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Sensi WiFi Programmable Review

The best for older homes, and while it can be difficult to use on the device, the app is great
Sensi WiFi Programmable
Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable
Credit: Sensi
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Price:   $130 List | $99.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy to install, great mobile app, only thermostat that has a battery powered option
Cons:  Hard to use without the app
Manufacturer:   Sensi
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Oct 25, 2016
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Ease of Use - 40% 4.0
  • Install & Support - 30% 7.0
  • Remote Access - 20% 7.0
  • Accuracy - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Sensi WiFi by Emerson fall much more in the traditional thermostat category, retaining the appearance and interface as a typical programmable model. Scoring equally as our Best Buy award winner, this model was just a little more expensive. However, this model has the highest compatibility with older homes, and is definitely a product to consider if you have an older home or a non-standard HVAC system. The only aspect where this device really lagged was on ease of use on the device, but it's easy enough to adjust everything through the mobile app, almost negating this drawback.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  
Price $130 List
$99.00 at Amazon
$170 List
$159.99 at Amazon
$55 List
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$60 List
$47.99 at Amazon
$25 List
$17.25 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Easy to install, great mobile app, only thermostat that has a battery powered optionLarge screen, easy to see at night, simple remote access appLarge screen, easy to read, straightforward programmingApp-guided installation, easy scheduling, event settingsSimple design, great customer service
Cons Hard to use without the appNo backup battery, some feature limitations on appPoor customer support, nightlight button not illuminatedDifficult visibility in bright lightNo backlight, no scheduling, small display screen
Bottom Line The best for older homes, and while it can be difficult to use on the device, the app is greatA well-designed, highly-customizable smart thermostat with an easy-to-read screen and lots of featuresA low-cost, high-performance digital thermostat that is accurate, easy to set up, and program but lacks WiFi and a remote access appA decent quality, cost-effective, smart thermostat that is easy to operate and integrates with Alexa-connected smart devicesThis simplistic model lacks higher-order programming and remote access, but it's accurate and economic
Rating Categories Sensi WiFi Programm... Honeywell WiFi Smar... Orbit Clear Comfort Amazon Smart Thermo... Emerson NP110
Ease of Use (40%)
4.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
4.0
Install & Support (30%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Remote Access (20%)
7.0
8.0
0
7.0
0
Accuracy (10%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Sensi WiFi Programm... Honeywell WiFi Smar... Orbit Clear Comfort Amazon Smart Thermo... Emerson NP110
Colors White Grey, white White White White
Battery Backup AA Batteries No Yes No Yes
Learning/ Adaptive Controls No Yes No Yes No
Dimensions Length: 3.75 in
Width: 5.875 in
Depth: .9375 in
Length: 3.5 in
Width: 4.5 in
Depth: .88 in
Length: 5.3 in
Width: 3.25 in
Depth: 1.3 in
Length: 3.5 in
Width: 3.5 in
Depth: .84 in
Length: 6 in
Width: 4 in
Depth: 1.5 in
Works Directly with Alexa/Amazon Echo Yes Yes/Hey Google No Yes No
Works with Apple HomeKit No No No No No
Model # 1F86U-42WF RTH9585WF1004/U 83521 S6ED3R NP110

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sensi gave a strong performance across most of our testing metrics, scoring above average on install and support, remote access and accuracy. Our main complaint was this product was its below average performance in ease of use, which was our highest weighted metric.

Performance Comparison


Sensi WiFi Programmable thermostat - the sensi thermostat has a more minimalistic design.
The Sensi thermostat has a more minimalistic design.
Credit: Kat Elliott

Ease of Use


Ease of use was our most important rating category for this product, making up 40% of the total score. Unfortunately, the Sensi scored below average in this category with a 4 out of 10, effectively precluding it from winning the top score. This was the only model that did not prompt you through the setup process, simply initializing with its factory settings. We found it to be significantly unintuitive to set a schedule, initially thinking it was impossible to set a schedule on the device, only being possible on the app.

Sensi WiFi Programmable thermostat

It turned out that the feature to set a schedule on the device is disabled when connected to WiFi. This product limited to 4 changes per day: wake, work, home, and sleep and will only run a 7-day schedule, with all days being the same. This is substantially more restrictive and less customizable than other products, and much harder to match to your actual comings and goings.

Under advanced settings there are a handful of things you can adjust, such as adding a lock or add a fixed offset to correct if the Sensi is always reading slightly high or low. We did like that you can adjust the maintenance band on the Sensi, or how fast it cycles on and off your HVAC system. This allows you to decide how much you want to push your equipment at the expense of accuracy.

The current temperature is adjusted through up and down arrow keys, and the temperature can be set to hold until the next change in schedule, with a hold minimum time of 2 hours. The Sensi displays the current and set temperature, time, and mode on its home screen.

Sensi WiFi Programmable thermostat - the home screen on the sensi, displaying the current and set...
The home screen on the Sensi, displaying the current and set temperatures.
Credit: Kat Elliott

Install & Support


Upon opening the box, the packaging notifies you to install the companion application, which then guides you step by step through the entire set-up, with helpful tips and tricks along the way, including additional video if you get lost in a certain section. We felt this was an extremely helpful tool, and contributed to this product earning a 7 out of 10 in this category. The base plate for the Sensi also included a built-in level.

Sensi WiFi Programmable thermostat - the base plate for the sensi.
The base plate for the Sensi.
Credit: Kat Elliott

It lagged a little when it came to customer support, requiring us to follow up on our initial request after a week to get a response, and even then their responses felt somewhat cryptic and short. We felt they did much better when it came to over the phone support, answering our questions without the need to transfer us around multiple times.

Remote Access


The Sensi did well when it came to remote access, earning an above average score of 7 out of 10. The app is easy and straightforward to use, and we particularly liked that the background changes color depending on whether or not it is heating or cooling.

Sensi WiFi Programmable thermostat

Scheduling on the app is great, giving you the option to change the temperature in 15-minute increments up to 8 times a day. You can also pull up the schedule on the calendar view to see the week and the temperatures that you have set.

The home screen of the app is extremely similar to the device, with a slight delay before the information is pushed to the device, allowing you to correct for unintentional adjustments. This product also has a fully automatic mode where it will decide what actions the HVAC system must take to keep the ambient temperature in a set range.

Accuracy


As we tested all of these products, we checked the displayed temperature against each other and against a laboratory grade thermometer to act as a control. The Sensi was decently consistent, usually off by about a degree from the control. You can also adjust the temperature with a fixed offset, as mentioned above. For example, if you check and the Sensi always reads a degree higher than ambient, you can manually offset it down a degree to display the true temperature.

Sensi WiFi Programmable thermostat - the sensi was only off by 0.30 degrees f in this trial.
The Sensi was only off by 0.30 degrees F in this trial.
Credit: Kat Elliott

Value


This product has a decent value, scoring the same as our Best Buy award winner, but having a list price that is about 40 dollars higher.

Conclusion


The Sensi falls somewhat in the middle, scoring alright but is a little too expensive to be considered a value pick. We felt that there were some odd idiosyncrasies when it came to setting up schedules and navigating menus, but would potentially be a great pick if you can cope with those quirks and/or found it at a better price.

David Wise and Austin Palmer
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