Programable Thermostats Reviews and Buying Guide 2020

Disclosure: PickHVAC is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site. We may receive commissions at no additional costs to you.

What are the best programmable thermostats on the market? Out of a large number of options, they include models from familiar names like Honeywell and Lux but also “hidden gems” from Heagstat, SunTouch and others. And rather than simply list the best programmable thermostat models, we’ve categorized them to help you find the right thermostat for your system – a standard system, heat pump system, radiant floor heat and even the best value model.

This page includes quick overviews of the top models with a chance to purchase, if you’d like, followed by complete reviews and a Buying Guide with FAQs.

Best Programmable Thermostats – Overviews

There are overviews with bullet points, so if you are in a hurry, you can make your selection and get on with more important things.

If you enjoy digging deeper, full programmable thermostat reviews follow that detail the pros, cons, features, and “bottom line” for all of the units.

The reviews are followed by a brief buying guide and a section covering frequently asked questions that will assist you in making a purchase decision you will be happy with.

Through comprehensive research, we’ve narrowed the list down to the best Programmable Thermostats out of over 40 available.

These quick overviews will make it easy for you to find a quality programmable thermostat that suits your needs.

      Image                              Product

Honeywell Home RTH7600D

Honeywell Home RTH7600D

  • 7-Day Programming – 4 periods per day
  • Large Backlit Touchscreen
  • Smart Response Technology
  • Multi-System Compatible
  • Multi-Stage Heating and Cooling

Best Overall

Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004

Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004

  • 7 Day Fully Flexible Programming Options
  • 1 or 2 Stage Heat/Cool
  • Multiple Smart Features
  • Alexa, Google, Smart Things Compatible
  • Energy Star

Editors Pick

Heagstat H705 5-1-1

Heagstat H705 5-1-1

  • 5-1-1 Programmable – 4 periods per day
  • Intuitive Wake, Leave, Return, Sleep
  • Large Easy to Read Screen
  • 1 Heat/1 Cool
  • 5 Year Warranty

Best Value

Lux Products TX9600TS

Lux Products TX9600TS

  • Multi-System Universal Compatibility
  • 2 Stage Heat/1 Stage Cool
  • 7 Day Programmable – 2 or 4 periods per day
  • Energy Usage Monitor
  • Large Display Screen

Most Compatible

Orbit Products 83521

Orbit Products 83521

  • 7 Day Programmable with up to 4 periods per day
  • Permanent and Temporary Hold Modes
  • Multi-System Compatible
  • 1 Stage Heating and Cooling
  • Day to Day Copy Feature

Most Stylish

SunTouch Command 500850

SunTouch Command 500850

  • For Floor Heating Systems
  • Floor and Air Sensing Modes
  • 7 Day Programmable – 4 periods per day
  • Large Backlit Touchscreen
  • Smart Technology

Best for Radiant Floor Systems

Honeywell Home RLV 4305A 1000/E1

Honeywell Home RLV 4305A 1000/E1

  • Compatible with Electric Baseboard Heating
  • 5-2 Programmable- 4 periods per day
  • Smart Alerts
  • TRIAC Precise Temp Control
  • Backlit Screen

Best for Electric Baseboard Heat

Emerson 1F83H-21PR

Emerson 1F83H-21PR

  • For Heat Pump Systems
  • 5-1-1 Programming
  • 1 stage Heat/2 Stage Cool
  • Keypad Lock
  • Dual Fuel Capability

Best for Heat Pumps

Best Overall

#1 Honeywell Home RTH7600D Touchscreen 7 Day Programmable Thermostat with 4 Periods per Day

This  7 Day programmable thermostat is loaded with all of the features you want and it gets very high ratings for energy efficiency and overall function.

Honeywell Home RTH7600D

Features: These features make it our top choice as Best Overall programmable thermostat.

  • 7-Day menu-driven programming with 4 periods per day.
  • Large backlit touchscreen display shows temperature and set point simultaneously.
  • Smart Response Technology allows the thermostat to learn the amount of time the system needs to reach the desired temperature and adjusts accordingly.
  • Auto change from heat to cool.
  • Multi-System compatible including heat pumps.
  • Single or Multi-Stage Heating and Cooling.

