Revamped, flatter thermostat design reduces glare and improves touchscreen sensitivity. Mounting plate’s built-in bubble level is a huge plus. Improved power extender kit makes installation easier. Works with previous-generation sensor units. Integrates almost seamlessly with HomeKit.
Wiring terminal locations are different from older ecobee models, which may cause confusion on installation. LED light is a bit annoying. Alexa integration is limited, doesn’t always recognize ecobee unit, and voice activation is buggy. Users feel the underpowered speaker is pointless.
Installation is relatively simple using existing thermostat wiring. Sensor-based “follow me” feature optimizes heating and cooling well. Multiple comfort settings allow for plenty of customization. Good integration with Alexa as well as Apple’s HomeKit. Tech support is helpful.
Thermostat itself can run “warm” or overheat, requiring extra component or electrician to fix. Remote sensors occasionally disconnect. Not all control features, like HomeIQ, are included in the mobile app. Some users have trouble with installation.
Temperature is easy to read even across the room. Installation, including power extender kit, is straightforward and simple, even for inexperienced owners. Responsive tech support and in-app installation guide are a nice plus. Works well with Echo and HomeKit.
Scheduling feature is somewhat limited, some users feel. Alexa voice features are limited to temperature set commands. Monitoring data lags behind actual air temperatures. Temperatures can be inconsistent.
Website interface is very intuitive and easy to use for programming thermostat. Owners like the volume of reporting data they get. Remote settings and programming are simple and easy to use. Works reliably month after month.
Thermostat may require furnace connection rewiring to work properly, especially in older homes. On-device screen readings can be confusing. Customer service wait time and helpfulness need improvement, owners say.
Owners like the level of control and customization they can get with this thermostat. Super-detailed reporting is a plus for many users. Works reliably. Many users prefer controlling through the website rather than the mobile app.
Installation can be complex, and so can online connection options. Interface looks old-fashioned, and touchscreen can be finicky. Mobile app is clunky. Some owners report compatibility issues with their HVAC units. Reports of thermostat “hunting” for correct temperature and sensor inaccuracies.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
The smart home revolution is officially on. If you can install an appliance or accessory in your house, chances are there’s a smart tech version of it just waiting to be controlled from your smartphone. Smart homes first heated up with one key device: smart thermostats. There are plenty of big names across the smart thermostat market, and one of our favorites is ecobee. With a focus on simplicity and affordability, the ecobee smart thermostats have won over thousands of users.
Smart thermostats are just like regular thermostats but with tech inside that enables them to dynamically adjust the temperature to keep it where you want it. You can even use your smartphone to set up heating and cooling schedules or make adjustments on the fly. Smart thermostats are pretty cool, and best of all, they save you money. By only using resources when needed, smart thermostats can save you an average of 20% off your monthly heating and cooling costs.
If you’re thinking about joining the revolution, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know to pick out the best ecobee smart thermostat for your home.
The ecobee product line isn’t very big — they like to keep it simple with just a few models. Before you start comparing them, answer these two questions.
Some ecobee models come with a separate sensor, which is perfect for homes in which temperatures can vary based on location. (If it’s often hotter or colder upstairs than it is downstairs, plan on using a sensor for best results.) If you live in a smaller home or apartment, you can save money and get a model that doesn’t include a separate sensor. If you’re unsure, start with a model that doesn’t include a separate sensor; you can always purchase one later and integrate it.
The top-of-the-line ecobee smart thermostat has Amazon’s voice-enabled digital assistant, Alexa, built in. That’s a step above other devices, which work with Alexa but don’t accept voice commands themselves and require you to own an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. If you don’t have an Echo device already, getting an ecobee with Alexa on board is a worthwhile investment. If Alexa’s already part of your home, there’s really no need to pay a premium for a duplicate instance.
An ecobee that’s something to talk about
The ecobee4 is the company’s “kitchen sink” model. It’s got everything that its predecessors have — like a gorgeous, responsive touchscreen, a dead-simple app, and the smarts to keep the temperature perfect all the time — and adds Amazon’s Alexa. If you’re new to having a digital voice-controlled assistant, the ecobee4 is a great way to give it a try. The built-in motion sensors and included portable temperature sensor make the ecobee4 a powerhouse and an incredible value.
Most ecobee smart thermostats look identical; they use the same screens, so it can be hard to tell them apart. Here’s how they differ under the hood.
If you’re looking for a thermostat you can control with voice commands, ecobee has partnered with the best voice tech around: Amazon’s Alexa services. The ecobee models with Alexa built in can do most of what a normal Amazon Echo device can do, with a few exceptions (like messaging or multiroom audio). We’re big fans of changing the temperature just by asking; it feels like the future, and it’s just plain convenient.
Some houses can be difficult to keep warm or cool because of how they’re laid out. As heat rises, higher floors can get warmer, and older heating systems sometimes struggle to deliver air to all parts of the house. Whatever the cause, if you live in a building in which different rooms are often different temperatures, it’s a good idea to get an ecobee smart thermostat with a portable sensor, so it can make changes based on both.
