BEST ECOBEE THERMOSTATS
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.
ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control , Black
ecobee Lite SmartThermostat, Black
ecobee4 Smart Thermostat with Built-in Alexa, Room Sensor Included
ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control , Black
ecobee Lite SmartThermostat, Black
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.
How big is your home?
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.
Do you own any Amazon Echo devices?
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.
ECOBEE THERMOSTAT FEATURES
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.
Some ecobees include Alexa
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.
Many ecobees come with a portable temperature sensor
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.
Some ecobees have built-in motion sensors
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.
ECOBEE THERMOSTAT PRICES
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.
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.
- Check your energy bills. Find your last few heating and cooling bills before you buy an ecobee thermostat, so you can see how much you save after you install it. Using a smart thermostat will definitely save you money on your monthly bills, but if you want a “before and after” picture of how much you’re saving, you’ll need to know how much you’re paying for heating and cooling costs now. Keep a few recent bills around for comparison; you could be saving more than you think!
OTHER PRODUCTS WE CONSIDERED
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.