Ecobee Thermostat Review – Is the Ecobee a Good Smart Thermostat?

Smart thermostats have been on the market for several years now, offering consumers improved energy efficiency and a long list of features that make daily life more convenient.

The first smart thermostats introduced to the market were certainly interesting and fun gadgets to experiment with, but they left a lot to be desired in terms of a finished product that delivered real value.

In recent years, manufacturers in the smart thermostat market have made tremendous advances and now offer some excellent models with expanded features.

Of course, the core benefit of a smart thermostat is reducing energy use and reducing your energy costs by more efficiently managing temperature settings inside your home or office.

Some models are even capable of monitoring multiple rooms, ignoring rooms not in use and directing resources to rooms in use.

There are many smart thermostat brands and models to choose from, similar to any product on the market they come with different features, price points and benefits.

About the Ecobee Smart Thermostat

Ecobee opened operations in 2007, and introduced its first smart thermostat not long after. In fact, ecobee was the first company to offer a smart thermostat app-capable, although at that time the functionality of the app/thermostat relationship was limited.

Since then, ecobee has introduced several models, with the latest called the ecobee3 Smart Thermostat. There has been a fair amount of press concerning the release of the ecobee3, which is not surprising considering they are firmly planted among the top 10 smart thermostat manufacturers, perhaps even top 5.

Ecobee3 Smart Thermostat – Appearance, Features & Functionality

The ecobee3 Smart Thermostat, released in September, is the Canadian company’s newest addition the ecobee product line.

At a quick glance, it is obvious ecobee is making an effort to not only offer a device with upgraded capability, but also improve their image and marketing package. The ecobee3 retails for $249 and sports a new look for the product packaging as well as the device itself.

The ecobee3 arrives in a sleek, modern looking black box with subtle silver accents. This is a big improvement over the plain industrial packaging ecobee used for previous models. Obviously, the product packaging does not offer any real benefits to the customer but it was nice to see an improvement anyhow.

The base unit at $249 includes everything you will need to install, set up and use your ecobee3 right out of the box.

What is Included?

  • Included-One ecobee3 Thermostat
  • Included-Quick Set Up Directions
  • Included-Full Install Manual
  • Included-One Remote Sensor Unit w/stand
  • Included-Pwr. Extend Kit
  • Included-Trim Plates
  • Included-Screws & Wall Plugs

As you see in the list above, the ecobee3 comes with one remote sensor already included. The system is designed to handle up to thirty-two sensors; additional sensors are available for purchase at $80 for a set of two.

Out of the Box

This thermostat can save homeowners up to 23% on their energy bills and offers convenience features that make life just a little nicer.

Once out of the box, the thermostat has a modern and clean look, black in color with a smooth touchscreen. The touchscreen behaves much like an iPhone as it reacts to a touch or slide of the finger. The screen is a full color LCD display measuring 3.5 inches and 320 X 480 pixels.

The touchscreen responds quickly to commands, either by direct touch or a finger swipe and we found moving between screens and functions efficient, not choppy like you sometimes find with lower quality electronics.

The screen display is easy to read and is not difficult to navigate around to find different functions.

Installing the Ecobee3

Installing the unit is not difficult, it basically involves making sure your power is off, disconnecting a few wires and then reconnecting the wires to the new thermostat. The device operates on a five-wire connection; the wires will probably be red, blue, green, yellow and white on color.

Simply disconnect these wires from your old thermostat unit and then reconnect to your ecobee3. The base package includes a PEK, which is a power extender, if you find you only have four wires to work with.

Once the ecobee3 is connected, then it is ready to be powered on and start the task of efficiently heating and cooling your home or office. The set-up is easy, as the device will display each step on the screen and let you know the current status of the device.

It only takes a few minutes to run through the initial set up process, enter your settings and then let the ecobee3 work its magic.

How Does it Work?

The ecobee3 comes with one remote sensor, that should be placed in a room or location that is in a different area then the main thermostat unit. The system will use the sensor to monitor the temperature of the room where the sensor is located.

The ecobee3 will use the readings from the sensor to direct heating or cooling to rooms where there is activity by using motion sensors.

If you placed the sensor in the bedroom and no one is using the bedroom, then the device will concentrate heating and cooling efforts on rooms where there is activity and ignore dormant spaces.

This makes the heating and cooling process more efficient by directing resources only to rooms that need it. The device also has a “Home and Away” feature allowing you to set default temperature settings for when your home and also for when you are out of the house.

Again using the motion sensors, the device will determine if anyone is in the home or office, and apply the appropriate temperature settings.

The device comes app-capable and is compatible with the iPhone and Android phones. The ecobee app allows you to control settings, programming and device options through the app right on your mobile phone, just make sure you connect the ecobee3 to your home WiFi network.

Ecobee also has a web application available so you can control settings from your laptop, desktop or tablet, whether at home or on the go.

Not only will the compatible applications allow you access to control the device, it will also send alerts if there is some type of malfunction with the device or the system needs maintenance.

Main Features – At a Glance

Compatibility: Conventional heating/air conditioning, electric, humidifier, dehumidifier, ventilation, oil & gas, heat pumps COMPATIBILIY
Ecobee3 warranty3 years defective parts, defective unit, repair or replace WARRANTY
Alert Settings: Notifies if current temp/humidity are out of set ranges.Alert to change filters ALERTS
Smart Recovery: Uses weather information and your home heating and cooling behavior to reduce energy use. WEATHER DATA
Humidity Control: Utilizes weather information and adjusts humidity settings with the humidifier in system. HUMIDITY
Staging Settings: Supports modern mutli-stage HVAC equipment HVAC
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n at 2.4 GhzWEP 64, WEP 128, WPA, WPA2, DHCP/static IP WIFI
Power Source: 24 VACHard wired POWER
Vacation Settings: Enter settings for when you are on vacation to allow the unit to adjust environment and reduce energy usage. VACATION MODE
App-capable: Compatible w/ iPhone, Android and offers web application. SMARTPHONE

Warranty/Maintenance/Service/Power Source

The ecobee3 and the remote sensor included are covered under a 3-year warranty that covers product defects and failure. The unit is hard wired so it has a constant power source; the remote sensor has a coin cell battery that will last approximately four years. Your system filters will need to be changed regularly.

Things I Liked

I liked the price for the ecobee3 (see this link), as I found it reasonable for a newer model smart thermostat that offers the features and functionality that the ecobee3 does. I found the install was easy even for a non-technical person and the set up process was smooth.

Any time you buy a new device and can have it up and running in less than an hour, I consider that a checkmark in the plus category. Having access to both a web application and a smart phone app was also a nice touch, which provides easy access.

Things I Did Not Like

The original ecobee unit displayed the local weather on the home screen of the device and this has been changed with the ecobee3. You can still get weather information but you have to move to a different screen.

It would be more convenient to have the readout of the outside temperature  easily available, even if you are just walking past the device.

Ecobee Compared to the Competition

It’s important not to evaluate a device like this in a vacuum. To that end, I’ve written a number of comparisons which you can find below:

  1. Ecobee compared to the Honeywell LyricSee comparison here.
  2. Ecobee versus Google NestSee comparison here.
  3. Ecobee compared to VenstarSee comparison here.

Final Recommendation

I give the device a “two thumbs up”. I am sure that we will find out more about the actual long-term use of the ecobee3 as time goes on, as the unit was just released.

However, at an initial look, I can recommend it as a solid option for a smart thermostat offering a good range of convenience and efficiency. You can find it at this listing for a really good price.