Power Source: 2AA Batteries

Ratings: This unit gets high marks for quality, ease of use and its features.

Pros: Loaded with features and set-up options, including the ability to set a different schedule for all 7 days, plus a vacation setting, single or multi-stage heating/cooling, maintains accurate temperature, and retains memory in case of a power outage. The unit features smart alerts and you can also change the color of the touchscreen to suit your taste. Customers indicate that there is excellent customer support, and it’s easy to install.

Cons: There are very few negatives. The housing is a little thin, but pretty standard. We don’t think it’s likely to break with normal use.

Bottom Line: This is an excellent unit and is priced in the average range.

Editors Pick

#2 Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004 WiFi Smart Color Thermostat, 7 Day Programmable, Touchscreen, Energy Star, Alexa Ready

This 7 day programmable thermostat features WiFi capability and includes Energy Star technology which may allow you to qualify for a utility rebate.

Because this thermostat provides so many features, you can even change the color of the touchscreen. It is easy to use and install, it’s the Editors Pick.

Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004

Features: Fully personalize your comfort at home with this thermostat.

  • Energy Star certified.
  • Compatible with Alexa, Smart Things, Google Home, IFTTT.
  • Customizable full-color touchscreen with temperature and indoor/outdoor humidity levels.
  • 1 or 2 Stage Heat/Cool Function.
  • Permanent/temporary/vacation hold options.
  • Fully 7-Day Programmable.

Power Source: 2 AA Batteries

Ratings: About 85% of customers gave this thermostat good reviews for its convenience and smart technology.

Pros: This thermostat has everything you need including on-screen weather forecasts, inside and outside temperatures and humidity levels, program differently for all 7 days of the week, multiple intelligent alerts, and easy installation.  It’s Energy Star certified and will save you money on utility bills.

Cons: You will need to have a C-wire to install the unit, which you might already have. See our C-wire guide for a discussion of this issue. By the way, the need for a C-wire, or common wire, to power the unit is pretty standard in the thermostat world.

Bottom Line: This unit isn’t cheap, but it’s packed with features and is WiFi compatible.

Best Value

#3 Heagstat H705 5-1-1 Day Single Stage Programmable Thermostat – 1 Heat/1- Cool

This single stage heat/cool, programmable thermostat provides excellent value for the money. For the price, it’s an excellent product and the Best Value in programable thermostats.

Heagstat H705 5-1-1

Features: This straightforward thermostat provides everything you need to keep your home warm or cool.

  • 5-1-1 Day Programmable.
  • Intuitive wake, sleep, leave, return programming icons.
  • Large, easy to read, backlit screen.
  • Multi-System compatible.
  • Air Filter, low battery alerts.
  • 5 Year Warranty

Power Source: 2 AAA Batteries

Ratings: Users like the large numbers for easy reading and the intuitive operation.

Pros: This thermostat is easy to use, easy to read, programs for  4 segments per day, keeps very accurate temperature, easy to override and then reset the programming, and is excellent for use in an RV. Most users felt they were getting a great value for their money.

Cons: A few users have found that the instruction manual could be clearer.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a reliable, low price programmable thermostat, this will more than satisfy.

Most Compatible

#4 Lux Products TX9600TS 7-Day Programmable Large Touchscreen Heating Cooling Thermostat

This is a programmable thermostat that is compatible with virtually all North American heating and cooling systems with the exception of systems using electric baseboard heat (see the SunTouch below if you have electric heat).

Lux Products TX9600TS

Features: This is a well-priced, high-functioning thermostat with multi-system capability.

  • Universally compatible for all systems except electric baseboard heating.
  • Energy use monitor.
  • 7 Day programmable with 2 or 4 programmable periods per day.
  • Easy to use menu touchscreen operation.
  • 2 Stage Heat/1 Stage Cool.
  • Large backlit touchscreen.

Power Source: 2 AA Batteries

Ratings: About 83% of customers gave this product positive reviews.

