Ecobee has built on previous smart thermostat ideas with yet another killer feature: Onboard Alexa. For those that have your thermostat somewhere that is occupied/centralized in your house, this puts answers to questions, automation adjustments (such as temperature changes), and other Alexa functionality centrally in your house. Add this to the other awesome Ecobee4 features that carry over from the Ecobee3 such as room sensors, and you have a very solid product that really does a great job becoming a vital part of your daily routine.
My previous top consideration, the Nest, was cool but had one major downside: If you spent too much time away from the thermostat, it would switch to "Away" and stop conditioning your house. Nest realized this shortcoming and released $100 combo smoke detectors and presence sensors. While I appreciate their thought, $100 per additional sensor is just not realistic for your typical consumer. Along came Ecobee. In the package you get the Thermostat and a second motion+temperature sensor, and can add more sensors than you'd ever need by buying additional packs. They are tiny (less than 2" x 2") and can be put just about anywhere. I have mine on the wall with regular push pins. Ecobee says you should get years of life out of each battery (worlds better than the 4 or 5 months I get from some of my other smart home accessories), and the range is acceptable but not fantastic. Installation was easy. I have an older house (late 70s construction) so I only had 4 wires. The Ecobee requires 5 wires, but comes with an adapter for houses with only 4. Side comparison: the Nest does not require 5 wires, but does recommend it. It can theoretically run off of 4 wires, but simply charges an onboard battery any time the air handler is running. If the battery starts getting low, it will actually run your air handler more than needed to recharge itself! I much prefer Ecobees honest approach to an adapter than Nest’s unnecessary additional runtime. Air handlers use about 500w of electricity simply running the fan! Not very green, Nest! The primary thermostat is easy to use, though to be honest I almost never touch it. The interface is mostly intuitive and easy to navigate. I wish there was a little more customization available for what information shows in idle mode (it changes modes when you approach the thermostat), but right now it displays the current calculated temperature (based on remote sensors that detect motion and the thermostat) as well as the outside weather conditions.
Another enjoyable feature: Home IQ. Having an older home, I’m always curious to know how my home’s efficiency compares to that of houses around me. Ecobee’s Home IQ feature provides you insight into how your house compares to similar houses in your area. In addition, it tallies total daily runtime, presence sensor activity and temperature history, and a few other things. If their built-in analytics aren’t enough, you can download the raw data via .csv. The App works well, and mirrors the interface you are provided on the front of the thermostat. I do not have any Apple products, but the HomeKit/Siri integration is convenient for those in the Apple ecosystem. With how rarely I touch my thermostat, I don’t mind breaking my phone out or walking to the unit. Overall, I think I made the right choice.
Here’s a TL:DR –
-Integrated Alexa means convenience for your household
-Saves money quickly over a non-scheduled thermostat
-Keeps your house comfortable even if you don’t frequent the room containing the thermostat
-Provides easy access via an app, web portal, or Siri
-Gives you insight into your energy use and system cycle times via their Home IQ portal
-Warns you of dangerous or unexpected temperatures inside your house
-Active development by Ecobee means constant new features added to the software of the device.
-Sensors are still a little expensive (I’d love to see a $20 price point) and can have a limited range
-You may need to do a little additional install work if your home has less than 5 wires running to the thermostat