Update: This review was updated to include information from Ecobee.
A smart thermostat is a safe bet when figuring out if your home needs to be smarter. With several reliable systems to choose from, though, finding the right one can be difficult. This is our product review and buyer’s guide for the Ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat.
The second generation Ecobee3 thermostat has a pretty basic look: a black square with rounded corners and a 3.5-inch LED display. The included remote sensor is a smaller white square, also with rounded corners.
Installation can be tricky with this unit. The Ecobee3 uses the "C" wire to power itself. For thermostats without a "C" wire, a power extender kit is included with the unit. Ecobee says it should take no more than 45 minutes to self-install. They have a link on their website that gives a quote for professional installation as well. Once the new thermostat is on the wall, setting it up is a breeze.
The Ecobee3 can be set on a heating/cooling schedule as well as a vacation schedule. The thermostat can be toggled between "Home" and "Away" modes. When in "Away" the thermostat won’t kick on, but if the thermostat or sensors detect motion, the setting will be overridden. These settings can be changed from the iOS and Android app or from a computer. It can be voice controlled by Siri with Apple’s HomeKit or Alexa with Amazon’s Echo.
The biggest advantage this thermostat has over its competition is the use of remote sensors. Using the "Follow Me" feature, the thermostat will take an average reading of the temperature in rooms with sensors. With "Follow Me" active, the heat or A/C will stay on until every room is at the set temperature. "Follow Me" is only programmable from the thermostat.
The Ecobee3 does not recognize habits, but it does allow for automatic switching between heating and cooling and the three pre-defined comfort settings. With "Follow Me," only the sensors that detect motion are used to determine room temperature. Ecobee says their thermostat is the most compatible smart thermostat on the market thanks to integration with Samsung SmartThings, Logitech Harmony and many others.
Users of the Ecobee3 have experienced difficulties with the automatic heating and cooling switch as well as "Follow Me" being on too long, but those individual cases are not indicative of the thermostat's overall performance.
The Ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat and sensor retails for $249. Amazon has a three-sensor bundle available for $315. That may seem like a steep price, but if you’re in a home with several rooms, the additional sensors are worth it. The system will set your rooms at the temperature you want.
The Ecobee3 is on track to surpass the Nest in the smart thermostat market, but still has improvements of its own to undertake. You can check out our product review and buyer’s guide for the Nest right here.