Pros: This thermostat provides accurate temperature control, features adjustable swing temperature and adjustable temperature offset between the 1st and 2nd heat stages, and is easy to install. Customers noted that Lux was very user friendly, provides good tech support and that a more detailed manual can be downloaded from the Lux website.

Cons: The thermostat is not as easy to operate in some cases and may lose the programmed settings if there is a power outage.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a 2 Stage Heat thermostat that is compatible with a wide variety of heating systems, and at a very fair price, this unit would be a great choice. Note: We’ve reviewed the Lux smart thermostats, and here is the review.

Most Stylish Design

#5 Orbit 83521 Clear Comfort Programmable Thermostat with Large Easy to Read Display

This high quality thermostat is loaded with useful features providing accurate performance.

Orbit Products 83521

Features: This is an attractive unit that is easy to use.

  • 7 Day Programmable with up to 4 periods per day.
  • Multi-Stage heating and cooling systems.
  • Day to day copy feature streamlines programming. In other words, if you want the same schedule for more than one day, the thermostat has an easy copy feature that saves you the trouble of having to input all the temperature change settings for that day.
  • Permanent and temporary hold modes.
  • Pre-programmed with Energy Star settings to assist with energy savings.
  • Incorporates smart system logic preventing temperatures from over fluctuating.

Power Source: 3 AAA Batteries

Ratings: Homeowners like the features and how good it looks on their walls.

Pros: This attractive, modern unit is easy and quick to install and program and comes with clear instructions. This unit features Smart System logic keeping temperatures consistent and accurate.

Cons: This unit does not have memory backup so, if the batteries die or the power goes out, you may need to re-program the thermostat.

Bottom Line: This easy to use and install thermostat will provide everything you need and may also help you save money on your utility bills.

Best for Flooring Heating Systems

#6 SunTouch Command Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat Model 500850 for Floor Heating System

This thermostat is for use with all floor heating systems up to 15A, including mat and cable systems that use a 10K sensor wire. A 15 foot long 10K sensor wire is included.

SunTouch Command 500850

Features: This thermostat offers plenty of features,  is dual voltage -120/240V equipped, and comes with built in GFI for safety.

  • Intuitive 7 Day programming.
  • Equipped with help screens and programming set-up wizard.
  • Floor and air sensing modes.
  • Smart Start Technology automatically adjusts the start time to ensure the floor has reached temperature at the set time.
  • Easy installation with clear instructions included.
  • 3 Year Warranty.

Power Source: 2 AA Batteries.

Ratings: This unit gets the best reviews of any thermostat made for radiant floor heating systems.

Pros: This unit works great, easy to use, install, and program with comprehensive help screen and programming wizard setup. It includes an energy use monitor, keeps accurate temperature, has an easy to read backlit screen that can be turned off. Customers are glad they purchased it.

Cons: The touchscreen is a nice “touch” that makes it easy to use. However, it gets a little smudgy over time, so you’ll need to wipe it occasionally by spraying a little white vinegar and water on a cloth and gently wiping it. Obviously, spraying liquid directly onto it wouldn’t be a good idea.

Bottom Line: This is an excellent thermostat for floor heating systems and at a very fair price.

Best for Electric Baseboard Heating Systems

#7 Honeywell Home RLV 4305A 1000/E1 Electric Baseboard Heaters Programmable

If you have electric baseboard heating, you will be happy with this quality programmable thermostat.

Honeywell Home RLV 4305A 1000/E1

Features: This unit provides everything you need for an electric baseboard heating system.

  • 5-2 Day programmable with 4 time periods per day.
  • Battery-free back-up, no pre-programming necessary after power outages.
  • Compatible with electric baseboards, convectors, fan forced heaters, and radiant ceiling systems.
  • Fast, easy installation with 2-wire connection.
  • Temperature over-ride ability without changing the programming.
  • 100% silent operation.
  • It can handle systems up to 3,500 watts.

Power Source: Hardwired, does not require batteries.

Ratings: Users like how easy it is to install and how precise it keeps the temperature.

