Emerson Sensi UP500W Review

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Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Pros: The Emerson Sensi (starting at $110; available on Amazon) isn't the cheapest smart thermostat on the market, but it's still a good value considering how easy it is to use and the extras it offers for its comparatively "budget" price. While smart-home products sometimes require tricky installation and some technical know-how, customer reviews on Amazon say that's not the case with the Emerson Sensi, thanks to clear step-by-step instructions, some of which even include how-to videos, on the thermostat's app. The app also wins praise for its smooth interface (once the thermostat is up and running). Experts with The Wirecutter appreciate that it lets users see the essentials (humidity, temperature, time) on the display and alter settings both basic and complex. Users also say the thermostat's button controls are simple, but using the app allows more command. Another bonus: Unlike many smart thermostats, this unit doesn't always require a C-wire for installation, as the screen is powered by two AA batteries.

Cons: Some Sensi owners say their thermostats don't consistently maintain a Wi-Fi connection -- a universal complaint with smart thermostats. Others take to Amazon to grouse that they purchased this model thinking they didn't need a C-wire, only to find out that they still did for their specific type of system (heat-only, cool-only, or heat pumps).

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Features: Users can program the Sensi to adjust the temperature differently for each day of the week. Instead of a temperature swing function, it has an adjustable "cycle rate" that can be set to slow, medium, or fast. It also has a couple of smart-home bonuses: It can integrate with Amazon Echo, giving users the option to control it by voice command, and it's also compatible with the Wink smart-home hub. The Sensi works with up to four-stage heating and two-stage cooling systems, heat pumps, and cool- and heat-only systems. It does not work with millivolt heating (although additions can make it compatible), electric baseboards, or other two-wire line-voltage systems. It is backed by a three-year warranty.

Takeaway: Unlike some higher-tech smart thermostats, the Sensi doesn't learn users' habits automatically, but its compatibility with several types of HVAC systems and other smart-home devices may make it worth the small price premium for many consumers.