#AutomateThis: The Ecobee3 Smart Thermostat

Written by | Updated September 1, 2015


Most smart thermostats, like Nest and Honeywell Lyric, use sensors built into the thermostat. That means they can only sense the temperature of the room where the thermostat is installed. If the sun is shining on your thermostat, the heat may not kick in, even on a cold winter morning. If your thermostat is installed downstairs, it will heat and cool your house based on the temperature downstairs, without taking into account the fact that heat rises and the ground level floor is usually cooler than upstairs. The ecobee3, on the other hand, uses wireless remote sensors to determine the perfect heating or cooling solution based on temperatures throughout the house.

How Ecobee3 Works

Ecobee3’s remote wireless sensors detect the temperature in a room and use motion sensors to determine whether or not a room is occupied. It can sense the difference between people and pets, so the thermostat doesn’t go wild when your cat makes one of those mad, catnip-induced dashes around your home. From there, the system can determine whether or not to kick on the AC or the heater based on your comfort settings and the temperatures detected in the rooms with sensors.

Most people will only need a handful of sensors, but the system supports up to 32. The first sensor is included free with thermostat, which retails for $249. Additional sensors are sold separately in packages of two for $79.99, though if you only need 1-2 extra sensors, ecobee’s Smarter Bundle includes the ecobee3 and 3 remote sensors for $313.

DIY Installation

Initially, the ecobee3 thermostat was launched as a professionally installed solution, sold through dealers. This may explain why it can be a bit more complicated to set up than competing thermostats. If you currently have a five-wire thermostat, installation is very much “plug-and-play.” Just replace your old thermostat with ecobee3, configure it with details like Celsius or Fahrenheit, pair the wireless remote sensor with the device, and you’re ready to go.

If you have a four-wire thermostat system, however, just getting to the point where you can configure the thermostat requires five steps and some technical know-how. You’ll need to install the Power Extender Kit onto your HVAC unit to give it a Common Wire (C wire). Don’t be surprised if you need some professional assistance from an electrician or HVAC pro.

Easy, App-based or Touchscreen Control

The thermostat can be controlled via a Web-based app, as well as mobile apps available for iOS, AppleWatch, and Android smartphones and tablets. If you tend to switch between the device’s touchscreen and one or more apps, you’ll find them all equally sleek and intuitive.

To set up the thermostat, use the touchscreen’s slide bar to select comfort settings for “Away,” “Home,” and “Sleep.” To program daily schedules, add your comfort settings, then use the touchscreen to scroll and select on/off times. You can copy and paste settings from one day to another, making setup quick and easy. The thermostat even comes with a schedule pre-loaded, which you can then modify to fit your family’s needs.


How ecobee3 Works As Part of the Internet of Things

The ecobee3 smart thermostat is compatible with IFTTT and SmartThings apps, so you can change the temperature remotely without opening the ecobee3 app. These apps also allow you to connect ecobee3 to other devices in your home. You can create recipes (IFTTT) or set actions (SmartThings) that will trigger ecobee3 when it detects a change in the status of another device. For instance, ecobee3 can activate the “Home” setting when your entryway light turns on or automatically set the temperature control to “Away” when specific smart lights turn off. If you wear a FitBit, you can even set ecobee3 to turn up the heat when you wake up and lower it when you fall asleep.

Home Data for Energy Efficiency

Using a smart thermostat can help you increase your home’s energy efficiency by lowering the heat when you’re away and helping you heat or cool only the rooms you’re using. But ecobee3’s HomeIQ feature can also help you be more mindful of your energy usage by displaying a number of reports, including a savings estimate, how long your home’s systems ran that month, and how your home’s usage compares to others in your state.

If you’re ready to conserve energy and save money by automating your home’s HVAC systems, ecobee3 can help you in a fun, user-friendly way.

Written by Paige Sjoblom

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