For the longest time, the frontrunners of the smart thermostat industry have been the Nest, but its longtime position today has been challenged by the Ecobee 4. Both smart thermostats offer impressive features, though they can be quite pricey. Now there’s a more affordable option in the Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat, and it’s being hailed by some experts as the best value-for-money proposition among all the smart thermostats today.

It’s true that the Emerson brand is a relative newcomer in the smart thermostat industry. But it’s a hallowed name with a long history in the HVAC industry. Emerson has been in the business of offering heating and cooling solutions for more than 125 years. That’s a lot of experience to bring to the table.

Setup

One of the great options about the Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat packages is that you can opt to purchase the package that includes professional installation. Now you’re not limited to having to do it yourself or finding the right installation professional yourself. Emerson will help you find the pro that can do the work.

As a bonus for opting for a professional installation, your warranty extends to an amazing 5 year period. Normally it’s 3 years for the warranty, and that’s enough to match the longest warranties in other smart thermostats. But now you only pay a few bucks more for a pro to do it, and you save yourself the time and effort, you’re surer that the installation is done right, and you also get an extended warranty.

If you wish to go the DIY route because you have some handyman skills, then you’ll certainly appreciate how the Sensi app offers a foolproof way of guiding your though the entire wiring process. The Sensi app even checks that the wires are properly connected and informs you when a particular wire isn’t touching its contact right. It also checks the viability of the wiring configuration. The wires are also more visible during the whole process due to the light that comes from the edge of the thermostat.

This is compatible with Amazon Alexa, with its Sensi Skill enabled. You can download the Wink app and it can work with Google Home. It works with the Apple HomeKit and Siri too.

It’s very likely that this will be compatible with your HVAC system, though you may want to consult the Sensi website to be sure. It can be compatible with cool-only, heat-only, and heat pump systems without aux when you use a c-wire. However, it’s not compatible with electric baseboard or line voltage (2-wire) and proprietary/ communicating systems. It also won’t work with older millivolt wall, in-floor- or gravity furnaces.

Design

The Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat looks very basic, which does help explain its price. There are other Sensi versions that offer some color in its display, but when you’re opting for the most affordable price then you have to make do with its rather barebones look.

It’s not that it’s ugly, though it certainly won’t win a beauty contest compared to the Nest. But it looks inoffensive enough with its rectangular design. Its screen shows you the current room temperature on the center, while to the right it shows the temperature you’ve set for it. At the top of the display you have the time, while at the bottom it shows status readings, saying that it’s heating or cooling and that it’s on or off.

While it may not have a touchscreen, you do have various menus and setting buttons you can press to make your adjustments. However, you can do those adjustments through the app. The app also provides more info, such as the indoor humidity reading and the local weather information.

Using the App

To use the app, your iOS phone should be in version 10.0 or later. You also need to get an Android 4.2 or above. However, for the geofencing feature you’ll need 5.0 or greater.

With the app and your smartphone, you now have remote access to your smart thermostat. If you don’t know yet what that means, it means that you can tell what your thermostat is doing even when you’re not in your home. So if you mistakenly left your heater or your air conditioner running when you rushed to work, you can find out through your app and turn it off remotely.

The app also lets you program schedules for your heating and cooling preferences. In the summer during your work hours, your air conditioner may not be turned on to save electricity. It can then activate about half an hour before you normally come home so that you can enter a nice cool house when you arrive.

Working with Voice Assistants

When you have Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant, or Siri from HomeKit, you can just voice out your commands to adjust the temperature. You can ask for the current temperature, and then tell the voice assistant to set the temperature to a different level. Or maybe you can just tell Alexa, Google, or Siri to raise or lower the temperature by how many degrees you want.

Geofencing

The Sensi can also work by sensing the location of your smartphone, which is of course normally near you. So if it senses that you’ve left the immediate vicinity of your home, and it can then power down the heater or the air conditioner. Once it notices that you’re approaching home, it can power back up to give you the temperature you want automatically.

Alerts and Accuracy

The Sensi can warn you when your HVAC system isn’t working properly and the temperature or humidity level isn’t right. The Sensi hardware is in fact able to control the heating and cooling features of your HVAC system to match your preferences even if you lose your Wi-Fi connection.

The accuracy of the Emerson Sensi is also terrific, as it can set the actual temperature of your home to within a degree of your preferred temperature. That’s one of the tightest tolerances in the smart thermostat industry.

Pros

Quite a few consumers may be interested in the Emerson Sensi due to the following reasons:

  • It’s extremely affordable. Who says a smart thermostat has to be an expensive investment?
  • It works with voice assistant systems, including HomeKit. This gives you the chance to just tell your voice assistant to adjust the temperature to suit your preferences. It works with Wink too.
  • It works with numerous HVAC systems, and you can check the Sensi website to be sure.
  • You can now stop worrying about whether you’ve left the heater or the air conditioner running when you left the house. You can just check your smartphone and turn it off remotely.
  • With your schedules, you can set temperature levels for different times of the day. You can set different settings for night or day time, or when you’re at work or at home. You can also set your settings to match the season.
  • You can buy multiple thermostats for various parts of the house, and it won’t be as expensive. A single app can control all these smart thermostats.
  • The installation can be done by a pro, and Emerson helps you find them. If you want to go the DIY route because you have some experience, the app can really help guide you along the installation process.
  • The warranty is for 3 years, which is among the longest warranties in the business. It even extends to 5 years if you let a pro handle the installation.

Cons

As it’s affordable, you do lose out on some features that the more expensive smart thermostats offer:

  • You have to buy multiple thermostats if you want sensors for each room.
  • The look of the thermostat isn’t exactly pretty, though it’s certainly functional enough.
  • There are no motion sensors, so it doesn’t really know if there are people in the room.
  • When the thermostat is idle and the room is well-lit, the display may be a bit more difficult to read compared to when the display is at full brightness.

Conclusion

Don’t bemoan the lack of advanced features—you’re looking at the Emerson Sensi because you don’t actually need those features in the first place. Besides, the more advanced a device is, the more things that can go wrong with it.

That’s one of the basic advantages of the Sensi—it very seldom goes wrong, if ever. It works as it should, and you can rely on it to follow your settings and schedules accurately.

This means that you won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat or freezing to the bone because the thermostat believes that the bedroom is empty. That can happen with motion sensors.

So have a pro install it for you, as that’s worth the few extra bucks. Then enjoy having remote control of your thermostat even when you’re at work. Save money and bask in the comfort—and you didn’t even have to spend too much money to have a smart thermostat with the Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat.