The Venstar ColorTouch T7850 is a good option if you are ready to upgrade your thermostat. It's attractive and easy to navigate. However, it doesn’t have as many features as the best thermostats – for example, it doesn’t include motion sensors, automatic scheduling and comprehensive customer support options. While this limits its energy-saving potential, it makes up for it with alerts, energy usage reports and a feature that lets you send messages to its screen. Its combination of energy-saving features, affordability and design flair makes the ColorTouch a solid option.
This smart thermostat costs around $200, which is slightly higher than the industry average of $180. However, even with its strengths, it comes with limited customer support and fewer advanced features than more affordable thermostats such as the Emerson Sensi.
Venstar's ColorTouch smart thermostat works with four-stage heating and two-stage cooling systems. The keypad lock lets you control who adjusts the temperature, and like the best programmable thermostats, the T7850’s auto-changeover feature seamlessly switches between heating and cooling. To add humidity control to your system, you can upgrade to the ColorTouch T7900.
This unit's detailed scheduling settings let you define up to four distinct periods for each day of the week, or you can simply set your ideal temperatures for sleeping and daylight hours. The away mode ensures you don’t heat or cool an empty house.
There are no motion sensors, so this Venstar ColorTouch thermostat does not know when you enter a room, nor does it program itself like the Nest Learning Thermostat or models made by ecobee. While you can get reports about energy use, the thermostat doesn’t give you immediate information about how much energy or money you might be saving.
The ColorTouch's Wi-Fi connectivity and mobile app let you control the unit, receive alerts, view energy usage reports and send messages to the thermostat's screen for your family to see. The full-color touchscreen's crisp graphics are quite attractive, and its interface is the easiest to navigate of the thermostats we tested. The app resembles the thermostat’s physical interface quite closely, which makes it intuitive to use. You can add voice controls by linking it with an Amazon Echo.
The thermostat is multipurpose, doubling as a clock or digital photo frame you can use to show a slideshow of your favorite photos, and you can choose a themed background. It has an SD card slot for the photos you want to display in the slide show when it’s idle. You can also choose a custom faceplate – black, white, silver or wood grain.
This thermostat requires a small Phillips screwdriver for installation, since the wires are secured with screws. It also requires a C wire, which may add time to the installation process. Still, during our testing, we installed it quickly with relatively little hassle.
Venstar's customer support is rather limited. There's only a one-year warranty on the ColorTouch, and email is the only way to contact customer support directly.