Ecobee Thermostats Review

We conducted long-term, real-life testing of the Ecobee thermostats before giving them a glowing review.
Best smart thermostat for voice control
ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
Ecobee SmartThermostat
  • Pros
    Built-in voice control
  • Pros
    Built-in occupancy sensor
  • Pros
    Dual-band Wi-Fi
Cathy Habas
Staff Writer, Safety & Security
February 04, 2022

Ecobee thermostats are some of the most feature-rich and user-friendly smart thermostats on the market, offering energy cost savings through eco+ software. We especially love the Ecobee SmartThermostat, which doubles as a voice assistant.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Programmable schedules
Pro Bullet Intuitive touchscreen interface
Pro Bullet Automated energy-saving modes
Pro Bullet Compatible with many smart hubs
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Slow activation of SmartSensor for Doors and Windows
Con Bullet Unstable Wi-Fi connection
Con Bullet Incompatible with some older heating systems

Compare Ecobee thermostats

Ecobee currently sells two thermostats: the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control (also known as the SmartThermostat Pro) and the Ecobee3 Lite.

The SmartThermostat has more features, including a microphone and speaker for voice control, an occupancy sensor, 5G connectivity, and wire terminals for HVAC accessories like dehumidifiers and ventilators.

Product
Price
Built-in voice control
Built-in occupancy sensor
SmartSensor
Connectivity
ACC- and ACC+ wire terminalsIcon Tooltip  Dark
Learn More
ecobee4 Smart ThermostatEcobee SmartThermostat
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
IncludedWi-Fi, 2G, 5G
Icon Yes  LightYes
ecobee3 lite Smart ThermostatEcobee3 Lite
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Sold separatelyWi-Fi, 2G
Icon No  LightNo

*Amazon.com price as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

What's in the box

ecobee4 Smart Thermostat

Image: SafeWise

Ecobee SmartThermostat:

  • Ecobee SmartThermostat
  • Mounting plate
  • Ecobee SmartSensor with detachable stand
  • Install and quick start guide
  • Wire labels
  • Screws and drywall plugs
  • Power extender kit
  • Trim plate

Ecobee3 Lite:

  • Ecobee3 Lite thermostat
  • Backplate
  • Installation guide
  • Wire labels
  • Screws and drywall plugs
  • Power extender kit
  • Trim plate

Ecobee thermostat schedules

Like any programmable thermostats worth their salt, the Ecobee thermostats let you create heating and cooling schedules. Because your home doesn’t have to be the perfect temperature when there’s no one home or awake to enjoy it, these schedules adjust the temperature and help you save money on your energy bills.

Thanks to its intuitive touchscreen, it’s much easier to set up a schedule on the Ecobee compared to a traditional thermostat. You can also set up schedules on the Ecobee app if you prefer.

Step 1: Define the temperature

Ecobee offers three different modes that you organize into any time slot:

  • Home
  • Away
  • Sleep

Go to Menu and Comfort Settings to adjust the temperature for each mode.

For example, you might set the temp to 72°F when you’re home, 70°F when you sleep, and 65°F when you’re away.

Step 2: Organize a schedule

  1. To create a schedule, go to Menu and Schedule.
  2. Tap the day of the week you want to edit, and then tap the plus-sign icon.
  3. Choose either Home, Away, or Sleep mode, and select its start time.

Although the programmed temperatures appear on the schedule screen, they can’t be edited here. Exit to the menu and select Comfort Settings to tweak the temps.

Don’t forget vacation mode

Vacation mode overrides your normal schedule for a period of time. Go to Menu and Vacation. Enter the start and end times plus your desired temperature and fan settings.

Light Bulb
Check date and time accuracy

Schedules won’t work as expected if your thermostat’s date and time settings aren’t correct. Adjust them on the Ecobee by going to Settings.

Putting the smart in SmartThermostat

Here’s where the Ecobee SmartThermostat goes from average to genius: smart heat/cool recovery mode and Smart Home and Away mode.

Smart heat/cool recovery mode

Other programmable or smart thermostats typically use schedules as a cue to turn on the HVAC system. You’d need to set the thermostat to “Home” about an hour earlier than your actual arrival time to avoid entering a cold house.

Forget about all that guesswork with the Ecobee. With the smart heat recovery or smart cool recovery modes enabled, the Ecobee automatically calculates when it needs to turn on the system so that your home reaches the desired temperature exactly when your Home, Away, or Sleep mode begins.

That means you come home to a perfectly comfortable temperature every single time.

Smart Home and Away

Don’t worry if you deviate from your typical home/away schedule. The occupancy sensor—only available in the SmartThermostat or SmartSensor accessory —detects whether you’re home or not.

  • If the Ecobee detects your presence while it’s set to Away, it will automatically switch to Home mode.
  • If the Ecobee senses that no one is home while it’s set to Home, it will automatically switch to Away mode.

You can enable or disable this feature by tapping Menu and Sensors.