Pros: This high capacity programmable thermostat works with baseboard heating and has the proper internal electronics to handle the recommended power. It’s easy to install and program. Easy 2-wire non-polarized connection. The unit has a control feature which eliminates temperature swings, keeping you comfortable at a lower set point, and memory back-up so it will retain your set schedule in the event of a power outage.

Cons: It is a little large at 4.75” by 5”.

Bottom Line: This unit is very good quality and has the features you want in a reliable, programmable thermostat.

Best for Heat Pump Systems

#8 Emerson 1F83H-21PR Heat Pump (2H/1C) Programmable Thermostat

This is a highly rated, quality thermostat that works with gas, oil, or electricity.

Emerson 1F83H-21PR

Features: These features bring this unit to the top of our list for Heat Pump systems.

  • 5-1-1 Programmable with 4 periods per day.
  • Extensive compatibility with Heat Pump systems.
  • Advanced features including key lock pad and temperature limits.
  • Dual Fuel standard, no sensors needed.
  • Large, easy to read backlit screen with on/off switch.
  • Includes DIY install wizard with step-by-step instructions.

Power Source: 2 AA Batteries

Ratings: It gets exceptional reviews for its features and ease of use.

Pros: This thermostat is designed to work with the existing wiring in your home and features compatibility with a variety of heat pump systems. It offers 2-stage heat/1-stage cool, and heat or cool only. It’s easy to install and provides accurate temperature control.

Cons: A very small percentage of these come with the backlit screen function not working. Amazon quickly sends a replacement in those few cases.

Bottom Line: This easy to install and use thermostat is the one you want if you have a heat pump system.

What to Look for When Buying a Programmable Thermostat

Understand your Heating/Cooling system requirements.

Make sure that the thermostat is compatible with your system. The most common types are central heat or central heat with air conditioning.  These systems can control gas, electric, or oil systems.  Also know whether your system is 1-stage or 2 stage heating and cooling.

Other system types include radiant floor, electric baseboard, heat pump, fireplace, and floor/wall furnace.

Once you know what type of system you have, then you can review the thermostat features to find which will best meet your needs.

Why should I consider a Programmable thermostat?

Adding a programmable thermostat is a fairly quick and easy project that you can do on your own. A thermostat that you can program to your schedule and temperature needs, will help provide you with a more comfortable and energy efficient home. If you follow the recommended Energy Star settings, you will use less energy and save money on your heating and cooling bills. And when temperature changes are programmed, you won’t be at work thinking, “Oh, I forgot to turn down the heat when I left, and I’m wasting money!”

What kind of programming do you need?

Consider what you and your family do each day, when do you get up, leave for work, whether you stay home or go out on the weekends. Do you need to program a different schedule for every day of the week or is one schedule for the weekdays and one schedule for the weekend enough?

External Design

Consider how it will look in your home. What color is it? Can you change the color of the screen? What kind and size of viewing screen do you need? Is it easy to read, does it have a backlit screen, can you turn the back light off? Does the screen have touch capability? Are the buttons easy to read and use?

Extra Features

Programmable thermostats come packed with extra features that can increase comfort and save you time and money. These include:

  • A vacation feature that allows you to set a special schedule for when you are going to be gone a long time, like on a vacation.
  • Special Alerts can include reminders to change the thermostat  batteries or your systems air filters, or alert you to heating and cooling system malfunctions.
  • Intelligent recovery means that the thermostat can learn how quickly the system needs to come back on to achieve your desired temperature by the set time.
  • Back-up memory retains your set programming in the event of a power outage, keeping you from having to re-enter everything.
  • WiFi capability for setting up a smart home.

Warranty and Support

Make sure your thermostat comes with a manufacturer’s warranty in case it malfunctions. It should also come with a manual that shows you how to set up and operate the unit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you tell me how to install a programmable thermostat?

The model you purchase should have complete instructions. It’s different for new construction and replacement. Here’s an overview of each. 