The ecobee models with internal motion sensors are able to track when you walk into a room and when you leave and account for that when maintaining an ideal temperature for you. It’s a pretty handy feature for conserving energy: when motion isn’t detected for long periods of time, the thermostat can then reduce usage accordingly.
The ecobee4 has Alexa built in, but it can’t do everything a standard Amazon Echo or Echo Dot can. Some Alexa skills aren’t available on the ecobee, and all messaging services (like voice calls) are disabled. And you’ll have to call your ecobee4 “Alexa” — you can’t change the wake word like you can on an Echo or Echo Dot.
Safety first! If you’re installing an ecobee thermostat yourself, make sure to turn off the power ahead of time. Never take chances with live electricity — you risk severe electric shock and damage to your home.
Most ecobee smart thermostats integrate with If This Then That (IFTTT), a service that lets you set up coordinated events with your smart technology so you can use different devices together. For example, if your front door has a smart lock, you can use IFTTT to create a rule that says, “When I unlock my door, turn on the lights and set the temperature to 71°.”
Basic: Last-generation ecobees typically cost between $135 and $150. If you need a basic smart thermostat that you can control from your phone, ecobee’s older models are a decent choice. They’re fairly utilitarian and rely on an interface that only a developer could love, but they get the job done. If you’re looking for an ecobee that works with an external sensor or supports voice commands, you’ll need to spend more.
ecobee3 lite: For around $150, you can get the standard model ecobee, the ecobee3 lite, which works with Alexa, so long as you own one or more Amazon Echo devices. The ecobee3 lite supports external sensors, but it doesn’t come with any. If you’re looking for the best ecobee experience, but you don’t need a sensor or Amazon’s Alexa built in, the ecobee3 lite is your best bet.
ecobee4: The ecobee4 retails for around $200. It is nearly the same as the ecobee3 lite, but it has Amazon’s Alexa built in, so you can talk to it and change the temperature or ask it anything from the local time to the latest current events. It’s also slightly thinner, which is a plus for the aesthetically minded, and it comes with a portable temperature sensor for gauging the temperature elsewhere in your home. If you want the ecobee that pulls out all the stops, this is the one to get.
A hot ecobee that keeps its cool
The ecobee3 may be second in line in the product lineup, but only by a few features. It’s a little thicker than the ecobee4, it doesn’t have motion sensors, and it doesn’t have Amazon’s Alexa inside. Other than that, it makes no more concessions, and it even includes a portable temperature sensor. If you can live without Alexa (or if you already own an Echo device), the ecobee3 is an easy choice.
Set up Vacation Mode on your thermostat if you’ll be away an extended period of time. All ecobee thermostats support Vacation Mode, which conserves energy while keeping temperatures within a standard range. It’s great for peace of mind while you’re away, so you don’t have to worry about things like pipes freezing or heat damage.
Disable the digital assistant. Not everyone is thrilled about having an always-listening digital assistant in their home. If you have privacy concerns about using an ecobee thermostat that has Amazon’s Alexa voice-controlled digital assistant built in, disable that functionality within the settings, or consider getting an ecobee without voice-controlled technology.
The other big name in smart thermostats is Google Nest. The Google Nest Learning Thermostat (Third Generation) is a worthy competitor: it’s beautiful, it has money-saving smart tech inside, and it’s often more affordable. Best of all, the Google Nest is part of an interconnected family of smart home products, so you can control it in coordination with their other products like their security cameras, video doorbells, and locks.
If you’re looking for a smart thermostat from one of the more traditional brands, consider the Honeywell Home WiFi Smart Color Programmable Thermostat. It’s got all of the requisite smart tech on board, it works with a variety of services (like Echo, Google Assistant, or Cortana devices), and it’s more affordable than most of the competition. It’s not going to win any design awards, but if you prefer a smart thermostat with a giant, easy-to-read display and a brand that’s been making thermostats for decades, this is the one to get.
Q. How difficult is it to install an ecobee thermostat?
A. Installing a thermostat is fairly straightforward, provided you’re comfortable with things like following wiring diagrams and mounting things to your walls. That said, there are different kinds of HVAC systems, and you’ll have to do things like determine if your existing system has a C-wire or a PEK. If you’re patient and can follow instructional videos closely, you’ll be able to install your ecobee in less than an hour. If any of this gives you heartburn, call a licensed contractor and have them install it for you.
Q. What does it mean when a thermostat says it supports multiple zones?
A. Some larger homes use multi-zone HVAC systems, which typically means they employ multiple furnaces, with each unit responsible for a section of the home. In these cases, each HVAC unit is controlled by its own thermostat. If you have multiple thermostats in your home, that’s a multi-zone system. If that’s the case, keep in mind that ecobee thermostats can only control one zone, so you would need to buy one to replace each of your existing thermostats.
Q. Can I still use an ecobee thermostat if my internet connection goes down?
A. Yes. Most smart technology becomes “dumb” technology in the event of an outage. You can control the temperature by interacting with the ecobee unit itself. When the internet or ecobee’s servers aren’t available, you won’t be able to use the smartphone app or voice commands to control your thermostat, but you’ll still have full access to your heating and cooling services.
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