Ecobee3 Smart Thermostat Review

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Overall Rating 4 out of 5
The Ecobee3 is a 3.5″ full-color LCD touchscreen thermostat. Ecobee3 has built-in sensors that monitor a room’s temperature and occupancy.

At what point are our things smart enough? Nest was smart, Lyric says they are smarter, and Ecobee is saying they are the smartest of them all.

The Ecobee3 is a 3.5″ full-color LCD touchscreen thermostat. Ecobee 3 has built-in sensors that monitor a room’s temperature and occupancy. Think of it like this:

Nest takes time to learn your habits through algorithms and thinks it knows when you will be home or away based upon patterns.
Lyric uses geofence technology to sense if you are home or away.
Ecobee3 uses sensors to know if you are home or away.

The Ecobee3’s sensors monitor the temperature continuously and adjust when the sensors notice that someone has arrived home or is leaving. While the system works primarily on sensors, it also has a learning algorithm. Ecobee’s algorithm was created to read the outdoor temperature and your schedule to create a unique energy profile and lower your energy bill.

The sensor sets Ecobee apart

The sensor is a key element to the Ecobee solution. Through sensors, you can monitor your entire home and lower your total cost of ownership. Some systems require that you buy a “head” unit for each room or expensive equipment for each room.

For example, let’s say that you have one of these limited systems and you have one thermostat but you have a two-story home. Every time you go upstairs, the system is going to think your gone and your temperature will adjust accordingly. Ecobee can monitor a large home through the use of sensors.

A 2 pack of sensors costs $79 but the system ships with one sensor for free. The remote sensors will read the temperature in other areas of your house where the thermostat can’t reach and also provide more intelligent “presence”. You can add up to 32 sensors for larger homes.

Does it play well with others?

               Photo by Ecobee

One of the disadvantages of purchasing Ecobee over other solutions is that it is not yet compatible with other products. However, Ecobee has made it clear that they want to work with developers through open API. The program is TBD but they are working on a launch. They are currently working with partners like SmartThings, Vera, AutoGrid, Ubi, EEE, Energy Sherlock, and Earth Networks to make things better.

Working with others may seem like the security door is open but Ecobee is using pre-caution to keep things secure. The system will use 168 bit SSL encryption and other industry standards like WEP 64, WEP 128, WPA and WPA2 encryption.

Will it work with my home?

The system is compatible with most of the homes in the US and can be installed by a contractor. Whoa! That sounds complicated right? It’s not—you can also buy the system on their website OR through a contractor. The system is wired but they say the average install time will be less than 45 minutes. The system ships with an installation guide that includes wire labels. While it’s not complicated, it’s not necessarily easy. Keep in mind that this is an intermediate level job. As another side note, though Ecobee is wired, they do not use power stealing like their competitors.

Before you begin, you may want to check compatibility. They keep a compatibility checker on their site. Ecobee is compatible with conventional HVACs, heat pumps, dual fuel, and humidifiers. They work with gas, oil, and electric systems. Ecobee estimates that they are compatible with 95% of residential heating and cooling systems in North America.

If your system does work with Ecobee, remember: heating and cooling can account for over 50% of home energy use, and on average, Ecobee owners can save 23% annually.

Bottom line

It’s a wired system that doesn’t power steal and has built-in WiFi. The system can be controlled using a free mobile app that works with smartphones and tablets AND I do love a system based upon sensors. The sensors may just make this the best thermostat solution yet. However, my suggestion is to wait until the system launches and bugs are worked out. It’s a pre-order system and you never know what you’re going to get until it’s a reality.