Replacement: 

  1. Loosen the fastening screws, and gently pull the thermostat off the wall.
  2. Take a picture of the wires connected to the terminals.
  3. Loosen the wires, and remove the thermostat.
  4. Hook up the wires to the new thermostat using your picture to guide you, so that the same colored wires go to the terminals with the same code. 

Our Thermostat Wiring Guide has more details including this diagram that shows you what we are talking about:

thermostat wiring colors to labels

This video shows another method using stickers that come with your new thermostat. 

New construction (no existing thermostat): Simply follow the wiring diagram sent with the thermostat. It will tell you what color wire to connect to each terminal. 

What does 7 Day, 5-2 Day, and 5-1-1 Day scheduling or programming  mean?

7 Day means that you can program a different heating or cooling schedule for every day of the week. 5-2 means that you can program one schedule for Monday through Friday and a different schedule for Saturday and Sunday, and 5-1-1 means that you can program one schedule for Monday through Friday and a different schedule for each day of the weekend.

If you typically work during the week, a 5-2 might work for you, but if you have weekend activities, a 5-1-1 might be best. If your schedule changes daily, you might prefer a thermostat with full 7 day scheduling.

Consider what you and your family do each day, when do you get up, leave for work, whether you stay home or go out on the weekends. Do you need to program a different schedule for every day of the week or is one schedule for the weekdays and one schedule for the weekend enough?

Why should I consider a Programmable thermostat?

Adding a programmable thermostat is a fairly quick and easy project that you can do on your own. A thermostat that you can program to your schedule and temperature needs will help provide you with a more comfortable and energy-efficient home. If you follow the recommended Energy Star settings, you will use less energy and save money on your heating and cooling bills.

How can a programmable thermostat save money?

With a programmable thermostat you can pre-set the thermostat to follow your schedule throughout the day. And when temperature changes are programmed, you won’t be at work thinking, “Oh, I forgot to turn down the heat when I left, and I’m wasting money!” You can create a schedule that fits your family’s routine. And most programmable thermostats allow for 4 periods per day, so, for instance, you could keep the heat or air conditioning higher in the morning and evening when you are home, and lower in the day when you’re away and overnight while you’re sleeping.

Programming for these lower heating or cooling periods allows the unit to run less and therefore use less energy, saving you money. For every degree that you keep the heating or cooling down, will save you about 2% on your utility bill.

How can a programmable thermostat save you time?

A programmable thermostat will save you time because you don’t have to spend time throughout the day adjusting it to your desired temperature.

Do programmable thermostats allow you to override the settings without pre-programming the unit?

Yes, you can temporarily override your set schedule. After a set time, the thermostat will automatically return to the programmed schedule. Your manual will have instructions on overriding as well as, how long it will take for the thermostat to return to the programmed schedule.

What is Staged Heating?

2-stage heating means that your furnace has 2 levels of heat output – a higher level for cold days and a lower level for mild days. Because the low level is enough to meet heating demands 80% of the time, a 2-stage unit runs for longer times and maintains a more even temperature, eliminating highs and lows. The furnace will operate most of the time at the lower level and burn less fuel. The same idea applies to 2-stage air conditioning.

Where in your home is the best place to install a thermostat?

The best place to install a thermostat is on an interior wall, away from all exterior doors, windows, heating and cooling vents, and out of direct sunlight. This will help keep the actual temperature of your home true to the thermostat setting.

What is Energy Star?

Energy Star is a trusted, government backed, set of criteria for energy efficiency, helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

Many programmable thermostats come with pre-set Energy Star recommended settings designed to reduce energy use. Using the Energy Star recommended thermostat setting can reduce your energy bills and save you money.

Is a WiFi thermostat worth the money?

If you get a good one, it can save you money and pay for itself in a few years. How? It allows you to control the system from anywhere, obviously, and that can reduce waste. For example, let’s say it’s a hot summer day, and the thermostat setting is scheduled to change from 80 degrees to 75 degrees at 5pm because you normally get home at 6pm. However, if you decide to go to dinner with friends and don’t expect to be home till 9pm, you can use your phone and the thermostat app to change the setting so the thermostat set point doesn’t change until 8pm.

DMCA.com Protection Status