Or quickly switch modes by tapping Settings and then Home for now or Away for now.

Built-in Alexa for voice control

With the Ecobee SmartThermostat, you essentially get an Amazon Echo disguised as a thermostat. You don’t pair it with Alexa—the SmartThermostat is Alexa.

Use your voice to adjust the thermostat, check the weather forecast, or perform any other Alexa skill via the Ecobee SmartThermostat.

Works with other voice assistants too

Don’t worry if you already have another voice assistant—both Ecobee thermostats also work with Apple Homekit, Google Assistant , and Samsung SmartThings. The only difference is they aren’t built into the Ecobee Thermostat, so you’ll have to own the corresponding hub and pair it through the app.

Checklist
Check your internet bandwidth before you buy

Ecobee thermostats use between 15–20 MB per month. You may need to purchase a more substantial internet package for optimal performance. Contact your internet provider to find out how much bandwidth you have to spare.

Eco+ software

Eco+ is a free software upgrade that recommends personalized energy-saving settings for your thermostat. It analyzes local weather forecasts, humidity levels, and fluctuations in the cost of electricity. Eco+ also pulls in data from the SmartThermostat’s occupancy sensor and the SmartSensor’s motion sensor.

“My favorite feature is the eco+. It lets you set a percentage of additional savings, and then it makes recommendations on what to set your thermostat at in order to achieve it.”

—Suzi Brzezinski, Ecobee tester

Access eco+ settings from the main menu, and use the slider to indicate how much energy you want to save. Although no savings are guaranteed, Ecobee claims it can decrease energy consumption by 1%–20%.

Eco+ won’t make changes without your permission. You can toggle each eco+ setting on and off or disable eco+ entirely. Here’s what you can expect from the eco+ settings:

  • Adjust temperature for humidity: Ecobee focuses on your home’s “feels like” temperature, allowing it to run up to several degrees warmer or cooler than the regular temperature setting.
  • Time of use: If your electricity costs less at certain times of the day, Ecobee preheats or precools your home during these times. This feature doesn’t work if you pay a fixed rate for your electricity.
  • Community energy savings: If your local power grid experiences a spike in use, Ecobee adjusts the temperature of your home to use less energy. This program helps your community avoid tapping into dirtier power reserves, like coal-based energy.
  • Schedule assistant: Ecobee recommends a new schedule if your home-and-away habits routinely differ from the existing schedule. This is similar to the Nest Learning Thermostat’s flagship feature but requires your approval.
  • Smart Home and Away: This feature relies on the SmartThermostat occupancy sensor or SmartSensor motion sensor. It overrides the thermostat schedule if it senses you’re home during the “away” period and vice versa. Smart Home and Away isn’t unique to eco+, but it appears in the eco+ menu.)

Eco+ also emails you monthly energy reports.  

High/low temperature and humidity alerts

Under Settings and Preferences in the Ecobee SmartThermostat, you can set custom alert thresholds for home temperature and humidity levels.

This helps you stay ahead of problems like frozen pipes, moldy walls, and warped wood. These alerts also give you time to address the problem before older family members, pets, or even house plants become ill. Even the SmartThermostat itself won’t work below 32°F.

Enable alerts to show up on the thermostat itself, or opt to receive them through your smartphone only.

Maintenance reminders

Regular HVAC filter changes and professional inspections are important home maintenance tasks. You’re not alone if you forget to do them, but your home’s energy efficiency and air quality are at stake.

Ecobee is your ally here. Under Settings, Preferences, and Maintenance Reminders, you can schedule recurring alerts for filter replacement and professional service.

Optional Ecobee add-ons

SmartSensor

The wireless SmartSensor acts like an extra occupancy sensor and temperature sensor. Each SmartThermostat comes with one SmartSensor, but you can purchase extras.

For example, if you aren’t likely to walk past your SmartThermostat when you get home, you won’t trigger the occupancy sensor. Place a SmartSensor near the door to take full advantage of motion-dependent features like Smart Home and Away or the eco+ Smart Schedules.

You can also use the SmartSensor in the nursery or corners of your home to keep an eye on hot and cold spots. Although Ecobee can’t create hot and cold zones in your home (you’d need dampers for that), the SmartSensor’s temperature readings will tell you when to adjust the thermostat, add a space heater, or turn on a fan.

SmartSensor for Doors and Windows

An open door or window makes it impossible for your home to maintain the right temperature. Your HVAC system ends up working overtime, and that’s never good for your bank account.

The Ecobee SmartSensor for Doors and Windows nips this problem in the bud. If a door or window is left open, the Ecobee thermostat stops heating or cooling.

We love this concept, but it’s not perfect. First, the door or window has to be open for five minutes before the Ecobee shuts down. That’s a long time and a lot of lost air. Two minutes seems more reasonable.

Second, it’s hard to predict which windows will be left open. A two-pack of sensors costs nearly $80, so it’s expensive to protect every window in your home. If you’re on a budget, consider how long it will take for the sensors to pay for themselves in energy bill savings.

