Ecobee is one of the biggest names in smart heating. Born from a desire to reduce the amount of energy heating and cooling a home that’s unoccupied uses, Ecobbee has produced several models of smart thermostats over the years.
It currently offers two smart thermostats: the Ecobee3 Lite and the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control. The latter is the newer of the pair, has the most features, and is the thermostat we’ll be focusing on for this article.
At $250, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is a close rival to the Nest Learning Thermostat, and offers a similar range of features, including smart home integration and a claimed ability to lower your energy bills by smartly and automatically adjusting the heating and cooling of your home.
So how does it actually stack up against the best smart thermostats you can buy right now, and crucially should you be buying one?
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Read on to find out whether you should buy the Ecobee SmartThermostat, or if you already know which model you want to control your heating and cooling system, check out the best prices right now.
With a retail price of $250, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is a fairly expensive device. It costs the same as the latest, third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat, while being significantly more than the $60 Amazon Smart Thermostat. However, that model has a less premium design, fewer features and only works with Alexa.
But, while the Amazon thermostat requires an Alexa smart speaker, like an Echo, somewhere in your home to enable voice control – the Ecobee has Alexa built-in. Thanks to an integrated speaker and microphone, the Ecobee works just like an Echo speaker, with the Amazon assistant able to answer your questions, play music, set timers, adjust the heating, and control all of your other smart home devices.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat also comes with a wireless SmartSensor for monitoring the temperature and occupancy of a certain room, away from where the thermostat itself is located, and keeping the heating and cooling at a comfortable level. One sensor is included with the thermostat, and additional sensors are priced at $100 for two. Ecobee thermostats can accommodate up to 32 sensors.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat is a similar size and shape to most of its rivals. It measures 4.29 inch square and is 1 inch thick. The included trim plate (used to hide any holes or marks left by the removal of your old thermostat) is 6.24 inch square and 0.34 inch thick.
Unlike the Nest Learning Thermostat and its various colour options, the Ecobee is only available with a white body and black front. That front panel houses a glass touchscreen display that prominently shows the current temperature next to a slider used to raise or lower the target temperature with a swipe. Below this are icons for accessing the settings menu and other features. The system is powered by a quad-core processor, and there’s dual-band Wi-Fi to ensure a good connection to your router.
The Ecobee works with radiant heating systems, multistage and dual-fuel heat pumps. It is powered by a dedicated power supply using a Common wire (also known as a C wire). A so-called Power Extender Kit is included in the box, allowing for installation in most homes without a C wire.
Ecobee says installation should only take an amateur around 45 minutes, although a professional can be hired if you so wish.
Like other intelligent thermostats, the Ecobee learns your heating and cooling preferences, then makes recommendations on how to lower your energy bills while maintaining a comfortable temperature. It also adjusts to keep your home comfortable in high and low humidity, and aims to heat or cool when energy is cheaper.
A built-in occupancy sensor automatically adjusts the temperature to save money when you go out, then warms or cools the home to your preferred level when you return. By using the included SmartSensor (and more can be purchased for other rooms) the thermostat can be set to only heat or cool the rooms that are being occupied, in a further bid to lower your energy bills.
A major highlight of the Ecobee SmartThermostat is how its integrated speaker and microphone turns it into a smart speaker with voice assistant. Alexa works natively and requires no additional hardware, while Siri can also be used, but this requires you to have at least one Apple HomePod or HomePod Mini as part of your smart home. Either assistant can then be used in the normal way, speaking aloud from the thermostat itself.
Asking questions to your thermostat, or requesting it to play music, might seem strange, but if it’s located in a commonly used area of the home it could well be useful. You can use it to broadcast announcements to the home, for example, where a message is played through every compatible Alexa or Siri speaker in the property, or make hands-free phone calls. Of course, you can also ask the assistant (on the thermostat itself or any other compatible device) to adjust the temperature.
As well as the aforementioned temperature sensors, Ecobee also sells sensors for doors and windows ($80 for two). With these installed, opening a door or window for more than five minutes will switch off the air conditioning and send you a notification via the Ecobee app in a bid to reduce energy waste.
Should I buy the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control?
The Ecobee SmartThermostat is a feature-packed product that ticks a lot of boxes. It is nicely designed, with an attractive user interface, the ability to lower your energy bills, and broad smart home integration. Having Alexa built in, and the ability to use Siri in an Apple-focused smart home, is also a nice bonus that sets the Ecobee apart from rivals like the Nest Learning Thermostat.
All that said, at $250 it is as expensive as its Nest rival. Both cost considerably more than the $60 Amazon Smart Thermostat, which also claims to intelligently lower energy bills.
So long as the Ecobee is within budget, it should appeal to almost all smart home builders. This is thanks to it working with all major home automation and voice assistant systems. It will especially appeal to those who use the Alexa or Siri voice assistants to control their smart home devices, and having access to these on the thermostat itself could be useful in some households. But this will depend on where in the home the thermostat is located.
Those on a tighter budget should look elsewhere, at either the $60 Amazon Smart Thermostat or $130 Nest Thermostat (or the Nest Thermostat E in markets where that is available). The Ecobee will also be less appealing to those who do not use Alexa or Siri as their primary voice assistant. While the thermostat can still be controlled by speaking to the Google Assistant on another device, like a Nest Audio smart speaker, the Ecobee’s own speaker and microphone would go unused.
We also think the Ecobee’s voice assistant tech would be wasted in homes where the thermostat is hidden away, such as in a hallway where Alexa would probably go unused.
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