t have air conditioning. The heat-only mode works with gas and oil furnaces plus electric heat.
3. Emerson 1F85U-42NP
About ¾ of all reviews give this unit the top possible rating across several retail platforms. It’s a winner! Top qualities are its bright backlighting for easy reading and excellent accuracy. Set it to the temperature you want, and that’s what you’ll get.
Features: Temperature limits, keypad lock, auto changeover, and a filter change reminder. Modes are Heat, AC and Fan-only.
- This product is universal as it comes to heating and cooling stages. This means that it can work up to 1H/1C or 2H/2C for conventional heating/cooling, and it can work up to 4H/2C for heat pump systems.
- Compatible with an air-source or geothermal heat pump system with auxiliary heat (aux heat).
- Most users find the soothing blue display color to be easy on the eyes.
- The model is said to have a brief delay when first turned on and when shutting off. At first you might think it didn’t accept the temperature change, but then your heating or cooling device will turn on.
- While there is a backlighting option, the display does not light up unless the backlight is activated. Thermostats will sometimes light up the moment a button is pressed, but this one does not.
Additional information: The Emerson 1F85U-42NP has an “Away” setting option that you can select for when you’re out of the house. You can store and run the thermostat at a temperature of your preference when you press the “Away” button, which will stop and/or change when you manually reprogram the setting.
This model also comes with an Easy DIY Install Wizard, which is a comprehensive installation manual that informs you what tools you’ll need for the installation process, how to remove an old thermostat, non-programmable thermostat know-how, and some troubleshooting tips. You can find this manual here.
There’s an Auto setting too which is fine for hot weather and cold weather. But in spring and fall, when mornings can be cool and afternoons warm, leaving it in Auto mode might cause it to come on when you don’t want it to. This is true of most thermostats with Auto mode.
Bottom Line: If you’re interested in saving money and being as eco-friendly as possible, this product will do you well. Given that it is a universal non-programmable, it works with most HVAC systems, allowing you to regulate heating/cooling capacity for energy-efficient results.
4. Pro1 Iaq T701
Never heard of this brand? Plenty of users have tried it, and more than 90% give it top marks for quality, the large display characters, temperature accuracy, and easy installation.
Features: Glow-in-the-dark light for thermostat display, a fan operation switch (more on this below), low battery warning, and temperature setpoint buttons.
- Simultaneously shows room temperature and set temperature on display.
- Feels like it is built to last.
- 5-year warranty gives you peace of mind.
- Compatible with a heat pump system but not compatible with aux heat or emergency heat (em heat).
- The listing indicates that batteries will be included, but this seems to be unreliable. Not all customers have received batteries with their purchase.
Additional information: On the back of the thermostat, you will see a “Gas”/“Electric” switch. This is for the fan operation. If your heating system controls the fan when needed, move the switch to “Gas.” If your heating system does not control the fan during the heating process, then move the switch to “Electric.”
On a separate note, you may use rechargeable batteries or low alkaline batteries with this model, but it’s not recommended. Instead, we recommend that you stick to high quality alkaline batteries since they will yield the best, most lasting results.
Make sure you also immediately switch out the old batteries when you see the “low batteries” warning. If you do not change them, your system might experience a number of issues over time.
- If the batteries aren’t switched within 21 days of the warning, your thermostat will only show the low battery warning. Every other control option on the screen will be gone. (This, of course, will be remedied by switching the batteries.)
- After 42 days of the warning, the thermostat set points will automatically change to 55F for heating and 85F for cooling.
Bottom Line: Pro1 may not be a main-brand thermostat company like Honeywell or Emerson, but the T701 has proven to satisfy customers left and right. If you’re on a budget but want to make sure you purchase a
5. Honeywell TH3110D1008
Call this unit
Note that you have the option to purchase the TH3110D1008 in one pack or two, depending on what you need. You’ll save a few bucks on the two-pack if you have two separate HVAC systems.
Features: Built-in compressor protection for heat pumps and air conditioners plus a battery change reminder.
- It maintains your room temperature to 1 degree of your preferred temperature. But keep in mind that if you have a single-stage furnace or AC, slight variations in temperature are to be expected. The thermostat will shut down the heating or AC when it reaches the set point, but the unit will keep putting out hot or cool air for up to a minute. That’s not the thermostat’s fault.
- Simultaneously shows the set temperature (smaller number on display) and the current room temperature (larger number on display) for comparison.
- This Honeywell model is compatible with heat pumps, but it is not compatible with aux heat or emergency heat (em heat).
- It doesn’t have the strongest casing, so install and use with care.
- The display area is quite small. Several others in this list of best non-programmable thermostats have larger displays.
Additional information: Depending on which system you have in your home, you will need to move a fan operation switch in back of the thermostat. Moving the switch to the left is for gas or oil heating systems; moving it to the right is for electric heating or heat pump systems. If you do not set the fan operation switch to the correct system, you will experience some productivity issues with your HVAC system. However, this is clearly explained in the directions that come with the unit. It’s a simple thing to do.
