Amazon Smart Thermostat: is this inexpensive gadget smart enough?

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Amazon Smart thermostat, review

Smart thermostats have been around for more than a decade now but just about all of them have something in common – triple digit prices! Meanwhile, you can buy a “dumb” thermostat for just a few bucks. Amazon has a penchant for seeing these price disparities and using their leverage to make a big splash while adding their Alexa sauce too, and Amazon did just that with the Amazon Smart Thermostat and it costs $60 USD! Is it time to finally go smart at your home?

Summary

The Amazon Smart Thermostat is uncomplicated and easy to set up, install and use. While you could wish for more special features, you’d have to pay more for another brand. This one works great whether you control with voice, app or on-device.

Pros

  • Nice design
  • Easy set up & installation
  • Control with app, on-device or voice
  • Integrates into Alexa ecosystem well
  • Super affordable

 

Cons

  • Some may want more AI smarts?

Why get a smart thermostat?

The thermostats of yesteryear still have their appeal; they are easy to install and work reliably. However smart thermostats are even smarter at their core because of their ability to analyze household routines and routinely reprogram themselves to push the efficiency envelope even further. You might not feel these savings right away when you factor in the upgrading and possible installation costs but year over year savings add up. Taking the plunge now instead of waiting for newer models is a wise move.

Let the thermostat figure you and your routines out, or during those times when you need to tweak the thermostat, you just fire up your phone, load the app and control remotely with ease. Modern options like the Amazon Smart Thermostat seamlessly integrate with the Alexa home automation platform letting you do wild things such as lowering the room temperature right after activating the smart lock on your front door.

What the Amazon Thermostat Promises to Do

Just like how the Amazon Echo Buds promised to deliver good sound quality and active noise cancelling for a rock-bottom price, the Amazon Smart Thermostat strives to tick all the basic boxes of those $100+ smart thermostats for a lower price. Amazon also promises the best of Alexa integration, and ehile that’s great for Alexa devotees, it does come at the cost of not supporting other smart home platforms. Sorry HomeKit, SmartThings and Google Home lovers!

Popular thermostat manufacturer Honeywell had a hand in developing the technology powering the Amazon Smart Thermostat putting up a firm statement that Amazon isn’t compromising on quality. Let’s see if the claim holds up.

Is it difficult to set up?

I’m sure a lot of my long-term viewers and readers know in some cases smart thermostats aren’t easy to set up  smart thermostats but fortunately we reached the point where setting up a modern smart thermostat isn’t a science project.

The Amazon Smart Thermostat is no exception.

Amazon Smart thermostat, review

Your home requires a C-wire (common wire) to power the thermostat but in case your home doesn’t have one, you can buy the Amazon Smart Thermostat bundled with a C-wire adapter for about $15 more. I like how Amazon provides all the tools for installation including the screwdriver and even a faceplate. The Alexa app clearly guides you through the wall mounting procedure and immediately transitions to the pairing process.

The Amazon Smart Thermostat is well designed and it fits seamlessly into my décor. It’s all white with subtle LED glowing info on the face.

How can I control Amazon Smart Thermostat?

Controlling on the Device

Amazon Smart thermostat, review

The bottom portion of the Amazon Smart Thermostat features a navigational bar resembling the one found on an Android phone. The bar consists of three touch capacitive buttons where the arrow buttons adjust the temperature and the center button toggles between the heating, cooling and fan modes.

You can view temperature by default at all times, and when you press the buttons you can check heating or cooling modes, see if you’re in Eco mode, and make any adjustments you like.  The rest of the time the other conterols fade and turn off. I like this effect but others may not.

It’s easy to use and control.

Controlling via Alexa

The thermostat function may seem a bit buried inside the Alexa app. Alexa eventually set the thermostat up for me as a Favourite on the home screen and that helps find it quickly. Of course, voice control is quicker than anything.

Controlling the Amazon Smart Thermostat is a predictable affair. Tell Alexa to “Set the temperature to 18 degrees” and it will gladly do so. You can ask your Echo device the room’s current temperature and Alexa will fetch the thermostat data and say it out loud. You can also change modes with your voice or request for the thermostat to prioritize energy efficiency.

Amazon Smart thermostat, review

You are not limited to these voice commands thanks to the “Routines” feature which lets you make your own custom Alexa commands. For instance, you can have a command such as “Alexa, cool down the living room” to let it perform a series of smart home commands to your other Alexa-powered devices including setting the appropriate temperature, turning your smart lights blue for that underwater look cooling effect, and it can also turn on your smart fan too.

Controlling via Smartphone

Don’t forget your smartphone counts as an Alexa device too! Launch the Alexa app on your phone, tap that iconic blue circle and voice out the commands like you would normally do to an Amazon Echo device. Once you link your account to both your Alexa app and Alexa devices, you may operate your thermostat remotely via mobile data. Android users can place the Alexa button as a widget on their home screens for even easier access.

Other Unique Features

Amazon Smart thermostat, review

You can juice up the Amazon Smart Thermostat with some basic AI too with the “Hunches” feature. Switching it on allows Alexa to decide the best routine and temperature settings based on your past usage habits. The feature is nowhere near as smart as the Nest Learning Thermostat but it’s a neat addition considering how small and inexpensive the Amazon thermostat is. I’m still working my way through how well the hunches work so I’ll reserve comment on that for now.

Energy savings & info

Smart thermostats, particularly like the nest lineup brag about being able to track your energy use and help you save money. Even after having the thermostat installed for about three weeks, my energy information tab was still empty. To be honest I’m not super choked about not having this information. While I think a lot of companies consider it a selling feature… It’s not something I pay that much attention to. We keep our heat and cooling settings nominal, and have them automatically lower when we go to bed at night, so I think we’re doing pretty good.

Even so, I am curious how long it takes for the Alexa app to develop trending for thermostat energy usage. I will have to report back after spending some more time with this.

Overall Thoughts on the Amazon Smart Thermostat

The Amazon Smart Thermostat pulls off another win in undercutting the competition without showing any serious weaknesses. While you could pine for more features inside the app, this smart thermostat has all the basic smart controls, and it can adapt to your routines. It’s completely uncomplicated with an elegant design and deep integration with Echo devices—and all that makes it a budget winner in my book.


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