Ecobee Smart Security

You have the makings of a humble home security system by the time you get a SmartThermostat (base station), SmartSensor (motion sensor), and SmartSensor for Doors and Windows (entry sensor). You can also add an Ecobee camera to the lineup.

The SmartThermostat’s built-in speaker listens for the sound of your existing smoke alarm. Once it detects this siren, it sends an alert to your phone and uses RapidSOS to notify first responders.

RapidSOS professional monitoring is only available with the $10 per month Complete plan. To self-monitor the system, choose the $5 per month Standard plan.

Ecobee third-party integrations

Ecobee thermostats pair with other smart home products and apps for extra automation and control:

Doesn’t work with all HVAC systems

Before you buy an Ecobee, make sure you don’t have an incompatible system:

  • Millivolt system, such as a gas fireplace
  • DC voltage system, often found in RVs
  • Line or high voltage systems, such as electric baseboard heaters or forced fan heaters
  • Radiator heating

In addition, using an Ecobee thermostat with a “communicating” HVAC system turns it into a “non-communicating” system, which means it disables built-in efficiencies. Communicating HVAC system brands include Infinity, Affinity, iComfort, Evolution, and ComfortNet.

Poor Wi-Fi connectivity

We found consistent complaints of poor Wi-Fi connectivity among Ecobee users. If you know you have a spotty Wi-Fi connection or have had trouble getting smart home devices to connect to your Wi-Fi in the past, you may want to skip the Ecobee.

Without Wi-Fi, the Ecobee functions like a traditional thermostat but loses all of its smart features, like app control.

Ecobee vs. other smart thermostats

Best for
Product†
Price*
Remote temperature sensor
Occupancy sensor
Smart home integration
Learn more
Read review
Best overall
copper nest thermostat with digital display of 70 deg. and green lightGoogle Nest Learning Thermostat
Icon Yes  LightAdd-on
Icon Yes  LightYes
Alexa,
Assistant,
IFTTT
Best for voice control
Ecobee SmartThermostat
Icon Yes  LightIncluded
Icon Yes  LightYes
Alexa,
HomeKit,
Google,
IFTTT,
SmartThings
Best for rentals
Honeywell Lyric smart thermostatHoneywell Home T5+
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Alexa,
HomeKit,
Google,
IFTTT
Budget pick
Google Nest Thermostat
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Alexa,
Google,
IFTTT
Best design
Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Alexa,
Google,
Cortana,
IFTTT,
SmartThings

*Amazon.com price as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Read full disclaimer.

Final word

Ecobee thermostats have a lot to offer energy-conscious homeowners. There’s hardly anything bad to say about the Ecobee that can’t be said about other smart thermostats, such as some compatibility limitations and the potential need for professional installation.

We recommend the Ecobee SmartThermostat over the Ecobee3 Lite because the voice control, built-in occupancy sensor, and included SmartSensor are just too good to pass up.

Ecobee thermostat FAQ

How does an Ecobee thermostat work?

Ecobee thermostats are hardwired to your HVAC system. The thermostat’s built-in temperature sensors signal the HVAC unit to turn on and off. This is true for all thermostats, whether “smart” or not.

The Ecobee’s smart features rely on additional sensors that detect motion and humidity. Ecobee thermostats also connect to Wi-Fi, giving them access to local data like weather and electricity costs. All of this information is used to calculate an ideal temperature setting.

Is there a monthly fee for Ecobee?

There’s no monthly fee for using the Ecobee thermostat. If you want to sign up for Ecobee Smart Security, costs range from $5 to $10 per month. 

Make sure your Ecobee app is up-to-date and that you already own a Homepod. Then follow these instructions for switching your voice assistant from Alexa to Siri.

All Ecobee thermostats can be controlled via the thermostat’s touch screen or through the Ecobee app.

You can also control basic thermostat functions with your voice if you have an Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Samsung smart speaker. The only exception is the Ecobee SmartThermostat, which includes a built-in Alexa voice assistant and doesn’t require a separate smart speaker.

The Ecobee SmartThermostat can connect to 5 GHz Wi-Fi, but the Ecobee3 Lite only connects to 2.4 GHz.

Ecobee smart thermostats can’t perform advanced features without Wi-Fi, but they’ll continue to turn your HVAC system on and off like a traditional thermostat.

Yes, the Ecobee thermostat can be controlled from anywhere in the world via the Ecobee app.

How we reviewed the Ecobee thermostats

We relied on our team’s hands-on experience for our Ecobee thermostat review. We also read the customer support pages and watched tutorial videos to understand the nuances of the Ecobee. We then compared the Ecobee’s features and performance with other smart thermostats we’ve reviewed.

For more information, visit the Safewise methodology page.

Related articles on SafeWise


Disclaimers

*Product prices and availability are accurate as of post date and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

†Google, Google Nest Secure, [any other related Google Products] and other related marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over seven years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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