Bottom Line: This product is simple to use and easy to read. It is another no-frills model that will do you well if you are looking for a basic thermostat. You will want to be careful with the thermostat’s casing, but presuming it will be out of reach from small, curious children, it should be fine.
Non-programmable Thermostat FAQ
1. Why should I purchase a non-programmable thermostat instead of a programmable?
Simplicity is the top reason some homeowners prefer non-programmable thermostats. They are easy to use. No confusing instructions or operation. Push the button to change the temperature setting. Easy.
There are a few more reasons why a non-programmable thermostat may be a better choice for you.
Lastly, if you’re not into the extra components/features found in programmable and Smart thermostats, non-programmable thermostats will satisfy you with their purposely basic designs. They have all the essential components needed for quality temperature control without the frills that can distract and/or complicate the process – and make them more costly.
The bottom line, obviously, is that non-programmable thermostats have to be manually changed. In other words, you will have to personally remember to change your thermostat settings every time you leave your house, experience a cold front or a heat wave come, go to bed, etc.
Because of this, these thermostats will be perfect for you if you find yourself around the house most days, such as by working remotely, being a stay-at-home parent, being retired, or the like.
2. What is the downside to non-programmable thermostats?
If you leave home and forget to turn down the thermostat, you’ll waste money heating or cooling an empty house. For not much more money, you can buy a basic programmable thermostat. Waste energy for a season of heating and air conditioning with a non-programmable, and you’ll lose at least the cost of an upgrade to a programmable model.
Or you might wake up overly hot if you normally turn down the furnace temperature but forget.
3. How do I install a non-programmable thermostat?
Before getting into the installation steps, we’ll first underline the core procedure on how to remove an existing thermostat:
- Switch off the breaker that sends electricity to your HVAC system.
- Remove thermostat casing.
- Take a phone picture of the wiring, so you can wire the new thermostat exactly the same – same colored wires to the same terminals.
- Use a screwdriver to unfasten the thermostat innards (if applicable).
- Make sure to take a picture of the wiring before unplugging them. It will also be in your best interest to label which wire corresponds with each terminal. You will need to know this information when setting up the new thermostat.
- Loosely band the wires together, as with tape, to make sure they don’t slip back into the wall.
- Unscrew the wall plate to remove it. If you have paint still holding it in place, use a utility knife to cut along the wall plate perimeter to ensure you don’t take off any more paint than necessary.
- Slip the wires through the hole in the new thermostat wall plate.
- Screw the wall plate in place. As you do this, make sure of the following: (a) that you use a level to ensure the wall plate is properly mounted, and (b) that the screws are not stripped.
- If the wires are not straight, you will need to straighten them.
- Carefully connect each wire to its respective terminal. Check your picture to make sure the wiring is the same as the old unit.
- Add batteries to the back of the thermostat. Make sure that any fan operation switch is properly dealt with, too.
- Attach your thermostat to the wall plate.
- Turn the breaker back on.
Keep in mind that these procedures may need to be slightly tweaked according to your particular thermostat.
Check out this video to see these installation steps in action.
4. What’s the main difference between single-stage and two-stage heating/cool? What is variable stage heating/cooling?
“Single-stage” systems work at 100% capacity. In other words, your heating and cooling will blow at full force, making a lot of noise. It can also excessively heat or cool your home and make you pay more than is necessary on your utility bills.
In comparison, a “two-stage” system has two modes of operation: It can either work at 100% capacity or at low capacity. Low capacity means that your heating and cooling will blow somewhere between 65% and 70%, being a quieter alternative. It is also more energy efficient, saving you money over time.
Variable capacity heating/cooling simply means that your system has more than two capacity modes. Instead of “high” and “low,” your system can run at any capacity between 40% (most models, though some ACs and heat pumps run as low as 25%) to 100%. They run at the lowest capacity needed to keep the temperature where the thermostat wants it. For example, on a warm day, the air conditioner might be able to keep up by running at 50%. On the warmest days, it might need to operate between 80% and 100%.
This performance is more energy-efficient and quieter than single- or two-stage heating and cooling. With a variable stage system, you will save more money on energy than with the other two systems. However, if your climate is milder, you might not recoup the higher cost of a variable capacity system.
For more nuanced information on this topic, see our article here:
5. Why do non-programmable thermostats require batteries? Should I put batteries in mine?
There are two reasons why batteries are significant for your non-programmable thermostat.
Your C terminal wire. If you look through your non-programmable thermostat’s set of terminals, you will notice one of them is labelled “C.” This terminal stands for “common” and is used to complete the circuit that runs 12-to-24 volts (V) through the heating and cooling wire(s).
Put in different terms, the C terminal allows your thermostat to be powered without disrupting the other wires, preventing thermostat glitching and malfunctioning.
When the C terminal wire is absent, batteries take over the C wire’s job. So, if you don’t have the C terminal wire, it would be in your best interest to insert 2 AA batteries in your thermostat (or AAA batteries if your specific model requires it).
Backup power. Batteries act as backup power for low-volt thermostats when you lose power. Without batteries, both your thermostat and your HVAC system will stop running when you lose power.